We now arrive at one of the most popular chapters in all of the Bible: Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 is commonly referred to as the chapter of faith because it lists well-known individuals from the Old Testament and proves that they lived by faith. Verse 2 tells us that through their faith “the men of old gained approval.” While it is common to think that this chapter is important because it lists a lot of people who had faith, it is actually important because it solidifies the necessity of faith in a Christian’s life.
Faith is not optional, it is required. Hebrews 11:6 makes it very clear that “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” In this section, we shall consider the first three verses of Hebrews 11 as an introduction to the necessity of faith in a Christian’s life. We shall discuss the definition of faith, the origin of faith, and the usage of faith.
What is Faith?
Let’s begin with a definition of faith. In verse 1, we are told: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is believing that God is truthful and even though you cannot see the end result of His promise you nonetheless believe it will come to pass. Romans 4:18-21 has a very good definition of faith in the life of Abraham. It is well worth quoting in full here:
In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “so shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. (Emphasis mine)
In Hebrews 11:6 we learn that faith is related to belief and conviction of the truth of something/someone. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Richard Phillips wrote: “Faith is believing God’s Word in order to lay hold of things that are promised and make them real in our lives. Faith is the mode, or the manner by which we possess heavenly things on earth.”
Where Do We Get Faith?
Christians have faith, but where does it come from? The testimony of Scripture is that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). When someone is born again, they hear the word of God and it is united by faith (Heb 4:2). While faith is something we have, it is not something we create. We receive faith from God. It is not something that we generate in and of ourselves. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The gift of God mentioned in Ephesians 2:8 is salvation which involves grace and faith. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is “the author and perfecter of faith.” Philippians 1:29 says “it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Acts 3:16 tells us that the faith that comes through Jesus has made the beggar well. Faith comes from God and results in seeing His truthfulness and trusting Him. Faith is not something we make, but receive. It is not our creation, but a gift.
How do I Use Faith?
The next question is: When we receive it, what do we do with it? The answer is: We use it! 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is granted to us in order to use it. Romans 14:23 says that “whatever is not from faith is sin.” Faith must guide all of your actions. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” If we want to please God–which we do–we should live, think, speak, and act in faith. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” We must live by faith. There is no other way to live that is pleasing to God.
How Do I Know if I Am Living by Faith?
What does it look like to live by faith? We shall explore this more as we go through the rest of this chapter and the rest of Hebrews. For now, consider the following questions:
- Do I trust God with my life? And the lives of those around me?
- Am I regularly asking God to grant me wisdom for the decisions I need to make?
- Am I regularly asking God for “divine appointments”? Divine appointments are situations and/or circumstances that you believe have been arranged by the Holy Spirit.
- Do I only do things that I know I can accomplish or do I attempt to do things that only God can accomplish? Do you operate on God’s power or your own?
- What is most of my money spent on? How much of it is used to bless others and grow the Kingdom of God?
- Do you live in fear and paranoia?
John Piper answers the question this way: 1) It involves a resolve for good, 2) It involves trusting God’s power to enable us to do it, and 3) It aims at the glory of the name of the Lord Jesus. Let us walk by faith. Trusting God and believing in His name.