By Rev. Ron Purkey
Read: Hebrews 11:1-40
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
True biblical faith is not an emotional kind of wishful thinking; it is an inner conviction based on the word of God. In Hebrews 11:1 the word substance means “assurance” and evidence means “proof.” So, when the Holy Spirit gives us faith through the word, the very presence of that faith in our hearts is all the assurance and evidence we need.
J. Oswald Sanders said, “Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen.” Through faith, we can see what others cannot see. When there is true faith in the heart, God bears witness to that heart by his spirit. By faith, Noah saw coming judgment, Abraham saw a future city, Joseph saw the exodus from Egypt, and Moses saw God.
Some people are named (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and Rahab), others are not. All these men and women, nevertheless, are among the giants of the faith. The writer sees the entire Old Testament history as a record of victories of faith. Some victories were public and miraculous, such as deliverance from death; others were private and rather ordinary, such as “out of weakness were made strong…” and “wrought righteousness.” Some were delivered by faith; others did not escape, but were, by faith, given grace to bear suffering. The unbelieving world looked upon these believers as phonies. But God, says of them, “Of whom the world was not worthy;” each of them received from God that witness of faith (Hebrews 11:38-39).
Though faith enabled these people to receive promises, they did not receive the promise (Hebrews 11:39); but now, in Christ, that promise has been fulfilled. Notice Hebrews 11:13 as well as 1 Peter 1:11-12. Hebrews 11:40 indicates God’s plan for these Old Testament saints also includes New Testament Christians who today share in that new covenant through Christ. That “better thing” has been described in Hebrews — the better priest, sacrifice, sanctuary and covenant. In a very real sense, Christians today are heirs of the promise (Hebrews 6:17-18) through faith in Christ, since all of our spiritual blessings are the results of the promises God made to Abraham and David (Romans 11:13-29).
The lessons of Hebrews 11 are many, but perhaps it would be helpful to mention just a few. (1) God works through faith and faith alone. Exercising faith is the only way to please God and receive his blessing. (2) Faith is a gift from God through the word (the Bible) and the Holy Spirit. It is not something we “work up” ourselves. (3) Faith is always tested; at times it seems trusting God is foolish, but faith always conquers in the end.
Read Ron Purkey’s Bible study outlines at www.rtcol.com/purkey free on the website. Purkey has been an ordained Baptist minister for 50 years.