LEARN WITH LESLIE

 

Persevering Through Pressure Ė Part 13
Developing a Practical Faith
NEW LIFE BAPTIST CHURCH
Pastor Marlin Harris
 

It has been such an intriguing and a wonderful journey through the Book of Hebrews as we have been studying it every Tuesday night.  I need to be certain that we understand we are entering into a new phase or new volume of our study through the Book of Hebrews; this is our third volume.  It begins in chapter 11 and it is dealing with and speaking about developing a practical faith, developing a practical faith.  We have looked through the Book of Hebrews and our first volume was building a faith that will last until the end.  Our second volume began at chapter 7 and it was entitled ďReligion vs. RelationshipĒ, religious systems vs. a relationship with Jesus Christ and seeking to make clear contrast between religion and its principles and a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the principles concerning that, and now we are beginning this final segment of our study from chapters 11 all the way to the end.  We will be looking at developing a practical faith. 

I need to mention that this section really begins in chapter 10.  It deals with chapter 10 with an introduction to the whole issue of faith and it says in chapter 10:32

32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

35Cast not away therefore your confidence, [your faith, your complete persuasion] which hath great recompense of reward.

36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul

Throughout this last portion of chapter 10, from verses 32 to 39, we are introduced to the concept and the idea of personal confidence or spiritual confidence.  Confidence in the things of God, confidence in the promises of God and it begins this section talking about the confidence that the believer ought to have in the things concerning God.  It begins that section dealing with persecution.  In verse 32 it says ďwe endured a great fight of afflictionsĒ.  It says they were made gazingstocks, both by reproaches and afflictions, that they were become companions of them that were so abused.  A gazing stock, that word gazingstock is a word that is reminiscent of a particular period of time in Jewish history but I should say more specifically in Roman history when the Romans were abusing and afflicting and persecuting both Jews and Christians.  More specifically Christians because of their unique loyalty to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they would not surrender their loyalty to Christ in lieu of loyalty to Caesar or loyalty to the Roman Emperor.  So because of their loyalty to Jesus Christ, the Christians during this particular time in Rome, when the Book of Hebrews was written, was enduring a great fight of afflictions and persecutions.  Gazingstock actually means they were paraded in front of a screaming crowd in certain arenas of Rome and this crowd would yell and scream in joy and pleasure as Christians were in many cases burned at the stake, eaten alive by lions, butchered to death by gladiators, and it goes on and on.  These were horrendous and terrible acts that were done against those who confessed Jesus Christ as savior. 

There were political persuasions to doing this from the Roman Empire.  One because the Christians would hold up that there was another Lord who was greater than Caesar, one of course our Lord Jesus Christ and Caesar, the competition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the lordship of Caesar, the competition between the two was something that Caesar could not have so it was in his best interests to not only destroy the Christians, but it was in his greater interest to make an open show of that destruction, an open show of the death of the Christians because it demonstrated to the other Greeks, Romans and Jews that Christ wasnít a viable Lord because He could not save the Christians from the persecution that they were suffering under the hands of these emperors.  And emperors all the way from Caesar Augustus, down to Nero and Dimitia and many others beyond them, persecuted Christians and this lasted for many years, hundreds of years, until the time of Emperor Constantine. 

During the age and time of the Book of Hebrews, we are dealing with around about 50 to 60 AD, during the period of time just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the Great War general from Rome.  Christians were being persecuted all over the Roman Empire that covered much of the Palestinian world, and the writer of Hebrews is writing to these newly-converted Jewish Christians; heís writing to them and he is speaking to them about what the faith dynamic is all about.  That faith is standing in the face of persecution.  Thatís the faith dynamic Ė it is standing in the face of opposition.

