Setting

We learned in the last study the necessity of persisting in our faith and the consequences for failing to do so. The passage ended with the contrast between those who draw back to perdition and those who live by faith to salvation. The subject of faith now leads us to the key chapter in the Bible on faith. Through teachings and historical examples, the author shows us why and how faith is central to the lives of believers.

Key Verse

(11:6)

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Outline

  • Description of Faith
    (11:1-3)
  • Faith of Abel (11:4)
    (11:4)
  • Faith of Enoch
    (11:5)
  • Necessity of Faith
    (11:6)
  • Faith of Noah
    (11:7)
  • Faith of Abraham and Sarah
    (11:8-12)
  • Promise of Land
    (11:8-10)
  • Promise of Descendants
    (11:11-12)
  • A Better Country
    (11:13-16)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Write down the action verbs in this passage that resulted from faith.

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    Understand (3); offered (4); was taken away (5); pleased God (5); believe (6); prepared (7); obeyed (8); went out (8); dwelt (9); waited (10); received strength (11); judged Him faithful (11); assured (13); embraced (13); confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims (13); desired a better heavenly country (16).

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Segment Analysis

  • 11:1-3

    1a.

    What kind of situations call for faith?

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    Faith is necessary for things hoped for (i.e. things of the future) and things not seen (1).

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  • 1b.

    Many, if not all, of the examples of faith cited in the passage have to do with “things not seen.” Go through the passage and record these.

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    The creation of the world (3). The impending flood (7). Promise of land (8-10). Promise of descendants (11-12).

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  • 2.

    What can we gain by faith, according to these verses? a. Verse 1 b. Verse 2 c. Verse 3

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    a. Faith is the “substance” (or “assurance”) and the “evidence” (or “conviction”). In other words, through faith, we have certainty about things of the future and about things we do not see.
    b. Through faith we can obtain a good testimony. In other words, if we have faith, God and men will testify about us and give us their commendation and approval.
    c. Faith gives us understanding. Faith is not wishful thinking; it is knowledge. Through faith, we can know about the future and about things not seen.

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  • 3.

    How is verse 3 an application and example of faith?

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    Believing that God created the worlds out of nothing is a sign of faith. While people who do not have faith in God may devise many theories about the origin of the universe and find it difficult to understand how the universe could come from nothing, through faith in God’s word, we know that the universe came from God’s word.

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  • 11:4

    4.

    Why was Abel’s sacrifice more excellent than Cain’s?

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    What made Abel’s sacrifice more excellent was not so much what he offered, but his faith in God. By faith, Abel lived a life that conformed to God’s command (cf. Gen 4:7).

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  • 5.

    What did Abel receive through his sacrifice? Relate this to verse 2.

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    Abel obtained God’s witness that he was righteous. God spoke well of his offering. As stated in verse 2, by faith he received God’s testimony.

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  • 11:5-6

    6.

    Enoch pleased God by faith. What did Enoch do that reflected faith in God (Gen 5:21-24)?

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    Enoch walked with God by faith. He walked in the commands of God and lived out the image of God.

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  • 7.

    What does faith entail (6)?

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    1. Belief in God’s existence.
    2. Believing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

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  • 8.

    Why is faith so important in our relationship with God?

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    We cannot see God because He is spirit. Without faith, it is not possible to accept God’s existence or His promises. Faith is what bridges our limited senses to the invisible God.
    Faith is actually an expression that we trust God and His word. Just as loving relationships are built on trust, so is our relationship with God. Through faith, we confirm God’s truthfulness and faithfulness (cf. 11). Anyone who does not have faith in God is making God a liar because he does not trust God’s word.

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  • 9.

    Based on these two verses (5-6), how should you live to show faith in God?

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    If we believe God, we will walk with God. We will follow His footsteps and be like Him in all we do. If we believe God, we will diligently seek Him by learning His word and being filled with His Spirit, knowing that God will reward us accordingly.

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  • 11:7

    10.

    Does your life demonstrate the same godly fear as Noah’s did?

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    Noah’s godly fear was seen in the preparation of the ark in response to the divine warning. Likewise, our fear of God is seen in how we live our lives in preparation for the Lord’s return and the coming judgment (cf. 1Pet 1:13-17).

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  • 11.

    What is “the righteousness which is according to faith” (7; cf. 10:38; 11:4)?

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    “Righteousness” literally means “that which is right.” Through faith, a person is reckoned by God as right and receives a favorable standing before God. In other words, God is pleased with him and justifies him. This righteousness is credited on account of faith, not on the inherent attributes of the believer or specific actions that he takes (cf. Rom 4:2-5).

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  • 11:8-12

    12.

    What was remarkable about Abraham’s decision to leave his homeland (8)?

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    Abraham set out even without knowing where he was going. His action was based on faith in God’s promise, not on sight.

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  • 13a.

    What kind of lifestyle did Abraham lead in the promised land?

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    Abraham dwelled in tents, as in a foreign country. Although God had promised that he would inherit the land, he lived as a wanderer in the land, moving from place to place.

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  • 13b.

    Why did he choose such a lifestyle?

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    “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (10).

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  • 14.

    On what basis can you be unwavering, as Abraham was, in the face of the impossible?

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    Our source of strength is God’s faithfulness. Whatever God says will come true, even though it may seem impossible or its fulfillment may seem to have been delayed. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (13:8). We can always depend on Him because His justice and love will never change.

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  • 11:13-16

    15a.

    What promises were the faithful looking forward to?

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    The better, heavenly country, the city prepared by God (16).

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  • 15b.

    How did they show it?

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    They were assured of the promises, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (13).

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  • 16.

    In your life, how can you live as strangers and pilgrims?

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    If we believe that our inheritance is in heaven, we will not set our minds on accumulating wealth or indulging in the pleasures of this world. Our priority will not be on the temporary, visible, material possessions, and we will live simple lives, as living in tents, in order to give our energy and time to God.

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  • 17.

    What does it mean that God was not ashamed to be called their God? Do you make God feel unashamed of you?

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    God was honored to be called their God. Thus He called Himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The faith of the patriarchs was a living testimony of God’s faithfulness, and such testimony greatly pleased God.

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  • 18.

    What makes true faith different from “blind faith”? Suppose someone is convinced that he will be instantly rich through some windfall, is such belief “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”? On what basis is faith built?

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    Faith is not having self-confidence or wild dreams. Faith must be based on God’s word. We believe that the world was formed out of nothing because God’s word says so. Noah believed that a flood would destroy the world because God told him so. Abraham believed that he would have many descendants and that he would inherit the land because God specifically promised these to him.
    We must be careful not to turn wishful thinking into the basis of our trust. Our confidence should come from God’s promises, not our own desires. Some “believe” that they will get jobs with high income, some “believe” that they will marry someone physically attractive, and others “believe” that they will get into prestigious schools. While all these convictions may seem to be based on trust in God’s power, they are built on things that God has not promised. Conviction based on anything other than God’s word would be “blind faith,” not true faith.

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