Excerpts from Everyman’s Bible Commentary on the Characteristics of faith, 11:1-3. The guiding principle of the Christian life is faith. This is not simply a psychological factor, however. To some people faith means believing that you can do a job better than you have done it in the past or believing that a loved one will rise from his bed of sickness. There may be real value in such “positive thinking,” but this is not the meaning of faith. True Biblical faith has God as its object. We believe God and trust His Word. That Word does not tell us that we have any reason to expect to be the richest merchant on Main Street. It tells us, on the contrary, that we will have tribulations and that as Jesus’ disciples we will have crosses to bear. It assures us, however, of grace to bear them. Faith has a backward look. It declares that God has done mighty acts in days gone by. Faith also has a forward look. It declares that He can be trusted for the future.


Although Scripture does not define faith, several things are stated about it. “Faith,” we read (11:1), “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The word translated “substance” was used in the sense of “title deed” in apostolic times. Faith is the firm assurance, the conviction, that God will do what He has promised to do. It would, of course, be presumption to insist that He must do what we want done. Many Christians grow disillusioned in their Christian lives because God does not conform to their wills. Faith takes God at His word; faith does not insist that He conform to our ideas.


Many of the Hebrews were growing restless because they did not see God solving their immediate problems. It is a temptation to a Christian to reason, “God doesn’t love me,” when the answer to his prayers is delayed. “Faith,” however, “is the evidence [literally, “proof”] of things not seen.” It is the conviction that God knows what He is doing, even when we don’t!


If it seems irrational to exercise such faith, history provides ample justification for it: “by it the elders obtained a good report” (11:2). We are at the end of a long line of faithful men, and each of them found that God was worthy of his trust. These men would be unknown to us today except for the fact that they trusted God.


Today’s text


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:1–3, NKJV) 


May our study of this chapter deepen our faith and strengthen our walk with God.


 Pastor Mike