"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."
"Hebrews chapter 11, this chapter on faith. The author has been building through the first ten chapters, the reason why we should believe, and the danger of unbelief, and warning about different circumstances that might cause unbelief and why. Because Christ is better as a redeemer, better than angels, better than Moses, better than Joshua, better than sacrifice, better than priests, better Temple and so forth, you know, why they should believe, and be fearful of unbelief. Lest any promise being left, that something they never partake of, never enter into God's rest. In the end of chapter 10, the last two verses, we hear "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (verses 38-39 of Hebrews 10) Now in chapter 12, verse 1, as he kind of wraps up this whole exhortation (in Hebrews 11), he says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," the exhortation, 'seeing that we are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses.' Now, he'll take us through those witnesses in chapter 11, that's what he does. Ah, verse 39 and 40 of chapter 11 say, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Literally 'a good witness through faith, wherefore seeing we are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses,' Because some people think, 'What that means is, you know, Aunt Jane and Uncle Harry, and my relatives that have gone before us, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they're standing around watching us. And seeing that everybody's eyeballing us from glory, ah, we should do our best.' I just lost my dad, I don't believe my dad's standing around watching me. I mean, my dad loved me. But I imagine what's in front of his eyes right now, and what he's looking at, I know he'd say 'No offense, but you don't mind if I don't look back in that direction?' Like, people that are in heaven and they have the glory of Jesus Christ before their eyes, and all of the glory and the wonder of heaven, all that they have longed for, all that they're finally realizing, like they want to stand around and watch us mess up here, you know, and getting through our pilgrimage. I don't think so. [Calvary Chapels believe a somewhat strange scenario of 'your soul, or the spirit-in-man component of you stays conscious upon death, and goes to heaven upon death, and then comes back at the time of the 1st resurrection to immortality to be mated again with the new glorified body promised by God through Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:49-56 and 1st Thessalonians 4:13-17.' They do this because they believe the spirit-in-man, the human spirit that gives us intellect and the knowledge of the physical around us (cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13) stays conscious upon death, after the physical body containing it dies. They disregard Solomon in Ecclesiastes saying that the spirit-in-man goes unconscious upon death, even though Solomon also agrees and says these human spirit's do go to heaven, or upward, as well. They use the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, which some feel is strictly an allegory, a parable, to prove the spirit-in-man, the human spirit remains conscious upon death. The important thing is we will all find out when we die. Won't we? If the human spirit goes unconscious upon death, the next conscious moment that person will be aware of, like the passage of a nano-second, will be that they're rising up in the 1st resurrection to immortality to meet the Lord in the air. So either way, we make out just fine. As Pastor Joe says, we should study the Word of God as the Bereans did, and form our own theology, as differing parts of the Body of Christ have in these secondary areas of Biblical interpretation. An interesting study showing how the spirit-in-man goes unconscious upon death and just what the spirit-in-man is can be found at: http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm. These prophetic beliefs are secondary to the Gospel of Salvation, and you are free to believe what you yourself prove to be Scripturally true.] Seeing we're surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, what is he talking about? He's talking about Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham and Sarah, and Moses, and those that he outlines here in Hebrews 11, that they lived by faith. Because they lived by faith God honoured them.
What Is Faith?---Faith Is The Foundation Of Things We're Hoping For
So as we go into this 11th chapter we start to meet this cloud of witnesses. He begins by saying, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report." (verses 1-2) "a good report" or a "good witness," that's our point all the way through this. Faith operates, he says, in relation to two things, in relation to the future, and in relation to the invisible. He says "faith is the substance" hupostasis, that which stands under, the foundation of things hoped for," Substance, even in our English is "sub," "submarine" to be underneath, "sub-stance", faith is what stands underneath, it's the foundation of our hope of things hoped for. It's related to the future. We're hoping, believing, that Christ is coming, that he's going to descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel and the trump[pet] of God, and in the twinkling of an eye we're going to be changed, we're going to be caught up (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm), that the earth is going to be cleansed by the Lord and his power, and his Kingdom is going to be established (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm), that there's an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away. Just think of what we believe. Try to tell that to your unsaved friends. 'Hey, you know things are terrible in this world, I see everything that's going on around us now, I hear they're talking on the radio and TV, there's six American cities that are going to be leveled by suitcase-sized nukes, they got these suitcase sized nukes, and they're going to level six American cities, and millions of people are going to die.' [this sermon was given shortly after 9/11, the Trade Towers attack.] You know what? If that's going to happen, first of all, Abraham said, 'Surely, the God of all the earth will do what's just.' He doesn't destroy the righteous along with the wicked. 'Lord, if there's ten righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah, will you spare the city?' 