Praise be to YHWH our Elohim! Welcome to you all – it is good for us to be together and be able to worship Him, praising His Mighty Name! In a world that demands so much of our time, we do well to ensure that we put YHWH ahead of all things and allow our faith to be expressed in obedient living, as we hear, guard and do His Word.
In Yaʽaqoḇ/James 2: 14-20 speaks of how faith without works is dead, let’s read it quickly:
“My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? This belief is unable to save him. 15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in need of daily food, 16 but one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” but you do not give them the bodily needs, what use is it? 17 So also belief, if it does not have works, is in itself dead. 18 But someone might say, “You have belief, and I have works.” Show me your belief without your works, and I shall show you my belief by my works. 19 You believe that Elohim is one. You do well. The demons also believe – and shudder! 20 But do you wish to know, O foolish man, that the belief without the works is dead?”
So many people today are living and declaring that they have faith in the Almighty, yet as you look at their lives, there seems to be little or no evidence of this faith they so freely claim to live by. So, as Yaʽaqoḇ writes, we are to show our faith by our works – what works? What evidence do we have to show our faith? My message tonight is called, “Evidences of faith!” and I would like us to look at some of the evidences that should be apparent in our lives as individuals and as a community or body of believers in Messiah. In order for us to look into the mirror of the Word of YHWH and so reflect on what we actually look like, please turn with me to Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13 and let us read!
Reading this last chapter in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews, of which the authorship is not certain, but Clement of Alexandria, around 200 C.E., credited it to Sha’ul, one gets the impression that the writer had a whole lot of miscellaneous stuff still to deal with before ending his letter, and saved it for the end. We see in Chapter 12 the joy we have in us drawing near to mount Tsiyon and now hear in Chapter 13 we see being discussed everyday topics related to everyday living. We know that Scripture clearly reveals to us that there is no distinction between doctrine and duty – no division between the letter and the application thereof – no division between revelation and responsibility. These things go together – hence faith and works that go together as we hear and do, not simply hear only! The emphasis we see here in this section in the last section of Iḇ’rim/Hebrews is ‘living by faith’: In Chapter 11 we are presented with a list of great examples for us and in Chapter 12 we see the encouragements to having and walking in faith and here in Chapter 13 we see clearly being presented to us the evidences of faith that ought to be apparent in our daily lives – that is that which should be evident in our lives if we are truly walking by faith and not by sight!
This chapter contains herein practical admonitions for all believers. And in it we see some of the evidences of faith we are to have as we actively live out our faith in Messiah, and so let us take a look at some of these mentioned here:
1 – ENJOYING SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP (1-6)
In verse 1 we see clearly a command to let ‘brotherly love’ continue – the basis for our fellowship is ‘brotherly love’. We are all called to live a life of love – Eph’siyim/Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Messiah also has loved us, and gave Himself for us, a gift and an offering to Elohim for a sweet-smelling fragrance.”
Yahushua commanded us to love one another, and this call to love one another in Messiah is repeated throughout all of Sha’ul’s letters. If we extend this brotherly or family love to one another we will experience unity and be compelled to share our material and spiritual resources with others and love as Yoḥanan writes in Yoḥanan Aleph 3:18 that we are to love in deed and in truth! Most of the early believers were no doubt rejected by their friends and family – the same for many of us today. However what we must realise and recognise is that the deepest kind of fellowship is not based purely on skin colour or physical family relationship – but it is based rather on the spiritual life we have in Messiah, and as Yahushua himself said that His mother and brothers were those who do the will of the Father! Any relationship that is not based upon the love for Messiah will not last! And here we get to relate and enjoy our fellowship having the foundation of a love for Messiah that enables us to enjoy true spiritual fellowship – which is an evidence of our faith walk!
In this week’s Torah portion, which we will look at in the morning, we see in Shemoth/Exodus 23:25:
“And you shall serve YHWH your Elohim, and He shall bless your bread and your water. And I shall remove sickness from your midst.”
What I love about this verse is that it is describing us the joy of community living in unity and in serving YHWH their bread and water would be blessed. Bread in Scripture is often pictured as community and water as Torah. What it is saying here is that the Torah and community go together!!! A community without Torah cannot live out the evidence of faith and trying to live according to Torah without community is extremely difficult and near impossible as we are to come together as a body that serves one another in love! The promise given for this true torah community living is that YHWH will remove sickness from our midst – Shemoth goes on to talk about further blessings of this kind of community heart living and what we see here is the privilege we have to live this out and this kind of spiritual fellowship that we are able to enjoy daily with each other is an evidence of faith operating in our lives! You see where there is true love for Messiah being lived out in fellowship there will naturally be the ability to be hospitable and even entertain strangers. This hospitable character was very necessary in the early assemblies due to much persecution that drove many believers from their homes.
