The writer of Hebrews defines faith as follows:
Heb 11:1 (NASB) Now faith is the assurance [hupostasis] of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The KJV and NKJV render it, “Now faith is the substance (hupostasis) of things hoped for…”
We saw that Hupostasis is often translated as “confidence” elsewhere in Scripture.
It is made up of stasis ‘to stand,’ and hupo ‘under,’ thus ‘that which stands under, a foundation.’ Ancient Greek authors used it to describe that which stands under anything such as a building, a contract, a promise.
It was also commonly used in ancient Greek business documents as the basis or guarantee of transactions or with the meaning of a title deed.
Heb 11:1 (NLT) Faith is
the confidence that
what we hope for will
actually happen; it gives
us assurance about
things we cannot see.
Just as our physical eyesight
gives us evidence of the
visible, material world, faith
gives us evidence of the
invisible, spiritual world.
SEES THE INVISIBLE
OBJECT OF FAITH
Faith always has an object – i.e. that which you put your faith in.
In order for faith to be of any value, you must have a worthy object for your faith.
True Biblical faith has God as it’s object.
“Hundreds of people spend time in looking at their own hearts, but faith is an outward look. We are to have faith in God, and not in man.” – D.L. Moody.
FAITH PLEASES GOD
Without faith we cannot please God. Heb 11:6)
anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Our faith is evidenced by what we do (James 2:14-26)
We cannot be righteous before God if we have no faith.
Faith stems from a relationship with God.
HOW TO GET FAITH
God gives us faith.
By seeing the work of God.
By observing God’s providence in nature
By remembering past experience.
By hearing the Word of God
TAKE NO NOTICE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
TAKE NO NOTICE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
We saw that the author of Hebrews gives 3 broad examples of those we should imitate with regards to faith:
Hebrews 12:2 - JESUS
Hebrews 13:7 - OUR LEADERS
Hebrews 11 - THE HEROES OF OLD i.e., Biblical heroes and those in Church history.
EXAMPLES TO EMULATE
THE HEROES OF OLD
THE HEROES OF OLD
Westminster Abbey contains the “who’s who” of figures from British history. Similarly, Hebrews 11 reads like the “who’s who” of the OT, listing Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.
As such, some have referred to Hebrews 11 as the Bible’s “Westminster Abbey”, God’s “Hall of Fame” or “Hall of Faith”.
In the Old Covenant there were mighty things accomplished by these heroes of the faith:
Heb 11:32-35 (NIV) And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again…
Who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies – like David.
Conquered kingdoms – like Joshua.
Administered justice – like Samuel.
Gained what was promised – like Caleb (Joshua 14)
Who shut the mouths of lions – like Daniel.
Quenched the fury of the flames – like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Escaped the edge of the sword – like Elijah who escaped the sword of Jezebel.
Whose weakness was turned to strength – like Gideon.
Women received back their dead, raised to life again – like the widow of Zarepheth (1 Kings 17)
and the Shunamite (2 Kings 4).
FAITH MUST BE TESTED
Now if the passage had stopped here, we might be tempted to think that only good things happen to people of faith. But the author shows that, despite the wonderful accomplishments achieved by the heroes of the faith, it was not without a price. Faith will be tested!
Heb 11:35-38 (NIV) … Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging…
Eleazar was one of the leading teachers of the law. Under a persecution instigated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Eleazar was forced to open his mouth and eat pork, but he spat it out and submitted to flogging. He was then privately permitted to eat meat that he could pretend was pork, but he refused and was flogged to death. *
* http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Eleazar_(2_Maccabees)
Some faced jeers – like Jeremiah (Jer 38).
Others were chained and put in prison – like Joseph, who was imprisoned for his faith (Gen 39).
They were stoned – like Zechariah. *
* 2 Chron 24:20-21 … Zechariah … stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’” But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD’s temple.
They were sawed in two.
This is most likely a reference to the prophet Isaiah who, according to Jewish tradition, was sawn in two on the order of King Manasseh.
They were put to death by the sword.
85 priests were murdered by Doeg with a sword (1 Sam 22).
The prophets murdered in Elijah’s day were put to death by the sword. *
* 1 Ki 19:10 “… The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.”