'If there's ten righteous there I'll spare it.' If six American cities are going to disappear because of nuclear weapons, and millions of Americans are going to die, I have news for you, Damascus is going to disappear, Tehran is going to disappear, North Korea is going to disappear, it's not going to stop, we have nuclear subs. We're talking about the destruction of hundreds of millions of people. [Actually, when you combine all Old Testament and New Testament prophecies about the Tribulation, World War III, 9/10ths of all humanity will end up dying before it's all over, leaving just 700,000,000 out of the 7 billion on earth today. That also agrees with most military analysts and what they predict. See the section on prophecy at http://www.unityinchrist.com/Prophets_Prophecy.html] And if that is going to happen, the Rapture's got to happen first, the Rapture has got to happen first. 'You must be nuts.' 'What do you mean nuts, you don't believe that the Lord's going to descend with a shout, and there's going to be the voice of the archangel Michael, and there's going to be a Trumpet, and then we're going to shoot up off the face of the earth? You don't believe that? You must be nuts.' [and your unsaved friends will then look at you like you've got three heads.] Why don't they apprehend that? Because faith, faith is the foundation, it's the sub-stance it's the hupostasis it's the foundation of the things we're hoping for, faith is. And unbelievers, and rightly so, when you go to witness to your friends, don't start with the Rapture. [laughter] When you go to witness to your friends, start with the love of Jesus and his death upon the cross, and what he's accomplished, and when they get saved, we're going to take our time to get them through all this other stuff. Because, yea, to an unbeliever, that is crazy. But for you and I, it's faith. It's what's standing under, it's the foundation of our hope, the blessed hope of the Church. "it's the evidence of things not seen." That word "evidence" means "the conviction." So it isn't just the foundational things that are objective that we've taken hold of, that word "evidence" speaks of a subjective experience, it means 'our heart dwells with the conviction in regards to things that are unseen, the invisible.' [Oxford American Dictionary, "Subjective: existing in a person's mind and not produced by things outside of it, not objective."] We believe in the invisible. We believe in heaven, we believe that there are angels, we believe in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who can come to our rescue (cf. Psalm 18). We believe that there is another realm that is more real than this realm, and that this [physical] realm is passing away (cf. Revelation 21:1), that heaven will abide forever. Hey look, because people want to take faith and apply it to all kinds of things, Mercedes, bank accounts, mansions. Faith is relative in its function to the future and the invisible. That's what this says in verse 1 here. 'Faith is the substance of things hoped for,' that's the future, 'and it is the conviction in regards to things not seen, that's the invisible.' [Comment: Isaac before Sarah got pregnant wasn't seen, and he was yet in the future. God used this thing, person hoped for, and conviction of something, someone not yet seen, to develop Abraham's faith, so it can also apply to a person, hoped for, but not yet seen. It also applied to Abraham's faith for the heavenly city whose builder and maker is God, the New Jerusalem, part of our inheritance. But can you see how God used physical things hoped for to help Abraham develop Godly faith? This is not wrong, and God uses things we desire and pray for like this all the time.] That's again, hard for us to explain to our unsaved friends. And we have a testimony in our heart because they say, 'How do you know?' And you say 'I know that I know.' 'What do you mean, you know that you know?' 'I know that I know that I know. I don't know how that I know, but I know that I know.' It's the conviction of things not seen, 'Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him, but by his Spirit he's made those things real to us, by conviction.' 'Though the outward man is perishing, the inward man is renewed day by day, while we look, not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.' How do we look at things that are not seen? Things that are seen are temporary, the things that are not seen are eternal, by faith. It says of Christ in 1st Peter chapter 1, verse 8, 'Whom we love, having not seen, whom we love, with joy unspeakable, full of glory,' we love Christ, we've never laid eyes on him. Are you afraid of Godzilla? If somebody told you Godzilla was coming into town, would you be afraid? No, because you don't believe in Godzilla. Maybe if you're four-years-old and your parents are dumb enough to tell you he's real, and taking you to a Godzilla movie and you're going to have nightmares. I'm not afraid of Godzilla or King Kong, I have a healthy fear of God, because I know he's real. I've never seen him, I've seen Godzilla. I know he's real [God that is]. The second I was saved, it says 'For God so loved the world that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life.' That's not when we get to heaven, the second we get saved, everlasting life is implanted within us. 'I am the resurrection and the life, he who believeth in me shall never die, and he that liveth and believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,' you know, the point is, it's in us. Hard to explain, because it's the sub-stance of the things we're hoping for, the foundation of our hope. It is the conviction that's upon our hearts of things we have not yet seen. That's hard to explain to an unbeliever. It says in verse 2, "For by it the elders obtained a good report." Or a good witness. "For" "by it" is locative, it means 'in the sphere of it, faith,' 'it is in the sphere of faith that the elders obtained' and that's passive, it doesn't mean they got it themselves, it means 'it was in the sphere of faith that the elders were well reported of,' not that they got it themselves, it was the things they did in faith that remain on the page in Hebrews chapter 11 that tell us they're well reported of. We don't hear about Abraham's failures here. We don't hear about Noah's failures here. We don't hear about Moses' failures here. We hear the good report, the good witness. It is in the realm, it says here, 'in the sphere of,' locative, 'in the sphere of faith, in the sphere of it, they have been well-reported of, the elders, in regards to the things they did in faith.' Not of their effort, but they have been well-reported of, passive, that that's happened.
"Through Faith We Perceive That The Worlds Were Framed By The Word Of God, So That The Things Which Are Seen Were Not Made Of Things Which Do Appear"---And Modern Physics Has Just Proven This!