In Sha’ul’s instructions on eldership to Titos we see that one of the attributes for an elder is that they are to be a lover of hospitality, however before you think that you are not an elder so you don’t have to be hospitable! Hospitality is not restricted to elders or leaders only, but is an attribute that is to be shown by all as evidence of our faith! Sha’ul tells us in Romiyim/Romans 12:13 that the mark of a true believer is the ability to be hospitable! Just how hospitable are you? Are you one of those who never lets anyone near your home, always making excuses to showing hospitality or even struggle to just simply make time to meet with fellow believers over a coffee and chat, showing hospitality toward each other? An evidence of faith is hospitality – and as I learned from many years in the hospitality industry is that hospitality in a nutshell can be best described as the ability to serve! Can you serve others or are you the one always wanting to be served?
Aḇraham entertained 2 messengers and although we may not entertain ‘angel’ (although it is possible), but any stranger could turn out to be a messenger of blessing to us from YHWH. It is often the case that we may have guests in our homes who turn out to be that very messenger of blessing from YHWH!
As we see from this passage that we have read is that this brotherly love – brotherly referring to within the body – expresses itself in concern for others in the body – those who are undergoing harsh conditions, persecutions and trials, and are in a sense even imprisoned by life’s circumstances. In fact it was not unusual in those days to be imprisoned for having faith in Messiah – and this happens today in some parts of the world – which should raise concern in us and cause us to pray with them realising that as the Word says that if one part suffers the whole body suffers. We may think of the many who are suffering – those who are far from us – but what about those right here in our midst? Thank you to all who contributed to assisting Justin with some food and money – this is evidence of brotherly love operating in our midst as we are enjoying more and more the privilege of having true spiritual fellowship!
In verse 4 in referring to marriage and the marriage bed being kept pure, helps us know just where this love being practiced and lived out begins – it begins in the home showing loyalty and purity. Whoring and adultery will be punished by YHWH and the marriage and home are to be a picture of Him and His Bride being kept pure at all times!
There are many today who are trying to live out this faith with many great deeds yet their own marriages and homes are a mess, and it is at the home where it begins – walking in purity and set-apartness!
Another part of enjoying spiritual fellowship is having the right mind-set toward the material things – we are to be satisfied with what we have, and our lives be without the love of silver or money – for as we know the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Part of enjoying spiritual fellowship is the ability to not covet what others have, and have the ability to share what we do have if the need arises! The sad reality is the fact that for many, times of suffering and struggles so easily become times of selfishness and pride, where instead of using those times as a prime opportunity to serve, simply use it as times to sulk as they stop looking out by being focused within themselves! It certainly is not easy to ‘accept with joy the seizure of our possessions’ as it is written in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 10:34, but what we soon must realise is that in the world today, with all its economic and ecological problems – even those ‘comfortable’ believers may just find themselves having to do without those luxuries that they often seriously considered as essential necessities!
When one is too comfortable in the flesh and materialism of the world it is often harder to be a faithful loving believer with the evidence of faith showing daily in their lives as they may find themselves very quickly forsaking the gathering and fellowship of believers in order to feed their selfish demands the world and its programmes place upon them in keeping up with society!
Being content in one’s life cannot come from what one has in material possessions, as the material or flesh can never satisfy the heart!
Luqas/Luke 12:15 “And He said to them, “Mind, and beware of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the excess of his possessions.”
Let me remind you tonight – the richest you can be – is to KNOW Yahushua Messiah. This is how we know that we know Him – if we guard His commands – (Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:3)
“Stuff” will fade and rot away yet YHWH’s love for us never will and He will never leave nor forsake us. The material is here today and gone tomorrow – but Yahushua Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever, aměn!
So a key evidence of faith operating in our lives is our fellowship with one another – let us make the evidence clearly visible in our love and service to one another!
2 – SUBMITTING TO AUTHORITY/LEADERSHIP (7-9; 17; 24)
In this chapter we see the term, ‘those leading you’ and we are told to ‘remember’, ‘obey’ and ‘greet’ those leading you. Let me ask you – who is leading you? Well the first key to answering that is given after being told to remember those leading you – it is those who spoke the Word of Elohim to you.
