Now Faith Is…

Posted by on Dec 2, 2007

By Mike Withem, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

December 2, 2007

Sunday Morning

“Now Faith Is…”


Scripture Text: Hebrews 11:1-3



A.   Have you ever heard someone say, about someone else, “He is a man of faith,” or “She is a woman of faith.”?

1. The truth is, we are all people of faith, because whether we realize it or not, we exercise faith every single day of our lives.

2. (Illus.- For example, every time we walk into a building, we exercise faith. We exercise faith in the architect who designed the building, the contractor who built the building, the quality and durability of the materials out of which the building was constructed, and we never give it a thought. If the building has an elevator, we exercise faith when we walk into that elevator.)

3. (Illus.- There are many other ways that we exercise faith every day of our lives. When we make a bank deposit, we exercise faith in our bank. When we mail a letter, we exercise faith in the USPS. When we read an article in the newspaper, we exercise faith in the reporter who wrote it.)

4. (Illus.- Another example is when we go to our doctor. You know what I am talking about. He examines us, makes a diagnosis, and writes us a prescription. Then we take a totally illegible prescription to the pharmacy, leave with a bottle of pills about which we know absolutely nothing about, then begin taking them according to our doctor’s orders without asking a single question. Talk about faith!)


B.   Now you don’t have to be a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ to be a person of faith.

1. The Muslim puts his faith in Mohammed.

2. The Hindu puts his faith in his idols.

3. The humanist puts his faith in himself.

4. The philosopher puts his faith in man’s ideas.

5. The materialist puts his faith in his money.

6. The religionist puts his faith in his good works.

7. Of course, none of these things can save from sin and hell, however everyone is a person of faith, everyone believes in (puts his faith in) something.


C.   For the next few weeks, as we continue our study of Hebrews, we are going to be focusing our attention on the subject of faith, the reason being, Hebrews 11 is all about faith.

1. In fact, Hebrews 11 has been called, by some, “the Faith Chapter of the Bible.”

2. It has also been called, “God’s Hall of Fame of Faith.”


D.   This morning, as look at the first three verses of Hebrews 11, the first thing we see is…


I.       Faith Explained.


A.   Notice how Vrs. 1 begins, it says, “Now faith is…” and then the writer of Hebrews gives us a very good explanation (definition) of faith.

1. What is faith?

2. Well, first of all, we are told that “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” (Vrs. 1)

3. The word “substance” here is translated from a Greek word, (hupostasis, hoop-os’-tas-is) that literally means “assurance or confidence.”

4. It’s a very strong word that implies something that is absolute (absolute assurance, or absolute confidence).

5. John MacArthur put it like this, “Faith is not a wistful longing that something may (might) come to pass in an uncertain tomorrow. True faith is an absolute certainty, often of the things that the world considers unreal and impossible.”

6. And so, faith is “the absolute certainty,” but absolute certainty of what?

7. Well, according to our text, it is the absolute certainty of “things hoped for.” (Vrs. 1)

8. The phrase “things hoped for” is translated from one Greek word (elpizo, el-pid’-zo) that literally means “that which is expected.”


B.   (Illus.- Let me illustrate. I expect to go to heaven when I die. I was talking with Michael at the Ranson Post Office last week, and we were talking about the tragic death of Redskins player, Sean Taylor. During the course of our conversation, Michael said to me, “When our time comes, it comes.” I said, “Your right, but when my time comes, I have a home in heaven waiting for me.” And so, I expect to go to heaven when I die. I not only expect that, but I am absolutely certain of it. How can I be so confident? It’s is a matter of faith.)


C.   Now let me stop here and make something very clear.

1. The faith that we exercise as believers in Christ is not a blind a faith.

2. In other words, it is not a faith totally without basis.

3. When I say that I am absolutely certain that when I die, I will go to heaven, my faith is not a blind faith, but rather it is based on the promises that God has given to us in His Word!

4. For example, the Word of God says in 2 Cor. 5:1, “For we know (not “we think” or “we hope”) that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”


D.   Let me give you another example.

1. I expect God to one day make a new heaven and a new earth.

2. Not only do I expect that, but I am absolutely certain that He will.

3. How can I be so certain?

4. It is a matter of faith, not a blind faith, but rather a faith in the promises that God given to us in His Word.

5. For example, the Word of God says in 2 Pet. 3:13, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

6. And so, the faith that we exercise as believers in Christ is not a blind faith, it is not faith totally without basis, but rather is a faith based upon the promises that God has given to us in His Word.


E.   What is faith?

1. First of all, it is “the substance of things hoped for” (the absolute certainty of that which is expected).

2. Vrs. 1 of our text goes on to tell us that faith is also “the evidence of things not seen.”

3. (Illus.- Every now and then I will come across someone who will tell me something similar to this, “I refuse to believe in anything that I cannot see with my eyes, or in some way detect with my physical senses!” This is why many people claim to be atheists. They say, “Because I cannot detect God with my physical senses, I do not believe He exists.”)

4. We, however, are absolutely convinced that God does exist.

5. How can we be so sure?

6. Not because we can see Him with our eyes.

7. Not because we can touch Him with our hands.

8. Not because we can hear Him with our ears.

9. It is simply a matter of faith, believing in that which we cannot see or in any way detect with our physical senses.


F.    By the way, there is physical evidence that God exists, if you are willing to accept it.

1. The creation itself is evidence that God exists.

2. Listen to Rom. 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

3. The problem is, many people don’t want to believe that God exists (because they would make them accountable to Him), so they have come up with their own explanation for how the creation came about (evolution).

4. My honest opinion, however, is that it takes a lot more faith (in this case, blind faith) to believe in evolution than it does to believe that God created everything.)


G.   And so, that’s faith explained.


H.   The second thing that we see in our text is…


II.      Faith Exemplified.


A.   While I have already given you several examples of faith, our text gives us yet another example.

1. Notice again Vrs. 3 of our text, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

2. From this verse, we can learn at least two things about this world (as well as the vast universe) in which we live.

3. First of all, we can learn that they were created.

4. Did you notice the word “framed”? (Vrs. 3)

5. It is translated from a Greek word that literally means “prepared.”

6. One translation uses the word “created.”

7. Another translation uses the word “fashioned.”

8. Another translation uses the words “came into being.”

9. The point is, this vast universe in which we live, including everything that is in it, did not evolve, but rather was created (came about as a result of an act of creation).


B.   The second thing this verse teaches us about “the worlds” is that they were created by an act of a Creator God.

1. Notice again what it says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” (Vrs. 3)

2. The Bible says in Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

3. The Bible also says in Psa. 33:6, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”

4. The Bible also says in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….The same was in the beginning with God….All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

5. This is very different from what is being taught to children in our public school system today.


C.   Now let me ask a question.

1. How can we be so sure that we are not the result of evolution? How can we be so sure that the universe was created by an act of a Creator God?

2. We were not there to witness the event!

3. We didn’t see the creation with our own eyes!

4. We didn’t hear, with our own eyes, God speak the words, “Let there be light.” (Gen. 1:3)

5. How can we be so sure that mankind, as well as this vast universe in which mankind exists, were created by an act of a Creator God?

6. The answer is, “Through faith.” (Vrs. 3)


D.   By the way, as I said a moment ago, it also takes faith to believe in the theory of evolution.

1. It’s true that no one living today witnessed the creation.

2. However, it is also true that no one living today has witnessed the process of evolution.

3. One would have to be “billions and billions” of years old in order to have witnessed the process of evolution.

4. And so, it also takes faith to believe in the theory of evolution (in my opinion, a lot more faith).


E.   And so, we see faith exemplified.


F.    Finally, this morning, we see…


III.    Faith Endowed.


A.   Or, we could say, faith rewarded.

1. Notice again Vrs. 2 of our text, “For by it (faith) the elders obtained a good report.”

2. Now who are “the elders”?

3. The writer of Hebrews here is talking about the Old Testament saints, and in particular the ones that are mentioned later on in this same chapter.

4. Now it says that by faith “the elders obtained a good report.” (Vrs. 2)

5. What does this mean?

6. First of all, it means that they obtained a good report in the sight of God (they obtained God’s approval).

7. Most people today think that they way to obtain God’s approval is to do good works.

8. They honestly believe that by doing good deeds, they can obtain God’s approval and earn them a place in heaven.

9. However, the Bible tells us something very different.

10.   The Bible tells us that the way to obtain God’s approval is by faith.

11.   For example, the Bible says in Rom. 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”

12.   The Bible also says in Gal. 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

13.   Finally, the Bible says in Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:…Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

14.   And so, the only way a man can obtain God’s approval is by faith (faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins).

15.   In fact, the Bible tells us in Heb. 11:6 (look at it with me), “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.”


B.   And so, when the writer of Hebrews tells us that by faith “the elders obtained a good report,” first of all, it means that they obtained God’s approval.

1. It also means that obtained man’s approval (a good name among their brethren).

2. Let me illustrate.

3. I am going to call out a name of a Bible character, and you tell me if your overall impression of this Bible character is positive or negative.

4. First of all, Abel. How about Enoch? How about Noah? How about Abraham? How about Sarah? How about Isaac? How about Jacob? How about Joseph? How about Moses? How about Joshua? How about Rahab? How about Gideon? How about David? How about Samuel?

5. If I am correct, all of these Bible characters have obtained a good report (a good reputation, a good name), but how did they do it?

6. Was it their superhuman deeds?

7. Was it their charismatic personalities?

8. Was it their humanitarian acts of compassion?

9. No, it was none of these things, but rather it was their faith in God. (Throughout Heb. 11 we read these words, “By faith….” “By faith Abel…” “By faith Enoch…”)


C.   And so, those who have faith are endowed (rewarded) with a good report (God’s approval, as well as man’s approval).

1. Now it is true that faith, when exercised, produces good works.

2. However, it is not our works that approve us, but rather our faith.



A.   What have we seen in our text, this morning?

1. First of all, we saw faith explained (“…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”)

2. Secondly, we saw faith exemplified (“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God”)

3. Finally, we saw faith endowed (“…by [faith] the elders obtained a good report”)


B.   May I ask you a personal question?

1. Have you “obtained a good report” with God?

2. Have you obtained His approval, His acceptance, His assurance of eternal life.

3. If not, you need to realize that there is only one way.

4. Your good works won’t do it.

5. Your religious observances won’t do it.

6. Your adherence to some moral code won’t do it.

7. Only one thing will do it, and that is your personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

8. Won’t you trust Him as your Savior, today???


C.   By the way, not only are we saved by faith, but the Bible says that “the just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17)