Now, it says this, by faith, or "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (verse 3) [Wow! Science, through Albert Einstein and the BIG BANG has just caught up with this Bible truth, through modern physics.] Because we believe in that which is invisible, that which is not seen. Every generation that's ever lived, by the way, since Adam and Eve, has lived and died, not receiving the fulfillment of the promises. They've lived in faith. Verse 39 tells us that, about those that lived in faith. Not just faith in faith. Faith again is only as solid as, it's not an object, it's faith in Jesus Christ [or that he will do something, as with Abraham and Sarah having Isaac]. Hebrews chapter 1, verse 1 begins to tell us 'in many ways, and sundry times has God spoken through the prophets, but has now spoken in these last days in Son, through his Son,' our faith is in him and what he said. We believe in him. Paul said 'I know in whom I have believed.' And it is by that faith, it says, 'We understand, we perceive that the worlds were made by the Word of God [i.e. Jesus Christ], that the things which are seen are not made of things which do appear.' It's kind of an interesting thing. By faith we understand. Now 'It's by faith we perceive.' "To understand" that is a word, never in the New Testament anywhere is it translated in the sense of physical sight, "through faith we understand" we don't see that way. It's 'by faith we perceive, we perceive something.' If you get past the first two verses of the Bible, the rest of it's a breeze, "In the beginning God created [Hebrew "bara": to create something out of nothing] the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." 'The things that are made are created from things which do not appear, which are not seen,' the Bible tells us that. [And so does science now, through the BIG BANG. Order and watch The Genesis Code, about how the science of Relativity no longer disagrees with Genesis 1:1-31.] And that's something we perceive, it's something that we perceive, and the things that are made right now around us are made of things which do not appear. [i.e. What made the swirling mass of plasma 11 to 13 trillion degrees hot with a frequency of 3 trillion cycles per second which was the size of a mustard seed, which was the initial phase of the BIG BANG? Scientist don't know, it appears to have come out of nothing. They can't go back beyond that initial appearance of this tiny spec of intensely hot and dense plasma they call the BIG BANG.] Isn't that interesting? That's why, when I think of resurrection again, the wonderful thing about resurrection, when I'm thinking about the resurrection, because my dad's gone, I don't just believe in life after death, like oooh, some ethereal plane, I believe in resurrection. I believe he's getting up again. And I believe I want to put my arms around him, and I'm going to hug him again. That's what I believe. Because, I was there the second he took his last breath, I saw the software leave the hardware. The software, the program, is immaterial, it's mass-less, it doesn't weigh anything. [He's talking about the human spirit, the spirit-in-man that Paul talked about in 1st Corinthians 2:9-13. For an explanation and good studies about all this, the first resurrection to immortality, and the 2nd resurrection for all the unsaved dead, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm, and again, for what might happen at the 2nd resurrection for all the unsaved dead (including my dad, whom I love dearly) see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm. The second link goes to articles that explain about this human software that gives us our human intellect, and awesome human reasoning power, far beyond that of animals.] If you take all of your software and download it on a computer, you've got a new computer or something, it might be faster, you get an upgrade, you see that's what's going to happen when we get to resurrection, we're going to get an upgrade [both in hardware and software], everything's going to work faster, but it's going to be the same software that's in there [all our memories, all the character we developed under the influence of having God's indwelling Holy Spirit coupled to our software, the human spirit in us, all of that will be placed in this new upgraded hardware, our new resurrection bodies, whatever they'll be like. We know this, because John tells us in 1st John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." How is Jesus now? Later in John's life, on the Isle of Patmos, John saw Jesus as he is now, in Revelation 1:11-18. John says in 1st John 3:2 that our new bodies will be like what he saw in Revelation 1:11-18. Look it up and read it.] And it's the software that makes the program, which is intangible. Resurrection is no problem, he was cremated, some people go 'oh, he was cremated, what's going to happen in the resurrection, there is nothing left?' Well, after three years laying somewhere in a box there's nothing left either. And lots of early Christians were burned at the stake or fed to lions, there wasn't much left of them either. Lots of them have been buried at sea. You know, the thing we've come to understand is that atoms are fungible, it's the software that determines who I am, and God has a higher purpose for this space-suit that's wearing out right now. But what will make it what it is, is the program that he put in it, it's the software, it's the information. I can be recreated from any atoms, anywhere, because it's the atoms that form the molecules, and the molecules make the proteins and everything else, he can use any old atoms anywhere to reconstruct the same hardware. It doesn't matter, atoms are interchangeable. And we're discovering more and more the structure of things and the importance of the software of all this, and the material universe is really made of things that are not seen [i.e. physicist are now always talking about "dark matter" and "dark energy." And don't forget, God is, dwells, outside of Space & Time, the Space-Time Continuum.] That's what it just said here. God spoke, he raimo, not Logos, he spoke the worlds into existence. That things were formed and made by things which are not seen. The Programmer programmed, it was the software that determined how everything amassed and come together.
