Hebrews 11.1 


1.   A rather common accusation sharply aimed at the Christian often goes like this:  “You Christians are pitiful!  All you have is a ‘blind faith.’”  This would surely indicate that the accuser seems to think that to become a Christian, one has to commit “intellectual suicide.”[1]

2.   As our society becomes increasingly secularized, as we slide farther into the new paganism that is far removed from any thoughtful consideration of the claims of Christianity, I want to challenge your thinking to show you how easy it is to mislead vast numbers of people.

3.   The Canadians, the French, many Brits, and far too many Americans are convinced that current president George W. Bush is a moron, while thinking that the man he defeated for the presidency of the United States, Al Gore, is a very smart man.

4.   But did you know that George W. Bush made better grades in college than Al Gore did?  And did you know that George W. Bush actually scored higher on his SAT scores than former Senator Bill Bradley did, who was a Rhodes’ scholar?  Did you know that George W. Bush graduated from Yale and obtained an MBA from Harvard?[2] 

4.   The point that I seek to make?  Many people have impressions about our president’s intelligence without being aware of these facts about him.  Nevertheless, opinions are held that our president is a moron.  Why do many people think our president is a moron?  Because the lie is repeated again and again in news sources that are antagonistic toward the president’s political views.

6.   By the way, they used to say that Ronald Reagan wasn’t very bright, either.  Before him, it was suggested that president Eisenhower wasn’t the smartest fellow.  The only reason they didn’t accuse president Nixon of being slowwitted was because he was so obviously brilliant.  So, they labeled him evil.

7.   But history has shown that Eisenhower was very bright.  President Reagan is now acknowledged by all but the most mean-spirited liberal Democrats to be the architect of our country’s victory in the cold war over the Soviet Union.  Hardly the accomplishment of a dimwit.

8.   Why do I use these illustrations from the political world?  Because they so perfectly illustrate the kind of loose and sloppy thinking that characterizes so many people, the same kind of sloppy thinking that causes people to think that Christianity is the religion of those people who are so intellectually weak that we must rely on blind faith.

9.   Of course, that is utter nonsense, as we shall see in God’s Word.  Let us stand to read today’s text, Hebrews 11.1:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

10. I am responding to accusations that are made, whether by college professors, or by coworkers, or belligerent family members, that Christianity requires blind faith.  Christianity does require faith.  I’ll grant you that.  But it’s not blind faith, as you shall see.

11. There are three things about the faith of the Christian that you would do well to keep in mind: 


1B.    When the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” he was fixing faith precisely between the future and the past. 

2B.    When he wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,” he was pointing out that faith is that which secures the Christian’s future, for without faith in Christ a person is doomed to Hellfire.  But through faith in Christ the Christian enjoys communion with God, benefits from the forgiveness of his sins, and anticipates his eternal home in heaven.

3B.    Looking from faith in the other direction, to the past, we see that “faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen.”  What does this mean?  It clearly means two things:

1C.   First, faith has to do with that which you have not seen.  The writer might just as easily have written that faith has to do with that which is not heard or felt, either, because the point that he is making is that faith is divorced from the five senses.  In other words, faith has to do with events that the individual has not experienced personally.  This is why the Lord Jesus Christ said to Thomas, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” John 20.29.

2C.   But belief that is not based upon sight is not necessarily blind faith.  The faith of the Christian is said in our text to be based upon evidence, “the evidence of things not seen.” 

1D.   I did not see God create the universe and all there herein is, but I have examined enough evidence to believe in a six day creation and to reject the notion of a Big Bang occurring billions of years ago.

2D.   I did not personally observe some 40 men pen inspired Scripture over a 1600 year period of time to produce a Bible that has remained intact for 2000 years, but I have examined the evidence, some of it more than 2000 years old, and I am persuaded that what I hold in my hand is God’s Word, the Bible.

3D.   I did not personally observe the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, or His resurrection from the dead three days and three nights later.  But I have surveyed the evidence, including the writings and reactions of His enemies, none of whom expressed doubt that He had risen from the dead, and I am convinced by the evidence that Jesus Christ did rise again.

4D.   I could go on and on, citing fulfilled prophecies, citing observations found in the Bible that have been born out by scientific inquiry thousands of years later, citing historical chronologies lost in the distant past, but recently recovered by archeologists that confirms the Biblical record.

