Summary: Hebrews 11 is commonly known as the faith chapter. Each section starts out with the phrase, "by faith" and then lists a person's name and what they had done as a result of having faith. In looking at their examples we will see what it takes faith to do.
IT TAKES FAITH (part one)
INTRODUCTION: Hebrews 11 is commonly known as the faith chapter. Each section starts out with the phrase, "by faith" and then lists a person's name and what they had done as a result of having faith. All the persons listed are from the Old Testament although, interestingly there are not many uses of the word, faith in the OT. The word faith is used 246 times in the NIV with only 16 of those times occurring in the OT. Nevertheless, Hebrews 11 makes it clear that there were plenty of people in the OT who exhibited tremendous faith. And in looking at their examples we will see what it takes faith to do.
1) It takes faith to believe in what we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1-3
What is faith? The answer is found in the first verse of Hebrews 11. Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith involves believing certain things without the concrete evidence to support it. I have faith in a God that I can't point to and say he's over there. It doesn't take faith to believe in Derrick. It may take faith to believe Derrick but not to believe in Derrick. I'm right here; no faith involved in believing what you can see.
But I can't do that with God. I can't take you to him and show him to you. I can't put the coordinates for Heaven in my GPS and take you there. Do I believe in the existence of both? Yes. How? By faith.
And it's not just religious people that have faith. Even non-religious people have faith in something or someone. Some people's faith lies in scientific theories; some people's faith lies in certain people. Even atheists have faith. They have faith that God doesn't exist. They can't prove that he doesn't; they just believe that he doesn't.
What is faith built upon? For the atheist it might be based in the existence of evil in the world or something more personal. For those who believe in scientific theories it's the trust in the scientists who came up with them and the believability of these theories.
This is where Heb. 11:3 comes into play. By faith we believe that God created everything out of nothing. But Big Bang theorists believe that something came from nothing. They don't have an answer as to what caused the explosion that set the course of the universe into motion, but they're adamant that it wasn't God. We know it was God and that he is the reason everything else exists.
Evolutionists want to believe that all life started from an amoeba. I don't know what they say caused the amoeba to exist but to believe that a single-celled organism somehow eventually morphed into something else which somehow developed into another species altogether involves more faith than believing that God created all the different species.
Scientists have this thing called the missing link. The missing piece of the puzzle that would connect all the different evolutionary stages of man forming one, continual timeline. They're still holding out for the discovery of this non-existent link. They're still holding out for the source of the big bang.
For the Christian our faith is not entirely built on things we cannot see. It's built on certain discoveries that provide tangible support that what we read in the bible actually happened. Such as finding fossilized fish in mountainous regions which supports the flood. It's built on archeological excavations that show proof of biblical stories like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. It's supported in the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.
It's built on the realities of what has happened in people's lives that have proven the existence of God to them. The things that others may subscribe to chance or luck or coincidence. I guess what it takes to have faith in God is humility and a willingness to see beyond what is visible.
2) We not only need to have eyes to see but ears to hear.
Rom. 10:14-17, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."
So, we cannot have faith in Christ if we haven't heard the gospel. The ability to have faith comes as a result of accepting what we hear. Obviously everyone who hears does not have faith for not all have accepted the message. Like Paul said, 'But not all the Israelites have accepted the good news'. They heard but didn't receive it by faith.