Some History Of Quantum Physics And Relativity
Again, understanding a little bit more in these centuries about these things, they say if you would take the nucleus of an atom and make it the size of a basketball, that the closest electron would be in Los Angelos (and he's in Philadelphia), it would be 3,000 miles away, that everything is mostly space. If you took all of the space out of the earth, 8,000 miles in diameter, if you took all of the space out of it, you could put the earth in a basket. So everything here is mostly space. Some of us more than others, but [laughter]. And everything that's made is really made of something that doesn't appear. I had some fun today looking at some history of some quantum particle physics in this century, you know it was in 1904, 1906 when scientists started to look at subatomic structure [Einstein, Niels Borr]. You had molecules, and then you got down to atomic structure, with nucleuses, neutrons, protons and electrons, and electrons got the photons, and they started to find all of this stuff. And they were staggered, Ludwig Boltzmann, a leading quantum physicist when the field was blossoming, committed suicide, because he couldn't handle what he was discovering. Because what he said was the material is really made of non-material [shimmering balls of pure energy as some would later say, which is the way the matter started out in the BIG BANG, and then it cooled and expanded to what we have now, and that knowledge is now all contained in provable modern physics. Poor Boltzmann, he couldn't handle all that]. And if what he was discovering is true, he said "There has to be a Designer," and he couldn't handle it. In 1906 J.J. Thompson received the Nobel Prize for proving that electrons are particles. In 1937 his son was awarded the Nobel Prize for proving that electrons are waves [they're both, just like photons which make up light]. The father got the Nobel Prize for proving that electrons were particles, the son gets the Nobel Prize for proving electrons are waves, now they discover both father and son are correct. And what makes it even more astonishing is that there is compelling evidence that the only time Quanta ever manifest as particles is when someone's looking at them. [Order the book Schrdinger's Kittens if you want your mind to be blown.] This is for your information. Niels Borr pointed out that if sub-atomic particles only come into existence in the presence of an observer, then it is meaningless to speak of a particle's properties and characteristics as existing before they're observed [no wonder poor Boltzmann committed suicide]. Follow me here [I can't stop laughing]. But if the act of observation actually helped create the properties, what did that imply about future science? And he said, "Anyone who isn't shocked by quantum physics hasn't understood it." One physicist who was deeply troubled [only one?] by Borr's assertion was Albert Einstein [my hero of all physicists]. Despite the role that Einstein played in the founding of quantum theory, he was not pleased with the course of the fledgling science [naturally, because quantum physics does not mesh mathematically with the science of Relativity, which Albert Einstein was the major discoverer of. Before Einstein died, his goal was to integrate quantum physics with Relativity, which scientists continue to try to do, and this is to try to produce what they term as The Unified Field Theory. Get and read Greene's The Elegant Universe]. The problem according to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Einstein and his colleagues were convinced that no reasonable definition of reality would permit a faster thing than light. And to see what they discovered in quantum physics is if they took an electron or a photon, and they split it off, and it shot off in one direction, that something just like it shot in the other direction. If they deflected it off of a plate, where it deflected, the thing that went in the other direction deflected in the same place even though there wasn't a plate [is your mind blown yet?]. So they discovered that there's some communication between them that they don't understand. And if one of them is traveling at the speed of light in this direction, the other one is traveling the speed of light in that direction, something's happening at twice the speed of light [Warp 2 in Star Trek terms, for all you Trekkers like me]. And Einstein didn't want to face that, he couldn't hack it [eventually he did], because he knew it pointed to a Creator, and he didn't want to deal with it. [Einstein came to accept that God really existed, though he never darkened the door of a church or synagogue, as I believe he despised organized religion, and rightly so. When my dad was at Williams College he said if you were a math student, you could call up Professor Einstein on the phone at Princeton University, and get help solving math problems. He was a very humble man.] It says, though, Borr remained unperturbed by Einstein's argument [they were both right]. One factor that contributed to Borr's following was that quantum physics had proved so secularly successful, they could do these things, they just couldn't explain them. "In predicting phenomena few physicists were even willing to consider the possibility that it might be faulty in some way. The entire industry today of lasers, micro-electronics, computers have emerged on the reliability of the predictions of quantum physics. The popular Cal Tech physicist Richard Frayman summed it all up by saying, "I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. In fact, it is often stated, that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. Some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it is unquestionably correct. There seems to be evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it are only ghostly images, projections from some level of reality beyond our own, that the real reality is literally beyond both Space and Time [that guy is knocking on God's door, outside the Space-Time Continuum!]