WHAT FAITH IS
11 1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
Take your Bibles if you will please and turn to Hebrews chapter 11, and we want to begin this most marvelous chapter with the consideration of the first three verses.
Many of you know we have been in Hebrews for 11 weeks and we have learned a great deal about Christ, the Law, Jewish practices and history and of course about our God. He put Hebrews together for us so we could learn about the greatness of His son Jesus. By the way, Jesus > Everything.
This chapter has been called the hall of fame, the chapter of the heroes of faith, the honor roll of the Old Testament saints, the Westminster Abbey of Scripture, the faith chapter and it goes on and on, all different kinds of names and titles have been given to this most wonderful chapter.
I. The 11th chapter of Hebrews deals with the excellency of faith. This 11th chapter fits most perfectly into the flow of the epistle to the Hebrews.
A. In the first ten chapters of the Book of Hebrews the writer has been laboring to prove one major point, and that one major point is this,
1. The New Testament or the new covenant in Jesus’ blood is in every way superior to the old covenant.
a. Now such a works system is despised by God. If you can’t count on your works how are you going to reach God? It’s simple, it’s by faith, and that’s exactly what he introduces in verse 38 of chapter 10. Which we studied last week. Having established the necessity and the superiority of the new covenant he says, here’s how to get in on it. Look at Hebrews 10:38 from last week.
38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. (from Hab 2:4)
2. Theme: Jesus > priests, angels, prophets, Moses, Aaron, etc.
a. He establishes therefore the principle of apprehension of the new covenant, it is by believing it, simply believing it. Faith is the key not works. “The just shall live by faith;”
Again, the whole theme of the ten chapters is to prove Christ better than everything connected with the old covenant, and he’s writing to Jews to prove to them that the new covenant is the best. Christ is better than angels, prophets, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, He’s better than everything and anything connected to the old covenant.
B. Chapter 11: Heroes of the faith
And so in chapter 11 he just lists all the heroes of the history of Israel and starts out everyone of them by saying this,
1. ”By faith.” By faith so and so did this, by faith so and so did that, by faith …
2. and he goes right down the line, Abraham, Sarah, Noah, right on down, Moses, Joshua, Jacob, all of them lived by faith. And you see what he’s saying to them is this, the only way to apprehend the new covenant is by faith, but don’t get shocked about that, that’s nothing new that’s the way you apprehended God in the old covenant too.
Now to begin with let’s look at verses 1-3, first we will look at the nature of faith, then we’ll see the testimony of faith, then we’ll see the first illustration of faith.
II. The nature of faith is in verse 1, it says this, “Now faith,” here he’s going to define it for them so they will understand what this means,
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1
Now there are two aspects of faith there that are so closely wed that it’s almost impossible to divide them. Those phrases are almost identical. “The the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;,” and “it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Now the word faith is a simple word in the Greek, the word means belief, trust, confidence, faith. And he says … now let’s look at it, this is really simply but, oh it’s exciting, he says faith
A. First of all is the confidence that what we hope for. (1a)
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen… Hebrews 11:1a
1. That’s the first thing he says about the nature of faith. It is the substance (confidence) of things hoped for.
You say, but things hoped for don’t have any substance. They’re just hoped for. But faith makes them real, now watch that.
For example, 2. Christian Hope , that, that which we hope for is belief in God against the world.
– If we follow the world’s standards, the world’s things, which are readily visible to us we can get some measure of comfort, some measure of prosperity.
- 3. If we follow the standards of the unseen God, a God we’ve never seen, a God whose audible voice we’ve never heard, a Christ whose face we’ve never seen, a Christ whose form we’ve never touched, but if we follow Him we may have pain, we may have loss, we may have discomfort, we may have unpopularity, we may get persecuted and we may lose our lives, but we do it anyway because that for which we hope is given substance in the present tense because of the intensity of our faith.
In the Book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are confronted with the choice of obeying Nebuchadnezzar. Now he’s alive, and he’s powerful and he’s tangible. Or they could obey God who is invisible and whom they’ve never seen.
a. Now if they don’t obey the king they get thrown in the fire. Now the world says, it’s no contest, I buy what I see, I’ll bow down to the king and forget the fire.
b. The person of God who has faith says, I’ll obey God though I can’t see Him and take the fire. So you see it’s faith against the system, it’s believing in God against the world, against what is tangible, against what is obvious.
B. He says that faith is “assurance about things we cannot see.”
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1b
Now as I say this is very closely akin to the first statement but let me see if I can maybe give it a little different twist of meaning.
1. The word assurance is elencnos..which, elenchos which means, Conviction, would be the best word I think.
2. Faith is the conviction that the unseen exists. That’s what he’s saying. Now this takes a little bit further step in my mind than the first phrase, because this implies action. This is banking your life on your hope.