He gives to us a practical, a usable, a life definition and a life application of what faith really is.  Now Paul in his writings utilized the instances of teaching on faith to demonstrate to the believers that faith was a strong inner conviction of the faith they had in God and a doctrinal persuasion to believe along a certain pattern.  It was a doctrinal persuasion for believers to believe along a certain line of thinking.  Now here we see a faith that is not just doctrinal and a faith that is somewhat esoteric, but we see here a faith that is practical, a faith that is where the rubber meets the road, a faith that comes right in view of everyday life for these newly-converted Jews.  That they were to believe in God even in the face of such great deadly and devastating opposition.  So he says in verse 35 cast not away therefore your confidence which has a great recompense of reward.  He mentions here a reward and we all know that a reward is something that is granted after a service has been done, after a period of contest, or conflicts or the like have been overcome, then a reward is given and granted after this particular period.

He says that our faith is what our confidence, as stated in verse 35 which is the same as faith, brings about this reward.  Now he goes into a little more detail about the reward when he says here ďFor you have need of patience after that you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.  For yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not tarry.Ē  He mentions here reward, a promise and then he gets specific and he mentions the second coming of Jesus Christ.  He is teaching these newly-converted Jews to look for the second advent of their Messiah.  He just spent some ten chapters proving to them case and case that Jesus Christ is the Messiah who is the completion and fulfillment of the law, who is the greatest and last sacrifice.  He spends enormous time building the case that Christ is so much better than the old Jewish system of life, and old Jewish system of religion.  Now he says beyond believing the first advent of Jesus Christ, I need you to endure these afflictions and persecutions with a scope and a view to the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Second Advent, when He comes again.  He says for he that will come, shall come.

Now could I get you to drop your eyes up for me in verse 34 as he gives us some even greater detail about this reward of ourís. 

34For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods [you gave to me when I was in prison], knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

He speaks about a practical, physical substance that these newly-converted believers have in heaven.  He says so that while I was in prison [this writer spent time in prison because of his faith], he says that these Christian Jews that were scattered abroad various provinces and areas throughout Palestine, these Christian Jews spoiled their goods, which means they gave out of their substance so that he might have no need while he is in prison.  They took care of him and looked after him while he was in prison, but God is going to repay you (sounds a whole lot like the Apostle Paul, doesnít it) with his substance, that is in heaven, that is far greater and more enduring than anything you may have expended to me while I was locked in chains.

Now if you would drop your eyes down and it says in verse 38.

38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Now there are a couple of things that we need to tie together in verses 38 and 39.  The first thing is a definition of who the just is.  The just live by faith, of course, but also the just are those who do not draw back.  The just are those who do not draw back for he says in verse 39 ďthat we are not of them who draw back unto perdition.Ē  Do you see the we?  We meaning the just, thatís who we are.  We, the just, do not draw back.  Draw back means to revert back or to go back to a dead, useless, ineffective faith.  A faith in bulls and goats and calves and their blood, and how they can atone for sin.  He says we are not of them who abandon the truth and the reality of Jesus Christ and go back to a dead, useful and ineffective faith Ė we donít do that because to do that would mean that we go back to perdition and perdition and destruction are much the same thing.  As a matter of fact, perdition actually means the total complete destruction of one who is evil.  He says we are not those who go back to an evil destruction but we are they, the just, who believe [now get it] to the saving of the soul. 

So he says the just are those who believe with such a type of belief that it is effective toward the saving of the soul.  It is effective enough to bring the soul into salvation.  He speaks here about a saving faith.  Does everybody see that?  Now lets go back up to verse 38.  These just folks who do not draw back to destruction, they are people who believe all the way to the extent of their soul being saved, they keep on believing, they have this enduring substance, they have a great reward, they are looking forward to the promise, they know that he that shall come, will come and wonít tarry, they have this promise in front of them, the reward is given to them Ė he says now ďUntil such time as the reward, the promise, until such time as the enduring substance in heaven is given and rewarded, the just live by their faith.  The emphasis here is on the word live.  The just actively participate in everything life by faith. 

