Summary: Faith is a common denominator. Every one alive daily expresses faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising faith....
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 18
“What Faith Is and What Faith Does”
Faith is a common denominator. Every one alive daily expresses 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 back-grounds 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 Hindu puts his faith in reincarnation and Nirvana. Some place their faith in them-selves, and their own good works. Yet, 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 in our study of the book of Hebrews we come to the greatest teaching in the Bible on the subject of faith found here in eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. Today I want us to see two things; “What faith is and what faith does.”
WHAT FAITH IS (11:1-3)
To understand what faith is we must get past certain misconceptions about faith.
The first misconception is that faith is the ability to manipulate God. Whether they realize it or not this is the approach of the proponents of the “health and wealth” prosperity gospel. This approach only sees faith as having one aim – one fruit – the ability to get from God what will make life easier and more satisfying for ourselves.
The second misconception about faith is that faith is merely adherence to the right set of beliefs. What you must do is believe the right doctrine. But Paul says in 2 Tim. 1:12, “ I know whom I have believed.” Paul said he knew whom he had believed, not what he had believed. If your beliefs are not founded on the right person it does not matter what else you believe.
The third misconception about faith is that faith is a blind leap into the dark. To many unbelievers faith is the anti-thesis of science. To these individuals 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.” But as we will see this is not biblical faith.
The last misconception about faith is 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 it is possible to be sincerely wrong. It is possible to believe firmly in something that just is not true.
So what does real faith look like? Fortunate for us, 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. Dr. J. Vernon McGee says, “Many folk… feel like the little girl who was asked to define faith. She said, “Well, faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” That is what faith means too many. They think it is a leap in the dark, an uncertainty, or some sort of a gamble. If that is what it means to you, then you do not have faith, because “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” which means that faith rests on a foundation.” [J. Vernon McGee. Thru The Bible Commentary. (electronic ed. - 1997). (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981) ]