by Dr. Samuel Lee   05/22/2000     0 reads





Hebrews 11:1-7

Key Verse: 11:6

"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."

We are living in a pragmatic society. So most people are seeking

selfish benefits. God did not make us to be benefit-seeking, but to be

sacrificial. When we Hebrews 11 teaches us that we must have faith that

pleases God. Today let's study the general concept of faith and a few

examples of men who had faith that pleases God.

I.  The character of faith (1)

Look at verse 1. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and

certain of what we do not see." In short, faith is invisible, but it is

spiritual reality that we cannot see. This verse tells us that

Christian faith includes hope as an essential factor. In Christianity,

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one, though

each person is different. Likewise, faith, hope and love are one body,

though the meaning of each word is different. Where there is faith,

there is love. Where there is love, there is hope.

After the Fall, the world was cursed. But God made a plan of

world salvation. For this, God first chose a 75-year-old man called

Abram, to raise him as a blessing. At that time, Abram was full of

despair because he had no son to inherit his name, even though his

name, "Abram," meant a noble father. But God had faith in him. God said

to him, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I

will make your name great, and you will be a blessing" (Ge 12:2). God's

faith for Abram was to make him a blessing--ultimately for all peoples

of all nations (Ge 12:3). God's faith was indeed great. Abram might

have wished to have a son, but not so many sons as to amount to a

nation. He had no idea to become a source of blessing to others. What

did Abram say in response to God's calling? When Abram heard God's word

of promise, he did not wave his nose in the air. He did not protest,

saying, "You make me laugh." He simply believed and hoped that it would

be done as God had said.  We also see in Jesus' life and work that he

had faith in God. For example, his disciples were a handful of

hillbillies and fishermen. They were clumps of human desires and a

conglomeration of various human weaknesses. Jesus had hope to raise

them as the best leaders who ever lived, particularly in world

salvation work and history. Jesus saw them with eyes of faith; despite

their demerits, they were great; their greatness was their learning


Before conversion, Paul had faith in Judaism. After conversion, he

had faith in God. When he had faith in God, God's hope became his very

own. In the hope of God, he had a plan to evangelize the whole world

through Roman roads. Finally he went to Rome in chains when he was old

and tired. Paul had to be tried before the Roman Emperor. But he did

not despair. He was sure of what he hoped for.

Paul believed that God had evangelized the Roman Empire. Paul never

saw the evangelization of Rome with his eyes, but it was done according

to his faith. Paul had faith in God, but if he had not done anything,

his faith would have been nothing but idealism. Paul rented an

apartment and had many one-to-one Bible studies, mostly with Jewish

immigrants at first, day and night. Some believed, most rejected his

teachings and ran away. Paul's ministry at Rome was not as prosperous

as he had expected. But he did not despair. History proves that Paul's

faith continues to speak to us. These days many people name their sons

Paul, and their daughters Pauline, while they name their dogs Nero. It

is because they want their children to be as great as Paul. Paul was

great because he had faith in God; more to the point, he believed

spiritual realities. He was a political victim of the times. But in the

sight of God, Paul was the top leader of the times because of his faith

in God.

As we know well, the opposite of faith is fear, and the opposite of

hope is despair. These days we see so many who are gripped with fear.

There is one family in which both husband and wife are medical doctors.

They are proud of their achievements and honor. They have everything

they want in the world. But they have no faith. So they are slaves of

fear. They are even afraid to drink Chicago water. Faith in God may not

seem beneficial, because faith does not give immediate practical

benefit.  But in the final analysis, only faith in God gives true and

eternal benefit. Let's read verse 1 again. "Now faith is being sure of

what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

II.  The foundation of faith (2,3)

First, creation faith. In order to have faith that pleases God, we must

know what the foundation of faith is. Look at verse 3. "By faith we

understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what

is seen was not made out of what was visible." Verse 3 is written

philosophically. But this verse is equivalent to Genesis 1:1, which

says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The

foundation of Christian faith is to believe that God made man and the

world. When people believe that God made man and the world, they become

godly people. When people do not believe that God made man and the

world, they become ungodly people. Godly people have the fear of God

and the good integrity of humankind. Ungodly people only have the

survival of the fittest.

Throughout history, thoughtful men and women have searched for the

origin of all things. They have made endless effort to know "the First

Cause" so that they might come to have a right view of man. For many

centuries men devoted themselves to the study of ontology and

epistemology in order to know the root of the origin of all things.

However, in the last part of the 18th century, men gave up the search

for the origin and meaning of man's being. As a result, they came to

ignore the spiritual world as well as spiritual realities. They began

to see man from an existential approach.  They dealt mainly with man's

inner problems, such as anxiety and the fear of death and so on. In

short, they reduced man's thinking from the spiritual level to the

physical level. When they did so, their way of thinking began to

digress downward. They became pragmatic. Pragmatism is not a

philosophy. It is an idea which completely ignores the question "why?"

Pragmatism lets people justify their sinful behavior.

No one has ever been able to give a clear answer to where the world

came from, or what the meaning of man's existence is. But the Bible

says that God made man and the world. Man did not come into being

through a process of evolution.  When we have creation faith, we can

understand that the universe was formed by God's command. We can also

understand that "what is seen was not made out of what was visible." By

faith we understand that God made each person with a definite purpose

and absolute meaning of life, and, most importantly, God made man and

the world for his own glory. Suppose man was made through the process

of evolution.  Then man's life would be nothing but a by-product of

"chance," "accidents," or "a joke." But by faith we believe that God

made man and the world, and that among God's creatures, I am number


Second, God made man and the world out of nothing. Look at verse 3

again. "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's

command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

This verse indicates that God made this world out of nothing. Our God

is the Almighty God who made all things out of nothing. It is easy for

us to assemble a ready-made desk or cook some instant food. But making

something out of nothing is beyond imagination. But our God is the

Almighty God who made man and the world out of nothing; this is

creation faith. Those who have creation faith can say like King David,

"God is a stronghold, a high mountain and our fortress."