Now this statement has been said two other times in the Scriptures, one in the book of Habakkuk when Habakkuk was receiving a prophecy from the Lord about the coming of the Chaldean army and how the Chaldeans, this northern army from Babylon, was going to come and basically chastise Israel by overthrowing them because of their sin.  Habakkuk was crying out to God in chapter 1 of the book, how could God allow for such evil to take place in the streets of His own people and not bring justice and judgment, and then God says ďOkay Habakkuk, I am going to bring justice and judgment but its not going to be the way you thought.  I am going to bring it the way I intend to bring it.  Told Habakkuk to shut up, donít say anything else, sit down and Iím going to talk to you and tell you what I want you to say.  It doesnít quite say it that rash but thatís the general paraphrase of what it means.  So Habakkuk receives from God, writes the vision down and makes it plain and clear so that those who read it may run for safety.  He then goes through an entire soliloquy about how faithful God is, about how wonderful faith in God becomes, so much so that He ends the book leaping and dancing in his praise to God, even though destruction is coming.  Something he says in chapter 2 midway, he says the just shall live by their faith which means that destruction is coming, the Babylonians are on their way, the Chaldeans are coming, great persecution and destruction is on its way but I believe that God will supply his protection for those who are justified, those who are made right with Him by their faith. 

The issue here is by faith.  I donít know how, I donít know when, I donít know in what manner God is going to protect us, but I just believe Godís protection is going to come by faith.  Paul mentions it as well and when he deals with the just living by their faith, the emphasis here is placed on by faith.  Habakkuk, the emphasis is on the just.  Paul puts the emphasis on by faith that the way we live is by faith.  As he uses that to juxtapose it against living by works or being saved by deeds or works, he juxtaposes works against faith and says the way we live is by faith and not by works.  Living therefore has a viewpoint toward salvation.  Here this writer is using the same passage from Habakkuk quoting it with a whole new particular emphasis in mind and his emphasis is on the way we live in the meantime while we are being persecuted because of our faith.  His emphasis is that faith ought to affect the way the just live.  Faith ought to affect the way the just live.

Now the just are those who believe all the way to the saving of the soul.  They donít stop, they donít quit, they donít get halfway there and come back, they believe all the way to the saving of the soul.  But he says here when you have it, when you have this kind of faith, it ought to have some consequence in the way you live.  Now before we even look at chapter 11, I need to just pause here very quickly and mention that there is a disconnect between the faith of the church and the light of the church.  We get great faith input every week, Sunday after Sunday, midweek after midweek, in our various churches and organizations, but the faith input does not seem to always match the light output. Our light output seems to be lacking woefully in view of the fact that we have so much faith placed on the inside.  I mean weíve talked about things like grace, love, power, peace, joy and I could go on and on, things we build our faith upon, but it is interesting that in this day and age I donít see a whole lot of the just living by that faith.  We have the faith but I donít see us living by it very often.

There is a sacredness to our belief system that seems not to translate into our secular life.  So we come to church on Sunday and we get a faith fill up, you know we stop at the church gas station and we fill up our tanks on faith and boy weíve got faith running out of our nose and ears, but when we go home or when we get into a difficult situation, or whenever it is time to make a decision or time to deal with our marriage, our family, or our job and the list could go on and on.  Even how we deal with tragedy, how we handle disappointment, how we handle confrontation and our position, how we deal with the things we have to face every single day --- all of us do Ė I donít always see a translation between the gas of faith that is in our tank and the wheel of faith that is driving our car.  Are you getting what Iím saying?

And I find people who are faith wrecked on the side of the road and they left the church house.  And I believe it is because the just arenít living by their faith.  I think there is a greater tragedy that I am going to mention and then I want to get to chapter 11.  Iím not quite certain that the just know their faith.  Iím not quite certain that many of the just, not all, really know our faith.  I think we know our faith as it has been taught by the nice, cute, redundant clichťs that we hear all the time in Christian circles and weíve become churchy in our faith but we have not become convicted in our faith.  Are you hearing me?

