Abel: A Primitive Faith
Hebrews 11:4 John MacArthur Grace to YouWe're going to return to our look at Hebrews chapter 11...Hebrews chapter 11, as we have...embarked upon the study of the power of faith, a very foundational study in every sense. In fact, this chapter was written originally under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help some people who perhaps did not fully understand salvation by faith to understand it better. It was written to some Jews who constituted a congregation somewhere in Israel. They had come to faith in Christ but perhaps didn't fully understand the reality of faith and the role that has always played in salvation. And then, of course, the congregation also had some people there who were a part of the congregation, hanging on the edges who had not yet embraced Christ fully, were still trying to consider this matter of salvation by faith.
The reason that was such a dramatic change for them was because Jewish people had been raised, literally, for centuries in a perversion of Old Testament Judaism, a system of religion that taught them that salvation came to those who earned it...who earned it. And so it's important for them to realize that salvation is by faith alone, not by works, “For by grace are you saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says.
So chapter 10 ends with a quote, famous quote from the Old Testament, “The just shall live by faith,” or “My righteous ones shall live by faith,” verse 38. We then, verse 39 says, are not of those who shrink back to destruction. We don't come all the way to the edge of this understanding of the gospel and salvation by faith, and then feel the pull of Judaism and legalism and fall back into destruction, but rather we persevere in faith to the salvation of the soul.
So clearly the writer of Hebrews has told us that the New Covenant which is the Covenant of salvation, presents salvation by faith and not by works, and he's now going to illustrate that in chapter 11. And the first illustration, after a definition that we looked at last week, the first illustration comes in verse 4 and it is Abel. Look at verse 4, I'll read it to you, “By faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous. God testifying about his gifts, or receiving his gifts, his sacrifice and through faith though he is dead, he still speaks.”
Here we meet the first man who came to God by faith. This is the man who is called Abel.
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