A Verse by Verse Look at the Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 11

The Faith Hall of Fame

Hebrews 11 paints a wonderful picture of the men and women who triumphed by faith. People who believed God and pursued His promises even though many didn't see them come to pass in their lifetime. This chapter defines faith and shows that it pleases God. This is a great reminder for us as we navigate this life, clinging to the promises of God and looking forward to Jesus' return.

Now Faith is Being Sure of What We Hope For (Hebrews 11:1-2)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11:1-2“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for” ( Hebrews 11:1-2 )

In the natural realm, faith doesn’t make sense. Because faith cannot be seen, understood or explained when situations beyond human control require its use. And yet faith is absolutely necessary for the believer. In fact, faith is the first and only thing required of us when we come to God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Later on in this chapter the writer draws attention to the fact that without faith we cannot please God, which means it is absolutely necessary (Hebrews 11:6).

Paul told the believers in Corinth, “We live by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). If this is the case, it is important to know what faith is, so that we can regulate and conduct ourselves in faith, not by what we see, taste, touch, hear or feel.

This passage in Hebrews is the mere definition of faith. It is being sure, certain and confident of the things we hope for. The King James Bibles tells us that faith is a substance. And the Amplified Bible puts it best when it calls faith the title deed of the things we hope for. If we have the title deed to something we own it.

The Amplified goes on to explain it this way,NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is what assures and having faith is perceiving as real what is not yet evident in the natural realm. The ancients had it; otherwise they would not have seen nor done the things they did.

Faith is what carries you from point A to point B. You can hope for something but faith is the substance that moves you forward until you experience it. Take salvation for example. We receive this by faith. Being saved is not something that you can see, hear, smell, touch or feel. However, chances are if you’ve experienced it no one can talk you out of it because your faith is the substance that testifies to you that it is real and genuine. The hope of salvation hasn’t been realized yet, in the sense that we still are on this earth, but faith is what assures us that salvation is a done deal and one day very soon the hope of salvation will be realized.

This same principal applies to all situations in the believer’s life. This is why the writer declared at the end on Hebrews 10, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). Why? Because we have faith! We have the title deed to the things that God has promised us. All we need to do is believe them until the hope of them is realized. “This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:2). They believed God when all seemed lost and obtained a good report.

It is important to stand firm in what you know, not letting anyone or anything talk you out of faith. Faith is believing God and resting in His promises until fulfillment comes. Let faith convince you of reality even before you see what has been promised in the natural. This is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

By Faith We Understand that the Universe was Formed at God’s Command (Hebrews 11:3)

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Hebrews 11:3“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” ( Hebrews 11:3 )

By faith we understand that the universe was made by the spoken Word of God. However, faith also had an incredible role in the creation of the world. God spoke creation into existence when nothing was. This took faith on His part, He believed His Words would form the physical and it did.

Faith is a key element in how the kingdom of God works. God himself operates in this way. This is an important lesson for us, by it we see two amazing truths. First, as in our example from creation, faith has the power to bring what does not exist into existence. Secondly, we see that speaking in faith is what unlocks that power to bring it to pass ( Romans 4:17 ). We can speak the Word of God with authority to any situation, being confident that it will change the circumstances and the outcome. It may seem odd, but that is why faith is required.

The previous verse describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” ( Hebrews 11:1 ). Meaning the substance behind faith cannot be seen or understood with the five senses, but there is a certainty to it. Just as in our example from creation, the substance supporting faith is the Word of God. When we have a Word, we have the means to get us to where our hope is realized.

God spoke the universe into existence by faith. He instructed His Word to go and produce, believing that it would happen and the rest is history. In the same way, we can have such confidence in the Word of God because we also have a wonderful promise concerning it, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” ( Isaiah 55:10-11 ).

By Faith Abel Offered God a Better Sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4)

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Hebrews 11:4“By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead” ( Hebrews 11:4 )

By reading the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, it is easy to be confused about why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was not. However, this passage in Hebrews clarifies it, telling us that Abel offered his sacrifice in faith, Cain on the other hand did not. The result is that God commended Abel as a righteous man and accepted his offering.

To understand this, we must first look back at Genesis 4. Although not much detail is given about the instructions God gave to them when bringing their sacrifices, we see that Cain brought the fruit of the ground to God and Abel brought an animal sacrifice. God looked favorably on Abel’s sacrifice. When Cain’s was rejected God said to him, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” ( Genesis 4:6-7 ). The first thing we see is that Cain did not do what was right, which is why he was rejected.

The reason was because he brought the toil of his labor to God as an offering. This was wrong was because God had cursed the ground at the fall of mankind. “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” ( Genesis 3:17 ). Cain brought to God what he grew from the cursed ground, this was approaching God in self-righteousness and on that basis we are never accepted. Isaiah tells us that all of our righteous acts are as filthy rags ( Isaiah 64:6 ), not our unrighteousness but our righteousness. All of the things we do to be acceptable to God are as soiled dirty rags. This is why we are never accepted when we approach Him in this manner.

Abel, on the other hand, brought to God a covering that had been provided for him. Abel, by faith, accepted what God did and on that basis he was accepted. He took God’s righteousness as a gift which made him acceptable. God was so pleased with Abel that He wrote about it in Hebrews 11 so we could still celebrate his faith.

This same truth rings loud and clear for us today. When we rely on what Jesus did for us to make us righteous, then we are always accepted. This takes faith, but that faith commends us as righteous before God and like Abel speaks a good word on our behalf.

By Faith Enoch Was Commended As One Who Pleased God (Hebrews 11:5)

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Hebrews_11_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” ( Hebrews 11:5 )

Enoch is one of the most interesting records found in the Bible. Four short verses in Genesis describe his life. What makes it unique is that he is one of two men who didn’t experience death. Instead God translated him to where He was because Enoch had a faith report that he pleased God.