Our families, our lifestyles, our habits, the way we handle and deal with the afflictions that we are always faced with.  It depends upon how strong your faith is that will decide how you handle those things I just mentioned to you.  And so he makes it very clear, if you are going to have faith you ought to see some corresponding action in your everyday life by the faith that you have.  Does everybody understand that?  Now lets jump into verse 1 which is a continuation of the same theme from verse 39 of chapter 10.  Verse 1 of Hebrews 11 is a continuation.  He says

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I know thatís one verse, I donít know if Iíll get through any more verses tonight because that one verse is loaded, I loaded.  Let me just share with you first of all what the verse is not saying, can I do that.  The verse is not attempting to give you an esoteric, untouchable definition of faith.  Not a heady, heavy, intellectual definition of faith; its not trying to do that.  Nowhere in this definition does it mention anything with regards to God, angels or spiritual beings or the devil or anything of the like, because that is not the intent.  This is not the doctrine of faith; this is the practice of faith.  So this is not a definition of it, this is a description of it.  This is not what faith is, this is what faith does.  The second thing this verse does not do Ė does not deal with anything natural, material or human.  Nothing at all.  In this verse it says ďThere is some hoping that is going on and there is some evidence of something we canít see that is going on.Ē  This verse does not deal with anything that is natural or materialistic, even though it may have natural or materialistic ends, that are not the end result of the verse, even though some natural or materialistic things might come as a result of this particular faith.  Thatís not the reason why we have this particular faith.

We know this based upon the context that the verse is written in.  Itís crouched after chapter 10, down through chapter 11 and crouched in these two verses.  It says more in these two chapters about not having than it does about having.  It says more in these two chapters about losing than it does about winning.  It says more in these two chapters about being under pain and persecution, than it says about being over pain and persecution.  So this verse cannot be used as a mantra to getting natural, human things into your life. 

The next thing this verse does not say is that any particular miracle or miraculous event or activity takes place because you have such faith.  This verse does not say if you have such faith, then you will be healed, all of your problems will go away, or if you have this kind of faith youíll supernaturally get money to pay bills or make expenses, or there is going to be a supernatural, miraculous turnaround in your life circumstances, this verse does not say no magic, nothing mystical, nothing is going to happen that is miraculous or instantaneous or automatic, the verse does not say any of that at all. 

What does the verse say then if it doesnít say any of those things?  First of all the verse says that this faith is substance.  I want you to write down some key words.  The first word is ďsubstanceĒ.  Substance here means actual existence.  Foundational.  Tangible and touchable.  Now in light of the book we are studying the substance that the writer has been pointing these Jewish readers to is the substance of Jesus Christ.  Heís been pointing them away from the shadow of the Levitical system, the shadow of the law, the shadow of the old religious regime of Judaism.  Pointing them to the substance.  The substance of Jesus Christ promises everlasting redemption and forgiveness of sin.  It promises salvation of the soul.  It promises the greater life.  Not the greater earthly life but the greater spiritual life

It promises the championship of the spiritual self over the natural self.  It promises a contact, an access to God Ė thatís what weíve been studying for the pass several weeks Ė thatís the substance.  He says this faith that we are supposed to be living by is the very substance of the things weíve been hoping for.  This substance, Christ, greater life, spiritual life, access to God, contact with God, understanding me in relationship to God and not understanding me in relationship to a system that is dead, archaic, old and vanishing away.  He says the faith we have is strong enough to bring what we have been hoping for into substance, actual existence.  We are not on our way to eternal life, everlasting life, spiritual life, access to God, contact with God Ė we are not on our way to those things Ė we are in those things.  We are experiencing those things; how so?  By faith. 

Here he immediately connects.  Listen he immediately connects the human and the mundane to the transcendent and the spiritual.  And he says the human and the mundane, thatís me, thatís you, thatís all of us, that is our everyday, mundane, human life, human thoughts, existence Ė he now connects it from a human plane to a spiritual plane and he makes man in his humanness connect with God in His divinity.  And he says the only way that we have such assurance of that kind of connection is by faith.  Now the just live by that kind of faith, so when you live your life live your life with an assurance, a persuasion, a conviction that God is in contact with you and you are in contact with God and you have access to God, and you have the door open and you can walk right into His very presence by a new and living way.  You no longer are bound to old systems and old traditions of the past which were stagnating us and holding us in regression.  We now have the ability to walk and stand before God Himself and letís live like we believe it.  Are you getting it?  This kind of faith no longer hopes with its eyes closed.  This kind of faith hopes with its eyes open.  This kind of faith no longer looks at the by and by one day soon we are going to have it, this faith is substance.  It is actual existence.  Are you getting it?

Now he does something really strange and strong with this word for substance.  He connects the things we are hoping for, which are obviously spiritual things, he connects the spiritual things we are hoping for with a word that speaks of tangibleness, substance.  He says your relationship with God, the fact that you have contact to God ought to be as real as something you can touch.  Now there is a Latin phrase that is entitled ďCoremdeoĒ it means to live before the face of God.  Whenever we live our lives, we live our lives with an awareness that God is always watching us.  Before His face, He is always looking at us.  His countenance is always upon us.  Whenever the Israelites would get blessed from their fathers, leaders, Moses and the like, they would bless the Israelites by saying ďThe countenance of the Lord look upon youĒ.  He says you are living your life with that countenance, that face, that presence of God being a real fact in your everyday life and you really actually substantively have a relationship with God by your faith. 

If this be the case, if this is the case than either we have a weak God who we are in constant contact with or we are not fully aware that we have such contact with God, or we have faith in God but more faith in self which is why we live our lives worrying the way we do, stressed the way we do, in anxiety the way we are, always living our life looking for some better day tomorrow than today, so we complain, murmur and bicker about conditions and circumstances today.  We never live our lives with this hopeful expectation because I donít believe the just really know what kind of faith they are supposed to be living by.  You know the word for ďhoped forĒ Ė things hoped for Ė that word is the word ďpistusĒ and what it means is to have a positive expectation of good that is going to come, to have a positive expectation of a good outcome.  I am expecting it.  I am looking forward to it.  Itís almost like sticking your neck out, opening your eyes wide, having a big smile on your face, and waiting for it to come.  He says that faith is that kind of hope and brings it into reality.  Are you getting what Iím saying?

Itís the picture and the idea of a little child who on Christmas morning walks into the room, sees the Christmas tree and all the presents under the tree and the little child opens its eyes and opens its mouths and almost bursting forth with emotion, almost screams as he runs to the presents and tears them open.  Donít you know that child with every fiber of its being is hoping that exactly that exactly what he had been wanting is inside that box; thatís the way our relationship with God ought to be.  The fact that we have a relationship with God ought to be with powerful expectation, that the good Ė the relationship Ė is obvious and as real  as something substantive. 

The next word I need you to write down Ė you should have two words already Ė substance, hoped for is the other.  The next word I want you to write down is ďevidenceĒ.  This faith looks forward to the good that is to come and makes the good substance in my hand Ė tangible.  The third thing is evidence.  Evidence is this faith that I am supposed to have is the proof, the proof of things I cannot see.  I donít need to see it.  I donít need to see it.  My faith is the proof.  The fact that I believe it says it is so.  My faith is the evidence, the proof of it.  How many of you guys like Law and Order?  I love that show.  Thereís something special Ė that show has an anointing on it or something Ė there is something about that show.  I stay up all night watching them over and over again.  The show is built around, or better yet forget Law and Order, but CSI Ė how many of you like CSI; that helps this illustration a little better.  The show of CSI is built around forensic evidence.  They can take blood samples, special lights, special chemical solutions, and they can actually find true evidence of things like DNA, skin tissue, hair tissue Ė they can find out who did the crime.  So much so that during CSI you know what will happen, the evidence becomes so real, so weighty and so heavy, that they can reenact the crime even though none of the forensic scientists were ever there.

