Theme: Faith brings significance in life and hope for the future. God’s eye is on the one who has faith.
Pastoral – support and hope
1. Our search for significance: Faith understands that true significance comes from God
2. Another way to say it is: believing God makes you a true success in life.
3. Illustrations from Daily Bread: In 1966, about a year before he died, the brilliant physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer said, “I am a complete failure!” This man had been the director of the Los Alamos Project, a research team that produced the atomic bomb, and he had also served as the head of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Yet, in looking back, he saw his achievements as meaningless. When asked about them, he replied, “They leave on the tongue only the taste of ashes.”
4. Ilustrations from Daily Bread, cont.: The number of people who commit suicide after experiencing the fame and fortune of worldly success is astonishing. Multimillionaire George Vanderbilt killed himself by jumping from a hotel window. Lester Hunt, twice governor of Wyoming before being elected to the U.S. Senate, ended his own life. Actress Marilyn Monroe, writer Ernest Hemingway, and athlete Tony Lazzeri represent a host of highly influential and popular people who became so disenchanted with earthly success that they took their own lives.
5. We cannot see the future, but we walk by faith in God. “We’re not sure what the future holds but we’re sure Who holds the future!”
6. When we grasp these truths as Enoch had, then we move from insignificance to significance, from worry to confidence, from fear to faith, from doubt to deliverance.
Faith makes you truly significant
1. Enoch’s faith made him truly significant, Genesis 5:24
a. He was a product of the first revival of human history, recorded in Genesis 4:26, when Enosh, the son of Seth, was born.
b. He “walked with God” and just as these words break the formulaic statements in the genealogical lists, so Enoch broke the mold of human life. He lifted human life to a higher plane by being a person of faith.
c. He grasped basic truths about God
i. That He existed even though Enoch could not see Him
ii. That He rewarded those who earnestly sought Him
iii. That faith brought one into relationship with Him – personal piety. The common link between Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, is that they walked with God
d. Remember, faith is fundamentally a response to God’s revelation of Himself
i. General revelation – the creation itself witnesses to God
ii. Special revelation – the personal, intimate revelation to the individual
2. Other people in Enoch’s world were more popular
a. Enoch, the son of Cain, who had a city named after him
b. Jabal, the first to live in tents and raise livestock
c. Jubal, the father of music
d. Tubal-Cain, the first craftsman
e. What people typically admire in others and think highly of is of little consequence to God. God looks for people of faith.
3. For us today, be wary of looking too much on the outside
a. Young people, don’t aspire to be popular. Typically the people thought in their youth to be on the road to becoming great successes, don’t turn out the way people thought they would. Intelligence is wasted, beauty is thrown away, talent is undeveloped.
b. Aspire to be right with God, to walk with Him in fellowship
4. Enoch, like Abel, did not live long on earth – others lived longer. God took him, that means he was transferred from earth to heaven without passing through the portal of death. Enoch did not achieve much in terms of what human society could appreciate, but he achieved much more than anyone else of his generation because he knew why God had put him there. He longed for heaven and deeper fellowship with God.
5. He walked on into eternity because he walked with God while on earth. Relationship is the key issue. How can we have a relationship with God? By doing good things? No. By having the right parents? No. By making significant sacrifices? No. By joining the church? No. We have a right relationship with God when we take Him at His Word, when we trust Him.
6. Faith is a mystery to people but the Bible says it and I believe it that God made us to be people who believe Him. Theologians often argue and discuss whether a lost person is capable of faith or not, or whether it is given him by God or not. But I do know this, that right now you and I have a choice before us, either we will take Him at His Word or we will not. The person of faith must overcome all of the doubts, hesitations, fears, societal teachings and philosophies that say not to believe and he must in his heart appeal to Jesus Christ, trusting that Christ has heard him. He must let God save him God’s way. Maybe all you can say is that you are willing to be made willing, but that is faith. How much faith does it require to be saved? Enough to take the first step, enough to appeal to Christ. How long must I believe to be saved? Salvation happens and a relationship is established with God in an amount of time so small that it is immeasurable by men. Believe long enough to say you have done it and you’ll be saved.
7. Illustration: Shen Buswell’s testimony – believe in God for thirty seconds and then you can quit believing if you want. He said after those thirty seconds he never wanted to stop believing. He had a relationship with God.
Faith makes you truly hopeful
1. Enoch’s faith also enabled him to receive insight into the first and second comings of Christ. Jude 14-15
2. Enoch’s and Elishah’s experiences also brought confidence to others, God provided a witness that the grave was not the ultimate aim of human life. Someone said that his motto was “Live hard, die young, and make a great looking corpse,” but the grave is not the ultimate aim of human life. Even your career here on earth is not to be considered the acme of your existence. Psalm 49:15, 73:23-26
3. In every generation it is difficult to walk with God
4. Exegesis of Psalm 37:1-11 – We know of our significance by God’s word and REMEMBER, FAITH IS TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD. God testifies as to the significance of the person of faith and when we accept His testimony our hope increases.
5. What God calls you and I to do will feel as unique as Enoch’s experience was. That is why faith is required. Don’t give in to a hyper sense of competitiveness! God can bless more than one person at the same time. FOR SOME PEOPLE LIFE IS LIKE A POKER GAME – THEY CANNOT WIN UNTIL SOMEONE ELSE LOSES!
Closing: Personal testimony, upon graduating from seminary Psalm 23
Illustration: Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities and commitment. He had two Ph.D.s, one in agriculture and one in Greek and Hebrew. So gifted was he, he could have chosen to do anything he wanted. He chose to serve the poor. In the 1940s, he founded a farm in Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was a community for poor whites and poor blacks. As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well in the Deep South of the ’40s. (In 1968, Millard and Linda Fuller, millionaires in their own right, moved into Americus and worked with Koinonia Farms to begin the Koinonia Partnership Housing. In 1976 they establish Habitat for Humanity.)
Ironically, much of the resistance came from good church people who followed the laws of segregation as much as the other folk in town. The town people tried everything to stop Clarence. They tried boycotting him, and slashing workers’ tires when they came to town. Over and over, for fourteen years, they tried to stop him.
Finally, in 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan, so they decided to get rid of him once and for all. They came one night with guns and torches and set fire to every building on Koinonia Farm but Clarence’s home, which they riddled with bullets. And they chased off all the families except one black family which refused to leave. Clarence recognized the voices of many of the Klansmen, and, as you might guess, some of them were church people. Another was the local newspaper’s reporter. The next day, the reporter came out to see what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered and the land was scorched, but he found Clarence in the field, hoeing and planting.
“I heard the awful news,” he called to Clarence, “and I came out to do a story on the tragedy of your farm closing. Clarence just kept on hoeing and planting. The reporter kept prodding, kept poking, trying to get a rise from this quietly determined man who seemed to be planting instead of packing his bags. So, finally, the reporter said in a haughty voice, “Well, Dr. Jordan, you got two of them Ph.D.s and you’ve but fourteen years into this farm, and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?” Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his penetrating blue eyes, and said quietly but firmly, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.”
Beginning that day, Clarence and his companions rebuilt Koinonia and the farm is going strong today.
Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, Word Books, 1987, pp. 188-89. (except parenthesis)
Studies from Hebrews 11