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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:The Crucial Choice of Saving Faith
Text:Hebrews 11:23-28 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(Selections from the 1976 Psalter Hymnal, unless otherwise noted):

284 - Give Thanks to God for Good Is He
337 (Red) - A Wonderful Savior Is Jesus My Lord
30 (Red) - Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
454 - Nearer, Still Nearer

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
“The Crucial Choice of Saving Faith”
Hebrews 11:23-28
Have you been at the crossroads? Have there been times when the road of life has come to a fork, and you need to decide which way to go? I am sure there have been, for all of us face a variety of choices in life. That has been true ever since Adam and Eve made the wrong choice and put their human reasoning, poisoned by the devil, above the command of God.
The Bible describes many people who at a crucial time in their lives, unfortunately, made the wrong choice. Consider how Lot's wife, loving the things of this fallen world, looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and stands as a perpetual reminder not to love the treasures of this sin-stained world. Or consider how Esau, in a moment of hunger, sold his birthright for a pot of stew. Hebrews 12:17 tells us ...that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” Likewise, Ananias and Saphira made a tragic decision when they sold their property and lied to Peter and to the Holy Spirit about its value.
But here in our text we have the account of a man who by God's grace and enabling Spirit, made the right choice at a crucial time in his life, and at a very crucial time in the history of Israel. Verse 24 and 25: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
Life is filled with many choices for all of us. You young people will come to the point where there is a fork in the road, where you have to make a decision. You have choices on how you will live your life - decisions on your education, on your vocation, on marriage or singleness - and above all, the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the determination to live that faith out.
For those of us who are older, many of the choices have been made, some which we regret, and others for which we thank God for. The choices that we make reveal our faith, or at times, the weakness or even the lack of our faith.
It was no different for Moses. The choices he made would test and reveal his faith. And as we look at the choices Moses made in his life, we see first of all, that true saving faith enables us to make the hard choices the right way.
Verse 24 tells us that “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter brought many opportunities to Moses. While the rest of the Israelites slaved away under the brutal sun making bricks, Moses lived in the lap of luxury in the palace. Moses was part of a dynasty which was a mighty world power in its day. But instead of taking advantage of all that the world of his day offered him, verse 25 tells us, “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
Consider what life was like for the Israelites as they toiled away as slaves for the Egyptians. Under the relentless heat of the Egyptian sun, they had to make bricks, getting their own straw, working long hours under the whips of cruel taskmasters.
Against that background consider what verse 26 describes as “the treasures of Egypt” and in verse 25 “the pleasures of sin.” Egypt had all that any nation could offer. It was a world power; it was a center of learning. Egypt was a center for the arts and entertainment. It had the culture that most people would desire.
Many people would have had no problem making a choice, given the situation Moses was in. But only a person who by God’s grace and Spirit’s power has true saving faith would make the choice that Moses made. In verse 25 and 26 we read how “he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
It is worth noting that some 3,500 years later not much has changed. The same choices still must be made. Will the choice be the treasures of the world? The short-lived pleasures of sin? Or will it be the disgrace of Christ, the scorn of the cross, the mistreatment and ridicule that his people suffer in every age?
The Eye of Faith Fears Not the King’s Anger
This passage also teaches that when we see God with the eye of true saving faith, it takes away our fear of the world and its hostility. We see that in the opening words of verse 27, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
Moses was not unique with his bravery in the face of a powerful and angry opponent. Consider how Steven would not flinch as he faced the crowd that would make him the first martyr after Jesus' ascension. Or how historians record the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus, when he was brought before the Sanhedrin. He was told to go to the highest point in the temple and declare: “Jesus is not the Son of God.” He was not about to make that declaration, even at the cost of his life.
Likewise, the apostle Peter, along with many others, asked to be crucified upside down, because he and the other apostles did not consider themselves worthy to be crucified as Jesus was. And in so many parts of the world today Christians still face tremendous and horrific persecution. Yet still today, as it has been throughout history, there are countless martyrs with saving faith, “who fear not the king's anger” because they see him who is invisible, and they are looking forward to their reward.
When we face what little persecution comes our way, how we too must persevere. In an increasingly hostile culture to Christianity, we must continually fix our eyes of faith upon him who is invisible, the Lord himself who promises to give his people what they need in their hour of trial.
