Bible Stories

One fatal tendency is to assume that Bible stories are for children, and that doctrine is for adults. But in fact all the Bible is for all Christians. One of the lamentable results of biblical illiteracy is the fact that many Christians could not tell you what happened to all the saints mentioned in this chapter. But as we learn our Bible stories we learn the centrality of faith. There is no opposition between robust narrative and doctrinal faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony . . .” (Heb. 11:1-40).

We begin with the story of creation, which is (not surprisingly) where unbelievers begin their competing story. “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” (v. 3). Faith for anything in the Christian life begins with faith that we serve the living and Creator God. All this evolution foolishness (and various Christian compromises with it) is nothing less than an assault on the entire Christian faith. You cannot assault the first story without attacking the entire story.

We then come to Abel and Enoch. Both these men had faith. Abel’s righteous sacrifice was received and Cain’s was not, and Enoch was translated into heaven because he had pleased God through faith (vv. 4-6). The lesson for us is that God cannot be pleased outside of faith. The one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He is good. The one who comes to Him this way is coming in the same way, and with the same confidence, as our ancient fathers.

Noah is another example. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear . . .” (v. 7). Noah was a wonderful man, and by his faith he condemned the antediluvian world. The Flood is marked in the memory of the entire human race. This one is more than a Bible story, it is a story that anthropologists have found everywhere — from Greece to China, from the Babylonians to the North American Indians. Just like the geologists — everywhere you go, there was once a massive, local flood. Add them all up, and you might get warm.

Father Abraham saw nothing with his eyes (vv. 8-12). He did not know where he was going—but went anyway, trusting God. He lived as an alien in the land of promise. The author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham was looking far beyond an inherited territory. And his wonderful wife Sarah looked far beyond a mere physical seed—she saw you, here by faith this morning. The basis of her faith is judging Him faithful who made the promise (v. 11). And the world is still filling with her descendants.

In case there could be any mistake, the author of Hebrews prevents us from saying that our spiritual ancesteors dealt in temporal things while we Christians deal in spiritual things (vv. 13-16). They were not looking for an earthly reward; their interest, like ours, was the heavenly country. God is not ashamed to be their God, and they will come into the same heavenly city which God has built for all of us.

The patriarchs of Israel are our fathers. The Scriptures give us a noble lineage—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, the one who carried the promise. Isaac blessed his sons concerning the future. Jacob blessed his grandsons. And Joseph made sure his bones were carried out of Egypt when Moses led the people free (vv. 17-22).

Then we come to our fellow Christian Moses, brother Moses. Faith protected Moses at his birth (v. 23). Faith led Moses to leave the riches of Egypt in order to become a Christian (vv. 24-25). By faith he conquered Egypt, kept the Passover, and led the people of Israel free (vv. 27-29).

Joshua conquered Jericho by faith, and Rahab betrayed Jericho through that same faith (vv. 30-31).

There were numerous others, of whom the world was not worthy (v. 38). But we don’t have time to speak of them all—so read your Bibles (vv. 32-40). And learn the lesson. Although they had a good testimony, God delayed their reception of the promise—so that you could walk into the City with them, and not behind them (v. 40).

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