Summary: A look at Hebrews definition of faith

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We’re looking at Hebrews 11. How can we be God’s incredibles? Those who received this letter were finding things tough and were tempted to give up. Hebrews 11 is meant to encourage them to go forward in faith. To keep on believing and make a difference for God. To realise as verse 2 says – that faith is the way to please God. If we want to get God’s approval, his commendation then the one thing we need is faith? Like the man that fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued: "Is anyone up there?" "I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?" "Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer." "That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch." A moment of pause, then: "Is anyone else up there?" Hebrews 11:1 defines faith…

1. Faith is being sure and certain of what we do not yet see or have -

“ But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? [25] But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:24). We do not yet see God but believe in him. We believe Jesus rose again – though it cannot be proved scientifically. We believe in Heaven – no one can go and check it out before booking a place! But we believe it exists and that we will go there one day. Faith means having convictions, being assured that something is true even if you cannot see it. The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see frees us from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. This does not mean we will not have doubts. Faith is not the absence of doubt; it is maintaining trust & belief in spite of doubts. It doesn’t mean that there is no evidence to support faith; it is not a leap in the dark. Say more about that next week.

2. Faith is our response to God’s revelation

But there is more to biblical faith than that. We must add this too or we’ll get into all kinds of trouble. (Romans 10:17) Faith is ultimately based in God’s revelation. As we go through Hebrews 11 you will see that real faith is based upon revelation. Noah heard God, Abraham heard God, Moses etc. The point is God has revealed himself - in nature, in the Bible but as I said last week most of all in His Son. God has spoken – there has been revelation. Christianity is a revealed faith. God has revealed himself. Faith is having convictions and certainties in response to God’s revelation, even when there are appearances to the contrary. E.g. Faith, great faith is often seen as the ability to cause the miraculous to happen – but Jesus said (Luke 17:5-6) this actually takes little faith. I didn’t understand this until now. With Elizabeth as we pray for her healing we believe God is able. That takes a measure of faith but not a great deal as it is what we want to happen. To be certain that God will heal requires God to reveal that he will. Then faith responds to that. What takes even more faith is to carry on trusting God even if he does not heal. Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego faith I call it. Standing before the fiery furnace faced with agonising death they said God can deliver us but even if he doesn’t we are not going to worship the image (Dan 3:16-18). That is what the writer to Hebrews is talking about – they were facing persecution. He was calling them to keep trusting despite their circumstances. That’s faith.

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