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
Faith is ASSURANCE AND ACTION
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
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
Faith is AN INDISPENSABLE INGREDIENT IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
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
BASING OUR THOUGHTS, FEELINGS AND ACTIONS ON IT. All that is
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
A PERSONAL, DYNAMIC RELATIONSHIP.
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
BELIEVING SOUL TO TREAT THE FUTURE AS PRESENT AND THE INVISIBLE AS
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
Faith is confidence in God that leads to obedience to God.
True faith is BASED ON WHAT GOD SAYS AND IS DEMONSTRATED IN WHAT WE
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
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
MORE, ACTUALLY APPROPRIATING - THE GIFTS GOD OFFERS US. We may believe
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
my own life I TEST MY PRAYERS IN THIS WAY: AFTER COMMITTING
SOMETHING TO GOD, IF I CAN COME AWAY, LIKE HANNAH DID, WITH NO MORE
SADNESS, PAIN, OR ANXIETY IN MY HEART, I SEE IT AS PROOF THAT I HAVE
PRAYED THE PRAYER OF FAITH. BUT IF I PRAY AND THEN STILL CARRY MY
BURDEN, I CONCLUDE MY FAITH WAS NOT EXERCISED. [Streams In The Desert By
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.
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
LINKS WORTH CHECKING OUT
Most Important Decision in Life:
Seeking God Made Real: http://vimeo.com/31489782
Prayer Made Real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc8VdMV26VE
LINKS FOR BIBLE STUDIES AND SEMINARS
Restoring The Power by John Bradshaw:
Glow Tract Video Bible Studies: http://www.bibleresearch.info/