“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
Simply stated: Believing that God created the world involves faith. God is not visible, yet He created all that we see. Put another way, By faith we know that all we see was created by a God who we have not seen.
The Hebrew believers being written to in this letter were about to face severe persecution for their faith. Emperor Nero and others would carry out horrific torture and rampage against Christians. Many Christians were going to suffer, lose their businesses, and many would lose their lives. The writer of Hebrews is preparing them for what is ahead, he wants to encourage them to live their profession of faith in Christ when the trials came.
Faith gives me confidence that what I have placed my hope in (God & thus His promises) will come to pass (1). The ancients were commended for living by that faith (2). Faith is confidence in God’s promises and shows that we trust His character. (3)
From vs 4-38 the writer then gives the Hebrew believers examples of those who went before them and lived by faith in the midst of trials. Some God delivered, others God strengthened to face torture and death. In both cases, their faith in God, His character and His promises were unfailing! The writer says “the world was not worthy” of such men & women of faith.
Faith allows us to see spiritual realities.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” What are these things we do not see yet by faith “hope” for?
One commentator listed the following things that Scripture tells us are a future reality:
1. Christ’s return (Titus2:13)
2. Our glorification (1Jn3:2-3)
3. To reign with Him (2Ti2:12)
By faith we have confidence that what God has said will come to pass in time, and we act accordingly.
A word of exhortation to my brother shepherds in Africa: If the above is true (and it is!) then it is vitally important that we understand God’s written word! Paul exhorts us to “rightly divide the Word of truth.” (2Ti2:15). No matter how sincerely we believe something, if it is false, the sincerity of our believing will not make it true!
God has not promised physical health and financial prosperity in the atonement. Yes God can and does miraculously heal – according to His sovereign will and according to what He ordains to bring him glory… Just as in Heb 11 – some had their dead raised, others were sawn asunder!
Recently someone suggested this explanation for faith: “Before anything would manifest and get realized in the physical realm, it already happens in the spiritual dimension or the spiritual realm if you like. The supernatural happens in the spiritual dimension and faith is what triggers to cause to actualize what has been realized in the spiritual dimension.”
The idea behind this statement is that God has already done for you/provided for you in the spiritual realm. Now it is up to you! Exercise faith and it will come to you. The trigger that brings God’s benefits that already have been given to you in the spiritual realm is faith.
This is not at all what Heb 11 is teaching. This theology of faith comes from the Word Faith movement. It is used to suggest that God has already provide you with physical health, physical prosperity and now you must actualize what God has provided for you in the spiritual realm through your exercise of faith. The men who have driven this false theology have led many astray.
God’s promises are true because God is true – regardless of your faith. Yes, we are to believe Him and thus live accordingly (i.e. the examples of Heb 11) but this is not, as some teachers today claim. Kenneth Hagin, often referred to as the grandfather of the Word Faith movement once wrote a book and preached a message entitled, “How to write your own ticket with God.” He claimed an inspired message from God: Hagin supposedly received an inspired four point message: Say it, Do it, Receive it, Tell it. Hagin claims Jesus told him, “If anybody, anywhere, will take these four steps or put these four principles into operation, he will always have whatever he wants from Me or God the Father.”
Robert Tilton another Word Faith leader encouraged his listeners to pray the prayer of faith, “not one of those, ‘Lord, if it be Thy will – ‘ I know what the will of God is when it concerns healing, and prosperity, and divine direction… I don’t have to pray a prayer of doubt and unbelief.” Kenneth Hagin also wrote, “It is unscriptural to pray, ‘If it is the will of God’ When you put an ‘if’ in your prayer, you are praying in doubt.”
Though many of us have not heard of these men, we have heard of other men in Africa who preach the same Word Faith heresy… men like David Oyedepo of Winner’s Chapel or TB Joshua from All Nations.
“In Africa, Word of Faith is sweeping the continent. Christianity Today estimates that more than 147 million of Africa’s 890 million people are “renewalists”, Pentecostals or charismatics who believe the health and wealth gospel. Sociologists say the message of money, cars, houses and the good life is almost irresistible to poor and oppressed audiences.” (http://tinyurl.com/c4jw5g7)
Many today in our Charismatic churches in Africa hold to Word Faith doctrine. They are teaching falsehood! If when confronted with truth they refuse to change their doctrine to match Scripture then they are Heretics. Either way we must lovingly and firmly stand and expose the false teaching lest our flocks be led to destruction.
Dear Brother Shepherds, Be discerning in these last days – there are many teachers who have a lot of truth mixed with a bit of error. (2 Pt 2:1, Jer 6:13, Mk 13:22, 1Jn 4:1, Heb. 13:5; I Tim. 6:10; Lk. 12:15; Mt. 6:19, 24). Have faith in God! Believe His Word and live it to the praise of His glory.
Grace & Peace,