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Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton continues our series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “Faith” on Hebrews 11:1-22. Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline below for a reference.

Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton entitled, “Let’s Go!”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.

Watch the “Who’s Your One?” Video Here

Hebrews 11:1-22

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. 

Faith: Introduction

Many organizations, in attempts to honor their greatest members or most outstanding participants, will build a memorial for them, a hall of fame. There is the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown NY, the birthplace of baseball, and you can go learn about Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Ty Cobb and all the great players that have played the game. There is the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame that you can go to and learn about the Rolling Stones, Carole King, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix, and some of the greatest musicians to ever play. 

There are other halls of fame as well. There is the pinball hall of fame in Las Vegas that houses hundreds of games young and old. There is the robot hall of fame in which you will find C-3PO and R2-D2. 

My favorite is the National Barber Hall of Fame. A profession as old as style and razors, barbering has come to have a number of symbols and relics, as well as its own share of superstars. The museum itself has large collections of barber chairs, razors, shaving cups, and all other manner of hair-cutting accouterment. The hall of fame seeks out people who have made “significant and lasting contributions to the barbering profession.”

All of these Halls of Fame want to educate the current generation to know and understand the past. We are in a chapter of Hebrews that is known as the Hall of Faith. Many great saints are remembered so that they might encourage the current generation of believers to be faithful.  It tells us what it looks like to have faith and trust in God. Look at a few things we learn about Faith. 

1. Faith Is…

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Heb 10:39 ESV

This is a call to have faith. To trust. The book of Hebrews is calling a church back to faith. Back to the Lord. Back to obedience. He calls them not to shrink back but to have faith, and preserve their souls. If they do not have faith, if they do not trust, if they do not adhere, they will lose their souls. There is much at stake. It explains what faith is. 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1 ESV)

This is a great explanation of faith. It’s not a precise definition, but a characterization of key aspects of faith. Faith is having confidence in what has been promised. Many things we do not see require faith. As you think about what it means to live with faith, see that it means you are trusting God to do what he says he will do

Here we see that faith is the assurance of what is hoped for. “Faith, of things being hoped for, hypostasis.” It’s a difficult word there to translate into assurance. The word is “hypostasis.” Perhaps you have heard that used about Christ. It is a person’s essence, their being. Of Christ he is two nature with one hypostasis. Jesus has two complete natures: one fully human and one fully divine. What the doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches is that these two natures are united in one person in the God-man.

Here it is speaking about the essence/substance of faith. It is the hope of things not seen. Confidence of things hoped for assurance of things hoped for. It is the substance of things hoped for. 

Confidence derives from hope; hope derives from someone who has said or done something. 

Faith is not blind hope. Blind hope sees nothing; it hopes without basis. We have seen before in Hebrews that there is reason to believe in God, to have the greatest assurance of who God is. Here faith is not blind faith; faith is believing what God has spoken. That is our basis.

We are called to trust God; to believe he will do what he says. Faith is what is required while we wait for things. And it is hard to wait. You order a package online, and you wait for it to come. You have faith that they said they would ship it. Faith is required when you ask someone to work for you. 

God has made promises to save us, to lead us, and guide us. We have to trust that while we look out and see things that may seem contrary to it. We have to trust God while we see and experience suffering in life, like while your marriage is on rocky ground. 

These had faith because God had spoken. 

-Noah built an ark, but it was because God warned him. 

-By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.

-Abraham believed God could provide him descendants through Isaac: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said,…” (Hebrews 11:17-18)

-By faith they sought God and trusted him to reward them. They lived rightly by what God spoke. 

God spoke to these people. He revealed what he was doing in the world. Some of them he spoke to individually. Many others simply trusted his word and held fast to it. They did not compromise. “faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised;” 

*A key point in all this is that this shows God was wholly reliable and his word of promise could be fully trusted.* Not partially. Not “comes through most times.” There are no two-star reviews on God’s ability to provide. 

These are those who were saved; they were those who were commended. They were those who proved themselves faithful, and their faithfulness and integrity was seen in the resistance they experienced. 

Their faith was demonstrated and stood out from those who were not faithful. Everybody wants to be a hero, but no one wants to be in the situation where heroic faith is needed. Everyone wants a miracle; no one wants to be in the place to need a miracle. 

Faith is the assurance, the confidence, the hope that God has power to do what he has said he will do. 

Abel simply worshiped God, and gave God his best. Cain worshiped, and gave God what was available. Difference in having 

God warned Noah about the coming destruction, so Noah got to work on a way to save his family. 