." The main architect of this astonishing idea includes one of the world's most eminent thinkers, the University of London physicist David Boam, as prestigious as Einstein and one of the world's most respected quantum physicists. Boam's work in plasma physics in the 1950s is considered a landmark in science. One of Boam's most startling suggestions is that the tangible reality of our everyday lives is really a kind of illusion, it's like a holographic image. Underlying it is a deeper order of existence, a vast and more primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances of our physical world, in much the same way that a piece of holographic film gives birth to a hologram. [This concept was used in "Star Trek, The Next Generation," with the Enterprise's Holo-Deck. What modern quantum physics is saying is we're all living on a huge holo-deck, outside of which, is a higher reality, plain of existence. Remember those 'humans' created on the holo-deck were powerless to leave the holo-deck and step out into the Enterprise proper, the higher reality?] The holographic paradigm is a still developing concept, and riddled with controversy. For decades science has chosen to ignore the evidences that do not fit the standard theories. However the volume of evidence has now reached the point that denial is no longer an option." "The Bible, of course," one scientist says, "is unique in that it always presented the universe in more than three dimensions, and revealed a Creator that is transcendent over his creation. It is the only book that demonstrates these contemporary insights." [he laughs] "Paul Davies, famous quantum physicist, is reported as summarizing this provocatively, he said, "It is as if the entire universe was nothing more than a thought in the mind of God." "By faith we perceive that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (verse 3) Whose crazy now, huh? [laughter] And you know, the truth is, look, this looks like a metal podium. The truth is, it's all space, it's an electric field, that's what quantum physicists can't stand. This is not a solid microphone stand, it's made of atomic structure, but all space, there's nothing there, and what they realize is, is that two realities can exist within the same space, and for one reality to exist, Someone had to design it, and put it in order. And here we are, ahuh. I'm glad we can take all this in by faith, and I don't have to do this with a paper or a pencil or a computer, I'll tell you that. 'By faith, we perceive these things, that the world we live in right now is an illusion, it's like a vapour, it's passing away,' that's what we're told (cf. James 1:10-11), and that the reality behind these things is the Word of God (another name for Jesus Christ, cf. John 1:1-14). Moses made the tabernacle in regards to the reality of what he'd seen in heaven, it was a copy, it was a reflection of what the greater reality was. Man, created in God's image and likeness, what was it like when Adam, before the fall, walked with God? It was in more than one dimension if he walked with God [not necessarily, God in the person of the pre-Incarnate Christ, could have and did step into man's dimension on earth, several possible theological positions are possible here, and we just do not know which is true]. It was the fall that bound us to our existence now. And it says the creation is groaning and travailing, waiting to be released from the bondage that it's in (cf. Romans 8:19-22). What will that be like? What will that be like? I can't imagine. When you get to heaven [which according to all these physics lessons we've just had, when we are able to step outside of Space-Time and into God's realm, which is the ultimate reality, like us being able to step off the holo-deck we all exist on, where the holographic images we once were become a "solid" reality, stepping into Eternity], we're all going to be 30-something, 29, whatever, wherever you were your best, I guess, see my dad young, my grandpa young again. I'm looking forward to seeing Jesus Christ, that will be my joy of joys. I'm looking forward to getting ahold of my dad's ear again, same ear, upgraded, and rubbing it with my fingers, by faith, by faith. Maybe you're here tonight and you don't believe, you think we're insane, and you think everybody here is more insane because they listen to me, and you know I'm insane. You know, we're not giving out Cool-Aid at the doors or something. Look, Paul puts it this way, 'What if what we believe is not real? What if Christ isn't risen from the dead, what if there isn't another realm? What if that's the reality, and we live our lives with hope, and joy, and we're able to face death, and we're able to face difficulty, because of faith, and we live our whole lives with hope and with joy, and if none of it's real and we live that way, and we die, what have we lost? But if it's true, and you don't believe, what have you lost?' (possibly referring to 1st Corinthians 15:12-23) If that tomb in Jerusalem is empty, if on the 3rd day he did rise from the dead, if in that new upgrade, same body, but upgraded, spirit driven [now Calvary Chapel's believe this is Christ's new body, and we'll have the same, "flesh and bone" theology. Other's believe spirit is more solid than matter (outside this realm of Space-Time the holo-deck we live on), and our new bodies, like Christ's will be composed of pure spirit. Again, two differing theological positions, one of which will prove true, and we'll find out at the time of the 1st resurrection to immortality], software driven instead of blood-driven, all his blood was drained out. Stepping through walls, coming into the midst of the disciples, the new body, the new model, I can't wait. Traveling at the speed of light? No, Einstein only had half the speed, the quantum physicists have proved there are things going twice as fast. I don't want to travel at the speed of light, I want to travel at the speed of thought, much faster than the speed of light [Pastor Joe's biggest pet peeve is getting stuck in traffic, or behind someone going barely under the speed-limit]. And I've figured out that's why I'm frustrated in traffic now, because I was designed to travel [loud laughter] at the speed of thought. You know, if I could have just studied at home tonight until 7:30 and thought myself over here, thought myself showered and dressed, just thought myself over here, there'd be no problem. If I could just think myself healthy again, if I could just eat junkfood and think myself healthy, that's what I'm frustrated about. I'd like to do that. If I could just think my house painted, if I could think the trash out [remember that old TV comedy Bewitched?] If I could just think the furniture and the paint, everything perfect so my wife's completely happy. But you see, when we get to heaven [into the Kingdom of God as well, which will be on earth, but also into this realm outside of Space-Time, our present existence on this holo-deck] God will have thought ahead of us. And the thought of the place where we're going to is thought out with an infinite mind (cf. Revelation 21:1-23, the New Jerusalem, that heavenly city Abraham was longing for, Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16). And what will happen when we get there is then we will be allowed to just let our minds go, and it will never reach it's end. We will step into a place where every color is beyond what we've ever imagined is perfect, and we will run with it and never come to the end of it. Every sense, every light, every smell, every sensation, beyond the speed of thought, the reality, faith, right now, is the foundation of the things that we're hoping for, it's the conviction of things we have not yet seen.