3. Faith is living on the basis of things not seen. You know when Thomas touched our Lord or saw our Lord, He said to him,
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” John 20:29
C. That’s true faith. Faith then in the first phrase of verse 1 actualizes a future truth, in the second phrase it commits a life to it. It is the conviction of things not seen.
Let’s illustrate this.
1. Noah for example believed God. God said, Noah, it’s going to rain. Which didn’t mean one thing to Noah because rain didn’t exist yet. That would be like God saying to you it’s going to gleep. You’d say ah, run that by me again. It wouldn’t make a bit of sense because it didn’t have any meaning. Noah, it’s going to rain, water dropping out of the sky. Now Noah believed Him. He was confident in what was going to happen…he had faith.
And I imagine that he sat around a lot just thinking in his mind, water out of heaven, hummmmm, I wonder how that’ll work? I imagine he gave substance to the future thing, he gave it a present reality just by thinking about what rain would be like. It was the substance of things hoped for in his mind. But he didn’t stop there, he built a boat. Now that’s the conviction that takes it a step further. that’s assurance about things we cannot see!!!
You see it was one thing to dream about what that rain might be like, it was something else to establish his life on it and for the better part of a hundred and twenty years build a ship in the desert.
While everybody said, Mo … Mo … ah, Noah has gone bananas, he’s over there building a ship in the middle of the desert, and then he says it’s okay because it’ll float, water will fall out of heaven and make it float. Now you see it’s one thing to visualize a future reality and give it present substance, it’s something else for a hundred and twenty years to build a boat in the desert.
Faith is to begin with belief in something or someone and then to bank your life on it.
III. The Testimony of Faith
2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.Hebrews 11:2
A. Now the people in days of old there refers to Old Testament saints, the father’s of Israel, the greats that he names in this particular chapter.
Now the word to receive witness has to do with ah, receiving praise or approval. They were praised or they were approved.
1. What it means is they lived by faith and therefore God approved of them. God approves those who operate on faith, and I think there’s a sense in which every person who lives by spiritual faith in God has within his own heart the knowledge of the approval of God, don’t you have that? Don’t you sense a certain kind of peace and a certain kind of ah, having arrived at reality when you’ve trusted God? I think we sense His approval.
2. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to do what? To Please God. Without faith you can’t please Him. I don’t care what you do, without faith you can’t please God. But if you have faith He is pleased. He approves.
3. The Rest of Hebrews 11 is a Testimony to Faith!
IV. The Illustration of Faith
Thirdly let’s look at the illustration of faith, and this is good.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews 11:3
Now you know there are some people who don’t know that? Do you know there are some people who don’t know that God made the universe? That’s right, some people who have very high I.Q.’s.
A. Let’s look at the verse… It means the whole of creation, the whole thing was formed by the word rhema, the specific utterance of God,
1. God spoke and it came into existence. Now Moses had taught them this, they had a Pentateuch, they had Genesis, they knew how it all began. You see he’s simply establishing here that faith is not so much a foreign thing to them, by faith they believed that God made the entire universe.
2. The only thing we know about the Creation of the universe was what we know by faith and that it did not come from something we can see!
B. Differing Thoughts:
Do you know that the origin of this, of the universe is a problem that philosophers can’t solve, did you know that? They can’t do it. Bertrand Russell spent 90 years as a philosopher. During college I read his book entitled, “Why I Am Not A Christian.” In it he gives some of the most inept arguments against Christianity conceivable, and he blasts Christianity, and he spent his life blasting it. And he had all of these answers about origins and he summed up his life after 90 years a philosopher with these words, “Philosophy has proved a washout to me.” He never did get any answers. After 90 years, he said that the whole thing’s a washout, he died not knowing, He didn’t have anything to believe in.
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies… Colossians 2:8
Science (knowledge about, or study of, the natural world based
on facts learned through experiments and observation)
Scientists don’t know. You say, you mean scientists don’t know how the universe began? Of course they don’t. Science can only observe what’s going on and tell you what’s going on not why it’s going on. Now watch this, science simply discovers laws that already exist, but science is trying to push past what it can do into what it can’t do and that is observe things before they existed. I’m afraid science can’t assume that burden. You see you might call me Steve, that’s one thing, but that doesn’t begin to explain my existence.
- Many Scientists seek to Disprove the Existence and Creation of God.
Now science can say, oh that is a rock, oh that is a chemical, oh that is … but it cannot say where it came from or why it came, it only knows what it observes.
b. But you know what? Scientists/Philosophers have often locked arms to Tell us where the Universe Came From and Who God is?
c. You want to hear what they said?