According to the account found in Genesis, Enoch had a legacy of walking in close fellowship with God for three hundred years ( Genesis 5:22 ). The Amplified Bible describes this relationship as habitual fellowship ( Genesis 5:24 ). This means that they enjoyed intimacy and a fellowship that pleased and satisfied both God and man. From this relationship, Enoch for all time, has this testimony given by God that he pleased him. What marvelous faith Enoch had.

When I think about him being translated from this earth without experiencing death, I am reminded that God does the same thing with us. Colossians says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” ( Colossians 1:13 ). The King James Bible says it this way, “He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” ( Colossians 1:13 KJV ).

The amazing thing that we can take away is that through Jesus, we like Enoch, experienced translation from death at the moment of salvation and were forever united with God. This of course takes place on a spiritual level; we are moved from the kingdom of darkness under the shadow of death and into the kingdom of Jesus, given eternal life. This comes by faith and just as Enoch received a testimony that he pleased God, we too, by faith can obtain that very same report.

There is a great lesson to be learned from Enoch. The faith of Enoch made it into the Faith Hall of Fame for a reason. His faith pleased God obtaining a good report recorded for all future generations to have this example. This report came by habitual fellowship with His creator and walking with Him all the days of His life until he was no more because God had taken him home.

Without Faith It Is Impossible To Please God (Hebrews 11:6)

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Hebrews 11:6“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” ( Hebrews 11:6 )

Faith is a must. Faith is the entrance point to a relationship with God. He interacts with us based on His grace, we respond in faith. Given the basis of this type of relationship we understand how important faith is to the believer. In fact, this passage boldly declares that without it, it is impossible to please God because the simple truth remains that we must believe that He is before we can come to Him.

If faith is the starting point, then it makes sense that faith is a key element for life. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus commented on people’s faith. In most cases He asked and wondered where it was, saying ‘you of little faith’ or ‘where is your faith?’. On other occasions He marveled, as in the example of the centurion solider ( Matthew 8:5-13 ). When the centurion came to Jesus asking for help for his servant Jesus agreed to come with him. But in a marvelous display of faith he told Jesus to just say the word and it would be done; citing his understanding of authority and appropriating it. “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” ( Matthew 8:10 ). The centurion’s faith made Jesus stop and marvel which is noteworthy. “Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour” ( Matthew 8:13 ). The healing took place according to the faith of the solider and in the manner he asked for, Jesus just came into agreement with the faith that had been displayed.

If it is impossible to please God without faith. The opposite is also true; faith is what pleases God. As in our examples from the gospels, faith was important to Jesus, He looked for it and responded to it everywhere He went. So the underlying truth to draw from is that God responds to faith. It pleases Him, it moves Him to act and it is essential in the life of the believer.

Noah Became Heir of the Righteousness That Comes By Faith (Hebrews 11:7)

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Hebrews 11:7“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” ( Hebrews 11:7 )

It takes faith to build an ark. Only one man has ever needed this kind of faith. Even though Noah had never heard of or experienced rain, let alone the flooding that exists with earth covering amounts of water, he obeyed God when instructed to build the ark. He had only God’s word to counter everything he knew and had previously experienced.

By Faith Abraham Made His Home in the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:8-10)

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Hebrews 11:8-10“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” ( Hebrews 11:8-10 )

Faith propels people to do strange things from the viewpoint of the world. I had a friend who left family and friends, moving to Costa Rica to be a missionary because she heard God instruct her to do so. She didn’t have any missionary support when she left, she just knew she was supposed to go. She was heavily criticized by those around her for taking such bold steps without a husband, financial support or long term accommodations. However, in an act a faith, she went. And God, true to His word supplied everything she needed, bringing her into a loving community of missionaries who shared the same vision of ministering to the people of Costa Rica.

By Faith Abraham Considered God Faithful To His Promise (Hebrews 11:11-12)

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Hebrews 11:11-12“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” ( Hebrews 11:11-12 )

It would be easy to become discouraged and hopeless in a situation like this. Abraham and Sarah waited for years hoping to have a child only to grow old without an heir. The possibility of reproduction gone with each passing year. The history of trying to conceive over and over without success would be more than enough to dash any hope for the future.

Then the Lord appeared to Abraham telling him at the same time next year Sarah would have a son. Sarah laughed as she overheard the conversation but the Lord replied to her, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son” ( Genesis 18:14 ). Confirming the Word he originally gave Abraham that through him he would be the father of many nations ( Genesis 12:2-3, 15:4-5 ).

Faced with a decision to believe God for the impossible, both Abraham and Sarah took the steps of faith required to conceive. Because of faith Sarah received the physical power to get pregnant although she was long past the ability to do so. The key lies in the fact that she considered God faithful who had promised a son. She chose not to consider the circumstances surrounding the situation only the guarantor of the promise.

In the same way, Abraham disregarded the fact that he was one hundred years old and that Sarah had been barren and had long since passed the age of childbearing. Instead he considered God faithful to His word and able to bring it to pass. Romans 4 gives a marvelous picture of Abraham’s faith, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised ( Romans 4:18-21 ).

When hope was gone, Abraham got supernatural hope to carry him through to where the promise was released. Throughout the process he started considering God, rather than the circumstance. As a result he started praising Him, giving glory, building himself up in faith, being fully persuaded that God would do what He said He would. Praising unlocked the faith needed to see the promise fulfilled. And because of it Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness ( Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:22 ).

You and I have been blessed by the faith of Abraham and Sarah. Because he believed God he became the father of many nations and the father of faith. All of those who trust in Jesus as their savior have been credited with the same righteousness that Abraham received by faith ( Romans 4:23-24 ) because they choose to believe God when the circumstances seemed impossible.