Finding The Needle of Truth in a Haystack of Lies

Finding The Needle of Truth in a Haystack of Lies

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Faith; Means of Grace; Salvation; Atonement / Hebrews 11:1–4; Genesis 4:1–5

What religion are you? This question often generates thoughts of confusion and anxiety. There are so many choices. How in the world can I know which one is right. Some folks just ignore it all together, but there remains a nagging feeling that maybe they are missing something vital.

Some folks push aside the question and foolishly imagine that metaphysical truth somehow becomes relative. Find the truth that works for you. If you want to be a Muslim… great … others can choose Catholicism, others can follow paganism… whatever makes you feel best is your personal truth. Then again, there is that nagging feeling that must be suppressed… “what if I’m wrong?

In our passage this morning, the writer of Hebrews shows us that there was an ancient religious debate between the sons of Adam. Cain believed that he could connect with God by offering up the fruit of his works in the field. Able on the other hand did something that was rare and repulsive in that early post Eden period. Able offered a blood sacrifice… took the life of an innocent lamb. Remember, they did not eat animals yet. Why would Able do such a barbaric thing? Why would his religion be so cruel? And why on earth would God accept that and not Cain’s?

Hebrews 11:4 KJV

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.

This morning we are going to discover that only through faith can you find the needle of truth in a haystack full of lies.

Mankind Has a Natural Hunger For God

Because He was Created in God’s Image

Genesis 1:27 KJV

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Because Sin Separated Man From God.

Genesis 2:15–17 KJV

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 3:6–7 KJV

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Because Sin Brought Death

Romans 5:12 KJV

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 6:23 KJV

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hebrews 9:27 KJV

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Revelation 21:8 KJV

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Therefore it was natural for man to try to get right with God again.

 If we look through a piece of red glass, everything is red. If we look through a piece of blue glass, everything is blue. If we look through a piece of yellow glass, everything is yellow, and so on.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, God looks at us through the Lord Jesus Christ. He sees us in all the white holiness of his Son. Our sins are imputed to the account of Christ and his righteousness to our account

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 307.

Not All Sacrifice is Acceptable to God.

Genesis 4:1–5 KJV

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 

And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

God explained that there would be a promised deliverer.

Genesis 3:15 KJV

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

God demonstrated that this deliverance would be through shed blood of the innocent.

Genesis 3:21 KJV

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Job 19:23–25 KJV

Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! 

That they were graven with an iron pen and lead In the rock for ever! 

For I know that my redeemer liveth, And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

Able Followed God’s Revelation of Redemption By Faith.

Hebrews 11:4 KJV

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.

 The Chinese character for “righteousness” is most interesting. It is composed of two separate characters—one standing for a lamb, the other for me. When “lamb” is placed directly above “me,” a new character—“righteousness” is formed.

This is a helpful picture of the grace of God. Between me, the sinner, and God, the Holy One, there is interposed by faith the Lamb of God. By virtue of his sacrifice, he has received me on the ground of faith, and I have become righteous in his sight.11471

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 307.

Cain Followed His Own Path of Works to Impress God.

Genesis 4:5–7 KJV

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 

And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

God did not accept it.

Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Hebrews 9:14 KJV

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

God still rejects any human effort to attain Grace.

Romans 11:6 KJV

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

James 2:10–11 KJV

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

Faith Alone in the Acceptable Sacrifice is the Needle of Truth.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV

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

Hebrews 11:4 KJV

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 11:6 KJV

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Romans 5:1 KJV

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

John 3:16 KJV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13 KJV

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 16:30–31 KJV

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

At a recent prayer meeting, I was told of a young pianist who is working on a doctor’s degree in performance. According to his professor, the young man has abilities that leave his peers far behind. To the casual listener, his mastery of the piano is both enjoyable and amazing, but to the informed listener, his mastery is nothing short of incredible. Personally, I believe his mastery of the piano is a beautiful illustration of what Biblical faith is all about.

You see, this pianist has limited hearing. He is able to hear and enjoy the notes in the lower register of the piano, but as the notes get higher, they become dimmer to his ear. There are sections of the keyboard which he never hears. Had this young pianist simply chosen to play those pieces which he can fully appreciate, he would still be outstanding. Yet this pianist has chosen to play notes that he will never hear. Those notes are validated to him by other sources: by the printed score, by the directives of his teacher and coach, by the touch of his fingertips and the sense of vibration from the instrument. By faith, he strikes each note per instruction. He does not personally sense the consequence of his actions, but his actions leave a hearing audience in awe.

Pride often prevents us from accepting and acting upon truth that we do not personally or immediately experience. Our President, in his inaugural address declared that he would like to restore science to its rightful place. I am not sure what he means, but I know that there are others in positions of authority who would like to rid science and higher learning of the reality of faith. If something cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory, it must be dismissed as harmful superstition. Anything that cannot be validated by taste, touch, smell, hearing, or sight, must not be real. Such reasoning assumes that skepticism, not faith, is the true companion of true science. This is wrong.

What exactly is faith? When one compares the contemporary Webster’s dictionary with the original, it is clear that contemporary American thinking has gutted faith of its vital organs. In Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, 2003), faith is the “firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” or “something that is believed especially with strong conviction.” Thus faith is both anti-scientific and unreasonable.

In contrast, Noah Webster’s original dictionary (1828) declares faith to be: “Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence; the judgment that what another states or testifies is the truth.” Faith is not a baseless belief that you are right and everyone else is wrong; it is the ability to take someone at his word and act upon it in confidence. Faith rests in the character of the one who says, “Trust me.” If the one trusted is faithful and true, the listener can respond in confidence, like sheep following the good shepherd.

The modern concept of faith contradicts the Biblical statement: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1.” Make no mistake, the reason faith is treated in a patronizing manner today is not because science makes it irrelevant. The reason contemporary faith is weak is because we have educated ourselves away from the Person of Faith, believing that only what we immediately sense or prove is real. Some call it “societal evolution” or “progressive thinking”; the Bible calls it foolishness and reprobation (Romans 1:22-23, 28).

As with the remarkable pianist, the disciple who places his faith in the God of the Bible discovers the evidences which transcend the five senses. We have the written word of our Master, which the Apostle Peter called it a “more sure word of prophecy” that surpasses what we sense naturally. His written word says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” People who responded in belief to His word serve as examples of faith in Scriptures, American history, and even today. These modern disciples instruct us in the way of practical, contemporary faith.

According to the Bible, one of the greatest evidences of our faith today is answered prayer. It is easy for those who have been disappointed with their prayer life to reject prayer. But when God repeatedly answers in inexplicable ways, it is like the pianist sensing the sound through the vibrations from the piano.

Those who have no concept of Biblical faith reject it as nonsense and reap the consequence of their unbelief.

Biblical faith believes both in God’s existence and in His charity. He rewards those who diligently seek Him. However, few today want to accept God at His word. What about you? Do you have faith to believe in the notes which God says exist, but you cannot hear? If you do, reach out by faith today, and play the Master’s Etude of Life. It is written plainly in His Book.

John 3:16 KJV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

That is how to find the needle of truth in a haystack of lies.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:07 PM June 25, 2020.

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