Summary: An examination of what faith is and what faith does.
“The Pathway of Faith”
Faith is a common denominator. Every one alive daily expressed faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising faith – faith in the physical world. When you awoke and went into the bathroom this morning you flipped a light switch and you had faith that it would work. When you get in your car you have faith that it will start. When you mail a letter you have faith the postal system will get it to the right address. When you go to the pharmacy you have faith that the pharmacist will give you the right drugs. Every time you walk into this building or any building you are expressing faith in the architect and the workmen.
Faith is also expressed in the spiritual realm. Each of us regardless of our backgrounds or educations, our social status or our talents can express faith. The difference between the faith we exercise in our daily routine and our religious faith is the object of that faith. Again everyone places their faith in something or someone. The Moslem puts his faith in the Koran and in Mohammed. The humanist put his faith in himself. The follower of religion, in his own good works. None of these can save, because in each case the object of faith is wrong. Your faith is only as good as the object in which you place your faith. The Bible insists that we personally put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
This morning I want us to begin a study of the greatest teaching in the Bible on the subject of faith found in eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. Today I want us to see two things; “What faith is and what faith does.”
I. WHAT FAITH IS (11:1-3)
To understand what faith is we must get past certain misconceptions about faith.
First, that faith is the ability to manipulate God. This is the approach of the “health and wealth” prosperity gospel. This approach only sees faith as having one aim – one fruit – a life of ease and blessing.
Second, that faith is adherence to a set of beliefs . You must believe the right doctrine. But Paul says in 2 Tim. 1:12, “ I know whom I have believed.” If your beliefs are not founded on the right person it does not matter what else you believe.
Third, that faith is a blind leap into the dark. To many unbelievers faith is the anti-thesis of science. To these saying “you just have to have faith” is the same as saying “just have to act contrary to everything you know and trust that it will all work out for the best.”
Finally, that faith is simply devotion to whatever god one happens to follow. It can be said, “He is a person of deep faith” about a follower of Mohammed or the Ayatollah or of a Christian. What matters is that they are sincere.
But unfortunately none of these is true faith. Hebrews chapter eleven portrays what real biblical faith looks like.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.(3) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
True faith is confident obedience to God’s word in spite of circumstances or consequences. Faith is described in a two-fold way. It is the “substance of things hoped for,” and “the evidence of things not seen.”
First, the word translated “substance” (hupostasis) in the Greek, means literally ‘to stand under or to support.’ Faith is the foundation that gives the believer the confidence to stand. The verse could be translated “faith is the confidence of things hoped for.”
This is illustrated in the life of the missionary Hudson Taylor. “When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was caught in a calm., and it was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and sought him to pray for the help of God. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. Taylor said, ‘I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And it was done.