Hebrews 11:1-40 The Life of Faith
The Meaning and Purpose of Faith
Our goal as Christians is to please God at all times, in every way. The only way we can please God is by living a life of faith. As we begin our study of Hebrews chapter eleven, we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses who did just that; they pleased God by their lives of faith. (Hebrews 12:1)
The Substance of Things Hoped for
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (or conviction) of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Recently we had the opportunity of visiting the Rees Howells Bible College of Wales. (Rees Howells was a powerful intercessor whom God used to protect England during the Second World War.) Walking out the front door, we saw a small stone monument with only these words: “Faith is substance.”
The Greek word used for faith is hupostasis, which is the compound of two words: “hupo” – under; and “stasis” – to stand. Faith is the foundation on which we stand; it is the basis for all that we hope for, the essence, or true reality of what we desire to happen. As the old hymn says, we are “standing on the promises of Christ, our Savior.” (Korean Hymnbook #399) We stand on faith.
The Evidence of Things Unseen
We walked around the stone monument, and on the back side were the words “Jehovah Jireh (God will provide).” When we walk by faith, we already have the evidence that God will provide. We do not need to create our own answers to faith, or force them to happen. We simply need to trust God and obey all He tells us to do; for He is faithful. He will supply all our needs. We see, and actually have, the evidence of things the world cannot see. We walk by faith, and see God working today, as He has always done throughout the history of the world.
Faith is like the title deed for the things God has promised, based on the guarantee of the realities of heaven. A person who walks by faith has a certainty and a solid conviction that reason alone cannot provide. Three truths that substantiate faith are:
- God is all-powerful.
- God has boundless, faithful love for His people.
- God is faithful to keep His promises.
Some Elements of Faith
- Faith begins with belief that God exists (11:6), and that He is the creator of everything that exists. (11:3) This confidence enables us to begin our walk of faith. (10:35)
- Trust in God is essential to faith. Trust that He will be true to His promises (11:6), trust in the Giver of the promises, and not just the promises themselves. Trust means to submit our lives to God, knowing that He will do what we cannot do.
- Obedience is key to faith. We must obey what He commands. (11:8)
- Intimacy with God is basic to faith. By faith Moses forsook the riches of Egypt, because he “saw Him who is invisible.” God spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to His friend. (Numbers 12:8)
The Cloud of Witnesses
Hebrews chapter 11 is one of the most remarkable chapters in the Bible. It not only defines faith and teaches the goals and purposes of faith; it also provides us with insight into the way of life of men and women who lived by faith. The author is reminding the Jewish Christians of many of the Jewish believers before them who had confessed faith in the unseen, and who had looked forward to the full blessings of life in Jesus Christ. None of these people had seen Christ; they were not made perfect in Christ. But by faith they looked forward to what was promised.
After thinking about how to teach this chapter on faith, I decided that the best way would be for each person to study the lives of these people mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, observing what they did by faith, then discerning the elements of their faith that pleased God. God will teach you; He will speak to you, as you seek to understand these people of faith who have gone before.
We will name the person, or persons mentioned in this chapter. We will observe what they did by faith. Then we will seek to discern the elements of their faith that pleased God.
Person What he/she did by faith______________How they pleased God
Abraham and Sarah
as a couple (11:11-12)
Moses’ parents (11:23)
Take some time to read the Old Testament accounts of these people who lived by faith; then write a summary of the outcome of these people’s faith and what it means to you. How did they please God? How do you think the recipients of this letter understood Hebrews 11:35b-38?
How would the recipients of this Letter be encouraged by hearing of the faith of the saints in the Old Testament?
How are you encouraged by Hebrews 11:39-40? “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God has provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (ESV)
Share what you learned with another person. (by texting, phone, or any method possible)