By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. – Hebrews 11:4
The first person of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 was the second son of Adam and Eve, Abel. Cain, the older brother, was a farmer while Abel was a shepherd. At a specific time, Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord. Cain chose fruits and vegetables which he had grown in his field. Abel brought the firstling of his flock and the fat thereof. The Bible says that the Lord had respect for Abel’s offering and for Abel himself; but for Cain and his offering, the Bible says He had no respect. The lesson here is the lesson of faith. Cain’s offering represented only the work of his hands. Abel’s offering was a picture of the work of redemption. No doubt both sons knew of the blood sacrifice which was made when God sacrificed an animal in order to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. This is the earliest picture of redemption. Whatever Cain and Abel understood about God, they at least understood that a sacrifice was more than just an offering; it was to be a picture of the work of God. It is not what we bring to God that matters most. What is important is that we bring our offerings to God as a picture of what God did for us in sacrificing His own Son. Let us consider what the Bible says about the faith of Abel.
It was the faith of Abel that made his sacrifice acceptable.
Cain was basing his acceptability on his works. Abel was basing his acceptability of his offering on what his sacrifice represented. The Bible tells us that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. It is not enough merely to bring sacrifices to God. They must be holy sacrifices, which means they are set apart for a particular purpose. They must be acceptable sacrifices, meaning that they must be sacrifices that please the Lord. By faith, Abel knew that the sacrifice he was bringing was a sacrifice that was acceptable unto God.
The sacrifice of Abel was a witness or proof of his righteousness.
This is a very important aspect. It is not our works that prove our righteousness. It is the blood of Christ that is a witness as to whether or not we have been made righteous. Cain sought to please or gain approval from God by his works. Abel obediently brought a sacrifice that pointed to the blood of Christ. It was the blood that was the emphasis here not just the sacrifice. There are many religions that make greater sacrifices than Christians do. There are religions that actually do bodily harm to themselves in an effort to please God. However, it does not please God. They are performing works that are based upon earning God’s favor rather than relying on the blood of Christ. It is the blood of Christ that pleases God not our works of righteousness.
God testified as to the righteousness of Abel.
Imagine standing in a court of law and God giving testimony as to your innocence. That is exactly what happened in Abel’s life. God gave testimony as to the righteousness of Abel because his sacrifice was one of obedience and faith.
Abel’s life and death were not in vain.
What we consider to be the tragedy of Abel’s death was not a tragedy in the mind of God. The testimony of Abel has lived on through the centuries because what he did was an act of faith. To die for one’s faith accomplishes far more than to live for one’s own works of the flesh. What we lose by faith we gain for eternity. The life of faith is always the most valuable and productive life.
As we see the life of Abel, we understand that what we do must be done by faith and that faith must be in the work of Christ not our own works. It is not by works of righteousness which we have done. It is by faith not works lest we become boastful. Our faith leads us to works, but our works must always be based upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ and not on our own righteousness. His righteousness makes our works of faith acceptable to God.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.