It is not our intention, dear reader, to attempt to part you from your money by offering to contact the dead on your behalf. There are those who claim the dead speaks to them, but they would probably lie to you about other things as well. No, our title comes from something the Hebrew writer said. He said, “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 be being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4). The scripture clearly says, “he being dead yet speaketh”. However, the text also clearly explains “how” the dead yet speaketh. It is by God’s testimony. In other words, Abel is not presently alive, but God’s word speaks on Abel’s behalf. This is close to what the apostle Paul said when he wrote, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). In our text, Abel is the one who is said to “yet speak”, but there were two men that offered sacrifices that day, and both of them still speak to us through the scriptures for our learning. So what do the dead have to say?
In the case of Abel, the first thing we hear Abel say is that he was righteous. In our day, it is not unusual to hear someone say that man is incapable of being righteous and that our salvation is all up to the righteousness of Christ. Let us start by understanding what being righteous means. To be righteous means to do what God has commanded. The psalmist said, “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). He who keeps those commands is righteous. John wrote, “…he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (I John 3:7). It was witnessed by God that Abel was righteous, because Abel followed the command of God to offer the sacrifice that he offered. “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” (Gen. 4:4). On the other hand, Cain speaks of disobedience which resulted in his not being accepted by God. The scriptures say that “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord”…”But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:3, 5). Why was his offering not acceptable? It was not in harmony with the command of God. “Cain was wroth, and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:5), but God told him, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Gen. 4:7). The apostle John defines sin when he writes, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John. 3:4). The offering that Cain made was not in accordance to what God had commanded. In short, what these two dead men tell us is that if one will be pleasing to God, he must do that which God has commanded. If one does not do that which God has commanded, that person will be unacceptable to God.
Another aspect of what these two dead men have to say concerns the fact that what Abel did, he did by faith. Now, in the mind of many, faith is belief in something that one has no proof for. This is not Biblical faith. Biblical faith is believing what God has said. Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The idea of Biblical faith is, “God said it, I believe it!” Later, Paul wrote, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Biblical faith is the acceptance of and adherence to what God has said in His word! Now, let’s put these two aspects, Abel’s righteousness and his faith, together. Paul, speaking of the gospel of Christ said, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). He who accepts and obeys the gospel of Christ will be one who lives by faith and he will also be he who is righteous. He who rejects God’s word will be the one who is living by sight and he will also be he who is unrighteous.
In the example of Abel and Cain, we see that he who through his faith is obedient to what God commanded is he who is accepted by God and that he who through a lack of faith is disobedient to what God commanded is unacceptable. Paul told the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” (I Cor. 6:9). In the case of Cain, we might note that he not only did not do what God said to do, he did something else as well. It would have been sin for him to disobey God by not doing what He said. It was also sin to do that which was not what God said.
In our age, it would be advantageous to us to learn from these two dead men. They really speak pretty loudly. They shout the need to investigate God’s word, for without a knowledge of such, one can not have Biblical faith (Rom. 10:17). They then shout for us to obey God’s word, for without it, one cannot enter into heaven.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)