Summary: This is a brief sermon on faith, particularly saving faith.
Assurance of Things Hoped for -- Conviction of Things Unseen
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:1-2, 39-40).
Hebrews chapter eleven is often referred to as The Faith Chapter or Faith’s Hall of Fame. This is because it records for us numerous examples of the saints of old who, “by faith,” believed God. Over and over again the writer of Hebrews employs two simple words: “By faith.” He says, “By faith we understand the worlds were prepared by the word of God…By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice…By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death…by Faith Noah prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…By faith Abraham obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive…By faith…” (Hebrews 11:3-31). Furthermore, he says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (11:6). This is the Word of the Lord!
It is important we understand what the Bible teaches about faith. The word itself is never plural. In other words, the Christian faith does not mean believing in a number of things. It is a single disposition of mind and heart towards Jesus Christ. This faith in the Lord Jesus Christ involves a desire for eternal life. This is what the writer means by “things hoped for” (11:1). It is looking for more than is on the surface. So when the Bible talks about having faith in Jesus Christ, one must understand that faith is only as good as its object. The object of faith in salvation is Jesus Christ. Therefore, one must believe in Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to believe?
Saving faith in Jesus Christ produces three elements. First of all, there is knowledge of Christ. Such knowledge would include the historic facts about the person and work of Christ. This is the gospel! Peter presented the basic facts of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Paul mentioned the basic content of the gospel in his first letter to the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 15:1-3). However, mere knowledge is not enough. There is a second element to faith known as assent to Christ. We must be convinced that these historic facts (knowledge) about Christ are true. We must believe that Jesus is able to do what He said he could do – forgive sins and guarantee eternal life! However, just as mere knowledge is not enough, neither is mere assent. There is a third element known as commitment to Christ. By commitment I mean whole-hearted committal to Jesus Christ. In John’s Gospel, the Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Believe here means to believe “in, into,” or “upon.” You must believe in, into and upon Jesus Christ. It is a belief that brings about a change. This change is known as conversion (salvation). When a person is saved, he or she does not take three distinct steps. However, that person’s salvation does begin with knowledge of the Saviour leading to assent to the Saviour, which brings about commitment to the Saviour. Saving faith is simply committing oneself to Jesus Christ. This is clearly expressed in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” When we put the sum total of our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation, then we pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. We experience conversion!