Summary: This is a chapter from my Hebrew Commentary that I am writing. The book will be entitled: HEBREWS: Looking Unto Jesus. This chapter studies the faith chapter.
FAITH’S HALL OF FAME
The classic chapter in the Bible that deals with faith practically is Hebrews ll. Volumes have been written as it pertains to this chapter. Men of all ages and races have been inspired and encouraged by the great example of those who lived before us-“so great a cloud of witnesses”. It is my thrill to address this chapter knowing that I can only touch the hem of the garment. May we study this giant pearl with the greatest of respect.
I. THE DEFINING OF FAITH (Vv. 1-3)
“Now faith is”. How much more can be given, in such few words, the meaning of faith than by just simply stating that “faith is”? We are destined for spiritual ruin when we live as though faith is not. Strong’s said this about faith as it is used in this first verse: “conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it”. We shall build upon that definition, complementing as we do the Holy Scriptures definition of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Vv.1). We could just as accurately say that “Faith is actuality” or perhaps, we could say that “Faith is reality”. We can say this because faith is real. It is not real in the sense that it can be tested or proved in a laboratory. It is real in the sense that it is something that God can detect and recognize. He approves when one has it and does not when one does not have it. (V.6). As we explore this foundational word “faith”, I wish to bring in other definitions as it pertains to this word:
Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, excerpts;
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Phil. 1:27; 2 Thes. 2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching (Romans 10:14-17). Knowledge is an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent, which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity (truthfulness or accuracy) of God.
Faith in Christ secures for the believer freedom from condemnation, or justification before God; a participation in the life that is in Christ, the divine life (John 14:19; Romans 6:4-10; Ephes. 4:15-16, etc.); "peace with God" (Romans 5:1); and sanctification (Acts 26:18; Galatians 5:6; Acts 15:9).
Davis Dictionary of the Bible, excerpts;
As far as a difference exists between belief and faith, belief is assent to testimony, and faith is assent to testimony, united with trust. Faith is an active principle; it is an act both of the understanding and the will. The distinction between belief and faith is that between "believe me" and "believe on me." In the Bible faith of belief is confidence in the absolute truthfulness of every statement which comes from God (Mark 11:22 & Rom, 4:3-5).
Unger’s Bible Dictionary, excerpts;
Viewed more particularly with reference to its intellectual aspect, faith is properly defined as the conviction of the reality of the truths and facts which God has revealed; such conviction resting solely upon the testimony of God.
There is an element that is intellectual; also an element, of even deeper importance, that is moral. Faith is not simply the assent of the intellect to revealed truth; it is the practical submission of the entire man to the guidance and control of such truth, "The devils believe and tremble". Thus in its beginning and completion faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
When regarding the Biblical definition of faith, we must understand what is being stated in verse number two as it applies to faith. “For by it the elders obtained a good report.” The elders who are being referred to are all those mentioned by name and then some who were not mentioned by name who were able to please God by the exercising of their faith. They received a good report based upon the fact that they pleased God. The Jewish Christians who were struggling to maintain their faithful fidelity needed to hear the testimony of those who were mentioned in our Text. Those of us who continue to live today need the same support by reading the story of how these early elders pleased God by living faithful lives.