A – Remember them– Now the word ‘remember’ can have various connotations – it could represent those of the past – those who had taught the Hebrews and were now dead, perhaps because of being martyred for their faith – and they were told to consider the outcome – that is the result of their behaviour – in other words think carefully about the result of their obedient faith and imitate them!!! Yaʽaqoḇ tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds – the early apostles did and we should carefully consider their behaviour and imitate them – Sha’ul said follow me as I follow Messiah – Messiah is our example and we know that it is enough for the talmidim to be like their teacher. We are not to be like those involved in the rebellion recorded of in Bemiḏbar/Numbers 16 – with the Qoraḥ rebellion – where they assembled against Mosheh and Aharon saying in a nutshell, “listen we are all set-apart and are all priests – what makes you special” – what happened – the earth opened up and swallowed the company of Qoraḥ as well as 250 leaders that were offering incense were consumed by fire! One danger which seems to be creeping in amongst some who have come out of the Babylon system of ‘church’ and are walking the Torah road are sadly adopting the same attitude, not being able to recognise any leadership called by Yahushua for the equipping of the body to become mature and complete, and so much of the body is struggling to move on to maturity due to the lack of ability to remember their leaders as they do not feel that they need leadership! This is a dangerous and rebellious place to be.
B – Obey them – When a servant of Elohim is in the will of Elohim and teaching the Word of Elohim then the children of Elohim should submit and obey. This is not a licence to allow men to have the practice of the Nicolaites – which means to lord over the people in an autocratic system – no we must not tolerate the practice of the Nicolaites which YHWH too hates, but we are to submit and obey those whom He calls to be overseers over you, submitting to the Word as administered through YHWH’s appointed!
C – Greet them – That is not just a simple ‘hi’ I am talking about! Shalom or peace is a common way to greet another in the Hebrew culture. This kind of greeting involves interaction and sharing. In Greek the common way of greeting one would have been to say, ‘favour’ or ‘grace’ to you – again carrying the deep intention of seeking the very best and well-being of the one whom you are greeting – not a quick ‘I just say hi and maybe make some brief shallow talk and go’! In ancient times greeting was considered an integral part of communication and carried with it great power and sign of respect and zeal for relationship. Sha’ul in his letters writes ‘grace and peace’ or ‘Shalom and favour’, except for Timotiyos and Titos, where he writes, ‘grace, mercy and peace’ or ‘favour, compassion and peace from Elohim’. Our words carry great power and our ability to greet one well has tremendous effect. Perhaps Timotiyos and Titos needed extra compassion to endure as leaders, not sure – but the fact is we are told ‘greet them’. Your ability to greet others is a sign of your faith – it can show evidence of your faith or lack thereof!
In recognising those YHWH has called to lead, one must also be careful not to fall prey to ‘strange teachings’ – that is teachings that promote lawlessness or rather ‘torahlessness’. Kěpha warns in his second letter about false teachers who teach lawlessness – and do not be carried away by teachings that are not in line with the Word – do not fall prey to teachings that either add or take away from the Word! There were recipients of this letter to the Hebrews who were considering reverting back to all the orthodox rabbinical laws, precedents and takanots and ma’asim , which were man-made laws, known by many as ‘oral law’ which we see again in this week’s Torah portion that there was no additional oral law that Moshe gave as he clearly obeyed the instruction from YHWH to write everything down!
Test everything – the Bereans tested all that Sha’ul and Silas spoke!
The second evidence we are speaking of here today from Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13 is the ability to submit – do not rebel – it could be hazardous to your health!
3 – SHARING IN SPIRITUAL WORSHIP (10-16; 18-19)
Another evidence of faith operating in our lives is our worship – as we come together, we can certainly enjoy pure and true worship in Spirit and in Truth. What does the Scriptures tell us? Do you not know that ‘you’ (plural) are the ‘temple’ (singular) of the Ruach HaQodesh! As we come together we can have the evidence of faith being seen in our ability to share in worship. Our bodies are to be offered as daily living sacrifices – set-apart and acceptable to Elohim for this is our act of spiritual worship. 2 aspects of this spiritual act of worship is mentioned here in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13:
A – Continual praise to Elohim – this is a major evidence of our faith – our ability to continually praise! The fruit of our lips or also translated as the ‘bull’ of our lips, recognising that a bull was a prize possession and of great worth in offering up to YHWH. This fruit therefore speaks of the offering of our lips – that which we offer up in praise. It is often the case that many through suffering and trouble cannot find the strength nor the ability to offer any praise – and only proclaim misery and sorrow from the very lips that we are to give praise to Elohim from! It is of vital importance to give thanks in all occasions and praise the Mighty Name of YHWH. The evidence of our faith is seen by what comes off of our lips! What words do you find yourself speaking – is there evidence of faith or not?
We are to confess His Name, love His Name, revere His Name, worship His Name and proclaim His Name:
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 56:6-7 “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to YHWH, to serve Him, and to love the Name of YHWH, to be His servants, all who guard the Sabbath, and not profane it, and hold fast to My covenant – 7 them I shall bring to My set-apart mountain, and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their slaughterings are accepted on My altar, for My house is called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
Tehillim/Psalms 103:1 “Bless YHWH, O my being, And all that is within me, Bless His set-apart Name!”
