The Unknown Faithful

Hebrews 11:33-39 says, Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

There is an amazing list in Hebrews chapter eleven. It is a list that contains no names. It is a list of things suffered and endured for Christ. Some of these people, no doubt, could be found in Scripture. Others, we will not know until eternity. History records that there have been many whose faith led them into severe testing and trials. Some of the greatest works of God were done by men and women whose courage fueled by their faith was unheralded by men but not forgotten by God. We know those whose names go down in history as great men and women of faith. God chooses sometimes to bring to remembrance certain ones. He also chooses to allow many to stay in obscurity though their faith was equally as great. In today’s lesson, we will speak of the unknown people of faith.

I. The accomplishments of the unknown people of faith: The list below is found in Hebrews chapter 11. These are but examples, but there are untold numbers of Christians throughout history whom God used to accomplish great things because of their faith. Every great work of God has been accomplished because of someone’s faith. He has chosen to use us to do his work. Who through faith…

  • subdued kingdoms,
  • wrought righteousness,
  • obtained promises,
  • stopped the mouths of lions,
  • Quenched the violence of fire,
  • escaped the edge of the sword,
  • out of weakness were made strong,
  • waxed valiant in fight,
  • turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
  • Women received their dead raised to life again:

II. The sacrifice of the unknown people of faith: No one has ever honestly proclaimed that God’s work was supposed to be easy. Being obedient to God sometimes comes with a great price. We are given a list of hardships that people endured for the sake of obeying God. Faith is not a bed of roses. Faith costs something to be lived. The faith we enjoy did not come easy but was paid for by others before us. We often speak in our culture that freedom is not free; many paid a price for it. The same can be said about the faith we enjoy. Many have paid a great price for it.

  • others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
  • others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
  • They were stoned,
  • they were sawn asunder,
  • were tempted,
  • were slain with the sword:
  • they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins;
  • being destitute,
  • afflicted,
  • tormented;
  • (Of whom the world was not worthy:)
  • they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

III. The value of the unknown people of faith: What a great statement is made here in this passage, (Of whom the world was not worthy:) The world may hate the people of faith, but the world is not worthy of them either.

 IV. The unfinished work of the unknown people of faith: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: This final point is so important. All of these whose names were listed and then countless others whose names were omitted obtained a good report through faith. It does not say they obtained good results. It does not say they obtained great success. It does not say they obtained men’s adulation and praise. It does not say they obtained a great retirement package. It does not say they obtained great appreciation. The Bible tells us they obtained a good report. What does that mean? When a child attends school and they do well in their studies, the teacher may send a good report card home to the parents. It means that the child has done what they are supposed to do. It does not mean that they have yet accomplished all that they will accomplish from what they have learned. It means they have a good report for the efforts they have made.

The same is true of these unknown people of faith. The work they started has not been finished. They will not know until the judgment seat all that was accomplished because of their faith. The lesson here is that when we are finished with our race on earth, we will not know until the judgment seat of Christ all that our faith accomplished. We will however have a good report if we are faithful.

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by pastor greg neal

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