By faith we save our souls. By faith Noah escaped destruction. By faith they separated themselves from others who were perishing. 

Are you living for what makes sense now, or are you living a life that will only make sense if God fulfills his promises? Faith is where we wait for the package that’s delayed, but we believe it is coming. We are waiting for something that won’t be realized in this life. 

2. Faith is a Worldview

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

It’s not just that by faith we see God. It is that by faith we see everything. CS Lewis said “I believe in God just as I believe the sun, not just because I see it, but that by it I see everything else.” 

By faith we believe God is there and that our reward is from him. It means we seek to live for him, honor him, above anything and everything else.

Faith is looked down upon in our culture. Believers are seen as simpletons. I want to speak to that. Some of you are in and some of you will enter into fields where it is hard to live out your faith, where your faith may not be advantageous. You will need to trust God. There are some things about our faith that simply cannot be explained or made appealing. Just as not everybody found Noah, Moses, and Abraham persuasive. But I also want to say there are very good reasons to believe. 

I also want to say that everyone lives by faith in something. Ever since the Fall, God has concealed himself. God is not seen face-to-face. We don’t live by sight. Some call it the curse of faith.  We live by faith.  

It takes faith to believe in God. But everyone experiences this. Everyone has an ultimate, a place of ultimate allegiance. Something that makes sense of the start of the world, explains our purpose, and how we are to live. Many who don’t believe in God look to science to explain this. They view science as objective and verifiable. 

Evolution is a theory but taught as an absolute. There are many gaps that require more faith than many want to admit. It is often missed that the whole basis of evolution is the presumption that life spontaneously occurs and yet this has never been duplicated. Even cell theory in biology, basic elements in biology, states 

  • All living organisms are composed of one or more cells.
  • The cell is the basic unit of structure and organization in organisms.
  • Cells arise from pre-existing cells.

Evolution says the diversity in life came from random and small adaptations over millions of years, but then you have to look at the fossil record, the Cambrian explosion where many different types of fossils explode on the scene all at once and the small adaptations of evolution are not seen. It takes faith to fill in the gaps of the theory. It’s not based on true science that is observable. Undergirding presuppositions fill it out. There is a faith in an undergirding belief and way of life. 

We could talk about these in detail, and I would refer you to some great books written on this topic, but you see that even here science is more about belief than observation. This debate has gone on for years. But people are taking the next step in this worldview. This has come out in the last couple years. 

Ideology trumps science. In our society we can’t say male or female. And yet since the creation of the world it is known that babies come out one of two and that certain anatomical features make it possible for them to do and not do certain things. Bodies develop in different ways. Science tells us that, but the commitment is not to science but to an ideology. This devalues the discipline of science.

People bend the science to justify their ideology. That is a lack of integrity. We need to see there are many things going on in our world that are more about ideologies and faith than anything else. The heroes of faith were aliens and strangers in the world. You may feel like that right now. And it’s important we see the errant ways of others. 

We read about people who did amazing things, stood out from everyone else. Do you realize how radical it is to live the Christian life? To believe you are created in the image of God. To believe that God loved the world so much he sent his Son to die for it. To believe that God created people male and female and has a purpose for the differences. To believe that we have a purpose in the world to reflect who God is and be a blessing to others. To believe that God sees and knows all things and so we want to do what is just, right, and fair? That God created the world and structured it so that there are rules and laws. We are made to work six days and rest one. 

We need scientists who are committed to God, because only when you are committed to a higher power and purpose will you find integrity and courage to stand up for what is right.

Faith is not opposed to science. In fact, I believe faith is the only way science can properly be done. Science is a tool. And like any tool it is only as good as the person that wields it. It’s only through a theistic worldview that says there is order and structure in the world and I want to find it. That says creation points to a creator, so as I understand creation I understand the creator and vice versa. If we are the result of random adaptations there is no point in searching for purpose, no point in asking why (it’s all random). If there is no God, no higher power to report to, then we cower to our earthly masters and guilds and care little about the integrity of what we have done. 

Faith is being attacked today, and we need to stand strong in our faith. We need to be people of integrity. 

“We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening mob with the news that grass is green.” GK Chesterton

I believe we are seeing the shortcoming of a worldview. There’s a commitment to an ideology rather than facts. We’re seeing presuppositional apologetics. 

We need a worldview that has a commitment to the truth. A commitment to integrity. A commitment to call things as they are. That grass is green. That triangle has three sides. That person is a boy and that person is a girl. 