3C.   The point that I seek to establish is that, whether it be famous scientists like Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, James Faraday, Lord Kelvin and others, or just me, the Bible says that faith is established on evidence.  Therefore, it cannot be blind.

4C.   You may respond, “but that’s circumstantial evidence!”  You are absolutely correct.  But since there are only two kinds of evidence, the evidence produced by direct observation of an event and the circumstantial evidence that is left behind by the event, I am left with no options by virtue of the fact that I was not present when the universe was created, or when Jesus rose from the dead, or when Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea.

5C.   The only way I can deal with the great events of the past and how they affect my guiltiness for sin and my relationship with God is by means of circumstantial evidence.  But real faith is grounded in such evidence, so I can have real faith.  I am not left to blind faith which just believes things that are not supported by historical evidence. 

6C.   If I had blind faith I might become a moslem, or a Mormon, or a member of the Church of Scientology, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist.  But I do not have blind faith, therefore I am dissatisfied with any religion concocted by a man or by a group of men.  I am a Christian.



1B.    Not only does blind faith have no evidence to support it, it is also absent reasonable and rational thought.  But real faith, the kind of faith that is advocated in the Bible, most certainly does not exist absent reasonable and rational thought.  There is no real faith where the mind is turned off to truth.

2B.    Otherwise, how could God speak through the prophet Isaiah on this wise?  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” Isaiah 1.18.  Speaking to an entire nation through a chosen man, God informs them that they cannot expect to see their sins forgiven, which requires faith as we will see, unless they are willing to “reason.”  Thus, the full faculties of the human mind are brought to bear when real faith is exercised.  How can I assert this?  “For by grace are ye saved through faith,” Ephesians 2.8.  “Strive to enter in at the strait gate,” Luke 13.24.

3B.    As well, in John 8.32, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  To be free from sin, which means to be forgiven, it is required that you “know the truth.”  Quite the opposite of blind faith, is it not?  To know something requires the proper use of your mind, the exercise of your reasoning faculties.

4B.    This is why many do not come to faith in Christ.  They do not think, are not capable of thinking, are too lazy to think, or are distracted from using their full mental capacities to think.  Now, I am not saying that you have to be smart to become a Christian, or that the road to heaven is traveled by means of the intellect.  It is “with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness,” according to Romans 10.10.  But the way faith comes to the heart is through an active and engaged intellect.

5B.    Read the Bible.  Listen to sermons.  Look up into the midnight sky.  Now consider and ponder what God says about what you see, about what you hear from God’s Word, about what you know to be true from your own experiences with your sinfulness.  Consider and ponder.  Cry out to God to reveal Himself sufficiently for you to believe in Him, and then cry out to God for Him to persuade you that you need His Son, Jesus, as your Savior.  You will be persuaded in your mind if your mind is open to the truth, because faith is not only grounded in evidence; it is also resulting from reason.


3A.   Finally, IT IS GIVEN BY GOD

1B.    You might think that the use of reason to evaluate evidence would result in everyone becoming Christians if the evidence is compelling and men would properly employ reason.  But what is oftentimes overlooked is the fact that each sinner is fallen, dead in trespasses and sins, and thoroughly incapable of saving himself.

2B.    The result of each man’s inherited sinfulness is an inclination against God, a natural repudiation of valid evidence, and a proud tendency to deny the reality of sinfulness and condemnation.  This results in a spiritual condition so hopeless that no sinner will come to real faith.  Because of spiritual blindness the sinner will deny the evidence.  Because of a deceitful heart the sinner is quite unable to reason objectively.

3B.    The result of these factors leaves each and every sinner completely incapable of generating or acquiring on his own anything like real faith.  Yet without real faith the sinner is doomed.  So, what are we left with?  We are left with a gracious and merciful God, Who will give real faith to sinners who will make use of His ordained means.

4B.    Please turn to Romans 10.17:  “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Read the seven verses leading up to this one and you will see that God gives real faith to sinners who hear preachers preach the Word of God.  And since “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” First Corinthians 1.21, you can see how extremely important Gospel preaching is to acquiring the real faith a sinner needs to savingly believe in Jesus. 


1.   What, may I ask you, is blind about such a faith as we have seen described in the Bible?  It is grounded in evidence, making it impossible for faith such as this to be blind.  It results from reason, making it impossible for faith such as this to be blind.  And it is given by God, again making it impossible for faith such as this to be blind.

