Hebrews 11:1 - What Is Faith?

Hebrews 11:1: What Is Faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (GNT) To have faith is to be sure of the things we 
hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. 

Hebrews 11:1 (NET) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, 
being convinced of what we do not see. 

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped 
for, the conviction of things not seen. 


Two words describe faith: 'SURE' AND 'CERTAIN.' These two 
qualities need a secure beginning and ending point. The beginning point of 
faith is believing in God's character--he 'is' who he says. The end 
point is believing in God's promises--he will 'do' what he says. When 
we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don't 
see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith (see 
John 20:24-31). [Life Application SB] 

By defining faith as ASSURANCE AND CONVICTION, the 
author indicates that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in 
imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead, faith is a settled confidence that 
something in the future"something that is not yet seen but has been 
promised by God"will actually come to pass because God will bring it 
about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary 
evidence, not an unknowable leap in the dark; rather, biblical faith 
is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, 
infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy"the God who has revealed himself 
in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have 
proven true from generation to generation, and who will never leave 
nor forsake his own (13:5). Such faith in the unseen realities of 
God is emphasized throughout ch. 11 (e.g., 11:7, 8; cf. v. 3) and 
has provided confidence and assurance to all who receive Christ as 
their Lord and Savior. ESVSB 


   Exercising faith cannot be passive. Notice that an action 
word follows every mention of faith in Hebrews 11 (prepared, obeyed, 
and lived). Instead of folding hands and waiting for God to do 
something, believers must trust Him enough to step out and obey Him. Our 
first responsibility is to go before the Lord with our petition. Then, 
we must consciously trust Him for an answer and wait with assurance 
and anticipation that He will follow through on His promises. 
   God did amazing feats through the lives of the men and women 
in Hebrews 11. As believers, we have the same potential for Him to 
work powerfully in and through us. Like an under-used muscle, faith 
might at times become flabby, but by putting it into action, believers 
can build a strong, tough trust that mirrors those in the roll call 
of faith. As our assurance builds, we believe the Lord for 
progressively greater things. In return, He will use us in ways we never 
imagined. [Life Principles SB By Charles Stanley re Heb. 11:1-10] 


   Hebrews 11 is one of the most extensive essays on faith in 
the New Testament and one of the most loved sections of Scripture, 
yet misconceptions about faith abound. Some see faith as being any 
form of spirituality. Others understand it as a resolute belief that 
something good is going to happen to them. Still others think that faith 
is a blind leap against known facts. None of these represents 
biblical faith.  
   Instead, faith involves CONFIDENT ACTION IN RESPONSE TO WHAT 
GOD HAS MADE KNOWN (Hebrews 11:1-3). As seen in the examples listed 
in Hebrews 11, faith comes into play in a variety of life's 
circumstances. And the results of faith are just as varied. Some people get 
rescued, achieve success in life, and see some of what God has promised 
in their lifetimes. Others get mocked, beaten, tortured, put in 
prison, and killed. Faith is sometimes rewarded sooner and sometimes 
later, but people of faith anticipate the rewards because of their 
confidence in God's character.  
   What does it mean to live by faith? It means that, in our 
various circumstances, we live out our belief "that God exists and that 
he rewards those who sincerely seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). Those who 
live by faith take confident action based on what God has revealed 
about his character, seeking to do his will in all things. [One Year 

Through faith we can approach God. In fact, it's impossible to please 
God without it. Simply put, faith is BELIEVING WHAT GOD SAYS AND 
accomplished in the world to further God's work is accomplished by faith.  
   The list of exemplary faithful people in Hebrews 11 
demonstrates that when God spoke and people listened, believed and acted 
accordingly, he was pleased and rewarded them. It wasn't easy for any of them 
to stake their lives on unseen truths and promises, but those who 
did found God to be faithful. [NIV Once A Day Bible re Heb. 

