Be turning with me this afternoon to the book of Hebrews 11. While you're turning there, I want to read to you from Colossians 2:6, where the Bible says, "As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." And then verse 7 says, "Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished (or established) in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him. You received Him by faith.
Hebrews 11 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders received 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 by 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 (or his sacrifice); and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him. For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became the heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
Father, we bow in Your presence again today to thank You for the Word of God. We thank You Lord that it is our food, it is our life. We thank You for the Spirit of God that inspired this Book. We thank You for the Spirit of God Who now illuminates the Word of God to our hearts. And I pray, Lord, You would do that this afternoon. I want to thank You for these men. I want to thank You Lord for what my eyes have seen, what I've heard. Thank You Lord for my own heart being refreshed by the fellowship. Lord I bless You today for this church, for their pastors; and Lord, for those in leadership, and for those who are in followership. Lord I just bless You and praise You. Raise up more, Lord. Lord help us in this hour. You know my weakness. Lord, You know my inabilities. And so I pray, O God, that Your name would be glorified in spite of me; and Your truth, dear Lord, would come out regardless of what I say. Lord I pray Your truth would reign supreme in this place today. But if it please You Lord, help me to speak the truth. Help me to say things in a way that's easily understood; and Lord, in a way that glorifies Christ, I pray. Thank You again for the cross. Thank You Lord for the blood that was shed for us. Lord I bless You and thank You for salvation today. Thank You for the companionship of the Holy Spirit. O God, thank You that we can call You, Abba our Father. Lord we praise You today and thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him. The Bible says that we received Him by faith. Scripture tells us that we're saved by grace through faith. And neither the grace nor the faith is of ourselves, but it's the gift of God. God in mercy, if you're saved today, reached down and saved you. And He, by grace, gave you faith to believe the Gospel. If you're saved today, God, by grace, gave you faith to believe the Gospel. Last night, I gave my testimony. And I did that on purpose because I wanted it to kind of preface what we're going to be talking about in these days if God continues to lead me in the way. I feel like He is.
I don't think most of us today really understand how faith operates in the life of a Christian. We believe we were saved by faith. I gave you my testimony last night, and I told you that for the first time in my life, on that Thursday evening at about 10 minutes till 7; for the first time in my life, I genuinely believed that Jesus Christ had died on the cross for my sins. And that if I would call upon Him, He would forgive me of my sins and change my life, and save me forever. Out of faith I did call upon Him. And in response to His own word and His own promise, He did save me. So my life as a Christian began in faith. And if you're saved here today, your life began in faith. Your Christian life began in faith. You exercised faith.
I've listened to a lot of testimonies. And I have to tell you I believe certain things about testimonies. If I offend somebody, you're just offended, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry that you're offended; I'm sorry that you have to be offended. But you hear me today, you don't go to bed one night lost and wake up saved. You don't grow into salvation. It's not a gradual thing. God saves sinners; He saves people who understand that they are lost; and they exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Now I understand there are different experiences, and I'm not trying to say everyone has to have the same experience that I've had. But there are some elements to salvation that are the same. Lostness is one of them. Human depravity, and the recognition of human depravity, whether you know that word or not, is one of them. And the need of a Savior (that's "being lost"); and coming to Christ in faith as the Savior and the Lord of your life is the other one. Now you have all kinds of stuff in between there, and all kinds of phenomenon that happen. And you felt this, and you saw that, and all the rest of that stuff. But there's at least two things that are essential. You have to come to the end of yourself, and you have to come to Christ. And that's faith. That's faith.
So how do you live the Christian life after that? Most of us are taught that after you're saved, then you've got a set of rules that you need to live by. Get up the next morning after you're saved, and you gotta have a prayer time. You gotta read your Bible. How many Christians are reading their Bible because they are supposed to? Not because they're wanting to get something from God, but because they're supposed to? How many Christians are praying because they are obligated to pray? "The Bible says, 'Pray without ceasing,' so I guess I better pray some. And I want to be a good Christian, and I want to be a spiritual person."