Look at verse 2. "This is what the ancients were commended for."

Many people of the past thought that their generation was the worst;

so, they could not live by faith. But this is not true. Abel's time was

worse than the present time. Enoch's time was worse than the present

time. Noah's time was worse than the present time. People usually

complain about their life situation or their times in order to make an

excuse for their ungodly lives. But in the spiritual world such good

excuses are totally useless and empty. What matters is one's faith.

Always, those who had faith in God were those who pleased God, despite

their situation or times.

III.  The faith of Abel, Enoch and Noah (4-7)

First, Abel's faith. Look at verse 4. "By faith Abel offered God a

better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a

righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he

still speaks, even though he is dead." God preferred Abel's gift to

that of Cain. It seems that God is unfair. But Hebrews tells us that

Abel's offering was accepted because of his faith.

After the Fall, in the time of Abel, the relationship between God

and men had been completely broken, and human beings were relativistic

toward God. In short, men were in the state of being God's enemies. Men

lived in sin and under Satan's torment. Since men were gripped by

Satan's fear, to approach the Holy God was harder than dying itself.

Because of their sins, people in the time of Abel could not bear even

to hear the word "God," not to mention to come to God.

But by faith Abel approached God. By faith Abel went to God with an

offering. It was like a son who goes to his daddy with a Christmas

card. In this way, Abel opened the way to God for himself as well as

for all men. God was pleased by Abel and commended him as a righteous

man. His older brother Cain went to God with a superficial offering,

thinking he was doing God a favor. God did not accept his offering.

Later, because of jealousy, Cain hated his brother Abel and beat him to

death. Still, Abel is not dead. As the author says, " faith he

still speaks, even though he is dead." He still tells us that we can

come to God and have peace with God by faith, overcoming our fear of


Second, Enoch's faith. Let's look at verse 5. "By faith Enoch was taken

from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be

found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was

commended as one who pleased God." Genesis 5:24 says, "Enoch walked

with God." In this one verse, Enoch's life is summed up. After the

Fall, the world was full of fallen men. The world was filled up with

God-haters. No one recognized God as God or walked with God. But one

man, Enoch, walked with God. He was the only friend of God. He was the

watchman of God for his times. Enoch was a lonely man, living among

fallen men. They hated him because his holy pilgrimage seemed to offend

them, and it hurt their sinful pride. He was the object of jokes and

ridicule from fallen men of his time. They hated Enoch as much as they

hated God. They thought he was not fit to live because he walked with

God. So they searched for him in order to destroy him.

Enoch's life was in great danger. He was running for his life. But

he found no hiding place in the world. So God took him to heaven so

that he might not experience a cruel death at the hands of God-haters.

Because he walked with God as God's friend, he was commended by God. We

must overcome sinful peer pressure in order to live a life of faith.

Third, Noah's faith. Noah is another example of a man who had faith

that pleases God. Look at verse 7. "By faith Noah, when warned about

things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By

his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness

that comes by faith." The times of Noah, the times of Sodom and

Gomorrah, and the times of the end of the Roman Empire were the times

of amorality. The people of Noah's times lived according to their

sinful nature. They were e ungodly; they were hedonistic; they were


But grandfather Noah, one person, had holy fear of God. When God

commanded him to build a huge ark, he obeyed the word of God

absolutely. In short, Noah honored God as God and respected God's word

as God's word. But the people of the times mocked him, saying, "He's a

dummy. He has a screw loose." Their accusations sounded as if Noah were

a criminal simply because he lived a life of faith. But he was not

condemned; rather he condemned them when God judged them by the flood.

Noah believed that God is living and that his promises are true. He

paid more attention to God's words than to the criticisms of people. As

a result, Noah became an heir of righteousness, while they all

perished. Noah listened to the word of God in holy fear. Because of

this, he pleased God and was commended by God.

Fourth, we also can please God with faith. Look at verse 6. "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." This verse teaches us two things about how to have

faith that pleases God.

Firstly, we must believe that God exists. There are many people who

attend churches. But not many people believe that God exists. There is

a saying that prayer is the measure of faith. One young man studies the

Bible and comes to worship service regularly. But he does not pray with

a clear prayer topic. So he did not experience God's answer to prayer.

One day he began to ask, "Does God exist?" On the other hand, there is

a man of God who believes that God exists and that God answers prayer.

By faith he prayed for a young couple who had been childless for nine

years. His prayer was not for them to have one baby, but to have twin

babies. Inspired by his faith, the couple prayed fervently. God

answered their believing prayer and gave them twins, one daughter and

one son. They know that God who answers prayer exists.  How can we

believe that God exists? We must live a holy life like Abel, Enoch, and


Secondly, we must seek God's reward only. Many say, "I don't want

any reward." But everybody is striving to receive a certain reward

from a certain person.  Worldly rewards are no more than gray hairs and

funeral services. But those who live for the glory of God receive

eternal life and the kingdom of God as their reward.

Today we learned that we must have faith that pleases God. We must

believe that God exists, that God created man and the world and that

God rewards those who earnestly seek him. May God help us to have faith

that pleases God.