2.   Let me tell you who’s blind.  Unsaved people are blind, that’s who are blind.  Second Corinthians 4.3-4 reads, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

3.   So, when some gas bag of a college professor, or when some ignoramus of a coworker or neighbor or relative says that Christians have blind faith, understand that that person knows not whereof he speaks.

4.   There are those who claim to be Christians who have what the apostle Paul terms “believed in vain.”[3]  That is, they had an empty, baseless faith that did not result in real conversion.  But in this message I am dealing with real faith, grounded faith, reasonable faith, God-given faith.

5.   Now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song before this morning’s sermon. 


1.   The problem with those who accuse Christians of having blind faith is that they are likely to have never known anyone who was genuinely converted, or have never been around anyone with real faith.

2.   If someone has a firm personal religious conviction that is not based upon evidence, that is not based upon sound reasoning, and has not been given to them by God through the means of Bible preaching or reading God’s Word, then that person may very well have “blind faith.”

3.   During the exposition I made mention of religions that are based upon blind faith; islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, and such as that.  Why do I say they are based upon blind faith?  They are based upon blind faith because the adherents of those religions have firm convictions that are not based upon evidence, that are not reasonable and rational, and that have not been given by God.

4.   Consider Mormonism, for instance:  A man with a history of drunkenness claims an angel appeared to him and gave to him spiritual truths hidden for almost 2000 years, including some wild story about the Lord Jesus Christ coming to North America to witness to the Indians, who he said were the lost tribes of Israel.  That man was Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism.

5.   But during Mormonism’s almost 175 year history not one scintilla of evidence has ever been discovered to corroborate any of Joseph Smith’s claims.  On the contrary, a well-funded scientific DNA study conducted by Scott Woodward, a professor of microbiology at Brigham Young University, Mormonism’s flagship school, shows conclusively that what the Book of Mormon claims about American Indians being descended from ancient Hebrews is just plain false.[4] 

6.   Mormonism requires blind faith, while Christianity requires real faith that is based upon historical events that really did occur.

7.   To give you an overview of how faith is exhibited in the life of one man, let me set before you for consideration the prototype in the Bible of faith, Abraham.  Some 2000 years before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Abraham is a man God chose to exemplify four aspects of real faith.  I want to show you these four types of faith so you can see how real faith would be operative in your own life. 


1B.    Please turn in your Bible to Hebrews 11.8:  “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”  Now turn to Genesis 12.1:  “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”

2B.    We know that this is real faith because Hebrews 11.8 reads, “By faith Abraham . . . .”  But this is not saving faith, because we know from Romans 4.3 that Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15.6, ten years after Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees.

3B.    How is it possible for a person to have real faith that is not saving faith?  I don’t know how it is possible, but I do know that it is possible, because Abraham had what God says is faith, without being justified by faith.  So, it’s real faith that is nonetheless not saving faith.

4B.    My friend, this faith of Abraham’s is what I like to think is happening with a lost person who is willing to come faithfully to Church, is willing to consider the sermons he hears preached, is willing to read God’s Word, is willing to plead with God for mercy.  As Abraham did not know where he was going when he responded to God’s voice, so this sinner does not really know what he is doing by searching and by striving to enter in at the strait gate.  He is just trusting in God’s goodness and praying for God’s mercy that he will someday find what he does not yet possess, forgiveness and cleansing through faith in Jesus Christ.

5B.    Perhaps you have come to Church, knowing that you are not a Christian.  There has never been a time in your life when you have come to Jesus Christ in faith believing for the forgiveness of your sins.  Yet you come and listen.  You come and are attentive.  You are considering and pondering, evaluating the evidence and thinking these things over in your mind.  Perhaps you have what Abraham had, a real faith that was still not a saving faith.  Continue, as Abraham did, and see what happened in his life. 


1B.    Years have passed since Abraham responded to God’s call to come to the promised land.  He has been to Egypt and has come back out of Egypt.  He has separated from his nephew, Lot, and has rescued Lot from kidnappers.  Now, Abraham faces uncertainty about his future and is concerned for his own personal safety and the fact that he has no heir to inherit the blessings God has promised him.

