I preached this past Sunday from the beginning of Hebrews 11. We looked at three characters from the beginning of the Bible who pleased God through their faith.
Abel had the faith to believe that God wanted to be approached a certain way. Abel not only believed mentally that God wanted him to worship with a sacrifice, Abel also acted on that belief. He demonstrated faith by offering the sacrifice that he rightly knew God wanted Him to offer. Abel's faith was one of simple obedience. We demonstrate similar faith when we recognize that God wants us to approach Him through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Receiving Jesus as our sacrifice for sin is a similar type of faith to that of Abel.
Enoch was an unusal, though rarely mentioned, character in the Bible. He lived for God each day. One day God just took Enoch straight to heaven- no need to bother with death. God just gave Enoch that one-way ticket with no layovers. Enoch's faith doesn't seem particularly amazing to me. All we know about Him is that he lived for God in the way that he want about his routine every day. That doesn't sound special. In fact, it is so ordinary that any of us could do it as well. We imitate the faith of Enoch when we do what God wants us to do each day instead of doing what we want to do.
Noah is the guy who easily received the most press coverage in the Bible. If they had newspapers in Noah's day, he probably also made the front page regularly. Noah's faith required him to do something a lot bigger than Abel and Enoch had to do. In order for Noah to have faith in God he had to believe that God really was going to flood the world. Noah proved that he really believed God by building a boat. The boat took a long time to construct. It was probably expensive (just ask people who own boats today). People no doubt ridiculed Noah for building that monstrous boat in a place where it never rained and where there were no large bodies of water nearby. In addition to building the boat, Noah had to gather a lot of animals together and enough food to feed them all. I guess the cages for the lions had to be pretty strong- especially if there were some nice tender sheep in the next stall. As an aside, we are still wondering what Noah did about the woodpeckers. And I'm not sure why he brought along the mosquitos and spiders. I guess he did it because God told him to and because he really believed that God meant what he said.
Noah is an example to us of someone who proved that he really believed God. We might not ever face a situation that is as tough as the one that Noah faced, but let's make sure that we always believe that God means what He says. The way we believe God is by doing what He has already told us to do. That is true faith.