Bible Studies for Life
Chris Allen, pastor
First Baptist Church, Cairo
Faith is another one of those words we hear often in the context of religious and Christian settings. We often speak about our faith in Christ, but we put our faith in many things. Even as I am typing this, my faith is fully in the chair in which I am sitting. But there have been other times that I have trusted in something or put my faith in someone, and I have been let down. All of us can relate to that on some level.
At the end of chapter 10, the writer of Hebrews encourages his readers to endure in faith, hope, and love. In chapter 11, the writer deals in detail with faith. He tells us that we can confidently place our faith in God because He can always be relied upon, and he gives us past examples of people who have put their faith in God as an encouragement to us.
He reminds his readers of the faithful perseverance of the Old Testament saints. These heroes endured and they did receive what God promised them. These men and women are examples for us today and there are many “faith” lessons for believers to learn and apply through their stories. The faith of these men and women were not in themselves. Their faith was in the faithful God. We too can confidently trust in what God says and does.
Faith leads us to believe and rely on God
At the very core, faith is being sure and certain. Hebrews 11:1 is the closest thing to a definition of faith we have in the New Testament. It is not a definition of faith as it relates to faith in God because God or Jesus’ sacrifice is not mentioned but it is a description of the characteristics of faith in something or someone.
Our eyes provide clarity for the physical world around us and faith provides clarity for the invisible world around us. Faith gives us assurance and hope of the things not seen. God uses our faith in Him and His works to work in and through us. None of this can happen without faith.
We learn from the heroes of the Old Testament that faith is the requirement for attaining good and right standing with God. God gave His approval to these saints because their faith in Him was evidenced. The writer takes his readers all the way back to the beginning of creation and says believing that God created the world involves a step of faith. What we believe about Genesis 1:1 declares our faith in God or lack thereof. Faith in God and His Word begins with creation.
Faith responds with worship of God
Faith was a foundational component in Judaism in both the Old Testament and after Christ’s death. Faith had to do with a posture of obedience. There was no genuine faith unless that faith led to obedience.
In verse 4, the writer tells us that Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain. In the original account in Genesis 4, the reader is not told why God found Abel’s sacrifice better than Cain’s. In fact, there is no explanation in the Old Testament as to why Abel’s offering was more acceptable. However, Hebrews does give us insight. The writer states that Abel showed faith with his offering. Through his sacrifice, Abel showed that he had an obedient attitude and mind and was willing to offer an unrestrained response to God through his offering. Abel’s faith led to a complete and generous worship of and to God. Perhaps Cain held something back from God. Worship is not simply going through the motions; worship is obedience in faith.
Faith responds with obedience that pleases God
The writer then focuses on Enoch. We can learn at least two things about Enoch here. His faith in God led to his escaping the act of dying. He bypassed death and went to be with the Lord. He simply was no more because he was taken up by God. (That is something really cool to think about!)
Secondly, before his translation to heaven, Enoch lived a life pleasing to God. He lived a life of faith in God. We are told that God is pleased when we live a life of faith and obedience. His faith in a God he could not see influenced his life and God was pleased by the way he lived his life.
Questions to consider
- When has your faith in someone or something let you down?
- What do you find yourself holding onto when it comes to worshiping God?
- What actions have you taken, outside of faith and obedience, to try to please God?
- When has your faith in God been tested?
Chris Allen serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Cairo.