Summary: Exposition of Hebrews 11 regarding three descriptions of faith.
Text: Heb 11:1-3, Title: What Are You Standing On? Date/Place: NRBC, 10.22.11, PM
A. Opening illustration: Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.” — Oswald Chambers, "Is this really, THE water jug of THE prophet Joel from the Bible?"
B. Background to passage: Remember the context of this whole book is the intense persecution that the Hebrew Christians are experiencing that is causing many to defect back to Judaism. So the writer has spent 10 chapters arguing for the superiority of Christ and the new covenant, complete with four warnings for those who neglect or turn back from the faith. He is trying to show them theologically that they should stay with Christ. Now he changes gears, and deals with the other pressing issue in the lives of his hearers (remember it is a sermon): overcoming suffering. And he begins to go back to the OT and bolster his conviction that by faith in Christ we can not only be granted righteousness, forgiveness, and eternal life, but we can also be given the strength to face any trial, even death, through the abundant life and joy Christ provides. Therefore, tonight we will look at him laying the ground work of faith, looking forward to the examples.
C. Main thought: Three descriptions of faith
A. Faith is our rock (v. 1)
1. Definition of substance, also translated “assurance, confidence, or sureness,” the ground of confidence, assurance, or the guarantee that something else was going to happen. It comes from two words: “hupo” which means under, and “stasis” which means stand; therefore it means what stands under you. Faith is the rock we stand on! The author here had been speaking about the promises, the rest of, and priest-mediator role of God. And so he deals with the doubt in the minds of his hearers that these promises of God might fail, or that the God of these promises might fail. He wants them to believe God, and be confidence in Him. He wants them to let Him be the rock upon which they place their trust and hope, and the thing upon which they fall during intense trials.
3. Illustration: these are the things that I will read in your ear if I am by your bedside, “God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.” –Luther,
4. When we are struggling through trials and pain, the precious promises of God are the things that get us through. However, it’s during those same times that Satan’s fiery dart of doubt comes and calls all those things into question. That is one of the reasons that James 1:2-3 equates trials and testing of your faith. But you must maintain your confidence in Him. You must believe that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do. We must call to our mind the promises, rebuke the doubt, and stand firm, clinging with all of our might to Him. We must keep looking for the answers to prayer, for the way of escape, for the Red Sea to part, for the sun to stand still, for the 185,000 Assyrians to wake up dead, for the rain to come, or for the demon to leave. Pray for the Lord to strengthen your faith, and help your unbelief. Know the promises of God in His word. Memorize some.
B. Faith is our motivation (v. 1)
1. Biblical writers are often fond of saying the same thing twice. So the author here uses some very similar language, but with some interesting extensions of his original meaning. He uses a word here that means conviction or persuasion based on evidence. But the word also carries the connotation of a response based on certainty. It means an outward manifestation of an inward conviction. This is encouraging them to act on the faith that they have. It means for them to go and do what they are supposed to even if they believe that it will or could worsen their situation. It means that they are convinced that God will be sufficient to the point that they leap over the cliff knowing that God will build a bridge or put up a net even though they can’t see it. This is a picture of authentic, overcoming faith. And this is what the Hebrews needed. They needed the power to act in the face of certain suffering.
2. 2 Cor 5:7, 4:18, Rom 8:24-25,
3. Illustration: “Where are we?” The took one more look around and answered, “Oh, about two hundred yards farther than last year.”