By Faith

Bible Book: Hebrews  11 : 1-3
Subject: Faith; Trust in God

“Faith. . . is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods,” according to Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963).1

“Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys,” according to Madeleine L’Engele (1918-2007).2

Dr. Ray C. Stedman (1917-1992) writes, “Faith. . . is not positive thinking; that is something quite different. Faith is not a hunch that is followed. Faith is not hoping for the best, hoping that everything will turn out all right. Faith is not a feeling of optimism. Faith is none of these things, though all of them have been identified as faith.”3

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe states, “Faith is not believing in spite of evidence; it is obeying in spite of consequences.”4

Three things are true for those who live by faith.

I. By faith we undertake the inversion of our ways.

Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is not the natural way to operate! Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) explains, “In natural matters faith follows evidence and is impossible without it, but in the reality of the spirit, faith precedes understanding; it does not follow it. The natural man must know in order to believe; the spiritual man must believe in order to know.”5

Hebrews 11:27 reads, “By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” 1 Peter 1:8 reads, “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him [Jesus], yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”

Acts 27:21-25 reads, “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.’” 1 Corinthians 13:10 reads, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” The phrase “that which is perfect” refers to the inspired, inerrant, infallible, written Word of God. Paul writes in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Rev. Jimmy Chapman tells, “A skeptic said to an old country preacher, ‘Preacher, I want to hear God speak to me personally’. The preacher said, ‘Then read the Bible.’ The man protested, ‘No. I mean I want him to speak to me audibly.’ ‘Well,’ said the sly old parson, ‘Read the Bible out loud.’”

Faith rests upon divine revelation not mere human reason. Faith rests on the promise of God according to His Word. Charles Wesley (1707-1788) declared, “Faith, mighty faith the promise sees, Laughs at impossibilities, And cries: It shall be done!”6 Remember the words of 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” This speaks of the inversion of our ways!

Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is the description of faith!

II. By faith we undergird the influence of our witness.

Hebrews 11:2 reads, “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” Hebrews 11:39-40 reads, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Emphasis mine) We read about “all these. . . [who] did not receive the promise” in Hebrews 11:35b-38, “. . . Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”

T. S. [Thomas Stearns] Eliot (1888-1965) writes, “The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief.”7

Notice the theme of Hebrews 11 is “by faith.” Hebrews 11:4-35 reads, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.” (Emphasis mine)

Hebrews 11:2 reads, “For by it [faith] the elders obtained a good testimony.” This is the demonstration of faith!

III. By faith we understand the inception of our world.

Hebrews 11:3 reads, “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.”

Dr. Ray C. Stedman explains, “That statement, remember, was made in the 1st century when the best scientific minds of the time felt that the ultimate breakdown of matter was fourfold: fire, water, soil and air. That was the explanation of all matter. Yet here in the 20th century [1965], after two thousand years of human endeavor in exploring the secrets of the origin of matter, we cannot improve on this statement. This verse says that we can never explain the things which are seen till we come to grips with the things that are unseen. We must recognize the existence of things unseen.

I should like to place beside this verse a quotation I was given last week [June 13, 1965] from the former president of the Stanford Research Institute. In a message on another subject he said, ‘Through the years I have struggled to gain a greater understanding of electricity and magnetism in order to help harness those forces for man's use. Even so, I cannot now give a lucid definition of electricity or magnetism, except to say that they are invisible forces which have real manifestations.’

Is it not amazing that the man of faith arrived at exactly the same conclusion as the man of science, only two thousand years earlier? It has taken science that long to catch up!”8

Romans 1:20-21 reads, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The humble Christian knows more the origin of the world than many scientists. In the Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament, Rev. William Burkitt (1650-1703) explains, “The design of the apostle in these words is to prove, that faith satisfies itself in the world be now visible, and the things contained in it are said to be seen, yet the original framing and making of the world has a principal place among things not seen.

Learn hence, That by faith assenting to divine revelation, and not by reason, we understand the truth and wonders, the seasons and causes, the manner and end of the world’s creation. Reason indeed tells us that there was a creation, consequently a Creator; but reason without divine revelation could never have discovered the circumstances and manner of the creation, which wholly depended upon the will of God.

Reason and nature could never have known them, had not God in his word first revealed them: The old Heathens could never determine who made the world, nor when, nor how it was made, or whence, and out of what it was made. Reason may profound the question, how was the world made, and all things herein? But revelation must resolve it.”9 Our deduction is based upon our trust in the Word of God. A faulty premise will yield a false conclusion. There are differences of opinion related to the origin of the universe, but the revelation of God’s Word requires us to receive it or reject it.

Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) explains, “One college student was asking his pastor this question. He said pastor, do you think there’s life on the planets? The pastor said no, I really don't. He said you mean in all of those millions and billions of other worlds out there you don't believe there’s a life. He said no, not like we know it. And then he said well, why did God go to all that trouble to make all of those things? And the pastor said what trouble? Amen. Think about it, what trouble? And there they are.' I mean, just off his fingertips he spoke and it was so.”10 Notice “. . . God said . . . it was so” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14-15, 20-21, and 29-30). Psalm 33:9 reads, “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John 1:1-3, and 14 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Colossians 1:14-17 reads, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Hebrews 1:2 reads, “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” Job declared of God, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). Later, we read in Job 38:4-7 how God summoned Job with a series of questions. For example, He asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” After Job listened to God’s further questioning, we read in Job 42:1-6, “Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.’” Remember Job expressed great faith in Job 23:10, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. . .” (Hebrews 11:3). This is the deduction of faith!


Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Habakkuk 2:2-4 reads, “Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. ‘Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” Romans 1:16-17 reads, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11 reads, “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Hebrews 10:38 reads, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 11:6 reads, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

By God’s grace may we continue to live by faith.

1C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001), 140.

2Madeline L’Engele, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1980), 22. 

3Ray C. Stedman, “What Faith Is”, June 13, 1965, Accessed: 09/08/16 . 

4Warren W. Wiersbe, God Isn’t In A Hurry (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), 24.

5Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, comp. Edythe Draper, # 3743 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 203. 

6Brainy Quote, Charles Wesley, Accessed: 09/09/16 .

7Quotations, comp. Draper, #599, 33.

8Stedman, “Faith”..

9William Burkitt, Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament,  "Commentary on Hebrews 11:3". Accessed: 09/09/16 . 1700-1703.  

10Adrian Rogers, “The River of Miracles” Sermon Notes (Joshua 3:1-5).

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /   / (251) 626-6210

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