By Diane Caston
You would have to live under a rock to not realize that we are living in tumultuous times.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isa 5:20. We are certainly seeing this today.
Deception is so thick that it is nearly impossible to know what the truth is these days. Steve talked yesterday about disappointment. I find it is also amazement. I am amazed and baffled by what people will believe, and what they will not believe. Common sense seems to have gone out the window. Everywhere you look there is deception.
Fortunately, Jn 17:17 tells us His word is truth, and Jn 14:6 tell us that He is the truth. So, if we are seeking Him in His word, as Pastor George has been telling us week in and week out, He will lead us into all truth. We know that He has warned us in the gospels and the epistles that one of the markers of the last days would be deception. That is why, now more than ever, we need to be filled with faith.
We are returning to the book of Hebrews for our next series of studies. We
are going to be taking a deep dive into Hebrews Chapter 11. This morning we
will be looking at Verses 1-3.
Our subject this morning is Faith.
Rom 12:3 tells us, to each man has been given a measure of faith.
1 Corinthians 12:9 (speaking of spiritual gifts) to another (the gift of) faith by the same Spirit .
Faith is a gift from the Lord.
Remember from our past teachings that this letter is written to encourage the Hebrews believers. Jews who accepted Jesus faced great persecution, especially in Jerusalem. They needed encouragement.
Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible .
Now faith is the substance, it’s also the evidence : Just as we see the physical world with our eyes, our sight, faith is the “sense” that gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world.
Faith is not just belief or intellectual understanding. It is a willingness to trust in, to rely on, and to cling to something or someone.
Faith is based on reason. We do not just take a blind leap of faith. You cannot measure it
scientifically, but once you have exercised it enough, you know there is sound reason to trust it.
Faith has substance – This substance stands underneath, it is a foundation, an underpinning
Faith has evidence – the conviction that what we are hoping for will happen
“Faith extends beyond what we learn from our senses, and the author is saying that it has its reasons. Its tests are not those of the senses, which only yield uncertainty.” (Morris) It is more than our senses.
“Physical eyesight produces a conviction or evidence of visible things; faith is the organ which enables people to see the invisible order.” (Bruce)
So, it is the substance and evidence Of things hoped for... of things not seen :
If you have the thing you believe for or are asking for in front of you, you have no need of faith. Faith operates on the things not seen. Faith is the realm of things hoped for – things in the future. It deals with the things not seen – invisible things
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight:
“Faith does not contradict reason, though it may go beyond reason. One may objectively prove the Bible is the most unique book ever published and has impacted society more than any other book. But only faith can prove that the Bible is the Word of God. Therefore, this is a belief beyond reason but not in contradiction to reason or against reason.” Guzik
By faith we understand. Without faith there is spiritual blindness, with faith we see past the visible. We perceive. When we are born-again, we perceive. Faith gives understanding to the invisible world.
Vs.2. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
Faith enabled people in the past to overcome the trials and tribulations they lived through.
The great examples of godliness listed in this chapter all had different circumstances and personalities, but they all had one thing in common – faith, and through their faith they obtained a good testimony.
These Jewish Christians who this book is written to were discouraged and thought of giving up on Jesus and this new Christianity. They had had the temple, the priesthood, the law, the synagogue. They were their way of life. It was what they had known all their lives. It was comfortable. It was there way of living. It would be so easy to go back.
They needed a good testimony, and so they needed these examples of faith to break them out of discouragement. Like the study we did in the fall, ‘seeing we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses’, Hebrews 12:1 witnesses help encourage our faith. Paul gives them examples of those who had gone before and how they were now the encouragement they needed. The example of others helps us to have faith for what lies ahead for us.
Vs. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
By faith we understand : We did not see this act of creation; we only know of it by faith. We also know this by reason, because we know the world was created and created by an intelligent Designer. Again, this is faith going beyond but not in contradiction to reason.
Even in times when it seems God expects a faith that contradicts reason, closer examination reveals He does not. For example, it might seem contrary to reason for God to expect Abraham to believe that Sarah’s dead womb could bring forth a child. But it is not unreasonable to believe that the God who created life and the womb could do this, and that He would do it according to His promise.
