Hebrews 11 is the most eloquent chapter in the Bible on the subject of faith. Here are seven lessons that unfold through the chapter:
1. Faith is having confidence about the future and assurance about the unseen.
- Verse 1: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
2. Faith is what makes God proud of us.
- Verse 2: This is what the ancients were commended for. And look at verse 4: By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous. And verse 5: By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And then down in verse 39: These were all commended for their faith.
3. Faith is a reasonable response to the reality of God
- Verse 3: By faith we understand…. And look at verse 11: And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise. The word “considered” means Sarah thought things through, she considered things. And look at verse 19: Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead. Some people claim that faith is anti-intellectual, that it’s a matter of the heart and not the head. Don’t believe them. Faith looks at the evidence, it considers the promises, it reasons things through, and faith is a reasonable response to the reality of God. It understands, it considers, it reasons.
4. Faith is what the Bible stories are designed to teach us.
- Verses 4-34: These verses contain the Westminster Abbey of the Bible—Scripture’s Hall of Fame.
5. Faith trusts God when things go well and when they don’t.
- Verses 35-38. A distinctive change occurs between verses 35 and 36. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. And then suddenly the writer makes a dramatic turn and says: There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. They were put to death by stoning… and so forth. Sometimes we trust God and everything seems to get worse. We trust Him anyway.
6. Faith finds its ultimate fulfillment in the city whose architect and builder is God.
- Verses 39-40 says all these Old Testament heroes were commended for their faith, but none of them have yet received the ultimate goal of their faith. The ultimate goal of our faith is the Second Coming of Christ, the eternal state—the new heavens and the new earth—described in the last two chapters of the Bible. We are strangers and pilgrims on earth, looking for a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God. Look at Hebrews 13:14: For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
7. Faith focuses the heart on Jesus
- Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by some many testimonies, by some many examples of people who trusted God, let us throw off everything that hinders us and run with perseverance the race before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As the old hymn says: ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus / Just to take Him at His Word.
(For my entire message from this chapter, click here).