   Believing that God exists is only the first step toward faith 
- even the demons believe that much (James 2:19-20). God will not 
settle for mere acknowledgment of his existence. Growing faith leads to 
   Some Christians think that it is ultimately impossible to 
understand God, so they give up trying. Others believe that nothing true is 
irrational, including true faith. The truth is God gave us minds that should 
be developed and used. But we also need to realize that there are 
things about God that we won't understand this side of heaven. We can't 
know God completely because he is infinite and eternal.  
   God wants our trust and faith, even while we wonder about so 
many things that are mysterious to us. Even so, faith is not a leap 
into the dark. Faith is reasonable - though reason alone cannot 
explain everything. So use your mind to think things through. But leave 
room for the unexplainable works of God, and be willing to take steps 
forward, trusting him for what you don't have figured out. [One Year NLT 

   True biblical faith is not an emotional kind of wishful 
thinking; it is an inner conviction BASED ON THE WORD OF GOD (Rom. 
10:17)... So, when the Holy Spirit gives us faith through the Word, the 
very presence of that faith in our hearts is all the assurance and 
evidence we need! Dr. J. Oswald Sanders says, Faith ENABLES THE 
SEEN. Through faith, we can see what others cannot see (note vv. 1, 3, 
7, 13, and 27). When there is true faith in the heart, God bears 
witness to that heart by His Spirit (note vv. 2, 4-5, and 39). By faith, 
Noah saw coming judgment, Abraham saw a future city, Joseph saw the 
Exodus from Egypt, and Moses saw God. 
   Faith accomplishes things because there is power in the Word 
of God, as illustrated by the Creation in v. 3. God spoke, and it 
was done! God still speaks to us. When we believe what He says, the 
power of the Word accomplishes things in our lives. The same Word that 
acted in the old creation acts in the new creation. [Wiersbe 
Expository Outlines] 

   Faith is confidence in God that leads to obedience to God. 
DO. People with faith do things for God, and God does things for 
   Faith is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is for common 
people and not just great leaders. We need faith for worshiping (v. 4) 
as well as for working (v. 7), walking (vv. 8-9), waiting (vv. 
10-12), and warring (vv. 30-34). In any area of life where you ignore 
faith, you will sin (Rom. 14:23). 
   The phrase "still others" (v. 36) reminds us that we can live 
by faith and appear to be defeated. Not everybody who trusted God 
was delivered or protected (vv. 36-40). But the important thing is 
not God's deliverance; it is God's approval (v. 39). Faith in God 
gives you the ability to endure when others are giving up. [Chapter by 
Chapter Bible Commentary by Warren Wiersbe] 

   The Bible definition in the 11th chapter of Hebrews is: 
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things 
not seen." In other words, FAITH SAYS AMEN TO EVERYTHING THAT GOD 
SAYS. Faith takes God without any if's. If God says it, faith says, I 
believe it; faith says Amen to it.... 
   Jesus Christ tells us to have faith in God; and if we have 
faith in God, it will carry us through all darkness, and storm, and 
affliction, and troubles, and trials.... If God tells us do a thing, we are 
to do it.... And if God tells you to believe a thing, believe it; 
and then you will have peace and confidence and joy.... 
   The way to get faith is to know who God is.... Let us study 
the Word of God, and get acquainted with Him; and then we will have 
faith in Him. You can't find a man or woman that is acquainted with 
God, but that has strong faith in God. (D. L. Moody) [Spirit Filled 
Life Devotional SB] 


Do you remember how you felt when you were very young and your 
birthday approached? You were excited and anxious. You knew you would 
certainly receive gifts and other special treats. But some things would be 
a surprise. Birthdays combine ASSURANCE AND ANTICIPATION, and so 
does faith! Faith is the conviction based on past experience that 
God's new and fresh surprises will surely be ours. [Life Application 

   Abraham demonstrated faith when, although he didn't know 
where he was going, he trusted the One who was telling him to go. . . 
By faith, Noah built the ark because of God's promise of rain, a 
natural phenomenon the world hadn't yet seen. . . And by faith in God 
that was greater than his fear of Pharaoh, Moses led the Israelites 
out of Egypt. 
   Faith is DEMONSTRATED THROUGH ACTION. Sometimes faith results 
in incredible victory, dramatic healing, or miraculous deliverance. 
Other times faith is evident in confidence and peace despite continued 
pain, suffering, or rejection. Genuine faith perseveres in both trial 
and triumph. 
   Whatever you do for God, your life is not pleasing to Him if 
it is not characterized by faith. Be prepared for God to allow 
things in your life that provide you the opportunity for you to 
demonstrate your faith in Him. [Being Still With God Every Day by Henry 

