September 10, 2023
1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NASB)
Faith is NOT abstract or academic, NOR IS IT some ethereal or a mystical force.
Faith is the most practical thing in your life. If you learn it and practice it, you will live an extraordinary life.
If you don’t learn it; and if you don’t learn how to exercise it; and if you don’t grow in it – then life is going to beat you up pretty bad.
I. What Is It? What is Faith?
A. It’s a DECISION
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
Hebrews 11:3 (NASB1995)
It’s not a wild leap into nothingness, hoping that something will happen.
Faith is thought out.
“… by faith we understand the worlds were prepared by the word of God.” Verse 3
The ancients, just like contemporary science and philosophy, asks “Why is there something rather than nothing?”
Their conclusion was:
It was illogical for something to be formed from not just nothing, but from nothingness.
A vast universe that we still can comprehend its size, and energy, and incredibly accuracy, and beauty – was created by nothing.
There’s nothing in all of science that verifies that absolute nothingness creates anything.
So they said:
The best logical explanation is that a being outside of time and space, with great creative power and intelligence and creativity, formed everything visible and invisible: every star, quasar, black hole, and the invisible physics and math that they are created by.
It is still the best explanation of the creation of the universe, and the creation of you as well.
Nothingness could never create something.
The point is faith starts with thinking something through, and then, putting your trust in it.
It’s how you live your life every single day. It’s how you learn and decide every day – I will learn, then trust. “By faith, we understand …”
You choose a surgeon, a car mechanic, a supermarket the same way.
You think it through, you choose which one you think is best – even though you cannot see the outcome.
And then you put your trust in them.
You say “Let the anesthesia flow;”
You drop off your keys at the garage and say “here are my keys. Tear into that engine;”
You say to the butcher “Cut me off some of that salmon, even though it smells like dead fish.”
You put your trust in them without seeing the outcome, with an assurance that that what you hoped for will be the outcome.
B. It’s a CONFIDENCE
“… faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, …”
Hebrews 11:1 (NASB1995)
“Faith” in this verse gets translated as “confidence” because the Greek word’s root is “foundation.” It’s solid. It’s sure. And so I’m confident about the things I am hoping for because of Who has promised.
Faith is confidence grounded in reality, not a wild, desperate “leap.” It is as Hebrews 11:1 says, substance and evidence or proof.
Faith sees the reality of the unseen or invisible, and it includes a readiness to act as if the good anticipated in hope were already in hand because of the reality of God” (Dallas Willard)
Don’t let your flesh confuse you here. Your assurance should be in what God has promised through His Word. NOT what you wish for, hope for, dream for yourself.
There are a lot of people who have put their faith in their own dreams that they made up, and they say they have faith because they believe: their faith in their own hopes of their own celebrity status, or getting rich, or finding a perfect man or woman, or all kinds of other things.
Here’s how your faith grows confident. Find it only in the promises God has given in His Word.
C. It’s a CONVICTION
“… the conviction of things not seen…”
Hebrews 11:1 (NASB1995)
“… the conviction of the pragmaton.” meaning past events.
It means that I am convicted to live in light of past events, stuff that’s no longer in front of me, but they affect me.
I have moved on from just saying, “I believe there’s a God” to saying “Because I believe, it has convicted my life. The fact that I believe in God, it changes the way I am. It changes the way I live my life.”
The Ultimate Definition of Faith: Believing God.
That’s a lot more profound than you think it is, because I’m not saying that it means believing IN God. A mental acknowledgment that God exists will do not much for you.
James writes in the New Testament that the demons of hell believe in God, and they even tremble at the reality of Him. What does that do for their lives?
Do you know how radical the statement is “I BELIEVE GOD.”?
I am convicted that He is who He says He is: the Creator of the Universe, the creator of my soul, the Lord and leader of my life.
I am convicted that what He says is the truth over every other voice in my life: all the culture voices, all the political voices, and even the voice of my own flesh and desires saying “Go this way.”
I am convicted that the gospel is true and the most important thing in the world.
God came in flesh, through Jesus.
He lived and taught to show me the life I could have.
He died on the cross, to pay the penalty for my sin and gave me access to and approval from God.
He arose from the grave to show me His victory over the evil one and death itself.