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - like Elijah who wore a garment of hair (2 Kings 1:8) .
They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground – David hid in a cave when Saul wanted to kill him (1 Sam 22:1) and Obadiah hid 100 prophets in caves to escape execution by Jezebel (1 Kings 18:4).
The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were being persecuted and tempted to return to the Old Covenant. *
The author is showing that even the faith heroes of the Old Covenant faced persecution and hardship, despite the many blessings and victories they had because of their faith. *
* http:// www.scripturalnuggets.org/ folder4/ FAITH%20LESSON%2021.htm
The point that the writer of Hebrews is trying to make is that sometimes our faith brings us protection, wisdom, and power; but sometimes our faith serves a totally different purpose. Sometimes our faith gives us the strength to stand firm despite the bad things going on around us! Our entire world may be crumbling, but we do not crumble because we are rooted and grounded firmly on the Rock, Jesus. *
Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials. ~ Smith Wigglesworth
Because we have better grounds for faith than the faith heroes of the Old Covenant, we have no excuse to fall away when times are hard.
Heb 6:12 (NIV) - so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Heb 10:38-39 (NIV) And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Similarly Peter, when writing to those who are facing Nero’s persecution, says that our faith must be tested in order to prove that it is genuine:
1 Pet 1:5-7 (NIV) who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
So faith that is not genuine will disappear when troubles come.
Even a car with an empty tank can coast downhill. The only way you can see that a car has fuel is when it’s on the uphill.
So people with genuine faith can be seen because when they encounter trouble, their faith stands firm. Those with false faith can only coast downhill.
To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings. ~
But when your faith is tested, always remember what Edith Edman said – “Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.”
TAKE NO NOTICE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
Faith overlooks the circumstance because of a belief in the faithfulness of God.
Heb 11:11-12 (NIV 2011) And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Unbelief looks at the circumstances, not at Jesus:
Matt 14:30-31 (NIV) But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
People without faith encounter the same circumstances as those with faith. At the Passover, the circumstances were the same for the Israelites and Egyptians, but the outcome was different.
Heb 11:28 (NIV) By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
At the Red Sea crossing, the circumstances were the same, but with different outcomes for Israelites and Egyptians
Heb 11:29 (NIV) By faith the people passed through the Red
Sea as on dry land; but
when the Egyptians
tried to do so, they
SAME CIRCUMSTANCES, DIFFERENT OUTCOMES
Rahab had the same circumstances as the other inhabitants of Jericho but her faith meant a different outcome.
Heb 11:31 (NIV) By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
The people of Nazareth had the same circumstances as the other towns in Israel, and the same opportunity for seeing God’s power when Jesus visited. But their lack of faith meant a different outcome.
Matt 13:58 (NIV) And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
LACK OF FAITH (OR UNBELIEF) LIMITS GOD
TAKE NO NOTICE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
Some motorised gates have hidden sensors that will only activate the gate motor when a vehicle is near. As you approach, the gate remains closed, blocking the exit.
But when you are near, the gate opens automatically. If you were to stop your car a short distance from the exit, the gate would remain closed. Only when you move forward does it open.
True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. This faith operates quite simply. God speaks and we hear His Word. We trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God’s Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best. *
* Warren Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor or Logos or Wordsearch
So faith ignores the circumstances, and obeys Jesus’ word. Note that in Luke 17 the lepers are not yet healed, but they are instructed to go and show themselves to the priest in faith. Then “as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14)
The blind man remained blind on the way to the pool.
John 9:7 (NIV) “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” … So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
And Naaman went to bathe while still a leper:
2 Kings 5:14 (NIV) So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored…
If God built a bridge a mile ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. It’s the first step into the unseen that proves we have faith.
Heb 11:8 (NIV) By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Abraham simply obeyed God and relied on him to clear the way ahead.
“Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led.” ~ Oswald Chambers
So faith implicitly trusts God.
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Unlike Christian Science and the Positive Confession heresies, Biblical faith DOES NOT TRY DENY THE CIRCUMSTANCES. It OVERLOOKS THE CIRCUMSTANCES because it acknowledges that God is greater than the circumstances.