The evidence itself becomes so real that they can just almost see exactly how it was done.  They know when the person got hit with the bloody object, they know which direction the blood splattered in, they know how far away the person was when they fell, they know the time of death, I mean they just know too much.  Evidence and the evidence proves that such and such an event had to take place.  He says I donít know chemical solutions, DNA, hair color, and any of those other types of forensic evidence, I donít need any of that Ė TO PROVE THAT GOD IS REAL, THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR ME, THAT MY SINS ARE FORGIVEN, THAT I AM A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST Ė I DONíT NEED ANYTHING TO PROVE THAT BECAUSE MY FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF SOMETHING THAT I CANNOT NATURALLY SEE. 

Now an interesting point is that the word for things, of things not seen, is the word ďpragmaĒ in the Greek.  Pragma means Ė it is only written 11 times in the New Testament.  Now you would think ďthingsĒ is written all over the New Testament.  Well it is, things is, but things is our English translation of a couple of different Greek words and each of the Greek words has specific definitions that when we translate it, itís just easier to say things.  But things arenít what the writer was really saying.  The writer said that our faith is the evidence of ďPragmaĒ, not seen.  Pragma means a deed that has been done, a settled and finished event.  Pragma is a thing that has been done.  Not a thing thing thing, but a thing that has been done.  Not a thing, like a person, place or thing Ė but a thing that has been done.  I am going to read to you a couple of passages where pragma is used.  In Matthew 18:19

19Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

The word for thing here, pragma, means a deed that is done.  If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that is done, anything that you do, if you agree on earth, he says it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Acts 5:4 is another one.  This speaks of when Ananias and Sophia lied to Peter about the property that they sold. 

4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

You didnít conceive a natural thing in your heart.  You conceived a deed in your heart and it is a deed that has already been done and you can see this done deed in your hearts, and you lied, which is the deed that you did.  Are you getting it? 

Iíll read another one to you.  Here it uses a different word, not thing, it says

1Dare any of you, having a matter [pragma] against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

A matter Ė Iíve got a problem with you.  Why?  Because of something that happened between the two of us.  A deed, an event, that has already been done he calls it pragma.  Now Hebrews 11:1 lets read it with that understanding of its original language.  He says

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of done deeds that I did not see.  It is the substance of done deeds hoped for and the evidence of done deeds that I did not see.  Well what is a done deed that I didnít see?  Well there are a lot of them.  But my faith isnít in all of them, just in the ones that saved my soul, and the saving of my soul believes in these done deeds strong enough to complete the saving of the soul.  What are the deeds pastor?  No. 1, the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh born of a virgin womb.  I didnít see it but my faith is evidence that it is a done deed.  The fact that Jesus Christ lived on the earth and died on the cross; it is a done deed.  I wasnít there, I didnít see it, but my faith says it is so, it is evidence.  And his death on the cross was for the purpose of saving my sin.  He died so that He might be the complete, the last and the final sacrifice Ė no more bulls, goats and calves Ė I can see them.  This man I didnít see, he died, his blood presented before the Father completely atoned for all of my sins.  I didnít see it but itís a done deed.  My faith is the evidence of it.  He sits in glory at the right hand of the Father and He ever lives, He never will die.  He ever lives to make intercession for me; I didnít see it but pragma says it has been done.  My faith is the evidence of it.  Are you getting what Iím saying here?

