In our study of Hebrews chapter eleven, we go along with Paul as he shows the Jewish believers that faith is based on evidence. There are many people who look at faith like it is a leap into the dark unknown but, here, Paul shows us that it is based on what God has done in the past.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." NIV translation
Paul begins with a simple definition of faith. In chapter ten, we saw that our hope is that we will live with Jesus forever. Now, he tells us that it is not a maybe thing but we know that it is true both in our hearts and in our minds. How do we know that something is true? Usually, we know because of past experiences and it is the same for our faith in Jesus Christ. We have the experiences of men and women of God who have gone before us so that we do not have to take a "leap in the dark". We can also build others up by telling them our stories of faith which we call testimonies.
"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." NIV translation
There are those that say it is a giant leap of faith to believe that everything was created by God. These people find it easier to believe in a cosmic accident than a Creator.
"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." NIV translation
Paul begins to make the case for faith based on the evidence of Cain and Abel. Cain presented grain that he had grown as an offering to God while Abel presented the firstborn of his flock of sheep. Cain's offering was based on his work in planting and tending the crop while Abel's was based on God's work of creating the life of a lamb.
Abel's offering was acceptable while Cain's was not (see Genesis 4). When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we must come based on His finished work on our behalf.
"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. 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." NIV translation
The next case is that of Enoch who demonstrated walking in faith. He simply believed God and sought His will. Because of that, he did not see death and we can be assured that we will not die spiritually (be separated from God) if we walk in faith.