THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date – 5-27-12

LESSON TITLE: “BY FAITH ABEL…”

(FIRST SEGMENT - WELCOME - CORNER BOOKSHELF)

Here we are on another wondrous Lord’s Day! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for the Living Word. Thank you for choosing to be with us for this time of offering to God.

As most of you know, it will be our privilege today to sing songs of praise to our God and to study from His perfect Word! What greater activity, could we together engage in this morning for the sake of our God. May we each do our part to make this time beneficial toward God, according to His Will. Now, let’s approach our Father’s throne in prayer.

(Prayer)

This morning we want to begin with a song which helps us to realize that we never have to wonder which way to go and that we are never alone in this life. Won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “He Leadeth Me!”

(BREAK FOR SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

I was reminded the other day about a story I once heard concerning a little boy who was complaining to his grandma about all the problems he had in life! He griped about school, chores and even friends who weren’t treating him right. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We’ve all been there and done that, as well we have heard it from our own children.

Later that day, the grandma was working on making a cake and called to the boy, who was playing outside – she felt it was time to teach him an important lesson. With a loving tone of voice, she asked her grandson if he would like a snack, to which she received an excited reply, “Yes ma’am,” as he headed over toward the cookie jar.

But grandma said, “Here have some cooking oil.” To which the boy replied, “Yuck!” “Well then,” she said, “how about some raw eggs,” To which the boy replied, “gross grandma!” “Then how about some baking soda,” “no way,” said the young boy with a grin on his face.

Having set the stage the grandma then said, “You see son, all these things seem bad when you think of them by themselves, but when you put them together they make a wonderful delicious cake!” To which she then added, “In life God works in the same way. And many times we wonder why He would let us go through such problems, or difficult and hard times. But God knows that when he puts these things together and in order, they always work for good.”

Oh, what a true lesson in life. We must learn to trust in God to know that He will make good things out of all things which happen in our life. In fact, isn’t that what Paul was talking about when he said, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

Have you put your faith and trust in God? Are you seeing great things in your life because of your faithfulness to His calling? Choose to follow God, in His way today!

Our topic today will again focus on our series concerning Faith! Today our specific lesson will deal with the “By Faith Able….” So stay with us this morning and in a few minutes I will return to lead us in our thoughts of the Day. Now it’s time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, “He Lives.”

(SONG # 2)



LESSON

By Ray Sullins

In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” As we begin this day we are again excited to continue our discussion concerning faith. So far together we have had, I believe, a good discussion in relationship to what faith is and trying to understand what the meaning of that word is as well as the application in the life of a believer. But also we have been able, the last week, to look at the idea there found in verse 3 of trying to understand that God is the creator. And although we did not see him create it and God is not with us today in a very literal or physical sense we still by faith believe that he spoke the word and framed the worlds.

Today then we again want to continue and really head into another direction in our series having defined faith and looked at the idea of the reality that it takes faith to believe in creation and the fact that God made all things. We then look at specific individuals who responded to faith and by faith in God. By that what I mean is that if you will remember there in our first lesson, Hebrews 11:6, that it is impossible to please God without faith. And so what we are going to begin to do is look at each of those individuals found in the great faith chapter and try to understand what was it about each of them that made them to be considered as acceptable in the sight of God or as the Bible actually says it what made them to be those who are considered that by faith they were justified. By again those things not only that we understand beyond that, such as the blood of Jesus and the grace of God, but what was it that they did in relationship to justification the things God requires that again helps us to know what it is that we can do to better prepare ourselves and make sure that we are right with God as well.

So, we continue this day with verse 4. We introduce then to our discussion of the day. It says there in verse 4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” As we begin to think about the concept of Abel the very first man who was mentioned here in the great faith chapter, the very first example we would say of those of great faith is the one to be known to be Abel. Certainly, Abel was the child of Adam and Eve and you can go back with me there to Genesis 4, and we find there that these two young men were brought into the world by their mother Eve. There beginning even in verse 1 of chapter 4 of Genesis the Bible says, “Now Adam knew his wife. And she conceived and bore Cain and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of the sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” As we actually look into the text Cain was the elder brother and Abel was the baby at least at that time, he was the younger brother.

We know as the story continues and goes that these two young men were actually obeying what they had learned from God and no doubt that which there father had also taught them, Adam, and there in verse 3 and 4 says that in the process of time that they brought there offerings before God. One was a farmer bringing the offerings of the fruit of the land. The other was one who kept the sheep, or was a shepherd, bringing an animal sacrifice. Now what’s interesting about this is we know that God accepts one of the sacrifices and God rejects the other sacrifice. So in other words, and also according to what we will see later in Hebrews, evidently there was something wrong with the offering that was given by Cain that caused it to be unaccepted by God or that God was not pleased with that offering. In fact, Genesis 4:4 says, “…but the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering…” Boy, we learn a volume of information there about faith and how that faith is not only about me, the individual, what I know, what I believe, what I act on, and what I do but it’s also about the things that I choose specifically to accomplish in what I do. In other words not only was Abel found acceptable but the offering was. What does that mean? It means that the offering was right! It was exactly what God required in spirit and in truth. In other words his heart and attitude were right, he gave the very best to God as was required, and the offering itself the animal given was also acceptable. But Cain there in verse 5 it says was not respected, notice that because his offering was not respected Cain was not respected. So there had to have been something wrong with either his spirit, the attitude by which he was giving, or the offering itself. In fact we begin to see more about that in the text how Cain becomes very angry, how he is warned by God not to allow the sin that was lying at his door to grab hold of him but he should be one that controls himself. But what does Cain do? He eventually kills his own brother. He kills his brother and leaves him for dead. Do you see what a brother Cain was? Do you see the lack of Faith? Do you see the spirit and the attitude? Then actually when we go later into this text and also into chapter 5 we learn about the selfishness of Cain, he was still only worried about himself almost “boohooing” that maybe someone was going to kill him or harm him because of the mark that was on him. Cain then and his descendents were a very, very wicked and disobedient people before God. But Abel had been a righteous man; Abel had given good things to God.

