But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Faith is indispensable for being a Christian (v.6). We are saved by faith, walk by faith, live and die in faith. 1 Corinthians 13 is the great love chapter, John 14 the great hope chapter, and Hebrews 11 the great faith chapter.
The writer begins by describing the essence of faith (v.1-3). This is the closest thing to a definition of faith we find in Scripture. Faith has “substance.” It is something solid. Faith has “evidence.” It is not wishful thinking but documented reality. The writer will bring a parade of witnesses into court to testify of the reality of faith. Something can be unseen, yet real. The material things is made up of atoms that we can’t see with the naked eye—even sub-atomic particles, and something that holds all of that together.
Next comes the evidence of faith (v.4-31).
- THE WORSHIP OF FAITH: Abel (v.4). Cain’s sacrifice was one of works—he brought his best and thought it good enough. Abel brought a blood sacrifice resting on faith.
- THE WALK OF FAITH: Enoch (v.5-6). This describes intimate fellowship. The bond became so firm that finally earth could not hold him and he went to be with the Lord.
- THE WARNING OF FAITH: Noah (v.7). It was a tough time to raise a family, but Noah got them on the ark.
- THE WAIT OF FAITH: The Patriarchs (v.8-22). Abraham and his wife Sarah waited for a son until a miracle occurred in their old age. The patriarchs wandered from place to place—they knew this world was not home. They died in faith—the only way to go!
- THE WORTH OF FAITH: Moses (v.23-29). Faith guides us to reject the pleasures of earth for the profits of eternity!
- THE WORK OF FAITH: Joshua and Rahab (v.30-31). God worked to bring victory over the enemy and virtue to a prostitute!
The lessons conclude with the endurance of faith (v.32-40). Heb.11:1-31 take us from Genesis to Joshua—the first six books of the Bible. Verses 32-35a present a summary of the rest of Old Testament history from Judges to the Prophets. God uses the unlikely—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel—six flawed people whom you would never think would amount to anything. God uses the unnamed (v.33-35a). Verses 33-34a, may refer to Daniel and 3 friends; v.34b—perhaps people like Ehud and Othniel; v.35 might allude to the Shunammite woman whose son Elisha raised from the dead.
Then there were the “others,” (v.35b-38). Where were their miracles? Didn’t they have enough faith? They might have had more! Jeremiah experienced v.36. He would be counted a failure in ministry today. Tradition has it that Isaiah was sawn in two at the order of wicked King Manasseh. Some escaped the edge of the sword like David (v.34), while 85 priests who shielded David were butchered! Look at how they dressed, suffered, and where they lived. The world wouldn’t count them celebrities, but this world wasn’t worthy to have such. Now it’s our turn (v.39-40). “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” (The Message)