We have been encouraged and urged to persist in faith – we can boldly approach God for help, so to not do so is a serious mistake leading to loss.
Now the author shows us what persistent faith means. He starts with some explanation and then he goes through some Old Testament characters to illustrate what he means.
Faith relates to God’s character and word. So he explains it is the assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things not seen. Faith is being sure of what God says to us. Both in the general salvation message of the Scripture and in the particular guiding of the Holy Spirit, the Christian comes to assurance that what God says to him is utterly trustworthy. In the cases of the twenty or so characters mentioned in Hebrews 11:4–31, all of them received some kind of conviction that God was speaking to them or leading them, and that conviction was sufficient for them to rest their life and actions on what God had said to them. Before they had seen any kind of proof of God’s reliability they were willing to act in the conviction that what he was saying to them was true.
God approves of faith, he responds to it with commendation and reward, v.2.
The twenty or so characters that follow remind of us of the accomplishments of faith and the times when people triumphed over what looked like defeat, by faith.
Abel founded the sacrificial system. Abel apparently got the idea of being righteous before God by blood sacrifice from God himself. God had sacrificed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
Enoch demonstrated God’s power over death. The writer is not only following an Old Testament sequence. There is also a logic in the topics he is working through. Christian faith is first faith in creation, v.3. Then it is faith in the ‘blood of the lamb’, v.4,then in God’s power over death, v.5. To make sure that we get the point of what he is saying, Hebrews 11:6 adds a remark so that we learn from these examples – “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to God must believe that he is there and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.” We notice that our writer is thinking of continuing faith.
Noah rescued his family – his faith led to action, building an ark and trusting God that it would flood and that it would float.
Abraham was looking forward to the promised reward, even though he had no detail about what it was. He pressed on towards it.
Abraham kept pressing on in faith even as he was getting seriously old. Don’t slow down in faith! Faith achieves success for the Lord even after we have died – because his faith still speaks to us.
Keep pressing on in faith. Don’t give up!