Summary: From the Faith Chapter, a reminder that faith comes from hearing God’s word and obeying it.
What Faith Is
This is the great chapter on faith. It is the greatest example of faith in the whole Bible.
In the last few verses of the previous chapter, the writer outlines how the Hebrew Christians in Rome needed to persevere in their faith.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him."
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb10:35-39)
Chapter 11 Verse 1: “Now faith…” Why does the writer say ‘now,’ ‘now faith’? He wants to tell us something important, something significant.
Professor Breward who taught Christian Thought and History at the University of Otago in Dunedin New Zealand, used to begin all his lectures with the word: “Now…”
The writer says “Now” because he is about to embark on an important journey.
He is about to take us through the evidence of things we have not seen, the evidence of the faithful who have gone before.
Faith is described in Hebrews as something that we can have.
But how do you get it?
Faith comes to us by hearing God’s word. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” says Romans 10:17.
OK, so once we have it, how do we keep our faith in all the ups and downs, the various circumstances of life?
It is in the warning of the previous chapter that we learn what is taught in the writings of all the Apostles: “do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” (10:35)
According to the writer of Hebrews, Abraham and Sarah obeyed God and a whole faithful nation sprang up. (11:8-12)
What are we supposed to be doing with our faith today?
Does your faith make you obey or cause you to obey God?
Genuine faith is indeed tested by how obedient the person is.
For example, Joseph (mentioned in verse 22) was tested as to whether he would sleep with Potiphar’s wife…and by faith he refused.
The genuineness of his faith was tested and rewarded.
He became the Prime Minister of Egypt.
In communication, the essential elements are that there is a sender of the information and one who receives it.
Send and receive, send and receive.
However, if the receiver and sender are not connected together, the message will not get through.
Most people have wonderful examples of modern technology in their homes. Most have radios and TVs in their houses receiving all kinds of stations.
If we tune to a negative station we will miss all the good news messages that are being broadcast.
The message of the gospel is the good news and you can hear it if you tune into a Christian radio or TV station. If you don’t you miss it.
Most people: a) Have been set a bad Christian example, or
b) Want to live life their own way, and do not care about God or
c) Believe that God cannot be reached or,
d) Want to get to God by their own efforts.
God send the gospel message via His servants, Jesus Christ being the most prominent One.
How do we receive that message?
Well, according to the Bible, we need to have a ‘personal radio’ and to tune it to hear the gospel message. We need to switch on. We need to open up our hearts and minds and read the Bible.
Faith is able to hear and so to respond to God and to please God.
Heb 11:6 “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.”
Without faith...it is impossible...to please God, is a spur of encouragement rather than a snub.
It is the writer’s style, his way of speaking, to put his message in the negative and it is intended to challenge us to put our faith into action so as to please God.
If I said “You can please God any way you like according to your own ideas,” I would not be doing my job.
The writer says it is impossible to please God without faith so as to spur us on so as to please God in God’s way.
It is not a snub. If I were to snub you I would say something like: “You don’t please God. You are displeasing God. You never have pleased God and you never will because you can’t.”