Guys, whenever we attach some superfluous, materialistic, possessive things to this verse it is an atrocity.  It murders the text because we have relegated from its high and lofty position of showing us the done deeds of Jesus Christ that we never saw, to becoming some way and means to get more money for next monthís rent, or get a man that weíve been hoping we can get, or get a babyís daddy to do right, or some other kind of silly concoction we come up with.  We donít understand you have a God who is stronger than bringing you some baby daddy in your life, or some bling bling, or some new car or job, we are talking about done deed that have already been done that we did not even see.  Can I tell you a couple of others?  Itís not just pragma from the past, but it is done deeds that are in the past but havenít happened yet.  I better stoop.

Things like the fact that I am in heaven.  I know, I know, I know.  You see me here on earth.  I know Iíve got a mike in my hand and you all see me on earth, I understand that, but the moment that I got saved, the day that I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I went to heaven and Iíve never come back.  Iím just here in time but in eternity it is as if I am already there.  Eternal life doesnít begin when I die; eternal life begins the moment I give my life to Jesus Christ.  Pastor how do you know that?  Because my faith is the evidence of the pragma that I did not see.  Can I give another done deed?  Jesus is coming back.  Now I know we havenít seen Him yet because we are in time, but in eternity it isnít stuck in time.  Thatís how the Father knows the date and the hour because He isnít telling us because we are in time but He is in eternity, He knows in eternity what has not happened yet in time.  This is why Jesus could say with such strong conviction ďI am going away to prepare a place for you but when I get there I will come again and receive you unto myself.Ē  How do you know that pastor?  Because my faith is the evidence of the pragma that I did not see.  Are you hearing what Iím saying to you?

All of my faith must rest in what my logical mind and my physical eyes cannot behold because if my physical eyes and my logical mind can behold an understanding, it is no longer faith Ė it is now logic, it is now reason, and it is now rational and if it is logic and rational, then it is not divine.  Because there is nothing logical or rational about God at all.  If God were logical then that would mean He has to take a seat from his deified position and come to our humanized position because logic is a thing of man and not a thing of God.

Do you know what logic is?  Logic is the derivement of a manís mind, how he derives at a conclusion.  Logic uses as its reasoning ability the thought process of man.  So logic can only be as strong as a manís head and the smartest man in the world, letís say it was Einstein, Einstein then could use his brain matter to deduce certain conclusions logically.  If God is one of those conclusions then God is bound by the brain matter of Einsteinís head and God is not bound by Einsteinís head, God created Einstein.  How can the creator be less intelligent than the creation?  Iím getting too excited; Iíve got to calm down.  Iím sorry, I donít mean to get like this but I do because of what I see when I close my eyes is stronger than what I see when my eyes are open.  The Bible says in Romans 8:

24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

25But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

I turned the tape over and lost something.

I want to live that like.  How does that translate?  Well a couple of things I am able to see that I canít put my faith in, not for saving me.  No. 1, Government.  How many of you can see the government?  You can get tours of the White House, you can study the government and look at history and study all the three branches, legislative, presidential and the judicial Ė you can do all that studying of all the issues, the laws, etc. and all that stuff you can see, but you should never trust any of it to save you.  It is not the governmentís responsibility to legislate that which saves any of us.  Itís the governmentís job to protect us, to govern us, to make sure we are able to live in a peaceful and quiet environment, but it is not the governmentís job to make sure we are saved Ė that is the job of faith.  I can see stuff like my job Ė my career, what I want, the money I hope Iím going to get, my promotion, my advancement, I can see myself sitting over in my corner office, I can see myself looking out my window and the city of Atlanta is at my window Ė Iím moving on up to the eastside with a deluxe apartment in the sky.  [Laughter]   My faith isnít in that because I can see it