And then when you head down in that direction, and I have to tell you, my background is in fundamental Baptist background. And brother, one of the first messages I heard after the Lord saved me was, "You know, you Christians sitting out here that have been saved, you need to get right with God." And then, we were constantly told we needed to get right with God. And so, we were constantly getting right with God, not knowing that it was the blood of Jesus Christ that eternally made us right with God. (Amen). It was through the blood of Christ that we have fellowship with God.
So a lot of people are brought into Christianity, the Lord saves them. And then immediately, because of false teaching, they are brought into a works kind of mindset. We fall into this legalism. And it doesn't matter whether it's an outward legalism or an inward legalism. You know, the guys I ran around with as a young Christian, very impressionable Christian, they were extremely legalistic. Men who didn't wear bermuda shorts, for instance. It was a saying back in those days for girls, if a girl had a slit in her dress - "slits are for sluts". Isn't that terrible? I'm admitting those kinds of things are terrible, but that's the kind of Christianity that I was birthed into. And I was genuinely saved, (they were right about conviction, and they were right about the blood of Christ,) but then immediately cast into this legalistic type of Christianity.
Well, I began to pray, and I began to seek to grow in the Lord. And as I did that, I testified last night how the Lord saved me, how the Lord gave me my wife - all that was by faith. I had come to the end of myself about a wife, and then the Lord gave me a wife. "As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." So as we learn to come to the end of ourselves in our Christian life, in our life, in our efforts, in our ability; and constantly live on the cusp of "not I, but Christ. It's Christ that lives in me. It's Christ living His life in me"; as you learn that, you are actually learning what the Bible means when it says, "The just shall live by faith." That's where life is.
You see, life is not in legalism. And life is not in licentiousness. You got a whole crowd of folks over here on one side who are saying, "Well, I'm saved by grace and therefore I can live anyway I want to. I can live in sin if I want to because I'm saved by grace. I mean, God put my name down in the book of life. I'm forever saved, hallelujah. Once saved, always saved." And I believe in "once saved, always saved". But I always say it like this: "Once SAVED, SAVED, really SAVED, always saved." We got a lot of people who say they are saved, who've never been saved. We got a whole lot of people who say that they are children of God, who've never come to Christ.
That's another issue. The point I'm trying to get across today is: the just shall live by their faith. You got one crowd over here who says they are saved by grace, and they live anyway they want to. I believe the Bible teaches they're lost. I believe that's what the Scripture says. You know a false prophet by the fruits he bears; you know a Christian by the fruits he bears. You know whether a man is real or not by his love for Christ, and by the life that he lives. You got people on the other side, as I said, that are very legalistic. It's immediately, "You have to get right with God, and stay right with God, and you do these things in order to stay right with God." Well, I've got news for you: There is one performance that God accepted, and that was the work of His Son, in His life and in His death on Calvary's cross. And even now, in His intercession for His children. And my life has to be lived by faith in that.
So now listen to me. He gives us here a definition of what faith is. What does it mean to live by faith? And I've read the commentaries. They say this is not a definition, but I'm going to say it is. Listen to what he says. If I say to you, "Assured is", and then I tell you what "assured" is, I've given you a definition of "assured". Faith is, listen now, in the original language, it actually starts off with the "Is". "Is faith" - this is really what faith is. It is the reality of things that are hoped for. Now if you're reading a modern translation, it may translate it better than the KJV. But what he is saying is: faith is the title deed, the reality of things that we have confident assurance over. If I buy something on the Internet and I get the receipt, and I print out the receipt, I've got a title deed to it. It's the title deed of something that I have confidence I'm going to get in the mail. That's faith. If I own a piece of property and I have the deed to that piece of property, I may never have seen that property yet, but I'm the owner of that property. It is a reality in my life. He says that's what faith is. Listen now, the presence of faith in your life is that.
