Summary: Number 1 of 16 sermons out of Hebrews 11 on the true meaning of living by faith.
THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH
© 1997 by Mark Beaird
Text: Hebrews 11:1-3
n In a sermon, Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke of a conversation with a circus trapeze artist. The performer admitted the net underneath was there to keep them from breaking their necks, but added, "The net also keeps us from falling. Imagine there is no net. We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall. If there wasn't a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do. But because there's a net, we dare to make turns, and once I made three turns -- thanks to the net!"
Ortiz makes this observation: "We have security in God. When we are sure in his arms, we dare to attempt big things for God. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us if we fall."
Faith is all about our confidence in God and His Word. It is at the foundation of our relationship with Him and to our ability to believe Him for our needs. He wants us to put Him to the test-to risk it all-to truly place our trust and confidence in Him to provide as He has said in His Word.
n "God honors radical, risk-taking faith.
When arks are built, lives are saved. When soldiers march, Jerichos tumble.
When staffs are raised, seas still open.
When a lunch is shared, thousands are fed.
And when a garment is touched -- whether by the hand of an anemic woman in Galilee or by the prayers of a beggar in Bangladesh -- Jesus stops.
He stops and responds." (Lucado, 69)
God will respond to you and me if we will build our lives upon the security of His Word and respond to Him when the Spirit quickens the Word to our hearts and minds. We can respond in faith to God's Word! We know the power of God as He works in our lives! It can happen if we will lay hold on the spiritual truths of our faith.
I. FAITH IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR REALITY (v. 1a).
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for…"
A. Our faith has substance.
nIn the Greek, the root word for substance is "stasis" which means, "the place, setting, a standing pillar, upon which other stones are placed." (Evans Jr., 196)
Faith is not mystical or imaginary; faith is real, solid, and certain. The world views faith only in terms of the abstract. But for the child of God, faith should be viewed in terms of the concrete. How can faith in an all-sufficient, all-knowing God be anything else?
B. Our faith has validity.
Our faith is validated by the things that we see God has done throughout history and by the things we see Him doing in our world today.
n Louis H. Evans, Jr. explains, "Our faith does not create reality, but it is based upon the reality of God's government and power. It is by this faith, turned loose in history by the faithful action of prophets and believers, that God has brought the miracles to bear upon nations and their history." (197)
C. Our faith cannot be limited by the unseen.
One translation of Hebrews 11:1 reads, "Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see." (God's Word Series)
n "Faith is the act of commitment on the part of the believer, whereas hope is the state of mind which he possesses. On the other hand, things not seen describes generally all that is beyond man's normal knowledge or powers of comprehension." (Guthrie, 226)
The world will never understand the power of the spiritual realm or the workings of faith. Christians are empowered by their faith in an all-sufficient God who, in many cases, works behind the scenes of the natural world.
The power of faith manifests itself in at least three (3) ways.
n "Faith enables us to understand what God does. Faith enables us to see what others cannot see. As a result, faith enables us to do what others cannot do." (Wiersbe, 318)
II. FAITH IS THE FOUNDATION FOR A GOOD TESTIMONY (v. 2).
"For by it (FAITH) the elders obtained a good testimony."
A. By faith the "elders" lived a life of obedience.
The elders spoken of here refer to those who came before us. Many of those have their lives highlighted here in this chapter. Their faith was revealed in their everyday lives. When it came to faith, their lives spoke for themselves.
B. By faith, men and women were accepted by God.
The scripture is teaching us that God accepted these men and women because of their faith not necessarily because of their works. As important as works are, faith is what God has always looked for in His people. Almost all of the great "heroes" of the faith have their failures recorded alongside their triumphs. God did not bless them because they were perfect or because they were super spiritual. He blessed them because they were willing to believe Him and follow where He led.