Summary: Faith, the foundation of obedience to God, has a rich history of dynamic characters. Today’s challenge is to hold on to the object and content of Christian faith.
Heroes of Faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets.
Hebrews 11 is a sort of survey of Old Testament faith leaders. The names that receive the most attention are Abraham and Moses.
The central idea about faith in this chapter is that God’s people are all characterized by faith and the kind of lives that faith produces. By faith so and so did such and such.
Notice that the main point is not so much about the things that these people did as it is the motive for those things. It is the motive of faith in God that answers why they did what they did.
They were all commended for the motive of their actions. And the actions themselves are faith actions.
What exactly is faith? Verse one has two words in it that are loaded. Let’s look at just a few translations and I’ll show you what I mean.
KJV & NKJV says: 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
NIV: 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
RSV and NASB 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
NLT: 11:1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
Two words: one translated substance or assurance, and the other translated evidence or conviction. Now that is a wide range of meaning if you ask me.
Faith in this chapter is a motive of life. It is that quality of heart and mind that God favors, and that motivates God’s people in powerful, obedient ways. It makes our hope have substance and assurance, it makes the unseen reality of God’s presence and promises a conviction that is evidence in our hearts and acted upon in our lives. Faith! Faith is both an Old Covenant and a New Covenant requirement. While the stipulations of worship may have changed from the Old to the New, faith remains a foundational element in the lives of all of God’s people. Faith connects us with the past and projects us into the future.
Let me ask you a question that is both profound and all encompassing:
What do you do by faith?
Are you here today because of your faith? What will you do this afternoon that is motivated by your faith in Jesus Christ?
I like the church sign I saw down the road. It said, People may not believe what you say, but they will always believe what you do. James said, don’t tell me about your faith, show it to me. And faith without works is dead. Faith always works. The greatest influences for good in the church today are people who live and die by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me tell you something that I told Jay Bischell last night as we were coming home from visiting someone in the hospital.
When I was 16, my best friend, Johnny Foust, was my spiritual mentor. Johnny rode a church buss every Sunday and Wednesday night and worked as a teacher on that bus for little kids that they brought to church. It was the Macedonia Church of Christ, just outside of Florence, AL. Johnny was also a very good athlete. He was a starting player on the basketball team at Mars Hill Bible School, where I went to high school. When the schedule of games came out, Johnny noticed that there were three games scheduled on Wednesday nights. The coach had planned to have a devotional with the players before the games, but he was a tough coach and expected all the players to give it their all. Johnny had played the year before and they hadn’t had any Wednesday games. So Johnny went to the coach and told him that he worked on the bus at church and asked if he could be excused from those games. He even offered to step down from starting player. Johnny loved basketball. Mars Hill had a good reputation for good teams, we went to state every year that I was in high school. The coach told Johnny he would either be there or he was off the team. I remember how much this shocked him. He came to me with tears and told me he would have to quit the team. He said, “I tell those kids that God is more important than anything in their lives. How can I expect them to believe me if they see me put basket ball ahead of being there at church with them?”