Now what I would like us to do is to go back over to Hebrews 11. With that as a foundation we begin to see now what is said there to the Holy Spirit through the Hebrew writer, verse 4 now says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain…” Let’s stop there, we know that they both gave an offering but there was something about the offering. He says the offering was more excellent. Well was it the offering itself or was it the spirit by which he gave? It seems again to be indicating something about the offering. We’ll see that again here in just a moment. “…through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, god testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” I think there that, that idea of God testifying of his gifts really speaks volumes to us right after he has said that he offered to God a more excellent sacrifice. See God received the gift, there was something about those gifts that not only were more excellent but as he says here were those that God was able to say they were acceptable and therefore good gifts. So the gift itself was good. Now could it perhaps be that it was still his proper, good, Godly attitude? Yes, that would make a gift acceptable or not acceptable as well. So we really don’t know for sure but what we know is there was something in that area of whether the attitude or the actual gift was the problem. More probably leaning towards the gift but then Cain’s gift was unacceptable. Now, what I would like you to notice with me though is when he gave the more excellent sacrifice and God testified of his gifts that they were good, right, and according to that which was obedient.

I want you also to notice with me what we read there about the witness that he obtained, it says, “…he obtained witness that he was righteous…” Did you notice what it is that really was the outcome of a good follower of God who offers a good, acceptable, and proper sacrifice before him? He was one who was considered as righteous. Do you remember what it says there in 1John 3? It tells us there that we are to practice righteousness as God practices righteousness. Why? Because God alone is the one who is all righteousness. You see, we are to be those who strive to be like God, who strive to imitate those characteristics that certainly God shows us through his word and the wonderful things that are really revealed to us in his word. So, notice how that he was seen to be righteous or God like. He was considered as we would say in righteousness to be doing that which was right not wrong. So, everything that Abel did was right, it was acceptable, it was good, it was what God had requested, commanded, and required, and therefore the verse goes on to say that he still speaks to us today! How does he still speak to us today? By his faith when he gave the more excellent sacrifice which was testified by God of an acceptable and good gift and therefore he was seen and the testimony was that Abel was a righteous man. And so what a great example we have in this man Abel.

Not only there do we find this concept but I would like you to notice with me the words of Jesus over in Matthew 23. In Matthew 23, here Christ is talking concerning really that which was required even of the Jews of that day and those that would follow him and ultimately follow the father, but I want you to notice with me there in verse 35 who he mentions in trying to help them understand that they needed to be righteous as humans and they needed to be obedient in there offerings. There in verse 35 he says, the words of Jesus, “That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” We see here that Jesus is really rebuking the Pharisees and others who have become hypocritical, they are no longer following the word of God or the will of God, they are doing what they want and they are following there own teachings and there own commands according to there own desires so he is condemning them. But then he tells them that they are guilty of righteous blood, they are guilty of killing righteous prophets and righteous individuals who certainly were not worthy of death for simply loving their creator and obeying God. Then notice the example he uses, he says there, “…the blood of righteous Abel…” all the way to one of those Minor Prophets there at the end of the Old Testament to the blood of Zechariah. You see these men, all of these men, lost their life. Why? Because they had done what God wanted, they had done righteously in the eyes of God and therefore the world and others including some of God’s people were jealous and they killed them. Another interesting fact about this idea of Abel to Zechariah is often used throughout the Old Testament as well as sometimes in the New Testament to indicate the concept of the Law itself or the Old Covenant itself. In other words from Abel to Zechariah those things that are encompassed in the word of God all the way from the beginning where righteous Abel was all the way to the end of that period where Zechariah and other minor prophets were faithful and also gave their blood in the service of God. So Abel, a righteous Abel, and the other righteous men were willing to give themselves fully to God.

The final verse that I want you to notice with me again is found in Hebrews but now in chapter 12, one chapter over from the faith chapter. I want you to notice with me here that again we find Jesus mentioned but then he uses Abel in the sentence as a descriptive concept. Notice with me beginning there related to the mediator Jesus Christ verse 24 Hebrews 12, “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Oh wow! You see we have been talking about Abel and righteous Abel and how that really he was an example for all of all ages of righteousness. But now it says Jesus Christ who is a more excellent sacrifice, who is a more excellent demonstration of perfection and what God wants than even that of which was found in Abel. What do we know about Abel? Abel was righteous. Abel was a righteous man of God. Abel was found justified not only because of God but he was found justified because he was faithful to God, he was committed to God, he was striving to do all of God’s will.

You see what we can begin to learn here in this great faith chapter about those who loved God and what they were willing to do, what they were willing to give in order to put God first in order to make sure that by faith their offering were more excellent. That by faith their testimony of the gifts were acceptable before God, by faith that they proved themselves to be righteous as God is righteous, and therefore can we not learn the same example. Can we not follow those examples? Can we then not be found as they who are also found worthy before God because of at least in part that which we do to prove we love him? But then what is greater than that? No matter how righteous any man has ever been there is a greater one Jesus Christ and that’s who we follow today! Will you follow Jesus? Will you do it his way? Will you always give him the very best?

(SONG # 3 - “A Wonderful Savior!”)

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord’s Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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May we all learn from the great examples of faith found in Hebrews 11. Furthermore, may we strive to put in to practice such things that are pleasing to God. Do you have a true faith in your God and Creator?

(Program closing)