Perseverance Amid Persecution
When we look to the Lord in faith, we find that he will indeed grant us perseverance, even under tremendous persecution and adversity. Even those with a casual acquaintance with the word of God know the adversity that Moses faced. First, he was driven off by his own people when he took the life of the Egyptian who was beating an Israelite servant. Later he would return to confront Pharaoh and to confront his magicians. He would see the hardness of Pharaoh's heart ten times over, as each of the ten plagues only hardened the heart of Pharoah more intensely.
And afterwards he would have the trials at the Red Sea, when the people were certain that they would be destroyed and blamed Moses. He encountered the hardness of heart within the people of Israel, over and over, in the desert. He had to contend with their complaints, with their wavering, with their coups against the authority that God had given to Moses as even his own brother and sister turned against him.
We also have our trials and temptations. Although the circumstances of our trials differ from the circumstances Moses faced, the essence of our trials and temptations are the same. Moses faced the hostility of the world as he left Egypt “not fearing the king’s anger.” But he also faced the seduction of the world as the “the treasures of Egypt” and “the pleasures of sin” were flaunted before his eyes. We also face the hostility of the world in its efforts to crush our faith. And we face the seduction of the world, as it tries to draw us from Christ to bask in its allurements.
How are we to persevere amid the adversity of our trials and temptations? How are we to persevere, not only against the hostility of the world, but also the seduction of the world? We persevere in the same way that Moses persevered. In the last part of verse 27 we read, “he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
As we read about Moses in the pages of Scripture, it may seem as though it would be easier for him to persevere than for us. After all, Moses had unique encounters with God. For instance, Exodus 33:11 tells us how “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
In Numbers 12:6-8, as Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses, the Lord came to his defense and said, “Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
Or we may think back to that incident that was in the hymn writer's mind, when the Lord hid Moses in a cleft of a rock, and covered him there, as it were, with his hand. Yet, the same must be true for you and for me. The experience that Moses had as “he saw him who is invisible” (v. 27), must be the experience for every true Christian. How is that possible? How do we see him who is invisible?  It is with eyes focused in saving faith on Jesus Christ alone that we see the image of the invisible God.
How does Colossians 1:15 put it? “He is the image of the invisible God.” And what do we read in Hebrews 1:3? “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being.” And do you remember what Jesus said to Phillip when Philip said, “’Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’” Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?’”  (John 14:9-10)
Although we do not see the eternal Christ with the same circumstances that Moses had, we must see him with the same eye of faith if we, like Moses, are to persevere amid great adversity and persecution. And the same is true when we are tempted by the treasures of this fallen world and by the fleeting pleasures of sin. We persevere as we see him who is invisible through saving faith in his Son. It is Jesus Christ who has revealed the Father to us through his life on earth. And it is Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to the Father by his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.
The Shed Blood of Christ and Its Reward
How else does the faith of Moses apply to you and me today? The faith of Moses shows us that true saving faith is rooted in Christ and in his shed blood. In verse 26 we read, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” And in verse 28 we read, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.”
Those verses remind us that the story of Jesus is written throughout the Bible. The story of Christ and the account of his redeeming love is recorded in the Old Testament just as it is in the New Testament. Moses kept the Passover, with the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover lamb. And in 1 Corinthians 5:7 we read of the significance; it tells us that “Christ is our Passover Lamb.”
Just as the angel of destruction passed over every home in Israel that had blood on the doorposts, so too, all who have saving faith in Jesus Christ are covered by his precious blood and are passed over for judgment. He is our propitiation. His blood covers the sins of all who by his grace believe in him.
As our sins are covered, God’s righteous and proper wrath against sin is satisfied. The penalty for sin has been paid by the only one who could pay it, Jesus Christ, truly human, truly God. And in the place of our sin is now the righteousness of Christ, for there is a dual aspect to our salvation. There is the removal of sin by the passive obedience of Christ (that he allowed himself to be crucified). And there is the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ in his active obedience (that his perfect obedience to every nuance of the law is credited - imputed - to those who have saving faith in him alone).
But faith is always only as strong as its object. And the only object of our faith must be the same object of faith that Moses had so long ago: Christ and the shed blood of Jesus that covers our sins even as his righteousness is imputed to us.
