Bible Basics Explained | Faith

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Day 1 | Hebrews 10:35-11:2 | God Exists

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Hello my friends, and welcome to Bible Basics Explained. My name is Kris Langham, and our topic, well, our topic is a big one. One of the great underlying themes of the entire Bible, and an absolute necessity for every Christian. Our topic is faith. So important is faith that God set this simple action of the heart as our one and only means to find salvation. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

Faith may seem a small thing, but it can lead people to some extraordinary actions. Consider this story from Romania. The year was 1989, and the Communist government ruled. The Communism that ruled much of Eastern Europe in the 20th century was built on atheistic ideology and philosophy. Though the government allowed church, it kept a tight grip, and often jailed and tortured pastors and believers who defied their rule.

In the town of Timisoara, a local pastor named Tokes, who was teaching the Bible faithfully, was commanded to leave his home and church because he had criticized the government for human rights violations. On the day the police were to evict their pastor, local Christians surrounded the home to stop them. A crowd grew quickly, and the army was called in to stop them. Shots fired. Many wounded, many killed. But then something incredible occurred. The people didn’t fight back. Instead they knelt and prayed. Can you picture that? Prayer against bullets.

Yet the sight was too much for the soldiers. They refused to shoot any more. By this time, the whole town was there. Another pastor named Dugulescu climbed to the balcony of the local opera house and addressed the crowd. He recited something, only a few lines, and two simple words struck deep in the hearts of the people. They began chanting. Then shouting. Two words in defiance of oppression. Two words that cried out for freedom, equality, and dignity. Again and again, they shouted in unison: God exists.

We’ll come back to that story. For now, those same two words are at the very heart of this little thing called faith. So what is faith? Is it just another word for belief? I believe in God - so that’s faith. Right? Well, James reminds us that demons believe in God, and they tremble over that belief. So faith is more than that.

So what is it then? Is it an action of the heart or a conviction of the mind? Or maybe it’s just a feeling in your gut of what you know is true.

To find some answers, we’re turning to the book of Hebrews, and a chapter known as the Hall of Faith. Hebrews 11. The chapter reads like an Old Testament hall of heroes. It’s a highlight reel from every prophet and warrior who ever made it onto a Sunday School flannel board. If you grew up with Bible heroes, you’ll recognize these names. And even if you missed out on all that, there’s something about these heroes - something they all have in common. Many epic stories, countless grand adventures, one shared attribute. And it’s not just courage, or compassion, or integrity. All of those are beautiful and necessary. But this one, this one changes them all. Faith transforms all of our virtues because it gives them direction and purpose. It points everything about us back to God.

So what is faith? Hebrews 11 verse 1:

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). 

I like that. Faith is confidence. The Greek word here can also be translated substance. Faith gives substance to the things that we hope for. Hope is about the future anticipation of good things coming. But hope alone is ephemeral a dream with nothing tangible to grab hold of. It takes faith to give hope substance, and confidently grab ahold of it here in the present. And back in verse 1, faith is also assurance about what we do not see.

Now not seen is not the same as not real. The Greek words here carry a sense that means not yet seen. Just because you don’t see it yet doesn’t mean it isn’t real. That’s where hope comes in. I haven’t seen Heaven yet, but I hope to. Hebrews 6 calls hope an “anchor for our souls.” It keeps us grounded, stops us from drifting.

See hope without faith is just wishful thinking. Like a lottery ticket - I hope this one changes my life, but it probably won’t. But hope with faith is like a bus ticket. Sure, the road might be rough and my fellow passengers can occasionally get on my nerves, but my ticket says home, and I know that my bus driver will get me there.

And verse 2 tells us:

“This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:2).

The ancients here refer to Old Testament heroes, and the rest of the chapter reminds us of their stories. Fantastic stories. But they’re not just here to tell a good story. This chapter was written to encourage us. Chapter 10 ended with a powerful call to stand strong to persevere in the face of trial. Back in 10:35,

“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”(Hebrews 10:35b-36).

And chapter 10 ends with one essential Old Testament quote from Habakkuk:

The righteous shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38).

Remember, righteous means right with God. And in the Bible it’s the only way to Heaven. And Hebrews reminds us that when you’re right with God, faith is how you live. That short verse is quoted throughout the New Testament, and 1500 years later, it was also the spark that lit the fuse for the Great Reformation. But that’s a story for another day.

For today, get started by reading the first section in Hebrews 11. Or listen to it. After all, faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Read the stories of these great heroes of the faith. And I’ll meet you back here to talk about them next time.

Next: Read Hebrews 10:35-11:2

For Thought & Discussion:

  1. Try writing your own definition of faith. You can start by rewriting Hebrews 11:1 in your own words.

  2. Hebrews 10:38 says “The righteous shall live by faith.” It is one of the most repeated statements in the Bible. What do you think it means in practical terms?

All verses are quoted from the NIV.

Romania stories retold from Jesus Freaks (1999 Albury Publishing), and Jesus Freaks Vol II (2002 Bethany House) by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs, and from Extreme Devotions (2001, The Voice of the Martyrs).