1) Did you have any misunderstandings about faith before this message from Hebrews 11? How does this passage help clarify what faith really is?
2) Why do you think we are tempted to make good works the ground for our relationship with God rather than faith? Why do we try to approach God on our terms rather than on God’s terms?
3) Which of the three lessons about faith (Abel, Enoch, and Noah) do you need to hear the most today? How does this lesson encourage and challenge you?
Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-7
I. Faith is a strong conviction in who and what you cannot see.
A. This definition for faith is seen in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is convinced that what the unseen God has promised will most certainly be fulfilled. Our faith is not in faith. Our faith is in God. There is no visible evidence then that what God has promised will come to pass. Faith is a deep, personal trust that God’s Word and Goda’s promise are true. The Old Testament saints that we will read about in the rest of Hebrews 11 won God’s approval (vs. 2). They pleased God by faith.
B. It is always trust that God is looking for from us. Trust in God communicates love to God. So, it is trust that God wants to see. You keep your faith by remembering that our faith is in things not seen. 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” There are some things you can’t see with your eyes. But those things are definitely real. One of the things that we didn’t see with our eyes but that definitely happened was the creation of the universe (vs. 3). We were not there to witness the creation. No one was there except God. Thus, we receive it by faith that God created the universe. But that does not mean there is no evidence of a Creator.
C. Our faith in what we did not see at creation can help us to have faith for what we cannot see in the future. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. I think the author is thinking here about the return of Christ. The fact that there is evidence for the creation that we did not see leads us to believe that there are also good grounds to believe that Jesus will return to earth. We can walk by faith and not by sight when it comes to our future.
II. Faith is lived out in the pilgrimage of our lives.
A. You are walking by faith with other believers from years gone by who lived out their faith. The first believer mentioned in Hebrews 11:4 is Abel. Abel’s offering flowed from his faith. We read Abel’s story in Genesis 4:3-4. Abel offered a blood sacrifice as a symbol that his sin must be paid for with blood. Abel lived out his faith in what would become the theme of Hebrews that we see in Hebrews 9:22: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” True faith approaches God on His terms, not ours.
B. The second Old Testament saint who lived out his faith who is mentioned in Hebrews 11 is Enoch (vs. 5). Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:22), and he never died. Faith is always directed toward a personal relationship with God. Enoch walked with God like you might walk with a friend. He walked and talked with God as a friend. The life of Noah (vs. 7) reveals that faith is obedient. Faith means following God even when things don’t make sense. God commanded Noah to build a 510-foot long ark on dry ground. Noah had faith in God’s promised warning of a flood. He had faith in the unseen. Do you? Abel, Enoch and Noah lived out their faith. And those three people reflect the order of the Christian life of faith. We first trust in the sacrifice of Christ like Abel trusted in the sacrifice of an animal, then we walk with God intimately like Enoch did, and then we obey God in all things like Noah did.
Trust in God’s sacrifice. Walk with God. Obey God. This is the life of faith.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger