As we have spent the last few weeks looking at the life of Elisha through the series “Ridiculous Faith,” I can’t help but think of other people throughout Scripture who exemplified a life of faith. When considering those who truly lived out their faith, there’s no better place to look than Hebrews 11.
Hebrews 11 is what some people refer to as the “Hall of Faith,” a place where God highlights the faithfulness of specific people throughout history. Among these names are Abel, Enoch, Abraham (multiple times), Jacob, Moses, Rahab, and more. It is amazing to note what God had to say about each of them, and the way they lived out their faith.
Not only does Hebrews 11 highlight specific people throughout Scripture who exemplified living by faith, but it also defines what faith is. Let’s look at a few of these verses:
11:1-3 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
11:14-16 – For people who speak thus (by faith) make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Now let’s break down these verses. Verse 1 truly defines what faith is. Faith is a trust, hope, or belief in something that cannot be seen. In fact, it goes so far to call it a “conviction.” Faith takes it a step farther though, and it doesn’t just trust and hope in something unseen, but it takes action. Faith requires action. We see this taught in James 2:26 where it says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James is not referring here to a works-based salvation but referring to the everyday living out of our faith.
We see this also exemplified in the life of those mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews. To Abraham, his “action steps” of faith is found in verse 8 – by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Abraham didn’t know where he was going, but he had a faith in what was not seen, and trust God, and took the action step to back up his faith. We see these action steps of faith taken by many more people highlighted in chapter 11.
After defining faith in verse 1, verse 6 takes it a step farther and shows us the importance of faith. We are reminded here that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him. This has many ramifications, but just one is that if we go through life living what we think is out best life we can live for Him, but never do any of it by faith, then He is not pleased. Think of the greatest charity work, community event, or giving you could do, and if it’s not done by faith then it is impossible to please Him. This begs the question, why do you do what you do, and HOW do you do what you do? Is it by faith in Him, or by faith in your own strengths and abilities?
Then let’s look at the third portion of scripture highlighted above (verses 14-16) which highlight what the mindset was of those mentioned in chapter 11. It refers to where their eyes were fixed. When they lived by faith, how could they do it? What was the thought process? Quite simply, they understood that this present earth was not their final destination. They knew someday they would be united with their Heavenly Father, and that whatever they did down here was in preparation for their future home. They had heavenly vision.
So many times, we live with an earthly vision. We get so stuck on what’s right in front of us, that we forget what our ultimate destination is. Paul puts it this way in Philippians 3:13a-14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.” As Christians, that is our goal, and Heaven is our prize. When we keep our current life in the context of our future home, it allows us to understand that God is in control every step of the way.
Take Hebrews 11 as a lesson for our own lives. Understand that faith isn’t just a simple belief in something we can’t see, but it is a conviction in which we need to take action. Faith, without action, is quite simply not faith. Not only that, but living without faith is living a life that does not please God, and in order to do this, we must have a heavenly vision, and not an earthly one. Let’s all start taking action steps, solidifying our faith in the eyes of others – not for others to look at us, but for others to see Christ through us.