Now listen to what the object of that is. He says, "Faith is the title deed, the substance, the reality of things that we're confident we will have. Confident things. It is the evidence, the convincing, of things not yet seen. We are convinced of things that are not yet seen. And then he's going to explain how faith works. Look at the next two verses. He said, "For by it, the elders obtained a good report." And we're going to read about some of those elders down through here later on. But he just makes the general statement: This is how the elders lived their lives and pleased God. This is how the Old Testament saints walked with God and pleased God. It was by faith. And they saw something far off that they had not possessed yet, but they believed God for it, and they lived as if it was theirs because it was theirs. That's what faith is.
And then he says in verse 3, "Through faith we understand..." wait a minute, let me stop there. We say, "If I could understand something then I'll believe it." God says, "No. You believe something, and then you understand it." "By faith we understand that the worlds were created - listen to what he says - they were framed, the ages were framed by the word of God (God's speech), so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Now we know that's true. You go back to Genesis, God said, "Let there be light." God spoke the world into existence. From His word, out of nothing, God spoke things into existence. And the world you see around you right now is made of things that are not seen.
By the way, it's just in the 21st century that we've really come to understand that the world is made by things you can't see. They've looked at the atom. And then they've gotten down below the atom, and looked at the protons and the electrons. And they've gotten down below the electrons and protons, and looked at the quarks and the neutrinos and all the rest of that stuff. And they've gotten to the place where they can isolate something, but the problem is, it's moving so quickly they can never see it. They only way they can say it is "it was there," because it's moved so quickly they can't see it. And so, actually, the world, the things that you can see is literally made from things that can't be seen. Isn't that amazing? And now some people say, "Well now, now I believe it." You don't have faith. That's not faith. Faith is: God said this, that settles this. God said it: The worlds were framed, the ages were made by the word of God. That's how faith works.
Now you're going to see that more practically here in just a minute. I really want you to get it. Listen to what he says now. He says, "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." So Abel brings a sacrifice to God out of his flock. How did he know to do that? I think the way he knew to do that is that (this has to be speculation somewhat), but his parents had been clothed with the skins of animals that had died because of their sins. I think Adam knew much more about the Gospel than we could believe He knew. And when Abel comes to God, he realizes there is something about the innocent dying in the place of the guilty. And he brings his sacrifices to God.
Of course Cain is over here laboring. He is so proud of that 30-pound watermelon, and he gets the biggest one and the best one. And that 20-pound squash that he's grown. And that ear of corn that's 3-feet long. And he brings all of this that he has sweated over and toiled over. And he lays them before God, and he says, "See God what I have done." And God does not smile upon his sacrifice. And guess what, God says, "Abel is righteous; Cain is unrighteous." And Abel dies. And the unrighteous seed persecutes the righteous, and the righteous dies. Why did Abel die? Abel died because he exercised faith. By faith he brought that sacrifice. He had an insight into the will of God. And, in doing the will of God by offering the innocent animal, he comes before God. And because he does that and God accepts him, Cain murders him. Cain, who is of his father the devil.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death. Wait a minute. Here's another man who comes along, who has this testimony that he pleased God; and God doesn't allow him to die. He's taken out. He's translated. He's brought out of this world. Faith works both ways. When we get down into the latter part of Hebrews 11, you're going to find some that God delivered from the sword, and some that gave up to the sword. Some who wandered this world in terrible situations, and others who were victorious. Some who were fed to the lions and died, and some who shut the mouths of lions by faith. And both of them by faith. You see, the problem with us is: We don't understand that faith is not something we grab hold of and manipulate and use for ourselves; it's something that God works in us for His purpose to do His will in us. That's what faith is about.