Tehillim/Psalms 22:22 “I make known Your Name to My brothers; In the midst of the assembly I praise You.”
Mal’aki/Malachi 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My Name is great among nations. And in every place incense is presented to My Name, and a clean offering. For My Name is great among nations,” said YHWH of hosts.”
I was accused of making an idol of His Name when we began to walk according to the Truth of His Word – how ridiculous is that!!! His Name is to be lifted up and proclaimed and made known and praised and esteemed from the fruit or offering of our lips. Again let me ask what comes from your lips? Have they been cleansed as Isaiah with the fire of His Word or do you find yourself with a fork tongue – speaking one way in fellowship and another in the world. Evidence of faith is seen in your speech and praise unto YHWH!
B – Do good and share – Wow verse 16 really nails it – do not forget to do good and share – for this kind of offering pleases Elohim!!! Now how awesome is this – we get to do this together as a family that He is building. Doing good certainly involves hospitality, ministering to those in an imprisoned state of trials and hardships and can carry many aspects. I like the fact that we have here – doing good and sharing – together. For in your ‘doing good’ it is not simply about the good that you do but rather the heart of giving and sharing of yourself in the good that you do. Sharing carries with it the intensity of the attitude of the heart – if your heart is not in it – do not do it for it will not please Elohim. Are you willing to ‘share’ in the fellowship of this family that YHWH has called together and is growing? This doing good and sharing your life in fellowship in a clear evidence of faith in operation and pleases Elohim!
One of the things emphasized here too is ‘prayer’! Now we could all use prayer help, aměn! The writer asked for prayer, a common thread we see in all of Sha’ul’s letters – why because we ought to be praying for one another – fervently and always! Are you praying for others here – or do you forget and cannot even remember names – where then is the evidence of faith! I encourage you to be active in praying for all, doing good and sharing, bringing continual praise to YHWH – this pleases Him – let us please Him daily aměn!
4 – EXPERIENCING SPIRITUAL LEADING OF MESSIAH
The closing of this letter explains how the believer is enabled to live for Messiah in this world – it is Yahushua who works in and through us by His Ruach (Spirit). In Scripture we see 3 titles given to our Messiah the Shepherd:
1 – The Good Shepherd – Yoḥanan/John 10:11
2 – The Great Shepherd – here in Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13
3 – The Chief Shepherd – Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 5:4
Listen – our High Priest is our Shepherd and Helper. It is He who works in us and through us and it is He who freely gives us favour and power to live for Him and serve Him. Is there evidence that the Good, Great and Chief Shepherd is leading you – are you walking in Him, walking as He did – experiencing that very resurrection power that raised Him from the dead now being manifest in the sons of obedience? Evidence of faith is walking faithfully according to His Word; listen carefully to His still voice leading you in all Truth and Wisdom.
What I have briefly shared with you tonight are some key evidences of faith operating in our lives – or rather evidences that will help us to realize and know that we are truly walking in and have great faith. How is your faith walk – is there evidence in your life of faith – is it being lived out and is well pleasing to YHWH or does it need some more hearing of the Word and the doing of it to evidence it. Do not merely be hearers only but doers and may our faith be seen in our good works, walking in His instructions daily and living out in community where He blesses the Bread and the water! May we learn to enjoy fellowship being hospitable serving one another in brotherly love; learn to submit to YHWH’s called and appointed leadership; learn to share in worship bringing continual praise, as we do good and share His love in us and experience daily the living power of Messiah in us that there may be great evidence of faith in our lives individually and together as a family, that we may please YHWH our Elohim. Take these words to heart and may you be found to have the evidences of faith in operation, aměn!
Perhaps you have found that your faith has been weakened of late and the lack of true evidence of living active faith is not clearly evident. Perhaps due to your inability to continue in brotherly love and love hospitality – being able to serve with great joy and you have seemingly struggled to submit under YHWH’s anointed and appointed authority and therefore your ability to worship has grown dim. Heed these admonitions that are given to us in this passage. Often we ask ourselves how we are to walk practically as we walk in Torah. We know that the good works is walking in obedience to His Torah – but just how is it lived out daily – and here we have just seen some of the evidences or rather ‘good works’ that will show that there is great evidence of faith operating in our lives and we would do well to excel at these, bringing esteem to the Name of YHWH. May you find yourself walking with great evidences of faith as you look into the mirror of these powerful admonitions and be obedient to allowing the very evidences we have spoken of being seen, equipping us as a family growing in maturity and strength unto a mature man in Messiah. Let the evidences be seen, evidences of faith in YHWH!!!