We have seen and studied the first ten chapters of Hebrews, and overcome all of what I see as the difficult passages in the book. Chapters 11, 12, and 13 will challenge us in our walk, but not in our understanding.
The context, as we begin chapter eleven, is that the author has been encouraging the Hebrews not to bail out on their faith in Christ. He quoted the Lord, saying,
Hebr. 10:38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
Then he observed,
Hebr. 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
It all comes down to faith. We need to live by faith, to be people of faith.
Chapter eleven is spent giving example after example of people of faith, and has come to be known as "the hall of faith." But before we examine the people of faith, we must learn about faith itself.
It is said that we have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. With our eyes, ears, skin, noses, and tongues, we become aware of the reality of the things in the world around us. We know that birds fly because we see them in the air. We know that the wind is blowing because we can feel it on our skin. We know the train is coming because we can hear its horn blowing in the distance. In a dark room , we know the floor is there because we can feel it under our feet.
But these five senses are really limited when it comes to spiritual matters:
Although we can hear the Bible speak of God's existence, how can we know for sure that He is really there?
Although we can touch the evidence of creation all around us, how can we know for sure that God really made everything?
Although we can see things work out, sometimes in amazing ways, how can we know for sure that God is really in control and paying attention to our lives?
You see, something has to connect the two things, the evidence and the conclusion, the facts we can see and the facts that we cannot see.
That something is faith. Faith is the connector that ties the truth of what we can see with the truth of what we cannot see. Faith is what assures us that what we are hoping for is really going to happen. Faith is the conviction we have that things which we cannot see are really there.
Now some protest this concept. They say, "If I can't see it, I won't believe it. I cannot have faith. It's unreasonable to expect people to have blind faith." But the fact is, even people that claim to have no faith live by faith all the time.
They regularly sit in chairs without inspecting the legs. They have faith that the chair will not collapse under them. It's not a blind faith, for they see the chair. But faith is what connects the sight of the chair with the confidence that it will not fall apart.
They regularly ride in elevators without checking the cables and motors. They have faith that the elevator will not malfunction, sending them plummeting to their death. Again, it is not a blind faith, for they see the elevator. Faith is what connects the sight of the elevator with the confidence that it will not fall.
They regularly rely on electricity although they've never seen it. They don't write letters to the electric company saying, "I'm not paying this bill. I haven't seen any electricity in my house this month!" They have faith that the electricity is there. Once again, it is not a blind faith. They see the lights turn on, and faith connects that sight with the assurance that electricity is in fact running through the wires.
Faith enables us to know something is true and real, even when we cannot see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, or smell it. It is not blind - it simply connects what we see to what we cannot.
I can honestly say that although I have never seen God, I know for a fact that He exists. This is a big change from the Ron Daniel who, in 1988 claimed that he knew for a fact that God did not exist. The difference all comes down to one word: faith.
Is it a blind faith? Not at all. I can see proof of God's existence in creation. The Bible says,
Ps. 19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Nature offers proof of a Creator. The Bible also says,
Rom. 1:20 ...His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made...
All of the creation that we can see offers proof of God's existence. But in order to connect creation with the existence of God, you must have faith. How can you get it? First of all, you already have it.
Rom. 12:3 ...God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
That's why the Bible tells us over and over to "have faith." Have it. It is in you - you simply need to own it, to lay hold of it, to have it. Jesus said,
Mark 11:22 ..."Have faith in God."
But maybe you feel you don't have enough faith to believe. How can you get more? The answer is simple:
Rom. 10:17 ...faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
That's where it all clicked for me so many years ago. I had always seen nature, and knew its complexities. But I never had the faith to tie that in together to the actual existence of God. It was not until I heard the Word of God, the Bible, that I received the faith to know that God existed.
The people listed in chapter eleven are people that gained approval with God, not because of their righteous character, their good deeds, or their holy language. In fact, if we look at the list, there's a guy who got drunk and passed out naked in his tent, a guy who took his own sweet time obeying God and regularly lied to save his own hide, his wife who laughed in ridicule when God gave her a promise, their grandson who was known for being deceptive and slippery with the truth. The list includes a man who was a murderer, a woman who was a prostitute, people who were afraid, rebellious, and even those who committed adultery. Yet they gained approval with God - not by their actions, but by their faith.
By the time we get done with chapter eleven, I know that you will be convinced that you are no worse than these people featured in the Bible.
God spoke all of creation into existence. The Bible begins with these words:
Gen. 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
God created light with a simple statement. He went on to create everything else with His word. He created them out of nothing.
Ps. 33:6, 9 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host... For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
This is the God who has created you as well, and desires a relationship with you. Have you put your faith in Him yet? If not, your sin still keeps you away from God. You have not found favor with Him.
Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is calling on you to let faith connect what you can see with what you cannot see. Because when we let that happen,
Rom. 5:1 ...having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