There are no shortages of sermons, songs, and sonnets about faith. In fact, if you were to ask people what the word faith means you might get a variety of answers that describe a trusting or belief in something. However, to fully understand faith, a good place to study is Hebrews 11, which has been called by many the Hall of Faith. Why is Hebrews 11 called the Hall of Faith? Let’s look at Hebrews 11 and the answer will become clear.
What is faith?
The Bible gives us the answer in Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Many times, when discussing faith with self-professed unbelievers I will take them to this verse. Unfortunately, most of the time when unbelievers hear this verse, they make some sort of comment about how this verse answers nothing as if it is some great mysterious riddle that has yet to be solved. However, when you really look at what this verse says, it becomes quite clear from a Biblical perspective what is faith.
The first part of Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” If faith is the substance of things hoped for, then we must ask, what does the Bible define as the substance of hope? The answer is quite clear. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is our hope (Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13; Hebrew 6:18-20). However, when also looking at hope from a Biblical perspective we find that hope is not some sort of wish someone makes upon a star, like we hope we get a promotion or we hope we win a contest. No, hope is an anchor for the soul that is sure and steadfast or unmovable that provides us entry into salvation through Jesus Christ by the Word of God (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 6:17-20). Therefore, in this context, faith is the substance through which God saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The second part of Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is, “…the evidence of things not seen.” At the moment we are saved, God gives us the Holy Spirit of Promise as a non-refundable guarantee of our salvation (Acts 1:4; Acts 2:33). The Holy Spirit seals us until the day of redemption, gives us the ability to understand Scripture, and enables us to walk in newness of life (1 Corinthians 2:9-16; Ephesians 1:9-14; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 1:3-5). When we have the confidence, or hope of our salvation, the ability to understand the Word of God, and the power to walk in newness of life, God makes positive visible changes in our life that change us to be more like Christ (Romans 8:26-39). This positive change is seen as faith, which is found as part of the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, in this context, faith is the evidence that the Holy Spirit is in us and enables us to do great things for the Lord (Galatians 5:22-26).
What is the Hall of Faith?
If you read on in Hebrews 11, you immediately find in verse two that faith enables us and others to do many great things for the Lord. These things, as listed in Hebrews 11 make up the Hall of Faith as follows:
1. By faith we are approved by God (Hebrews 11:2; Romans 4:1-13)
2. By faith we understand that the things clearly seen of creation were created by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3)
3. By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain (Hebrews 11:4)
4. By faith, Enoch did not see death, but was changed from mortal to immortal by God (Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 5:21-23)
5. By faith that God exists and rewards those whom diligently seek Him, we are able to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
6. By faith, Noah was convicted to build an ark to save his household from the flood (Hebrews 11:7)
7. By faith, Abraham left his people and went out to establish a new nation where God led him (Hebrews 11:8-10)
8. By faith, Sarah was able to conceive children in her old age, whose descendants were as numerous as the stars (Hebrews 11:11-12)
9. By faith, those who were alive before the coming of the Messiah were able to build the nation of Israel (Hebrews 11:13-16)
10. By faith, Abraham obeyed God by offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice, knowing that God would resurrect him (Hebrews 11:17-19)
11. By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau so that they would fulfill God’s calling (Hebrews 11:20)
12. By faith, Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph as Isaac had done to him and Esau (Hebrews 11:21)
13. By faith, Joseph knew of the exodus of Israel from Egypt and commanded that his bones be carried with the Israelites (Hebrews 11:22)
14. By faith, the parents of Moses hid him and trusted God to provide for him when they put him in a basket in the river (Hebrews 11:23)
15. By faith, Moses identified with the Hebrew people and later led them out of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-29)
16. By faith, the Israelites marched around Jericho for seven days and saw the Lord destroy the walls (Hebrews 11:30)
17. By faith, Rahab risked her life to accommodate the Hebrew spies seeking to overthrow the city (Hebrews 11:31)
18. By faith, many others conquered, endured, obtained promises, overcame dangerous animals, quenched fire, escaped death, gained strength, fought for God, endured torture, were stoned, cut in half, endured temptation, survived famine, and gained approval from God. (Hebrews 11:32-39)
We can learn from the Hall of Faith, how is that? Simply stated, the Hall of Faith teaches us that through faith, we can do anything and nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 17:20; Matthew 19:26; Philippians 4:13).
If you were to ask people what the word faith means you might get a variety of answers that describe a trusting or belief in something. However, to fully understand faith, a good place to study is Hebrews 11, which has been called by many the Hall of Faith. The Hall of Faith demonstrates that faith enables us and others to do many great things for the Lord. It teaches us that through faith, we can do anything and nothing is impossible with God.
More to study here: Hebrews 11: Bible Study on Faith
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version