And so Enoch escapes. Now listen. He says, "But without faith it's impossible to please Him, that is, God. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Now here it's going to get really important. I'm not going to preach a long time this afternoon, but I want to say to you it's about to get really important in your life. Listen to what he says: "By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet." Wait a minute. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen yet. Noah, if you go back to Genesis 6 and read his history, you find that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; and because he found grace in the eyes of the Lord, he was a perfect man and an upright man. He lived for the Lord in a terrible generation. In a time when everybody else - God said the whole earth, every imagination was wicked constantly, continously. It was a wicked, wicked place. And yet Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
And God said something to Noah. And Noah heard God, and believed God, and obeyed God. And there was results that came from that. Now hear me. That is the life of faith. The faith life is a living relationship with the living God, who deals with your life in your circumstances, according to the principles and the teachings of His Word, so that He guides you day by day through all kinds of situations in your life. I told you about meeting my wife because I wanted you to understand. I was a young man who had absolutely no experience. I was naive. I didn't know so many things about living life. And yet God, in His mercy, arranged things so that I would find the very woman that He wanted me to have; that twenty years later down the road would preserve my life, and preserve my ministry, and set me free. He arranged that. But how did that start? A conviction in my heart that was biblical: "If God wants me to have a wife, He can give me a wife." Here's the biblical truth: We receive every thing we need from the Lord in this life. We don't need anything else from anybody else, except from the Lord.
The Lord gives us everything we need. He's our Source. As a child of God, you're born out of this world into the spiritual world. And God is your Supplier. Jesus Christ is your Shepherd. That's what David meant in Psalm 23 when he said, "The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me in green pastures." And then think about everything he said God supplied in His life. God is your Supplier. And there I am, young, naive, young fellow; and I just believed the Bible. I believed God has a woman for me. And so I seek His face and I wait before Him until He does exactly what He promised He would do.
Here is Noah. He's walking with God. The Bible says, "Noah walked with God," just like Enoch walked with God. Enoch got taken out, Noah got given a job. The Lord said, "I want you to build a boat." "Why would I build a boat, Lord?" "It's going to rain." "What is rain?" "Water is going to fall from the heavens, and the fountains of the great deep are going to break up, and I'm going to destroy this generation of people. I am going to destroy the whole earth." Now listen to what he says. Listen again. He says, "Without faith it's impossible to please God." Verse 7, "By faith Noah, (he heard from God,) being warned of God of things not seen as yet, (hadn't rained yet,) moved with fear, (he moved, how? out of obedience to God.) He moved with fear and prepared an ark to the saving of his house." And by the way, the rest of us too - to the saving of all the rest of humanity, so that the human race didn't perish from off the face of the earth.
So Noah hears from God, he is moved with fear, he obeys God by preparing the ark, and he saves his house; by which he condemned, in building the ark, he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Now hear me: That's repeated over and over and over again in this chapter on faith. My question to you is, What issue in your life are you hearing from God about? We are a pretty complacent bunch if we don't have any needs that we need to hear from God about. I'm not talking about something mystical here, I'm talking about something practical. I'm not talking about something weird, if you're saved you know what it means to be in fellowship with the Lord. And if you're in fellowship with the Lord, it's not always just hallelujah. I'm learning prayer is not always me talking. It's a two-way conversation. And the Lord deals with us, again, according to His Word, according to the Scriptures. It is filled, His Word is filled with promises, and His Word is filled with encouragements. But listen to me. The Word becomes alive in us.
You remember Jesus' rebuke to Satan? "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It's a little Greek word, rhema. It's the spoken word of God. Same word when Paul says, "Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of God." I'm saying to you, and I want to say this with all of my heart this afternoon. Don't allow yourself to be deceived by dead orthodoxy; by believing that because you believe certain doctrines, you're all right; or because you prayed a prayer that you're all right. I know you know better than that, but listen to me. The life of the Christian is to be lived by faith. I'm here this week by faith. I'm not here because I feel like I'm strong, and I could come out here and just wallow round in the pasture and fight through barb-wire fence, and go shoot guns. Five years ago, I might have felt that way. Now I'm weak.
I heard somebody say "motel" last night, and I said thank you Jesus [laughter]. I honestly believe God provided that for me. If you don't understand that there are things that you are trying to deal with right now in your life that God has an opinion on, God has a will about; and our business is not to run around and try to automatically, mechanically, do certain things. Our business is to find out what is the will of God in this situation. Now we have an advantage over Noah, and Enoch, in that we do have the canonised Word of God. We have the Bible.