By faith we understand : This text does not say that God created the world with or by faith. Since God sees and knows all things, “faith” in a human sense does not apply to Him. Since we understand faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen , we know that God sees everything and does not “hope” for anything.
So that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible : Most scientists at the time the Book of Hebrews was written believed the universe was created out of existing matter, not out of nothing. They believed the world was made from things which are visible. But the Bible corrects this misunderstanding, clearly saying that the world was not made of things which are visible. Long before anyone had even heard of atoms and molecular science God states that all that is made is made from the invisible!
So we can conclude from our verses today that the we must live by faith.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him:
Rom 1:17 For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
Heb 10: 38 Now thejust shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Faith is the key to our life in Christ. It gives us the power to live the life of the unseen world. The days that Habakkuk lived in are much like today. He was seeing the judgement of God upon his nation.
how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
3 Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention arises.
4 Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like it could be today? We see what seems like the wicked winning. We see unrighteousness; we see a lack of justice; we see corruption of elections and principles we have held sacred in our nation being trashed. We see however the things God promised would happen at the end.
Habukuk 1:5 “Look among the nations and watch—
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe, though it were told you .
The work they would not believe unless He told them was that He was bringing judgement on an unrepentant nation, Israel. I have been skeptical of all these so-called prophets today who prophesy that all will be well with our nation.
Habukuk 2:4 Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Do we really think our country will not be judged? Did we think that perverse living and the killing of babies would go unpunished? Did we think we would be in heaven by now? That we would not see the judgement of nations from this vantage point? If we’re honest, yes, we all hoped we would be in heaven by now, and who knows it could be today, but it might not. Will that shake our faith?
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Just as Steve shared Sunday, we have the ability to rejoice in any situation that God allows in our lives. He is our peace; He is our joy, and nothing can separate us from the love of God!
The first ten chapters of this book dismantled the Levitical system. They explained all the ways that Jesus is better - a better priesthood, a better sacrifice, a better covenant. How does this apply? The writer of Hebrews here in Chapter 11 uses old testament examples to illustrate that it was not by the law, but by faith that each of these heroes prevailed.
I want to add here that faith in faith is heretical, an abusive form of faith teaching that we hear today. We cannot profess that things will happen. We cannot ‘name it and claim it’. That is heresy. There is only one true faith. It is faith in Jesus Christ, and He paid dearly so that we could have access to it.
The faith of the saints in this chapter sustained them whether they were delivered from their trials through rescue here on earth or gave their lives in honor of the Lord. God was sufficient in each case.
2 Pet 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Heb 11:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The earth is not our home. We look for a heavenly city. Have we become too comfortable here? Have we forgotten that
1 Jn. 2:15 says, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
We have a home waiting for us in the heavenlies.
Hebrew 12:26-28 “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
We look for a day to be caught up to a place where there will be no more tears, and we will have an inheritance incorruptible. That is where our faith should be looking. That is what our substance or foundation is, the evidence or conviction of a greater reality in the future and all around us now. Heaven, the Holy Spirit, angels and devils, the spiritual battle goes on around us daily. We need an awareness of the spiritual realm that will help us believe for the things to come.
We relinquish our own rights to serve God. This only happens with real conviction/faith in the world to come. What we see now will fade; the body will crumble. The thing that keeps us is hope of the future and evidence of the unseen world around us.
Finally, faith is active. As I stated in the beginning of this study, faith is a gift, but it is up to us to co-operate with the Lord to see it grow. We do not sit and wait to see what will come our way. God expects us to be proactive. “Go and make disciples”, “occupy until I come”, be about our Father’s business as Jesus was. It is a step of faith to obey and do what the Lord tells us. Seek the Lord in His word and in prayer to see what and where He wants you to invest in the furthering of His kingdom.
Faith overcomes fear. Faith needs the power of God to ignite it. Faith keeps us in close communication with Jesus. Humility is a precondition for faith-realizing we have no power in ourselves. Humility sees its own need and goes to the Lord.
Faith equals trust. You cannot trust someone you do not know. Make this a year you get to know Jesus more deeply, so that you can trust Him more. He has so much He wants to do through you!