Introduction to God Pleasing Faith, Lesson 1, Hebrews 11
John 20:29, Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
God willing I will begin today a series of lessons mainly centered on the 11th chapter of the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews.
It is of course commonly known as the faith chapter or the Heroes of Faith chapter for in it we find a listing of men and women of the Old Testament who pleased God by their faith and God chose to give them notice in the New Testament for our learning that they without us should not be made perfect.
Our God is a God of both complexity and simplicity.
He through his Son, Jesus Christ, has provided a way of escape from this wicked world in spite of His edict in the beginning when the first Adam sinned and was faced with ďIn the day that you eatest thereof you shall surely die.Ē
Adam ate of that forbidden tree and sin entered the world and as far as Adam was concerned doom was certain for what remedy could he bring to undo Godís edict for he was powerless.
But God took it upon himself to solve this dilemma and became a man who was sufficient to bear the doom of all men and when God brought this about only one thing was required and that was faith.
In our study passage of Hebrews God declares that He is a God who can be pleased but faith must be the main ingredient in what pleases Him.
In Hebrews 11:6 it is said: 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.
God boils down for all of us a simple formula for access to Him and that is a faith which believes that he is and rewards will come to them who diligently seek him.
We humans are not so simple for we are pleased with multitudes of things.
We are indeed pleased in the strength of the horse and in the strength of the legs of a man.
We are pleased with beauty, with intelligence, with character, with riches, with power, with family connections and today with iphones, and ipads and fast cars.
We are pleased with what our senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing, and seeing bring to us.
Our pleasure is complicated but Godís pleasure is simple.
All God asks of us is to believe Him.
This is not a complicated request for anyone can believe.
The blind can believe, the sick can believe, the young and old can believe, the smart, the less than smart, the beautiful, the less than beautiful, all can believe.
The thief on the cross was helpless for his hands could do no work, his legs could not walk for God, and his resume was filled with evil deeds and sinful acts.
He had nothing to offer Jesus who hung next to him on a rugged cross, but he believed and said to the bleeding Christ, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Only by faith could a thing like this be said for by the senses of sight and hearing in such a situation only a conclusion of doom could be uttered.
Did our Lord turn to him and ask why should I remember you, for you have lived a life of sin and debauchery and now you hang on a cross for your deeds, and receive a punishment that you rightly should bear.
Certainly for me to remember you would be unfair to those who live an honest life, and do not murder or steal.
No, these words were not uttered from our Lord for our Lord took pleasure in faith as small as a grain of mustard seed and said these astounding words to him: Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.
And today that thief, that great sinner thief who hung on a cross near our Lord, because of those simple words based upon belief, is indeed with Christ in heaven.
God does not compare ourselves among ourselves as we do for we are all the same in Godís eyes for we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
There is none righteous, no not one!
We all fit into the category of none righteous and therefore all fit into Godís simple formula that will make us righteous and that formula is centered on believing God.
Now our faith chapter in Hebrews begins by telling us what faith is for faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Right here in Hebrews 11:1 we are told that faith is that which the natural senses of the natural body are not capable of revealing.
If you choose to operate by your senses only, you will be unable to access faith and therefore you will be unable to access God.
On many occasions Jesus said these words: He that hath ears to hear let him hear.
Jesus spoke of ears that were capable of hearing beyond what the physical ear could hear for he spoke of ears of faith.
In Matthew 13 the disciples asked him why he spoke in parables?
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
The words of Jesus are given to those with seeing eyes and hearing ears that only come with the new born babe born of the Spirit of God.
Seeing eyes and hearing ears are given to those who believe by faith the word of God
So by reading Hebrews 11:1 from the Amplified Bible perhaps we can get a better understanding of what faith is.
Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
The word faith appears in the Old Testament only 2 times but in the New Testament it appears 245 times.
Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance (the foundation upon which hope is built) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The word faith as used in this verse derives from the Greek word pistis.
It means persuasion.
It means credence or certainty or moral conviction of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher.
Websterís 1828 dictionary says that faith is the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity without other evidence.
In theology faith is the assent of the mind to the truth of what God has revealed.
Paul expressed his faith when in 2 Tim 1:12 he said this:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Paul's hope was built upon a settled conviction or persuasion of things not yet actual but certain to become so.
For he knew in whom he believed and faith is built upon knowing in whom you believe.
Matthew Henry in his commentary states it this way:
It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ. This persuasion gives the soul to enjoy those things now; it gives them a subsistence or reality in the soul, by the first fruits and foretastes of them. Faith proves to the mind, the reality of things that cannot be seen by the bodily eye. It is a full approval of all God has revealed, as holy, just, and good.
So faith is being persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
I know without a doubt that what He said He will do He will indeed do!
As Matthew Henry said faith brings to the faithful a taste of what is to come.
Faith causes the faithful to think about things above for that is where faith will bring them.
Faith causes the faithful to enjoy in the present the things to come for the things to come are as real or more real than that which the senses reveal.
And faith reveals that what is to come is holy, just and good.
I have said as I get older and nearer to my lifespan I can almost taste the glories of heaven and the nearness of my savior, Jesus Christ.
More of my day is used in thinking about what is to come based upon the evidence of things not seen with the natural eye but so clearly seen with the eyes of faith that were given to me when I was born again into the family of God.
Maturity in the Lord brings a faith that is expressed in the refrain of the song ďTurn Your Eyes Upon JesusĒ for doing this is using the spiritual eyes that faith brings.
For Turning your eyes upon Jesus,
So faith brings true reality as it allows you to extend yourself past your natural senses and bring you to spiritual reality.
So by Paul using the word substance in Hebrews 11:1 he speaks of how faith substantiates, what we hope for, therefore giving us assurance that they are true.
Faith gives substance to what is promised for it provides evidence of what is believed about unseen and hoped for realities.
Faith makes the future as real or more so as the present and opens up to the spiritual eye to the unseen.
So many in this world refuse to leave their so called protection of the natural senses and cling to the principal that if something cannot be found with the senses it cannot exist.
This position will always keep that one from faith for faith proves or gives evidence for the things we cannot see, and gives us a conviction that these unseen things are true.