Summary: Part 3 of a 3-part series focusing on faith, hope, and love. This message focuses on what faith is as found in Hebrews 11.
Scripture Ref: Hebrews 11:1-40
a. Part 3 of a 3-part series on faith, hope and love. Last week we discussed hope. We learned that we have a living inheritance of hope. Our hope is not just a pipe dream or a wish, but rather, it is a promise of life eternal with a living God.
b. Today we are going to focus on the third part of this great trilogy, faith.
c. As with any mechanical item with which we are unfamiliar, before we feel comfortable using it, or operating it, or simply being near it, the human side of us needs to understand it and how it works. So it is with faith.
d. There are some things, however, we have no understanding of, yet we trust and believe in them. For example:
(1) You may not understand the aerodynamic principals of flight, yet you have faith that the airplane on which you are riding is going to become airborne before it reaches the end of the runway, that it will remain airborne and under the control of the pilot, and that the pilot will be able to safely place it back on the ground at its final destination.
(2) When I first slipped beneath the waves on the USS Sam Houston, the first submarine I served on, I did not know how submarines operated, yet I had faith that the ocean would remain on the outside of the submarine’s hull. Furthermore, I had faith the crew would be able to control her depth and course and, when the time, would be able to bring her to the surface.
e. If we can have faith in inanimate objects such as airplanes and submarines, why is it so difficult for us to have faith in a living God.
2. What Is Faith?
a. So what is faith? Webster’s gives us these definitions: allegiance to duty or a person; belief and trust in and loyalty to God; firm belief in something for which there is no proof; and, simply, complete trust.
b. Augustine of Hippo, one of the early church fathers, said, “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.”
c. Clement of Alexandria, an early Greek theologian said, “Faith is a voluntary anticipation.”
d. Scripture tells us this. Read Hebrews 11:1-3
e. In this brief introduction, the author establishes three basic considerations about faith: its basic nature, the honor associated with it, and its way of seeing things.
(1) In its simplest terms, faith is being sure and certain about unseen hopes and realities.
(2) Faith is honorable. The Old Testament ancients were commended, or highly praised, for it.
(3) It is a way of viewing all experience since it is the way in which believers see the universe for what it is, a creation of God.
3. The Faith Hall of Fame
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I’ll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can’t see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that’s all that matters.
b. Faith requires that we jump when we can’t see what we are jumping to with the assurance that someone is standing there to catch us and, more importantly, that we will be caught.
c. The Bible is full of examples of where a superior faith produced a superior reward. Hebrews 11, rightly called the Faith Hall of Fame, is a listing of just a few of them.
d. Read Hebrews 11:4-40
(1) Enoch was translated from life unto life without experiencing a physical death. Why? Because he pleased God by living a life of faith.
(2) Because of his faith, Noah and his family were spared destruction by the great flood.
(3) Abraham received an inheritance of a land flowing with milk and honey, because he was willing, by faith, to go to a place he had never seen simply because God told him to.
(4) By faith, Abraham and Sarah became parents when the laws of nature were stacked against them, because Abraham believed God to be faithful in His promise of a child.
e. There are tangible, and sometimes intangible, side effects of faith. These great witnesses teach us a lesson on just how powerful faith can be, if we will let it.
4. The Side Effects of Faith