And as I warned you last night, I'll probably warn you this way every time I speak this way because I know a lady who got a hold of this truth that God can lead you, and God can speak to your heart. And so, my goodness, she justifies everything she does by "God told her". "God told her this. God told her that. God told her the other." And God told her several things that's not in the Bible. And I told her that it wasn't God telling her that, that I genuinely questioned her understanding of those things. Hear me very closely. We have a standard, and what is not specifically spoken of in the Bible is spoken of in principles. There are principles that cover whatever is in your life. And so our business is to find out what does God say about this thing? What does the Lord want about this thing?
I had a lady in our church who began to pray for her dad. She sought the Lord diligently for her dad's salvation. Her dad was just a pagan. He had never been to church. Just a rough, old man; never been to church at all; didn't care about church. And God began to deal with her heart. She read over in 1 Timothy where the Bible says, "God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." And it came alive in her heart, "That means my dad." You can sit down and double-exegete that Scripture to death if you want to. But God brought that alive in her heart. She said, "That means my dad." And to make a long story short, in about a year the Lord saved him. She continued to pray in faith: "O God, that means my dad, that means my dad, that means my dad." The Word of God came alive to her. I'm saying to you, don't, for anything, allow yourself to be sucked in to this intellectualized, mechanical kind of Christianity that is so popular today among young people.
We hear the doctrines of grace. Well, I love the doctrines of grace. I remember as a brand new Christian in that Armenian atmosphere that I was in, I always had the question, Why did God save me out of that youth group that was so worldly? Why didn't He save my friends like He saved me? I finally came to the conclusion that that was His business, not my business. But as I grew, and as I understand the Scriptures and began to believe the doctrines of grace, it's a great blessing to my life, great truths about election and all of those things. I love those truths but you hear me: Those truths themselves will not save you. Salvation is an encounter with the living God. And hear me now, the Christian life is that same encounter. Don't stop encountering Christ. Don't stop doing that.
You can go down a religious, we call them over at the Carolinas, a little religious pig trail. Just off the main trail, running off after some new doctrine or some new idea. And boy I tell you, it is really puffing up, isn't it? It makes you feel intellectual, you can discuss sublapsarianism, doesn't it? It really makes you feel good, doesn't it? Especially if you can say that, and somebody look at you and say, "I don't know what he's talking about." It really makes you feel good, doesn't it? It's not worth a hoot. I'll tell you what's worth something. Being warned of God, he obeyed the Lord and he saved his family by doing it. That's what's worth something.
Are you where you are because God's led you to where you are? or are you supposed to be somewhere else? You see, I realize this afternoon that I'm talking to somebody that might end up in Iraq, or in the hands of ISIS. I understand that. And I want to tell you something, it'd be better to be in the hands of ISIS in the will of God, filled with the Spirit of God, than it would be to be in the greatest hospital surrounded by the greatest doctors on earth, out of the will of God. So how do you do that? By faith. As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him; built up and rooted in the faith. Built up in Him. You see, that Colossians passage doesn't say "just built up in the Word," it says "built up in Him." Again, it's a relationship. It's Him.
So Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham - the writer seems to be bringing out some very important people in the life of Israel. Remember he's writing to the Hebrews, the so-called Christian Hebrews, and he's reminding them of their heritage. And he says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed." - Alright, you got the elements again. Abraham heard God. God spoke to Abraham. What did He say? He said, "Abraham, I want you to go with Me. I'm going to take you to a place you don't know of." Abraham said, "Where are we going?" God said, "Just come on."
Can you imagine how it must have felt to Sarah when Abraham walks into her tent, looks at her, and says, "Honey, pack up, we're leaving." And she says, "We're leaving, but all our family is here." And he says, "Yeah but we're leaving. God says, 'Go.'" She says, "But, but, but where are we going?" He says, "I don't know, but we're going." "I don't know?" "Well we're going with God, and God's going to lead us."