He did all this in order to give me eternal life, and a new power for life, and a new purpose for life, and a new way of life.
I am convicted that all His promises are true.
When He says “I am an overwhelming overcomer because of Christ in me,” I believe that. And therefore I live like it’s true.
When He says “I will never leave you or forsake you,” I believe it. And when I fail, when I make a mess, I’m NOT afraid that He has abandoned me. In fact it makes me RUN to Him, and ask Him for His grace and mercy and forgiveness and restoration. And I know He gives it.
When He says “I will be with you through the storm, through the flood, through the fire. You will not be overwhelmed. You will not be burned.” I believe it. I believe that I have His power and His presence through any hardship I walk through.
He says that He is a good Father who gives good gifts to His children. I believe it and I know I can ask for Him to meet every need in my life.
And I believe all 8000 other promises He makes in His Word.
II. Why Do I Need It?
35 “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.
36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”
Hebrews 10:35–39 (NASB1995)
“Why do I need faith?”
“Why should you even want to grow in it?”
Here’s why – verse 36:
“… you have need of endurance,…” You need the power to “not shrink back.”
This is the whole reason for all 13 chapters of this letter.
In their generational moment, these followers of Jesus were being savagely persecuted by both Rome and Jewish Religious establishment. They were being ostracized, excluded from community, lost their jobs, ran out of their homes, beaten, whipped, and even tortured and killed for their faith. They were going through extreme suffering. And they were wavering – thinking following Christ is too hard – saying “I think I’ll just go back to living like I used to live.”
Hebrews 11 is boldly calling them out to put their confidence the hope they possess. Stirring their conviction of its power and reality. Letting it give them the strength they needed to make it through all of the pressure, storms, and suffering that this life can throw at them – and you.
To put their faith in the things that they couldn’t see with their eyes, but were more real than anything else in their lives:
* Hebrews 7:25 says that “Jesus always lives to make intercession for us.”
You can’t see with your eyes that Jesus is in Heaven, making High Priestly intercession for you before the face of the Father.
Put your trust in it because His promises are reliable.
* Hebrews 3:14-15 says that we have access to enter the holy of holies, the throne room of God, a place of grace and mercy for our time of need because of what Christ has done on the cross in our behalf. We can’t see God’s presence and His availability to us in prayer, but we absolutely believe it and we rely upon it daily.
* Hebrews says over and over that because of the sacrifice of Jesus for us, He has once and for all forgiven us of all sin.
We can’t see:
that our sins have been removed from us “as far as the east is from the west.”
that our sins have been thrown overboard to the bottom of the sea.
that He has fully wiped out guilt, expunged our record of offenses forever.
But we believe it because Christ has said it’s true, and the Holy Spirit gives us a spirit that cries out for intimacy with God our Father, as our Abba.
We don’t beat ourselves to death for the wrongs and mistakes that we have made because we believe in the grace poured out on our lives.
And it makes us want to love him, follow him, and obey him with all my life.
Here’s why and how we are going to get through:
How are you going to get through it when your spouse dies unexpectedly?
How are going to react when you fired in an economic downturn and you start losing everything, and nobody’s hiring you because you’re too old, or you’re not qualified enough, or whatever?
How are you going to make it through one of you’re children’s serious illnesses, where a doctor tells you “I don’t think we can do anything”?
How are you going to handle just how hard life is? How many times it just pounds you, over and over?
It can only be through a decision that He is your best answer for everything. Your best confidence is in the promises He makes for your life. A conviction that they change the way you live.
III. Is This How You Want To Live?
What is the goal of living by faith?
Answer: Mature. Enduring. Overcoming. This is how you grow as a soul.
Abraham - who was a mess - but believed the promise and obeyed God’s command to walk out into the desert and God made him the father of an entire nation.
Moses - who was a total failure - believed the promise, rejected the riches and spoils of Egypt, chose to obey the call of God, and became the liberator of an entire slave race.
Joshua - believed the promise and became a courageous leader of God’s people.
Gideon - who was a scared and weak little man - believed the promise and became a weapon in God’s hand to drive out an enemy that was starving them to death.
The secret of success in every one of their faith stories was their willingness to believe His promise and then to simply obey what God told them to do.