"By Faith Abel Offered Unto God A More Excellent Sacrifice Than Cain"
In the sphere of this faith, the elders, some people we're going to look at, were well reported of, not by their own effort, but because they believed. Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker is God, they give us, we're surrounded with those witnesses, people who were able to do that without some of the light we have today, of the New Testament and Christ, they were able to do it. And they're held in front of us. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (verse 4) By faith, Abel. Interesting, we get the first generation born outside of Paradise, first sinners born. And the record begins there. "By faith Abel", somehow these sons, Genesis at the end of chapter 3 into chapter 4, it says "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them", animal skins. "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:" in a fallen state, "therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life." (Genesis 3:21-24) "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time" and the structure is "in the end of days," so there was a specific time, "it came to pass, that Cain brought the fruit of the ground to offer unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." We have the record of these two brothers, the writer to Hebrews telling us, "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." (verse 4) Adam and Eve evidently had taught these two young boys about substitutionary atonement. Abel knew somehow, we don't know if they were eating meat then, he was keeping sheep. Was it just for wool, no it had to be for sacrifice too [as well as eating meat, grrrhÉ] And in the process of time, in the end of days, specific days, at the end of the week it may indicate [since God specifically made the Sabbath just recently in Genesis 2:1-3, a specially sanctified day of rest made by God, as it says there]. And there was an appointed time and appointed place where they came to worship. They had been taught about worship from their mom and dad. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, didn't want to leave, they had known the presence of God intimately, didn't want to leave that. And yet God was afraid that if they ate of the tree of life in a fallen state life would go on perpetually in a fallen state. And he set these Cherubims, angelic beings with a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life, at the east of the Garden of Eden. So somewhere in that vicinity Adam and Eve must have come to worship. It says they had covered themselves with fig leaves, they knew they were naked and ashamed, they hadn't known they were naked before, because they weren't [here comes another doubtful Calvary Chapel belief, based more on speculation than Biblical fact], I believe they were clothed with light. It says in Revelation 19 that you and I when we get to heaven [and that occurrence is at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, just before we come back down again with Jesus Christ, as part of his conquering army, coming back to conquer the armies of the world and set up the Millennial Kingdom of God], we'll be clothed with fine linen, bright and white, and the linen is the righteousness, it says plural, of the saints, that's what we'll be clothed with. Well if Adam and Eve were created in his image and likeness, they were clothed with something similar, because they were created in their righteousness, in Christ's image and likeness. When they sinned, that went out, whatever it was [like I said, that's interpretationaly stretching things a bit, we'll find out when we get there, and what Adam and Eve appeared like in the Garden too]. They said, 'We knew we were naked.' God taught them about substitutionary atonement because they tried to cover themselves, and yet God covered them with skins, some animal, some creature was slain [probably a lamb], and they provided a covering, the concept all the way through the Old Testament. We know that, because they communicated that to their sons, we're assuming they communicated it to both, because Abel brought the firstling of the flock and of the fat thereof. The fat thereof, he must have known something about flaying of the sacrifice, opening it up. And now they're still living to be 900 years old. The earth is still pristine in it's state. And again, you can imagine, the things, small boys, I think of the things that I wondered at when I was a kid. Now I walk around life immune to my surroundings, when I was a kid I noticed every ant. I noticed the pebbles in the concrete that were worn to the surface, I noticed cracks, I noticed blades of grass. I would climb under the bushes where our cat had killed birds and mice and I would dig up all the skeletons and try to glue them together when I was a little kid. I was having a blast. Imagine these two young boys coming to Adam and saying 'Dad you should see this butterfly, six foot across, it's amazing, oh you got to see this waterfall.' And again, Adam saying 'yea, that's really cool, guys, that's really somethingÉ' and they're saying 'What is wrong with Dad? that man is always bummed out, he is never excited about anything.' And he must have said, 'Boys, these are all the things that are seen, but on the other side, in Paradise, we saw what the worlds were made of, the things that are not seen, we've stood face to face with God, we were in Paradise. We saw the second dimension, the third dimension, you only think you know, this is only a sad reflection, fallen, of what real beauty is, and real purpose.' And again, probably the only time they saw satisfaction, when they saw mom and dad at night, take a lamb, head off to that altar somewhere in the east of Eden and come back an hour or two later, bloody, tears in their eyes, peace on their face. And they learned, kids learn by observation. If you tell kids worship is great, and it ain't great for you, it is never going to be great for them. They saw something. And it wasn't just blood, the religion was substitutionary atonement, no doubt, but you know in Leviticus chapter 5 I think verse 17 it says there that those who are so poor that they can't even afford to offer turtle doves, can offer two handfuls of grain as a sin sacrifice. The idea was, it was faith, it says here, that set aside Abel's sacrifice, not just blood in and of itself. The Canaanites, the Hittites, they had all kinds of bloody things. But it was specific faith, in the blood of a substitute which would one day come. The two boys came to worship. Cain was not irreligious, it doesn't say that he didn't worship. They came together, one of them offered the fruit of the ground. That was probably more labor-intensive than what Abel offered. Abel, you know, the sheep was eating and growing, he didn't have to do all of that much work. The other brother sweated and worked and laboured, and he brought the fruit of the ground. And it says, 'God had respect unto the sacrifice of Abel, and not unto the offering of Cain.' Some manifestation, some signature, some evidence was given to show that God approved of one and not the other. And I think the evidence may be hinted at here, it says 'By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained' that's passive again, 'he was reported of, he was a witness that he was righteous, it was reported of him that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts' it's interesting, it says 'God testifying upon his gifts, God testifying upon [in the Greek] his gifts.' I believe that's what gave evidence that the sacrifice was accepted. In Genesis 15, verse 17 we know there that Abraham offered a sacrifice, and he divided the parts and he laid it out, and God passed through the midst in a burning pot and furnace with flame, giving evidence there that he was approving. Leviticus chapter 10, with Nadab and Abihu we hear that at the alter, the divine flame came from the alter and consumed them, that God gave evidence of his disapproval there. Judges chapter 6 when Gideon is there threshing and the LORD comes to him and manifests himself and then tells him to make up this offering, and he does, and it says the angel of the LORD's presence there touched it with his staff, and it burst into flames and he went up in the flame, God signifying that he approved of the offering. Same thing happened to Minoa, Samson's father, the presence of the angel of the LORD going up in the flame. We think of David in the threshing floor of Ornan, and it tells us in 1st Chronicles there that when he made the offering, that the fire fell from heaven upon it. 2nd Chronicles chapter 7, verses 1 to 3, Solomon at the dedication of the Temple, when he finally cut open the sacrifices fire fell, it was divine, God signifying that he gave approval. Of course Elijah on Mount Carmel, the fire fell from heaven. And it says here "God testifying upon his gifts" that he had approved. And I think that's what happened, and I think they came to that east gate, whatever that was, one of them offering the fruit of the ground, the other offering a lamb, and the fat thereof, laid it out and flayed it. And the fire of God, whether it proceeded from the Cherubim or whether it fell from heaven, consumed it, and signified God's approval. Both men fallen, both men sinners, both men struggled. You know, we hear of the righteous line of Seth, there's no such thing, they were all outside of Paradise, they were sinners, they all had to offer sacrifices.