I remember when I was a young man, I pastored for 4 years in Laurel, North Carolina. I could see the little mountain where I was raised from where I was pastoring the church, within 3 or 4 miles of my mom and dad's house. And I remember when God began to deal with my heart to go to school; and began to deal with my heart to go to school in Mississippi, which was five hundred miles away from where I was. And I felt like Abraham. I felt like I'm going someplace, I had never even been to Mississippi except for going to a camp meeting in North Mississippi. But as far as knowing anything about the place, I knew nothing about the place. But my wife and I packed up our goods, and we put them in a U-Haul or whatever it was, and we went to Mississippi. I stayed there for 18 years. The Lord taught me some awesome things while I was in Mississippi. And it was God's will for me to be in Mississippi.
Now you say, "Brother Mike, why do you bring that up?" Because when I left North Carolina, I didn't know exactly how things were going to be. People taught I was crazy. My mom and dad couldn't understand. "How is it that you could just get up and just go somewhere like that? I mean, there are schools here, Mike. You don't have to go to Mississippi to go to college. There's Gardner-Webb, there's this school, there's that school, there's the other school." No. God wants me to go to Mississippi. And so we went to Mississippi, spent 18 years there in the will of God. We came to Kentucky. I spent six years in a church, getting ready to go to the church I'm in now. That may sound odd to you but I did. And I've been where I am now 15 years. But listen, God's ways are not our ways. It's not us to question where God leads and what God says, except to verify by the Word of God. And when that's done and we know we're following the Lord, strike out brethren.
Abraham obeyed God. He went to a place he should after receive as an inheritance. And he went out - listen to this - not knowing where he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise. You know what that means? It means he stayed there. The only way he could stay in the land of promise was by faith. And the Scripture says, "He was in a strange country. He was dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise." Here's the promise he had. God said, "I'm going to take you to a city." And then He took him to Israel. He took him to a wilderness almost. Now it's a beautiful land, I've been there. But listen to what it says: "He went to a place. He looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
When he left Ur of Chaldees, he was looking for a city. He was looking for a permanent residence. And what he found was a place for his trailer. He found a place to park his U-Haul for a while. And then for a little while, somewhere else. And then a little while, somewhere else. And we're going to find out later that all of these who followed in faith did exactly the same thing, looking for the fulfilment of the promises of God.
"Through faith also Sarah received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age," I guess she was. Ninety years old is pretty well past childbearing age, wasn't she? "because - now hear this - she judged Him faithful who had promised." You remember the story? Abraham is outside his tent. There's some guys who come walking up. One of them happens to be God. And He tells Abraham, "This time next year, Sarah will have a child." Sarah's 89 years old there. And she laughs. That's why they named the child Isaac by the way. It means laughter. And she laughs. But somewhere in there she believes God, and she says in her heart, "If God said it, that settles it. It is so." And when she said it's so, and settled it in her heart that God had already settled it - listen to me now - when she settled it that God had settled it, it became so in her life, and she received strength as a 90-year old woman to bear a child. That's how faith works. We have faith, and then we understand. We have faith, then we receive strength. We believe God, then God does the work.
The Lord Jesus made a promise to His disciples. He said, "Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. Whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The Greek there actually says, "Whatsoever you bind on earth shall have already been bound in heaven. Whatsoever you loose on earth shall have already been loosed in heaven." In other words, our business is to find out what He has bound and binded before we see it bound. Do you understand faith is seeing something before you can see it? It is receiving something before you receive it. It is the subjective acceptance of what is so before it actually physically becomes so. That's what faith is. And the fact of faith itself is the evidence of the confident expectation that you have.
So she received strength to conceive seed when she believed, and as she believed the promise. Wasn't it some lepers who came to Jesus and they asked to be cleansed? Jesus said, "Go to the temple and offer the sacrifices that are supposed to be sacrificed for the cleansing." And as they went they were cleansed. You know what flesh does? Flesh looks around and says, "Why should I go to the temple? I'm not cleansed yet." But as they went they were cleansed.
