Study Twelve - Faith
New Testament - Hebrews 11:1-40

" . . . we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

It is a daring walk, for it asks us to leap the fences of logic, to believe in things we cannot prove, and to place confidence in things we cannot see. Are the ardents of faith dreamers or escapists who hobble off into an unreachable world where truth cannot touch them? NO! They do not run from truth, they seek it. They do not scorn reason but neither do they worship it and expect it to reveal all that is to be known. The believer has no illusion that all truth can be crammed into the tiny space of a person's head. Not God's truth! There is a mystery in God's way, and many of the truths which he has proclaimed are embraced, not by logic, but by faith.

A Treasure to Be Coveted - While the philosophers of the age ponder the question, "Does God exist?", people of faith ponder the question, "What is God's will?" Those of faith begin with the presupposition that GOD IS, and demand no proof of it.

Treasures Are Inherited and Blessings Claimed - " . . . whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6b)   The weak are made strong and the blind see. The sinner is forgiven, is accounted righteous, is justified, and is sanctified.

Divine Responsibilities Are Shouldered - God can be many things to many people: a topic for discussion; an idea; a nebulous, impersonal something; heaven's lever man with a beard; and absent-minded divine . . . how different from a God of faith:

  • Creator of the Universe
  • Sovereign of Heaven and Earth
  • Triune God . . . Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  • A personal God who commands obedience and who elicits response among those who believe.

Fear and Frustration Are Allayed - Fear is real, none escape it. People receive it in different ways. Some invite it into the heart as a permanent guest and spend all of life wasting their todays because of anxieties over their tomorrows. They worry and fret about many things and spend sleepless nights because they feel abandoned and alone in a hostile world. Not so with people of faith. When fear an anxiety call upon them, the visit is short. It is terminated when the promises of a faithful God are remembered and believed. God cares, and loves, and protects, and preserves, and watches over his children. History is in God's hand, and life is in his keeping.

Miracles Are Fashioned and Dramatic Victories Are Won - "By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land; but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strenght out of weakness . . . " (Hebrews 11:29-34a)

What Are the Constituents of an Adult Faith? - There can be no faith in a vacuum. If a person knows nothing about God's will and purpose for the world as revealed through the historical experiences of Israel and in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, he or she will be hard pressed to believe in that will and that purpose. We cannot embrace things which we do not know, nor can we respond to a message about which we are ignorant. Faith assumes KNOWLEDGE.

The second ingredient of faith is ASSENT. It is not enough for a person to know about God's revelation in Christ. He or she must assent to its truth if they are to lay claim to faith. Those who listened to Paul preach in Athens had varying reactions to the knowledge revealed to them. Some mocked, some put off their decision, and others assented and believed.

The third ingredient of faith is TRUST. What is trust?

  • It is the response of positive action to the truth known and believed.
  • It is the response of personal involvement in the message known and believed.
  • It is active participation in God's will, purpose, and promises as revealed in Jesus Christ.

This is to say that when God's truth is known, believed, and lived, there true faith is found. It follows then, that knowledge alone does not constitute faith. The combination of knowledge and assent does not constitute faith. But when knowledge, assent, and trust are found together, a living faith is born.

Faith Is a Gift of God! - Though I may, by myself, resolve to have faith, that resolve will be futile unless God empowers me to believe and to trust. Faith is a gift of God and comes to those who lean upon him, who trust in him, and who incessantly implore him to dwell in their midst with the presence and the power of his Holy Spirit.

Miracles are born from such trust and dependency!

Knowledge which gives birth to faith produces a faith which seeks more knowledge; and as knowledge of God's truth is enlarged, as assent is made more absolute, and as trust is without reserve, faith grows; and in the process, it purifies.

Lesson 12 and its symbolism:

Through faith, understanding is enlarged, treasures are inherited, blessings are claimed, divine responsibility is shouldered, fear and frustration are allayed, miracles are fashioned, and dramatic victories are won.

  • Three hands - The three constituents of an adult faith:
    1. Notitia - Knowledge
    2. Assensus - Assent
    3. Fiducia - Trust

  • Dead wreath by Notitia - Knowledge alone does not constitute faith

  • Dead wreath by Assensus - The combination of knowledge and assent does not constitute faith

  • Flowered wreath by Fiducia - When knowledge, assent, and trust are found together, a living faith is born

  • Spiral of light around upper hand and arm - Faith is a gift of God - " . . . by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8)

  • White flowers on wreath - As knowledge of God's truth is enlarged, as assent is made more absolute, and as trust is without reserve, faith grows; and in the process, it purifies