I know a lot of young Black men whose faith is so low, their hope has been so dashed and destroyed, that their faith is only in a wad of cash, that they can make quick and easy.  Quick money.  Selling drugs or dope, quick money, and the most they can see is a new car, new rims, or something else they can have around their neck or on their feet or on their back, their faith is so low because their hope has been dashed, and there are so many of them and so many others, not just Black men who are dealing with that type of environment, but white men, Hispanic men, Latino men, Asian men, not just the poor from the ghettos but Iím talking about the rich and the wealthy who live on Wall Street and in Buckhead and on Park Avenue.  Men who feel like money and things are all the world has to offer and when you get your money and you get your stuff, you have arrived.  Anything you can see can be destroyedAnything you can see can crumble underneath your feet.  Anything you can see is momentary and temporary.  You never place your faith in anything you can see.  You thank God for the good things that happen in your life but you always keep your eyes on a God who is greater than anything in this world.  Your faith is the evidence and the proof that such a God exists.  I am going to believe Him if I have money in my pocket or if I am broke and donít have a dime, I will maintain my trust and my confidence in my God.  There are no quick fixes.  Can I burst your bubble? 

Weíve got to stop becoming a Christian community that just waits for the next quick fix, and our faith is only good for miraculous answers that come overnight.  So if God does not give some miracle over night, then Iím not going to believe Heís God.  Or Iím coming to church child, girl Iím coming to church tonight because I need an answer to what Iím going through.  I donít go to church anymore because I need momentary answers.  I used to go to church because I needed to have some emotional and psychological fix to help me through another day, now I go to church because of the reality of who my God is.  My God is bigger than any problem I could have today or tomorrow, and whether He fixes my problem or not, He is still God, and since He is God He is worthy for me to worship Him and Heís worthy of My praise.  I worship God not to get out of a jam; I worship God because God is God.  I worship God because He is Holy and because He is righteous.  Are you hearing what Iím saying?

And when our faith gets like that, we become transcendent.  Transcendent means to move beyond and above this earthly plain.  Something that I believe the Negro slave understood that we have since forgotten.  What it means to be transcendent.  They would sing songs like ďOver My Head I Hear Music in the Air, There Must Be A God SomewhereĒ.  Transcendent.  Songs like ďSteal AwayĒ.  Not to the bar, not to the game, not to the golf course, but steal away to Jesus.  They believed that when they went around the corner, in the back of the barn, they believed they were going to meet Jesus.  Transcendent.  We used to say about them how it was a pie in the sky kind of religion.  Well guess what guys, there is a pie in the sky and itís a mighty big pie and I ainít got to wait until I die to eat my slice of it.   Iím able to eat my slice of that pie today.  Pastor is that pie a new house, is that pie a new job, is that pie a new job?  No, that pie is the revelation that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior and I have access to God.  That pie is my home in glory that Iím fighting for so if I donít get anything I was wanting down here, I can shout anyhow because I know Iíve got a slice of a God kind of pie.  Are you hearing what Iím saying?

When we become transcendent, catch it please, then the things of this world no longer allure us, no longer entice us, they no longer persuade us away from God.  The things of this world become utilized by us in order for us to give God greater glory.  They are just vehicles, guys that I use to get God His glory.  Transcendent.  You can tell somebody who is not transcendent.  They pace the floor all night, they connive little tricks and schemes to solve their predicaments and their problems, they just have to have a smoke, they just got to have something to drink, and they canít help but do these drugs.  Pastor life has got me down.  If life has you down, let your faith lift you up.  I close with this.  Pragma is the things, things not seen, pragma.  Do you know what the word pragma serves as the root and source word for our word in English?  It serves as the root source word for pragmatic, or pragmatism.  Pragmatic means things that are practical.  Pragmatic and practicality are one in the same.  If something is pragmatic it is practical, it is doable, it can be done, and it is something that I can accomplish.  He says my faith is the proof of pragma.  My faith is the proof of practicality.  I can live practically by my faith.  I can experience practically because of my faith.  I have practical power by my faith.  I have practical confidence by my faith.  Hereís when being transcendent has earthly benefits.  Hereís when being transcendent has earthly benefits because I have a faith in God who is above the earth, it is relevant and good for practical stuff on the earth.