Hebrews is one of those incredible books in the Bible, some suggest Paul wrote the book, but that is not confirmed by all scholars.
We have no definitive idea who wrote Hebrews, but the content is worth diving into as the Old Testament scriptures are taught in light of Jesus’ redemptive work.
The Context of Hebrews 11
Hebrews encourages Christians, firstly, to endure, as it was likely written during the period of persecution, and secondly that Jesus is great. The writer warns them not to give up on faith but to hold to faith firmly.
In response to these reminders, Hebrews cautions us to encourage other believers to do the same, reminding them that they can strengthen their brothers and sisters in Christ also.
From Chapter 10 right through to chapter 12, we see this call to faith and endurance. Here we will zoom in on Hebrews 11, which is often called the hall of faith because it mentions all of these incredible Old Testament characters who have led lives full of faith.
I feel it is worth mentioning here that not one of these characters led perfect lives without trial or error, but their lives were ones of faith, following strongly after God and turning back to him quickly when they realized they had wandered. It seems as though their lives are sealed in Christ and bound to Him.
On a personal note, I cannot help but read each testimony or story and hope for a life like theirs. Our circumstances may differ from theirs, but I would love to be a person who believes in God and hears His words so clearly that I follow them to the letter. A person whose anchor is securely held onto and whose compass is directed fully by God.
The writer of Hebrews jumps into this chapter and gives us a beautiful definition of what faith is, describing it as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).
In other words, faith is placing our full hope in God, leaving all of our desires and hopes in Him, and believing for the impossible to be made possible in Christ.
The Bible is clear; faith is powerful. The Gospel of Mark confirms this mindset by telling us in chapter 9:23 that “all things are possible for the one that believes” (ESV).
And again, in Mark 11, “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Faith Makes Things Possible
The beauty of our faith is it is founded in a God who has proved himself faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24); His proven track record of faithfulness means we can trust Him with all things.
Hebrews 6:18 also adds to the reasons why we can trust fully in God, and it reads: “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”
That means that we know God to be firm and immovable. He cannot lie and will not go back on His own words.
It is much easier to have faith in someone, be it God or a fellow friend, when they can be proven as trustworthy, truthful, faithful, and honest! And God has well proved His faithfulness to us.
I do love these first two verses of Hebrews as quoted in the Message version of Scripture, paraphrased by E.H Peterson, and they read: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.”
Faith is the handle on what we cannot see. I love that Peterson calls faith a fundamental fact of existence.
When we see faith in this way as essential, we can no longer assume it to be a choice but a vital part of our Christian walk with Christ. Like oxygen is for our bodies, faith is for our souls. Peterson calls faith a firm foundation which makes life worth living. What a declaration!
Hebrews 11:3 tells us that “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” What we see here is that our faith is a hope in what cannot be seen.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians that “we walk by faith and not by sight.” Our individual journey with God is not to be one where we can see all that will come before us, but rather it is a hope in God believing for what we cannot see and trusting Him to take us on the right path with Him.
1 John 5 declares that believing in God is what gives us “the confidence to know that when we ask anything of Jesus in His will, He hears us.” Our hope rests securely in Christ, and He is the anchor upon which our lives are steadied.
1 Peter 1 tells us that “according tonhis great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope!” A living hope is a beautiful thing. God is not dead but alive and interceding for us, directing us, and helping us every single day, whatever comes our way.
Our faith in God is fed by hearing and listening to the knowledge of His Word. Romans tells us boldly that “consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
We can build upon our faith. Even by reading Hebrews 11, we can have our faith rise within us by seeing how God was faithful to these Old Testament characters because they trusted in Him and believing that God will do in us what He did in them.
Because He is not only faithful, but He “is the same,” as Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Yesterday, today and forever.” This is such an important truth to water our faith with, not water down, but water as a seed to let grow.
The Bible talks about a mustard seed of faith (Matthew 17:20). If this is all the faith you have right now, then read on in Hebrews 11 and know that when you do things in faith for God and make that choice, God will be present for you like He was for them. God is the same.
Who He was in the Old Testament is the same as who He is now. We can trust Him to be faithful toward us, to listen to us, and to reveal the truths of the scriptures to us as we deepen our belief in Him.
What Does This Mean?
Faith is the assurance of what we do not see because our faith is rooted and anchored in God. Faith is the vital and essential part of our Christian lives that helps us to believe in God, to believe He is listening to us and hearing us, but not only aware of our words, but actively acting upon those prayers.
Whether His answer is yes, no, or wait, we know in faith that God is working all things out for the good of those who love Him and have been called to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Friend, if you are wondering today if God can be trusted, if faith works, if faith is an assurance, let me tell you today that God is worth the risk.
He will never let you down, and if your faith is as or smaller than that wee mustard seed today, don’t worry; spending time with God germinates our seed as His love, grace, and mercy pours water on them.
God will help your faith to grow. If you would like to know more about this great love of Jesus, please get in touch with your local church. They would love to introduce you!
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Michelle Treacy is a Christian writer, a wife to Gerald, and a busy mother of three, Emily, Ava Rose, and Matthew. Finding time to write is not always easy. However, Michelle’s desire to write about Jesus, and passion to teach is what motivates her. Michelle writes on Instagram Michelle_Treacy_ and for CrimsonSeasCA. Also, on WordPress at Thoughts From My Bible. If you meet her in person, you will likely find her with two things in hand, a good Christian book, and a cup of tea!