Hebrews Chapter 11
:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.”
Faith is described as two things: substance and evidence. Substance is defined as support, confidence, and assurance. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Hope is a product of our faith and rests in the promises of God. We hope in the promises of God. The underlying foundation for that hope is what we call faith. When we believe the promises of God, we have hope in the
fulfillment of those promises. Since, faith is a part of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit we are made to understand that as a result of the spiritual birth we have the ability to believe in God and his word. Through faith we have confidence that God will fulfill his promises. Also, through faith we have the assurance that what God has promised he will also perform.
Moreover, faith is an evidence of things not seen. There are things that we cannot see with our natural eyes. We cannot see God. We cannot see the eternal heaven at this time. Yet, we believe there is a God and that there is an eternal heaven and that God’s promise that we will one day live with him in that eternal heaven is true. This substance we call faith is the evidence of
“For by it the elders obtained a good report.” Much of the rest of the 11th chapter of Hebrews describes the good report that the elders obtained through faith.
:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
According to Genesis chapter 1 God spoke the worlds into existence. By the power of his spoken word, the heavenly bodies, the earth, the vegetation, the birds, the fishes, the animals and man were all created by God. These things that are created we can see with our natural eyes. Yet, the one who created these things we cannot see with our natural eyes. Yet, through faith we believe
that the one who does not appear created the things that are seen. Now there is much scientific evidence that the earth is only about 6 thousand years old. Yet, that evidence is not the reason we believe that God created the heaven and earth, but our faith in God and in his word is the reason we believe these things. A person who does not possess faith will not believe that the heavens and the earth were created
by God, for he does not believe in God or his existence.
To those who possess faith, the heavenly bodies and those things which were created is evidence to us of things not seen. As Psalms 19:1-5 states: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their
voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.”
One of the lessons the subject verse teaches us is that we should believe what the word of God says and not base our beliefs solely on what we learn from science, falsely so called.
:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
According to Gen. 4:3-5: “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”
First, we ask why was Abel’s offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain’s offering? Abel’s offering was made after the pattern that God had established in Gen. 3:21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Whereas Cain’s offering was of the fruit of the ground which God had cursed: Gen. 3:17 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast
hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it
wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” From this, we learn that God establishes the pattern for acceptable worship, not man.
Second, in what way did Abel obtain witness that he was righteous? We know that the scriptures teach us that in our flesh nature there is none righteous. Righteousness comes through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ and through his imputed righteousness. While we cannot do anything to make ourselves righteous, yet we can manifest that Christ has made us righteous and we do
that by doing what is right:
1. 1 John 2:29 “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”
2. 1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
By doing what is right in the sight of God, Abel obtained witness that he was righteous.
“God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” It is God who gives to his children the gift of the new birth and the gift of faith. When Abel by faith offered unto God the more excellent sacrifice he testified to us by his example that we also, by faith, should offer praise unto God through following the pattern God has shown us in the scriptures.