Two Major Religious Systems Flow From These Two Boys
In fact, there were never two men more alike than Cain and Abel, never. They were more alike than any identical twins that have ever been born. God created Adam, programmed him [and the hardware part of him, every cell, having it's own hardware program we call DNA, and the software part of him, called in the Bible the "spirit in man" or the "spirit of man," giving Adam his human intellect and mental computing power, the power to be able to think and reason and problem solve and learn on a far greater scale than animals. For what animal can learn history, mathematics, astronomy, all the sciences, literature, languages, and even physics to the point where mankind can blow up the earth by splitting the atom?]. God demonstrated to him that it wasn't good to be alone, caused a deep sleep to fall on him, and took some of the flesh thereof from his side, and with that flesh he made Eve and brought her to Adam. Eve was not from a different family. She was made of the same DNA, the same structure that Adam was made of. [At this point, God must have modified the software in Adam, dividing certain mental traits we consider manly and leaving them with Adam, and dividing off to Eve certain traits that are womanly. See http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.com to see these different but complementary mental traits that exist between men and women.] Those two boys looked more alike than any identical twins, there wasn't any dominant and recessive genes. Nobody could say 'Boy, he takes after his mother's side of the family, boy he takes after his father's side of the family,' there was only one side to the family. He couldn't say one of the boys hung out with a bad crowd, there was no crowd, it was just the four of them. There was no peer pressure. If there was peer pressure, Cain would have offered a lamb instead. There was no gangster rap, there was no rage music, there was no hack 'em up movies, no bad influences. God does this all on purpose because, from this scene flows the stream of all religious practice in the world today, there is the religion of Cain, and there is the religion of God, the religion of Abel. And those two streams flow from this place, the religion of faith and the religion of works. And God made sure it flowed from a singular source. They didn't even have to fight over whose house they were going over to on Thanksgiving, there was only one family. There's the religion of do, and there's the religion of done. We worship at the alter of done, Jesus said, 'It is finished, Tutelisti, paid in full, done.' He ain't done with you, but it is done. [The new covenant, in it's simplest definition (Hebrews 8:9-13; Jeremiah 31:31-34) is God writing his laws within our hearts and minds, so this is a process of God doing within our hearts and minds, and within this process we have a vital part to play, so there is a doing portion to our personal salvation as well, as Pastor Joe says.] Atonement, redemption. And then there's a religion of works. And Cain rose up, against his brother. God said, 'Won't you be accepted,' literally, 'if you offer correctly,' he could have gone back and gotten a lamb and offered and God would have accepted. But there's something about that, when people work hard, and they huff and puff, and blow that house down, 'And I put the carpets in the church and the stained glass windows, put the offering envelope in every week, and you're going to tell me that Junkie friend of yours says he accept Jesus and he's going to heaven and I'm not!?' You know that argument. And religion, whether it was the death of Abel, or of the Prophets, or of the death of Christ, or the death of the martyrs, the Inquisition [of which my extremist Catholic sister says the Inquisition was to save souls], religion, the religion of works always persecutes the religion of faith. It's all over the news today, it's all flowed from there, it hasn't changed, it hasn't changed. You and I, by faith, we take hold of the things that God has for us. It's the foundation of what we hope for, it's the conviction of that which we have not yet seen. We know that God has accepted others, by it and in the sphere of it, other's have received a good report, he's given us that great cloud of witnesses around us. 'And we know, and we perceive, that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, and that the things that do appear are made of things which are not seen, we know that [and now modern physicists, the most brilliant minds in science, know that also].' It's a conviction. We believe in another realm. 'By faith, Abel, by faith, that's what set him aside, offered a more excellent sacrifice to God.' Éthe challenge, what does Abel have to say to us, the first witness that we encounter here, and that we'll get to tonight? (and I was hoping to get further, but.) Abel has to say to us, that the closest person to you in the world, may not agree with what you believe. You believe that through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven and you're going to go to heaven [or into the Kingdom of heaven, whether on earth during the Millennium or thereafter, which is Biblically accurate, and also into the realm God exists in outside of Space & Time, wherever and whatever that is.] The closest person to you on the planet may challenge that, it may be a wife or a husband. It may be your best friend where you work [I've had a few of those, really close, could talk about most everything, except my beliefs]. It may cost you. Hostility may be piled up against you, not because you deserve it, but because works, the religion of works, the religion of do can't stand the religion of done, the religion of faith. But that's exactly what the writer to Hebrews has been encouraging them about now, going into eleven chapters.
