Summary: Stretch your understanding of faith by examining the basis of faith and the behavior of faith.
I want to take a look at some Biblical principles that will stretch our understanding of faith. Would you open your Bibles to Hebrews 11? I want to do an introductory sermon entitled “Understanding Faith.” Follow along as I read verses 1-3 and 6.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 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…. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (vs. 1-3,6)
1. To begin with I want to say a few words about the basis of faith! If we are people of faith there should be a basis for our beliefs. For instance, if I tell you I believe it is going to rain. I would usually have something to base that on. I could be basing it on an internet report. I could be basing it on the words of the weather man.
A. As you study the New Testament you come to understand that faith is based on Jesus Christ. The Bible says we have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” (Heb.10:19) Faith is not a religious creed or adherence to a particular faith. A person may say “I belong to the Catholic faith”, or “I belong to the Baptist faith,” or “I belong to the Jewish faith.” That is your religion. Biblical faith is based on what Jesus has done for us. Someone may ask, do you believe faith and salvation is only through Jesus Christ? Are there other ways to God? I am basing my convictions upon Jesus words. It does not matter what I think. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John14:6).
B. Faith is a response to God’s promises. Look at Hebrews 10:23. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Faith is not based on man’s best efforts. You might hear someone say “I exercised my faith.” You might exercise your faith. However, faith is a response to God’s promises.
Illustration: Consider this example. My father just passed away. He owned a fishing boat. My mother wants to give me my father’s fishing boat. She has promised me the boat. Let’s suppose I go over in a couple of months to get the boat. After I get there she laughs and says, “Oh, I was just kidding, you cannot have the boat.” I make my trip to Louisiana based upon the promise that she has given me the boat. My faith would be based on my mother’s promise.
In considering this truth I want you to look closely at Hebrews 11:1. In this verse there are three concepts that need to be seen. These three concepts help you understand God’s promises.
1. The first is based on the word “substance.” This Greek word means to “stand under, to support.” The Christian faith is to a Christian what a foundation is to a house. Faith is not a blind leap of faith. When you exercise faith you are not displaying faith in something that has no substance. People who believe in evolution are displaying faith in nothing. They believe the world just came about. People of faith believe the world came into existence at the hands of a sovereign, omnipotent, creator God. This offers substance to life (vs. 1). Theologian A.W.Tozer said “Faith is seeing the invisible, but not the nonexistent.” The Bible says “we walk by faith, not by sight.” II Cor. 5:7
Illustration: Let me give you an example of the kind of faith and trust that is necessary to become a Christian. The world-famous acrobat, Blondin, was born in France in 1824. His real name was Jean Francois Gravalet. Over the years, he became famous throughout Europe and America. In London he once played a violin on a tightrope 170 feet above the ground. On this side of the Atlantic, he became famous for crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope 1,100 feet long and 160 feet above the water. One time he even pushed a wheelbarrow across the Falls while blindfolded. Another time, he stood on his head on the wire. Still another time he carried his manager across Niagara Falls on his back. When he made it to the other side, he looked into the crowd and asked a man standing near, "Do you believe I could do that with you?" The man answered, "Of course, I’ve just seen you do it." Then Blondin said, "Hop on, and I’ll carry you across." The man quickly said, "Not on your life" The man wouldn’t go across with Blondin because he didn’t really believe. He had an intellectual understanding of what was going on. He believed intellectually that Blondin could do it, but he wasn’t willing to stake his life on it.