This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on Sept 4th 2022 by Colin. For the audio & video please click here. For the Worship please click here.
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."”
Luke 10:17-20 ESV
This is what Jesus is saying- we can rejoice if our names are written in heaven! It’s not because of anything we do but all because of grace. There is another record of names written in the Bible in Hebrews 11- the heroes of faith.
We can’t live without faith because the Bible says the righteous will live by faith.
Chapter Hebrews 11: 1- 40
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
Hebrews 11:4-7 ESV
It goes on to list all these people. Yes, our names are written in the Lamb's book of life. But wouldn’t you like to have your name on this list of faith? These people not only had faith but they walked it out. We are not saved by our works but the Hebrews 11 list is of people who did something!
There are many characters in Hebrews 11. These things were written for us as an example. So today we will cover 1 person- Abel. Thousands of years after he died we are still talking about him. Salvation is by faith alone but 5e faith that saves is never alone.
James 2: 14 ““What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”
James 2:14 ESV
James is saying genuine faith is always accompanied by works.
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”
James 2:15-16 ESV
Our walk needs to display the faith that we believe in.
“And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time, Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering, he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it."”
Genesis 4:2-7 ESV
We know the mighty deeds of Joshua, David, Moses etc, but what did Abel do to deserve making it to this list? Abel gave an offering. He brought an offering of the firstborn of his flock. He was commended by God while Cain was cursed.
The worship of faith:
Throughout the OT and the NT, the greatest indicator of where your heart is, is where your treasure is. In Matthew 6: 21 Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your treasure is also. So the offering of Abel and Cain was a very important thing. Unbelievers bring offerings to their gods and we bring offerings to God. What makes the offering acceptable?
- First fruits - Cain brought some fruit of the crop that he was tending, while Abel brought the fat portions of the firstborn of his flock. It speaks of Abel’s heart because he brought the best and the first from what he had. For us today, giving our first fruits means we bring him an offering that is first and best! What did God say about Abel’s offering? He calls it an excellent offering. Abel gave the first fruits and not the leftovers. This needs faith and trust in God. Everything we have belongs to God.
- Generosity - Abel gave the fat portions. That indicates his generosity. It’s not just about the 10%, it’s about our generosity. The Pharisees were like this, tithing mint and cumin and dill and ignoring the bigger details of the law like love and generosity. It expresses the love of God! Eating together is a sign of generosity because we give of ourselves. Hospitality is not a suggestion, it’s a command. Romans 12:13 “practice hospitality” 1 Peter 4:9 “ offer hospitality to one another without grumbling”. We are growing as a church. So would you open your homes to people? Hospitality means loving strangers, and people you do not know. When people are unwell, it is another opportunity to be generous.
The result of this is that you will be commended by God. God is looking for men and women who walk the way Abel walked. Will you be one of them?