Introduction: What exactly is faith? How do we know we have it? If
we have it, do we have enough? What good thing happens if we have
faith? The most famous chapter of the Bible dealing with faith is
Hebrews 11. That is our study this week – so let’s dive in!

  1. Faith Defined

    1. Read Hebrews 11:1-3. What does verse 1 tell us is faith?

      1. When verse 1 says “sure of what we hope for and
        certain of what we do not see,” is it just repeating
        the same idea? (I think we have two different ideas.
        Faith looks both backwards (“certain of what we do
        not see”) and forward (“sure of what we hope for”).
        The reference to God being the Creator is “backward-looking” faith.)

      2. Is there something wrong with your faith if you
        believe in Evolution? (Verse 3 suggests there is a
        problem. Faith in our Creator accepts that something
        was made out of matter that was not visible.
        Evolution, on the other hand, involves a slow change
        in things that are seen.)

      3. Why do you think the “faith chapter” starts first
        with a discussion about Creation? (Belief in the
        Creation (and for that matter, the Sabbath memorial
        to Creation) are fundamental to the issue of who God
        is and what He means to us. These are bedrock faith
        issues as we will discover next.)

  2. Saving Faith

    1. Read Hebrews 11:6. Can we be saved without faith in God?

    2. Lawyers like to speak of the “elements” of proof in
      litigation. That is, what do you have to prove to make
      out your case in court? What are the elements of proof of
      a “saving faith?” (This text lays out two elements: first,
      we must believe God exists; and, second, we must believe
      that He rewards those who come to Him.)

      1. How is Creation tied to belief in God’s existence?
        (Evolution allows for a godless creation. The writer
        of Hebrews says (v.3) that faith in God is based on
        our belief that He exists. Faith in the fact that God
        created us and our surroundings is an acknowledgment
        that He exists. Whenever I am tempted to doubt God’s
        existence, I always go back to the fundamentals – do
        I believe that everything around me was created? Or
        do I believe that this complex universe (and complex
        me) came about by chance?)

      2. The second element of belief is that God rewards
        those who come to Him. Why do we have to believe that
        God “rewards” those who come to Him? Why isn’t just
        believing in Him good enough?

      3. What does it mean to believe that God “rewards” those
        who come to Him? Does it mean we will get rich? We
        will marry well? We will be famous? We will have good
        health? Our children will obey? (This idea is very
        interesting and important. It teaches us that faith
        is not simply believing in God, but our belief must
        have an impact on how we live. The Hebrew word
        translated “rewards” literally means “to give back
        wages.” “Payback” is another way to say this. True
        faith believes that God exists and what we do
        matters. God impacts on every aspect of our life.)

  3. Faith Payback Illustrations: Abel and Enoch

    1. Read Hebrews 11:4-5. What was Enoch’s reward for his
      faith? (He was taken to heaven without first dying.)

      1. Would you like that reward?

      2. What was Abel’s reward for his faith? (He got
        murdered by his brother.)

      3. We were doing just fine on our reward (payback)
        theory until we got to Abel. How do you explain that
        Abel was “rewarded” for his faith?

      4. Look at Hebrews 11:4. What does the Bible say is
        Abel’s reward? (That God commended him as a righteous
        man and spoke well of his offering.)

    2. Let’s skip ahead a number of verses to Hebrews 11:32-35a.
      Are these stories more like Enoch or more like Abel?
      (These are all like Enoch, they are success stories here.
      They “won” here on earth based on their faith.)

    3. Read Hebrews 11:35b-39. Are these stories more like Enoch
      or more like Abel? (They are like Abel. They suffered here
      on earth.)

    4. Read Hebrews 11:13. When do we receive God’s reward for
      our faith?

    5. What do the stories of Enoch and Abel and the
      illustrations in Hebrews 11:32-39 teach us about God’s
      rewards? (Some of God’s rewards to us for faith are now,
      but other rewards are later.)

      1. Does it matter to you when God rewards you? Should it

  4. Illustrations of Faith: Abraham.

    1. Read Hebrews 11:8-10. Do you think that Abraham would have
      preferred to live in a city, rather than in a tent? (Verse
      10 says he was looking forward to city life!)

      1. This week I was in Palm Springs, California and the
        wind in the desert was blowing very hard. It made me
        think of Abraham in his tent. What are some
        advantages to living in a house in a city over living
        in a tent? (Verse 10 mentions that houses have
        foundations. In a high wind, that becomes important!)

      2. The city mentioned in verse 10 to which Abraham was
        looking is no ordinary city. Which one is it? (If the
        builder and architect is God, this is God’s city in
        Heaven, the New Jerusalem.)

    2. Read Hebrews 11:11-12. Are you familiar with this story?
      If you are not familiar with this story you can read it in
      Genesis 15-17. If you already know the story, just read
      Genesis 17:1-5,15-18.

      1. What kind of faith does Abraham have? (He laughed
        when God told him he would have a son with Sarah.
        Worse, he asked God to accept the son that he had
        worked out with Hagar — when it seemed God was not
        coming through on his promise.)

      2. Go back to Hebrews 11:1 where faith is defined as
        being “sure” of what we hope for and “certain” of
        what we do not see. How does laughing when God
        promises you something qualify as being “sure” and
        “certain?” (First, a disclaimer. I read five
        commentaries on this and they all concluded that
        Abraham laughed with pleasure and not because of
        doubt. However, I have some serious doubt about the
        conclusion of these commentaries. First, the word for
        “laugh” is the same as that used in Genesis 18:12 to
        describe Sarah’s reaction to this promise. Genesis
        18:13-15 makes clear that she laughed because of
        doubt. Second, Abraham’s further reaction in Genesis
        17:18 and God’s response in v. 19 (in which he
        reiterates the promise) is evidence that Abraham was
        uncertain of God’s promise. Abraham’s entire history
        of this promise of a son reflects weakness in his

    3. Read Hebrews 11:17-19. If you are not familiar with this
      story read Genesis 22:1-19. If you were Abraham, would you
      have sacrificed your son Isaac?

      1. How was Abraham able to reconcile that Isaac was the
        answer to God’s promise that he would have many
        descendants with God’s command to sacrifice the young
        man? ( Hebrews 11:19 is the answer. Abraham decided
        that God could (would) raise Isaac back to life after
        he had been killed.)

        1. What is Abraham’s level of faith at this point?
          How “sure” is he of what he hoped for and
          “certain” of what he did not see? (This is the
          ultimate proof of faith! Faith doesn’t get any
          better than this.)

    4. I wanted us to review the “before” and “after” stories of
      Abraham’s faith for a reason. What lesson is there in
      Abraham going from laughing to being willing to sacrifice
      his son of the promise?(If your faith is weak, this
      reassures us that walking with God can make it stronger.
      Living in faith is a progressive experience.)

    5. As you consider Abraham’s life, was he more like Abel or
      more like Enoch? (I think Abraham is like most of us. He
      did receive some rewards for his faith now. However, he
      did not see the fulfillment of God’s promise described in
      Hebrews 11:12 and he did not get to live in that city

    6. Read Hebrews 11:40. Friend, do you want to be part of that
      “something better” that God has in store for us? If you
      do, I invite you to step forward in faith. To believe that
      God exists and to earnestly seek Him who rewards those who
      come to Him.

  5. Next Week: Women in Scripture