'Let Us Run The Race Set Before Us, Setting Aside Every Sin That So Easily Besets Us'
And he's going to say 'Let us run, with endurance, the race that's set before us, laying aside every sin that doth so easily beset us,' (Hebrews 12:1b) it's interesting, Camel Morgan translates that "Sin in good standing." You know, there's some sins out there, the Church is so watered down and luke warm now, 'Oh it's ok to do this,' I mean, sin is so vile now, and it's so disgusting now in the world around us, that we're almost glad to hear about good old red-blooded American sin, it ain't so bad anymore, on the scale of insanity. But the Bible doesn't teach that, the Bible doesn't teach that. [Comment: again, the Bible definition for sin is found in 1st John 3:4, which states, "Sin is the transgression of the law." When John wrote that, the New Testament didn't exist as a finished work yet, so all that they had was the Old Testament, so that referred to the Old Testament Law of God. Interesting. Now we've seen in Hebrews 10 that the ceremonial laws of God found in the Old Testament, the "Law of the Offerings" has been abrogated by the very sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but the rest, the moral laws of the Ten Commandments are still in place.] "Let us lay aside every sin that so easily doth beset us." I've just, when my kids and I were watching the Olympic swimmers the other night on TV, and they've got these all different kinds now, spandex, they're not like Steve Erwin the Crocodile man or sharks or something, he still has his boots and his shorts and his hat on, and I'm thinking, you know, they make better gear now for what you're doing. You don't see guys in the Olympics jumping in with one of those hats, their boots and their socks, you know, because they strip down, they try to take off every thing, everything that might impede them. And then there are new spandex rubber suits, they contract, and all the stripes go this way, because it makes them more streamlined to go through the water, you don't want anything going this way anymore. [The logic being that if the new covenant is defined by God writing his laws within our hearts and our minds, we don't want to be impeding what God is doing by sinning, which is the antithesis of what God is trying to place within our hearts and minds. That should be a no-brainer.] 'Let us lay aside every sin, weight, that so easily doth beset us, and run the race, run the race.' It may cost you a best friend. Abel stands up and says, 'You can do it, you can do it. I had one fourth of the world's population against me.' [he's laughing] 'A billion and a half people hated my guts.' 'It cost me my life. But my faith is still speaking.' His faith still speaketh. Jesus tells us in Luke chapter 11, verses 50 and 51, 'that all of the blood of the prophets was shed from Abel' calls him a prophet, to Zechariah.' But why is Abel a prophet? Because in Revelation 19 it tells us that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. And that Abel, when he offered his sacrifice, was looking forward to the One who would come. God must have told Adam and Eve, 'This is going to be the way back to the Tree of Life, it's going to be through the death of an innocent substitute.' That can be offensive. John tells us in his first Epistle, he says, 'For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain, who was of that wicked one,' Cain, who was of that wicked one, which is not a weird theory, I'm not gonna go there, but. 'who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. Wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's were righteous.' Satan didn't go away after he tempted Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3. He showed up again in Genesis chapter 4. And Satan hated the sacrifice of Abel more than Cain did. And he incited him, and has been inciting the bloodshed of untold millions throughout history, religion. You think of the trouble in the world today, Jerusalem, the center of world tension. It isn't anywhere else, it's there, Muslims on Friday, Jews on Saturday, Christians on Sunday, fighting over a rocky hill that you wouldn't pay money for. And there's nothing there but the conviction of human hearts, it's the tension of the world today. And that boils down to our homes, 'A prophet is not without honour except in his own house, and amongst his own friends.' What is the cost to you to stand up in school, some of you go to this school, it's a Christian school, and you're afraid to stand up and take a stand for Jesus, in a Christian school. It says here, 'let us run the race with endurance, the race that's set before us,' because in our hearts we are laying ahold of something real, it's the foundation of something we're hoping for, it's the conviction of things we haven't seen yet with our eyes. And I'll tell you this, as life goes on, and pain becomes part of it, and heartache, this world becomes less and less attractive, and the next one, yet unseen, becomes sweeter and sweeter and sweeter. And because it does, the blood of Jesus becomes more central and more central and more central, what he's done on our behalf. You know, I remember the reaction of some after seeing the movie The Passion of Christ, you know, you walk away from that thinking 'He held nothing back.' Because you're kind of shocked and ambushed by the visual thing of it. I remember thinking, as I watched it, 'He didn't hold anything back, he gave everything.' I remember my son saying to me, 'I kept thinking, Stop them! Stop them! You can stop them! Stop them! Stop them!' He could have. He held nothing back, for you and I. And he's purchased us all that we believe in now. And I don't want to hold anything back, either. I do, but I don't want to. I want to lay aside every weight, those things that are not expedient, not sinful, but if they're not expedient, and I want to run. You know, I think we only have half a lap left! It isn't that far to the finish line now. [i.e. he's talking about current events heading toward, leading us toward World War III, the Tribulation, leading to the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, and the first resurrection, the Rapture, whenever that event takes place within the timeframe of those events (it's hotly debated amongst Christian denominations when that will be).] And we want to say with Paul, 'I fought the fight, kept the faith, finished my course, henceforth there's a crown of righteousness laid up for me, and not for me only, but for all those who love his appearing.' Let's do that, let's run well. You know, I want to be a good finisher, I want to be a good finisher. I don't want to just run the race, and then keel over before the finish line, or get caught in a tar pit or something. We want to be good finishersÉ[transcript of a connective expository sermon on Hebrews 11:1-4, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]
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