And then, also, true saving faith includes looking ahead to our heavenly reward. That is what the last part of verse 26 tells us Moses did: “Moses was looking ahead to his reward.”  The reward is not earned by us; it is not given because of anything that we have done. Moses didn't earn the reward that he was looking forward to. He realized that the reward was earned by the eternal Christ. But although the reward was earned by Christ it is given to those who, by his grace, have saving faith in him alone.
So often people say that God is not fair, because he does not save everybody; he only saves the elect. But the question is never, “Why didn't God save everyone?” The question is, “Why did God save anyone? Why did God save Moses? Why did God save you? Why did God save me?”  None of us have earned our salvation. Christ earned salvation for us by his perfect life, his sacrificial death, and his glorious resurrection.
The question could be turned around, and it could be asked, “Is it fair that you and I should be saved, since Christ earned the reward and not us?” But we understand that it is not a question of fairness. That we are rewarded for what Christ has done is an example of God's awesome and astonishing grace! And Moses looked forward to that reward of God’s grace, which although earned by Christ, was given to him.
The same was true for all the other people faith whose lives are recorded in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. Their eyes were on the future, and because they were looking to the future, they had the wisdom and the strength to deal with the present.
Consider Abraham. Hebrews 11:9-10 tell us, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  You see, he was looking forward to the reward earned by Christ but given to all have saving faith in Christ alone.
Hebrews 11:13 points out “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” Verse 16 adds, “They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
It was no different with the New Testament disciples, the apostles and other people of faith: Peter tells us to focus on the glory yet to be revealed, to focus on our inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade away (1 Pet. 1:4). The apostle Paul told the Philippians to continue to press on, and “to keep (their) eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil. 3:17). He told the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1). And he wrote to the Colossians about the importance of fixing their thoughts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. (Col. 3:1-4)
Jesus frequently spoke about heaven and the priority of having saving faith in him in order to enter into glory. As he said in Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"  And in John 14:6 he declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  Truly,  "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
It is to our own detriment that we do not think more often about the reward that God will graciously give to all who believe in his Son. If we thought more often about how gracious God is, how much more praise would we render to him? How much more adoration for him would fill our hearts!
True saving faith in Christ alone is precious. It is God's means of saving us. But it also enables us to make the hard choices the right way, it enables us to persevere; it takes from us the fear of the world and fixes our thoughts on things above.
The Bible records the lives of many who made the wrong choice and will regret that choice throughout all eternity: Lot's wife, Esau, Ananias and Saphira, to name just a few. But the Bible tells us of others who, by God's grace, made the right choice. In the case of Moses, it meant choosing mistreatment along with the people of God over the treasures of Egypt and the fleeting pleasure of sin.
What does it mean for you and for me? Perhaps some of you are at the crossroads now. The world beckons so alluringly, the devil sugarcoats sin so skillfully, our own fallen sinful nature is so prone to be drawn away from Christ; our fallen nature is so prone to be tantalized by temptation and captivated by sin. 
But by God's enabling Spirit and power, may you and I, relying on his Word, make the right choices in life. May we, like Moses, be willing to choose mistreatment over the treasure of this life and the fleeting pleasures of sin. May our focus always be on Christ, as we live lives of deep, heartfelt gratitude that our reward in heaven has been earned, not by us, but by our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
Bulletin outline:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son
of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people
of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded
disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt,
because he was looking ahead to his reward. – Hebrews 11:24-26
                         “The Crucial Choice of Saving Faith”
                                          Hebrews 11:24-28
I. Moses chose mistreatment for the sake of Christ as greater value than the
    treasures of Egypt and the fleeting pleasures of sin. His choice teaches us
    that true saving faith:
    1) Enables us to make hard choices the right way when we are tempted by
        the treasures of the world and fleeting pleasures of sin (25-26)
    2) Is not afraid of the world and its hostility (27a)
    3) Perseveres even under tremendous adversity by looking to “Him who
         is invisible” with the eye of saving faith (27b)
II. Application: Our faith must be focused on Christ (26), His shed blood (28),
     and the reward, which although earned by Christ, is given to us (26b)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Ted Gray

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