   Some heroes gain their reputation by the life they live, 
others by the death they die. 
   Down through the centuries the heroes of the church have been 
those who announced their allegiance to Christ and refused to be 
moved-regardless of the consequences. One such hero is Polycarp, disciple of the 
apostle John, whose long life came to an end when he would not betray 
his Lord. Asked one last time to disavow his Christ, the old man 
replied, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he has done me no 
wrong. How can I speak evil of my King who saved me?" For his 
unflinching devotion. Polycarp was burned at the stake. 
   Times of persecution-whether in the first century or the 
twentieth-only serve to confirm that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of 
the church." Opposing the gospel has never been an effective way to 
keep it from spreading. It only causes others to see that a faith 
worth dying for must also be a faith worth living for. [Daily Walk 

   Faith is believing what God says. Some people think faith is 
like taking a leap in the dark, that faith is blind. 
   But the Bible says its the opposite. Away from God we are 
in the dark. Thats when we are blind, stumbling around. 
   John Newton was a notorious slave trader - but coming to know 
Jesus changed him forever. He spent the rest of his life working to 
free slaves and wrote the hymn Amazing Grace: I once was 
blind, he sang, but now I see! 
   When we come home to God it is not a leap into darkness. It 
is a MAGNIFICENT LEAP INTO LIGHT - the light of Gods love for 
us! "Jesus [said], 'I am the light of the world: he that followeth 
me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'" 
John 8:12 from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones. 
[Devotional Daily Bible] 

   Genuine faith puts its letter in the mailbox and lets go. 
Distrust, however, holds on to a corner of the envelope and then wonders 
why the answer never arrives. There are some letters on my desk that 
I wrote weeks ago, but I have yet to mail them because of my 
uncertainty over the address or the contents. Those letters have not done 
any good for me or anyone else at this point. And they never will 
accomplish anything until I let go of them, trusting them to the postal 
   It is the same with genuine faith. It hands its circumstance 
over to God, allowing Him to work. Psalm 37:5 is a great confirmation 
of this:" Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do 
this." He will never work until we commit. FAITH IS RECEIVING - OR EVEN 
in Him, come to Him, commit to Him, and rest in Him, but we will 
never fully realize all our blessings until we begin to receive from 
Him and come to Him having the spirit of abiding and appropriating. 
from Days of Heaven upon Earth 
   Dr. Payson, while still a young man, once wrote to an elderly 
mother who was extremely worried and burdened over the condition of her 
son. He wrote, 
   You are worrying too much about him. Once you have prayed for 
him, as you have done, and committed him to God, you should not 
continue to be anxious. God's command, "Do not be anxious about anything" 
(Phil. 4:6), is unlimited, and so is the verse, "Cast all your anxiety 
on him" (1 Peter 5:7). If we truly have cast our burdens upon 
another, can they continue to pressure us? If we carry them with us from 
the throne of grace, it is obvious we have not left them there. In 

   Rees Howells, a man known for his life of intercessory 
prayer, found himself on a train platform without any money to get to 
his next destination. He was led there by faith, believing God would 
provide, yet the time had come to catch the next train, and he still had 
no means to buy a ticket. At that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to 
him: "If you had money, what would you do?" Howells responded that he 
would go ahead and get in line for a ticket. The Spirit then said, 
"Have you not been preaching that My promises are equal to current 
coin? You had better take your place in the queue." So Howells obeyed. 
   There is nothing ambiguous about this conversation. It was a 
clear exchange of words. As Howells waited in line, he also had a 
clear conversation with the enemy - the tempter; apparently Howells 
was well versed in the language of the spiritual realm, regardless 
of his conversation partner. In our age, we might be inclined to 
call this an imaginary discussion between competing thoughts in our 
own minds, yet there was nothing at all imaginary about the fruit of 
this discussion. God provided money for Howells's ticket at the last 
moment through a bystander who had no knowledge of the need. Howells's 
faith was rewarded rather concretely. The conversations about the 
terms of his faith had been very real.  
   Many of our thoughts are more than just thoughts. They are an 
exchange of words between us and the Holy Spirit, or sometimes between us 
and an unholy spirit of darkness. Far from "just our imagination," 
they are concrete communications. Through eyes of faith, we can 
recognize them as such and act on them. Our minds very often think the 
thoughts of God, and our hearts can learn to discern them.  
   Spirit of God, You've told me I have the mind of Christ. 
Teach me to recognize which thoughts are His. I wholeheartedly invite 
You to be thoroughly present in my mental conversations. [The One 
Year Hearing His Voice Devotional by Chris Tiegreen] 