2B.    Genesis 15.6 reads as follows:  “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This is the moment in Abraham’s life when he has saving faith.  How do we know for sure?  Romans 4.3 and Galatians 3.6 refer to this event to explain how Abraham was justified in the sight of God through faith.

3B.    So, Abraham exhibited seeking faith for about ten years, but he was justified through saving faith in a moment.  Aren’t you glad Abraham didn’t break off his seeking faith?  Aren’t you grateful he continued to strive to enter in, instead of giving up and heading back to Ur of the Chaldees?  I am. 


1B.    Years have passed since Abraham’s saving faith in Genesis 15.6.  He has sired a son named Isaac, and the boy is now fifteen to eighteen years old.  And God tests him, by telling him to take the boy and offer him for a sacrifice.  In Genesis 22.2, God said to Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

2B.    Perhaps you know the account.  Abraham took the boy with him to Mount Moriah and prepared to offer him as a sacrifice.  Hebrews 11.17 labels it faith.  What a scene that must have been.  A father willing to slay his son in obedience to God, and a son willing to submit to his father, even unto death.  What a picture of the believer’s willingness to obey the God he trusts.  And just as Abraham took the knife to slay his son he is stopped by God.  Abraham passed God’s test and showed his real faith.

3B.    James 2.21-23 uses this occasion to illustrate that real faith, genuine faith, is not dead but is accompanied by good works and demonstrations of obedience to God.  So, though most Christians are not tested so severely or so openly as Abraham was, every Christian is tested by God and is given an opportunity to put on display striking evidence of his genuine, of his real, faith.

4B.    It is not possible to be certain that what an unconverted person is demonstrating is seeking faith.  It may not be faith at all, but some foolish attempt to gain God’s favor by good works.  Neither is it possible to know a man’s heart for sure, when we examine a man’s testimony, whether or not he truly has believed with his heart unto righteousness.  Only time will tell.

5B.    But over time real faith can more easily be seen by such demonstrations as we see in Abraham’s life.  According to James 2.21, Abraham was justified by works.  That is, he put on a convincing display of faith by his obedience to God in the matter of sacrificing his son.  Sadly, such convincing displays are missing from the lives of many who claim to be Christians.  But in China, in Vietnam, in Nigeria, in India, such displays by Christians are very common. 


1B.    In Abraham’s life, his seeking faith endured for about ten years until he was saved.  His saving faith was exhibited in a solitary act of belief.  His striking evidence faith was demonstrated over perhaps two or three days, climaxing on Mount Moriah.  His staying faith was on display for the last decades of his life.

2B.    Hebrews 11.9:  “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”  I suppose that most who study this verse would pass over Abraham’s sojourning with his son and his grandson, but I think of the time before his conversion when Abraham separated from Lot because their flocks were so large.  But now, by faith, he lives with his son and his grandson.  Why?  They were “heirs with him of the same promise.”

3B.    More important than their family relationship, I think, was the fact that they each knew the others were “heirs with him of the same promise.”  Staying faith stays with others of faith, and stays.  Thus, we see Abraham persevering, continuing, sticking, remaining.

4B.    And so it will be with you should you experience saving faith.  You will stick.  You will stay.  You will continue.  You will remain.  You will by faith sojourn, dwelling with the heirs of the same promise.  None of this retiring to a camper and gallivanting across the country in an attempt to escape responsibility and practice “Christianity at large.”  No.  Abraham stayed. 


1.   Do you see any indication of blindness in this consideration of real faith in the Bible?  Neither do I.

2.   What I see is an intelligent, reasoned, evidence-based reliance upon the trustworthiness of God and His Word.  If you come to real faith in Christ a look back on your life will show much of what we see in Abraham’s life.

3.   There will be seeking faith over a greater or lesser period of time.  There will be saving faith in a moment.  There will be striking evidence faith that serves to convince doubters that you are truly converted.  And then there will be staying faith, that over the long years of life will result in a steady and persistent Christian life and testimony before your promotion to glory.

4.   I hope the final chapter of your life here on earth looks back over your span of years and shows these four kinds of faith. 

[1] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page xxxii.

[2] Assertions made by Larry Elder on his nationally syndicated talk show on KABC, 790 AM, on 2/27/03.

[3] First Corinthians 15.2

[4] Thomas W. Murphy, “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy and Genetics,” from American Apocrypha, edited by Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002), pages 47-77.

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