Satan does not waste his time in counterfeiting things that are not true. There is a word of faith movement out there that's Name it-Claim it, Blab it-Grab it. And they teach all you have to do is: Say something and God will bring it to pass. Here's the problem with that: The will begins in their heart, rather than in the mind of God. And so that's a counterfeit. Now the reason Satan counterfeits it is because there is a reality there. And the reality is: When God says it, then we can say it and do it in the will and power of God. But if Satan can chase you away from those kinds of truths, he can keep you from walking in faith.
"Sarah received strength because she believed the promise. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which are by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises." He never found that city. He never did. Not here. Not in the land of Canaan. But they, listen to what it says, "These all - Abraham, and Noah, and Sarah, and Isaac, and Jacob, all of these, and he's going to name a bunch more because he says it again down in verse 39 - but he says these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off. They saw them. They got a word from God about them. They knew what God said. And they were persuaded of them. Listen, when you're persuaded of something, that's subjective. And then the next word is they embraced them. It's actually they greeted them. They said, "Hello! Praise God. This is true." And they embraced the promises. And they confessed that this world didn't mean a thing to them. They were pilgrims and strangers.
You know what a stranger is? A stranger is a guy who is not from around here. And a pilgrim is a guy who is just passing through. And they confessed: "We're not from around here, and we're not going to stay here. God has got something better for us." "But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." Do you think for a second that Abraham is disappointed this afternoon? You think Sarah is disappointed? Do you think Noah is disappointed? God said, "I'm not ashamed of them, because when I said something, they believed it. It became settled in their heart, and then I did it."
Jesus said, "When I come again, will I find faith on the earth?" He's not talking about a general "I believe in God" faith. He's talking about a living faith, an experiential faith. "Will I find people who are living by faith?" There's more to it than just "I got saved; now I'm gonna go to church; I'm going to do the best I can". It's a walking with God. It's a being where God wants you to be. It's building what God told you to build. It's believing that things exist that you don't see yet, that are out there in the future that God has promised you. And I'm going to tell you something: that you may die not seeing, but believing God anyway. That's real faith.
The story is told of George Mueller, and I get these things, you know, the exact figures are not necessarily true. But I have read where George Mueller prayed for a couple of men to be saved, and claimed them, and believed God was going to save them. And it was many, many, many years after he was dead that God saved both of them. I have something on my heart right now that I know God is doing. If it wasn't on film, I'd tell you about it. But I know God is doing it. I know God is doing it. And because I know He's doing it, He's doing it. "Explain that, brother Mike." I can't. It's faith. It's something God gave me about a certain issue and I know it's true. And it lines up with the Scriptures, so I know it's true.
What's going on in your life? What are you believing God for? What's the Lord dealing with you about? Are you in a blank spot right now? That's possible. I mean, you read the rest of the history of these guys, they went through uptimes and downtimes. But the just shall live by faith. Hear me. That's the way a Christian's life goes. There may be a valley, but he's tending. When was the last time you had a faith experience with the Lord? "Oh brother Mike, I got saved back 20 years ago. Let me tell you..." Yeah, but when was the last time you had a faith experience with Jesus? When was the last time you needed Him? When was the last time He led you? When was the last time He spoke to you, and guided you, and directed your life into a certain area, and fulfilled His will in you?
Brethren, that's what it's all about. The just shall live by their faith. That's when you get into miracles. That's when you begin to see stuff happen that you can't explain by organization and human ability. That's whenever you start seeing mighty things happen. Jesus said, "If you say to that mountain, 'Be removed,' and believe in your heart without doubting, it will be cast into the sea, it'll happen." I don't read one instance in the New Testament where Jesus looked at a mountain and said, "Be cast into the sea," or his disciples did that. So He's not saying like some people foolishly think: "Just randomly test God and see, tell that tree to go run down the road." He's not doing that. What He is saying is: "When I direct you, and I've settled something; you settle it, and believe Me. And I'll do it." Amen. I'm through. That's my conclusion. I'm through.