I am nearer than you think, richly present in all your moments. 
You are connected to Me by Love-bonds that nothing can sever. 
However, you may sometimes feel alone, because your union with Me is 
invisible. Ask Me to open your eyes, so that you can find Me everywhere. 
The more aware you are of My Presence, the safer you feel. This is 
not some sort of escape from reality; it is tuning in to ultimate 
reality. I am far more Real than the world you can see, hear, and touch. 
Faith is the confirmation of things we do not see and the conviction 
of their reality, perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to 
the senses. (Acts 17:27, 28; Heb. 11:1) [Jesus Calling by Sarah 

I am working on your behalf. Bring Me all your concerns, 
including your dreams. Talk with Me about everything, letting the Light of 
My Presence shine on your hopes and plans. Spend time allowing My 
Light to infuse your dreams with life, gradually transforming them 
into reality. This is a very practical way of collaborating with Me. 
I, the Creator of the universe, have deigned to co-create with you. 
Do not try to hurry this process. If you want to work with Me, you 
have to accept My time frame. Hurry is not in My nature. Abraham and 
Sarah had to wait many years for the fulfillment of My promise, a son. 
How their long wait intensified their enjoyment of this child! Faith 
is the assurance of things hoped for, perceiving as real fact what 
is not revealed to the senses. (Psa. 36:9; Gen. 21:1-7; Heb. 11:1) 
[Jesus Calling by Sarah Young] 

   Hope for what you do not see; eagerly wait for it with 
perseverance. Among the five senses, sight is often the one that people value 
the most. I created the world gloriously beautiful, and I want you 
to appreciate beauty when you see it. However, even more beneficial 
than sight is hope, which is itself a kind of vision. It enables you 
to see - through the eyes of your heart - things that are not yet. 
The most stunning example of this is the hope of heaven. Your 
ultimate destiny is to share in My Glory! This is My promise to you, 
secured through My finished work on the cross and My resurrection.  
   Practice hoping for things you do not see - both for this 
life and the next. Ask Me to guide you into hopes and dreams that are 
in line with My will. Train the eyes of your heart to "see" these 
blessings, while praying for My will to be done fully and only. Discipline 
yourself to wait eagerly - with your focus on Me and the longed-for 
outcome. Remain hopeful and expectant as you wait with perseverance. 
(Rom. 8:25; John 17:22; Heb. 11:1) [Jesus Today by Sarah Young] 


Faith makes all things possible; love makes all things easy. D. 
L. Moody 

To abide in faith is to put aside feeling and selfish desires, 
to walk humbly with the Lord, to appropriate His promises, and 
apply them to all occasions, believing that God will work out His own 
plans and purposes in your heart and life by the sanctification of 
your character; it is to rely entirely, to trust implicitly, upon the 
faithfulness of God.  FE342, 3 

True faith and true prayer - how strong they are! They are as 
two arms by which the human suppliant lays hold upon the power of 
Infinite Love. Faith is trusting in God,--believing that He loves us, and 
knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it 
leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His 
wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our 
sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith 
acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessings GW259 


Most Important Decision in Life: 

Seeking God Made Real: http://vimeo.com/31489782

Prayer Made Real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc8VdMV26VE


Restoring The Power by John Bradshaw: 

Glow Tract Video Bible Studies: http://www.bibleresearch.info/

ABible.com: http://www.aBible.com