A leader in a Christian Science church was talking to a member of his congregation:
I’m afraid she’s very ill.
And how is your wife today?
Sorry, I’ll remember
No, no, You shouldn’t say that - you should say that she’s very well, but she is under the impression that she’s very ill.
She’s very well, although she’s under the impression that she’s dead!
And how is your wife at the moment?
A few weeks later they
Mark 8:23-25 (NIV) He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Note that when the blind man was not fully healed, he didn’t lie and try deny the reality of the situation. He told Jesus the truth and Jesus prayed a second time for the man’s complete healing.
Heb 11:30 (NIV) By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
The Israelites were not given permission by God to storm the city when they were ready. They had to wait seven days.
The outcome to your prayer request may not be instant, so keep waiting on God.
In the parable of the persistent widow Jesus taught us to persist in our requests to God:
Luke 18:1-7 (NASB 1977) 1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,
2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.
3 “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’
4 “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man
5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said;
7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
Jesus explains His point: if an uncaring, unfit, ungodly judge answers with justice in the end, how much more will a loving and holy Father give what is right to His children?
We do not always get immediate results when we pray. Our definition of swift justice is not the same as the Lord’s definition. The parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that effective prayer requires tenacity and faithfulness. *
* https:// www.gotquestions.org/ parable-persistent-widow-unjust-judge.html
A genuine disciple must learn that prayer never gives up and is based on absolute trust and faith in God. *
We can fully count on the Lord to answer when, where, and how He chooses. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come (Matt 7:7–8). *
Disciples of Jesus are people of persistent faith. *
The parable of the persistent neighbour is similar: it also teaches the importance of persistence faith when praying.
Luke 11:5-8 (NASB 1977) And He said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’
Luke 11:7 (NASB 1977) 7 and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’
8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
The sleeping friend, awakened by his persistent friend, was irritated to be bothered so late at night. He refused to give him any bread for his visiting friend, lest his sleeping wife and children be disturbed.
However, the persistent friend continued knocking, threatening to wake not only the whole family, but the entire neighborhood as well!
So he got out of bed and gave his friend some bread—but not out of friendship. He gave in to persistence.
Sometimes it does seem to us that God is reluctant to answer our prayers. Yet the delays in prayer are not needed to change God, but to change us. Persistence in prayer brings a transforming element into our lives, building into us the character of God Himself. It is a way that God builds into us a heart that cares about things the same way He does. *
“Too many prayers are like boy’s runaway knocks, given, and then the giver is away before the door can be opened.” (Spurgeon)
* https:// enduringword.com/ bible-commentary/ luke-11
In this parable, Jesus shows that we must be tenacious in our requests to God for assistance. He sums up the meaning as follows:
Luke 11:9 (NLT) “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.”
We are told to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. “All three verbs are continuous: Jesus is not speaking of single activities, but of those that persist.” (Leon Morris)
The Greek woman from Syro-Phoenicia kept asking Jesus even though she was first denied and the disciples told Jesus to “Send her away”. She is a unique figure because she seemingly successfully challenges Jesus and he commends her for it.
Matt 15:28 (NIV) Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
When the blind man,
Bartimaeus heard that
Jesus was coming, he
began to shout, “Jesus,
Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:48 (NIV) Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:52 (NIV) “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight …
Then there was the woman who pushed through the crowd to simply touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
Luke 8:48 (NIV) Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Jacob refused to let go of the angelic being he wrestled with, even when his hip was injured.
Gen 32:26 (NIV) … “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Tenacity is more
than endurance, it is
endurance combined with the
absolute certainty that what we are
looking for is going to transpire. *
* Adapted from “The Discipline Of Spiritual Tenacity” By Oswald Chambers
Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a man has is that Jesus Christ will be worsted,
that the things He stood for – love
and justice and forgiveness and
kindness among men – will not
win out in the end; that the things
He stands for look like things
that are difficult or impossible
to attain. *
Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted. If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. *
One of the greatest tests in life is to keep our faith while we wait for God. The church in Philadelphia is commended by Jesus because they “have kept my command to endure patiently” (Rev 3:10). Remain spiritually tenacious. Have tenacious faith that never gives up.