Saturday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-7 (NKJV)
11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 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.
4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
We learned from Hebrews chapter 10 that it is impossible to earn forgiveness of sins through our works of the Law. Therefore, God sent Jesus Christ to be our payment for sins so that we might be saved, not through works of the Law, but through faith in Christ. Since the works and sacrifices of the old covenant did not forgive sins, it was also necessary that the believers of the Old Testament be saved through faith in the Christ.
This faith is what “counts” for salvation. Only those works which are done in faith please God. But these works of faith do not merit anything from God, since those who perform them out of faith have already been forgiven. It is only through faith that works become “good.” We learn this from the example of Cain and Abel. Why was Abel’s sacrifice acceptable while Cain’s was not? Because Abel’s sacrifice came from faith and Cain’s did not. Commentators on the text often try to explain that Cain’s offering was of poor quality and that this is why it was not accepted by God. Poor quality it may have been, but this is not why it was rejected. The simple truth is that Abel believed and Cain did not. Cain may have offered far more and better than Abel, but it would not have mattered because his offering was not in faith.
In the same way, those works performed by Christians—according to God’s commandments—are pleasing to God on account of faith. But no unbeliever can please God with any work.
We pray: Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always go before and follow after us and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.