Where “gender identity” splits a “person” from his or her body, Christianity insists your body has meaning and purpose as an integral part of how you bear God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Humanity’s sexed (male or female) biology is intentionally designed to reveal the goodness of God. We should underline this reality over and over with our kids.

Faith connects us to the God of all, and it gives a way to understand everything in this life. Just like when you buy a car and read the instruction manual to make sure you operate it in the manner it was designed to be operated in, and it tends to work better when you do that. So also we look to God to understand how to think about ourselves and the world we live in. 

I’m not saying life isn’t hard. It is. There are going to be times you don’t feel adequate to do what you need to do. You don’t feel smart enough or able enough. Times you feel insecure about who you are, what you look like, and how to relate to others. If you are in your teens just know life is awkward, and it’s OK. God is shaping and molding you. It’s like when you were little, and your mom bought shoes that were a little too big because she knew you would grow into them. Know there are things that are confusing. And you need to trust God, press into him for answers, and stand firm in his word, who he has created you to be.

And know this, everyone, if you get to a point where you have made a mistake, pushed your church family aside, know this, you can always come back. 

I want to speak about sexuality because I am convinced there are going to be many others who in years wake up and say, “What did I do??” And I hope they will think back on the one loving voice who told them not to go down the path that they went down and say, “Maybe that’s where I need to go for answers.”

*Christians are no longer a moral majority. We need to be a prophetic minority.*

“For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” Hebrews 11:14

3. Faith Leads to Commendation

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.” Hebrews 11:1-2

It was by faith they were commended. Witnessed. (b) passive receive a good report, be well-spoken of, be approved, have a good reputation 

It was not their achievements, but their faith. Their faith was active. 

We are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus. We are not saved by what we do. We could never do enough to save ourselves. Jesus does the work. 

We have a great debt toward God we cannot pay. Jesus paid it. We are captives to sin, and Jesus sets us free. We are stuck in the muck and mire, and Jesus pulls us out and puts our feet on a rock. 

We trust in him. He died for our sin. He takes our punishment that we might be set free. He did the heavy lifting. How is his work applied to us? It is applied to us by faith. Faith is the instrument by which we experience his salvation. If your tire is flat, and you want to put a new tire on you put that tire on with a lug nut wrench. Your tire is applied to your car in that way. Similarly, salvation is applied to us by the instrument of faith. We believe. 

It is by faith that we are saved. We believe in the finished work of Jesus. Similarly, it is by faith that we receive our commendation before God. Abel offered his best. He was saved by faith. 

We simply need to believe, and we give our all to Christ. When you have faith that God can save you and take care of you, then you have hope in all things. It leads you to doing great things. Fear keeps you from truly living. 

Faith is Hope. hear. Believe. Go. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Planning will only take you so far. God is going to take you beyond what your plans could prepare you for. If your plans prepared you for everything, you wouldn’t need faith. 

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

Presentism.” People on all sides are talking about this today. It’s uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts. It’s judging historical heroes based on today’s standards of political correctness. We can have a kind of presentism with these figures. Why wouldn’t you fight in the revolutionary war? What could possibly keep you from such a just cause. We just assume that Abraham knew his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. We assume Noah knew everything would work out. They lived by faith just as we do. They trusted God to provide but didn’t know exactly what that would look like.

They didn’t know what the results would be. For many the results didn’t really matter. What mattered is obedience. 

God warned Noah. He responded. He saved his family and many others through his actions. Abraham had faith, and obeyed God telling him to sacrifice his son. He didn’t understand how he would be the heir of the world, and he trusted God to make a way. He didn’t know how God would provide But he said to obey is better than to disobey. 

They were not looking for approval in the eyes of the world. They were looking to God. They were not looking for their reward in this life. 

Abraham was as good as dead when God spoke to him. No land, no descendants. 

They lived lives that were worthy and honorable. Lives that even though they are dead their example still speaks. What are you living for? What will they say at the end of your life? Will you use your life to point others to the hope that is Jesus Christ? In order to influence others, you must first get on the path yourself. What are you giving yourself to?

“For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” Hebrews 11:14


Many people live to be enshrined in a hall of fame. They want the approval of others, thinking and hoping it will fulfill. Worldly glory is quickly fading. We live for a new home, a heavenly home, and an enduring home. We live now not as those approved but as strangers and aliens in a land that is not our true home. 

To follow God you have to leave something behind. You can’t follow the world and God. No such things as one foot in and one foot out. Either all in or all out. Halfhearted Christians are some of the most miserable people there are. Too much of God to be able to go out and enjoy all the things in the world, but too little of God to have any peace and hope.


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