The Nebula Theory, on the creation of the universe. This theory is the most widely accepted model explaining the formation and evolution of our solar system. Now I’ll give you a little bit about it, this is interesting. The solar system was once a rapidly moving nebula (a cloud of gas or dust in space), you got that? As it cooled and contracted its speed of rotation gradually increased, it just kept going faster, faster, faster nebula. Eventually enough force – was available because of the speed of it, centrifugal force was available to expel some of the material. Nuclei of condensation formed within the ring, it subsequently splattered all over the place developing into planets while the dense center mass became the sun. Now that’s way back when they thought the sun in our little deal was the only thing, and it was all a spinning nebulae.
You say, hey, where did nebulae come from? Good question…
Now the nebula theory lasted for over a 100 years and it was replaced by the Tidal Theory.
Now this was the effort of George Darwin, son of Charles. He was anxious to extend his father’s concept of evolution into the whole universe, so he concocted an intriguing story of how the earth and the moon evolved from a large mass of hot plastic 4 billion years ago. Just think about that. This doesn’t really work too well and so it lasted very briefly and gave way to a new theory of the universe called the Steady State Theory, and that is the theory of self-creating matter.
Steady State Theory
Just think about that. The self-creating matter has the astonishing ability to condense into galaxies within which evolve stars, planets, satellites, comets, plants, animals, people…self-creating matter. We are all the outcome of a vacuum. Well this was in great conflict with the Super Dense Theory, known as the Big Bang.
Big Bang Theory
The universe originated billions of years ago in an explosion from a single point of nearly infinite energy density. I hate to ask the question again, but where did the nearly infinite energy come from? Infinite energy…
You see the problem is that a puny little mind, however many test tubes and Bunsen burners it has cannot grasp the infinite. Science has no access to the why of anything.
There’s nothing wrong with good science, observable science but science has no business getting into origins. There never was any Yolem or any Super Dense gob or any self-creating hydrogen mass.
Do you know that what the philosophers and the scientists can’t discover you and I can,
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
Science and philosophy doesn’t give up, it takes our children in school and teaches them all of this baloney. And you know what all of evolution is based on? It’s based upon the astute principle nobody times nothing plus billions of years = everything. But the proper formula is Jesus > Everything.
And even the evolutionists are doing tailspins trying to figure out what they’re saying. Kerkut, who is an evolutionist of some great rank in the world from England has recently written a book about the differing evolution theories,
“Gentlemen we cannot prove any of them, in fact they are probably more likely to be disproved, we better rethink our case.”
And I read a quote from one evolutionary scientist who said this,
“I reject the idea of a Creator God so what other alternatives do I have?”
Professor T.L. Moore of the physics department of The University of Cincinnati said,
“To talk of the evolution of thought from sea slime to amoeba, from amoeba to a self-conscious thinking man means nothing, it is the easy solution of a thoughtless brain.” End quote.
Astronomers tell us that there are an average of a 100 billion stars in a galaxy. At least a 100 million galaxies in known space. And if Einstein is right, the total space is a billion times greater than known space, that makes a lot of stars. I won’t even bother to give you the figure because I can’t understand it either.
I open my Bible in Genesis 1 and it says God made it all. God made it all. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, that’s something the smartest people in our world haven’t learned yet, and we’re not lording it over them we’re only trying to show you that these things are ours apprehended by faith.
You can disprove evolution here on earth let alone evolution in the universe. Just the population of the world alone disproves evolution, there’s something around 7.125 billion people in the world, scientists tell us the world increases at 1 per cent a year average. And if the population has been going on for let’s say 500,000 years, some evolutionists say as much, much as a million or 2 million, but let’s say humans began 500,000 ago and somebody lost his tail, jumped out of his tree and found a woman and ah, you know? And let’s say that happened 500,000 years ago, then as the scientists tell us humans increases an average of 1 per cent per year, and he’s been increasing for 500,000 years the population of the world today would be 37.5 billion per square foot. Conversely, You start with the population today and reduce it by the same percent each year, you run out of people somewhere about 10 thousand years ago, and we believe that’s when the Bible says, in the beginning God created man.
The whole concept of trying to explain everything without God is a fool’s effort. We understand it by faith. Faith comprehends that which the mind of man, no matter how brilliant cannot understand….
9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 2 Corinthians 2:9
Faith comprehends. Faith not only comprehends God and the creation of the universe but faith comprehends salvation in Jesus Christ, doesn’t it? How are the just to live? By faith. Jesus said, “by believing…you will have life.” John 20:31
Book of Hebrews, Week 12
What Faith Is
1. Hebrews 11: The Excellency of Faith
2. the nature of faith
3. the testimony of faith
4. the illustration of faith
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews 11:1-3
Father we thank You that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And we thank You that we can believe in You, that You’re worthy to be trusted.
Our Father I pray that You’ll do Your perfect work in the hearts of those who are open, oh God, may nobody leave this place who hasn’t put his trust in You. Some came here today empty, may they go home filled.
Bless our time and our closing response, in Christ’s name.