What does the Bible teach about faith?
What if I told you that what millions of Christians believe about faith is totally wrong and no different from new age teachings? What if you got it wrong all along? What will you do in response to the Truth? Will you go to the Scriptures to check what I write or will you go back to your favourite preacher or pastor to defend what you want to believe? I pray that God’s word will give you insight into what is true so that you would be set free.
I once used to believe fanciful ideas about faith which are so beautifully disguised, decorated and presented as Biblical truths. But when I started studying the scripture in private without paying heed to any preachers, I discovered to my shock that, what many popular preachers and pastors teach and believe about faith is totally anti-Biblical and heretic.
I want to expose three false teachings about faith that are prominent among Christians today. Here’s the first one (and the most popular one too):
False Teaching #1
Faith is thinking and confessing positive thoughts and removing negative thoughts and confessions
For many Christians, faith is all about thinking positive thoughts and overcoming negative thinking — this is the popular perception about faith. People refrain from making negative comments and often say, “Don’t say negative things — or it might happen so!”
It is true that our words reflect our attitude toward God but, is faith only about thinking and imagining good and positive things? People often think that in order to receive answers for prayers, one must “believe”, that is, remove negative thoughts and be filled with positive answer-related thoughts. Is that what Jesus taught? Let us look at the Scriptures to see what Jesus taught and spoke about faith. We’ll examine all passages from the Gospels where Jesus spoke about faith when he encountered people. Yes, you read it right! I’ll take you through all the passages in the Gospels without omitting even a single passage about faith.
In many instances in the Gospels, Jesus tells people, “Your faith has saved you!” or “Your faith has made you well!” Wherever Jesus commends someone for his or her faith, we must observe the person who approached Him and see how they approached Jesus and what they believed about Jesus. Consider the centurion who came to Jesus for the healing of his servant.
Matthew 8:5–13 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
The centurion was not thinking positive thoughts or imagining good things. He only thought, “If a man of worldly position like me has so much authority, then how much authority must Jesus, the Son of God, have!” The centurion recognized the authority and power of Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus commends him for.
True Biblical faith is not positive thinking. It is recognizing the power and authority of Jesus Christ and acknowledging Him as the Son of God.
Consider the disciples who were afraid while facing a severe storm in the sea. Jesus rebukes them for having little faith — for not recognizing His authority and power over nature. Jesus does not rebuke them for negative thinking or for confessing negatively. He only wanted his disciples to see that He had authority and power over the wind and the waves — and over all creation.
Matthew 8:26–27 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Unfortunately in that situation, the disciples recognized His authority and power only after the waves calmed down.
Look at the paralytic who was let down before Jesus through a roof. Jesus appreciates his faith and says that his sins are forgiven. What was the paralytic thinking? He somehow knew that Jesus had authority to forgive sins — which the scribes did not understand. They thought that Jesus was blaspheming. Jesus gave them a fitting rebuke, saying that He has authority to forgive sins.
Matthew 9:2–6 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
Look at the woman who was healed from her sickness which had lasted 12 years.
Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”
She had spent all her money on doctors and treatments. She did not have any power or resource left. But she recognized that Jesus is the Son of God and that He had the power to heal her. That is why Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well” Jesus is actually telling her, “You have recognized me and my power — that is why you have been healed!”
Jesus does not expect us to remove negative thoughts or fill our minds with positive thoughts. He only wants us to recognize His power and authority. That is the question He asked the blind men who came for healing.
Matthew 9:28–29 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Jesus was simply asking them, “Do you really know who I am? Do you know my power and authority?”
We must come to Jesus acknowledging Him as the Son of God and recognizing His power and authority. Not with mere positive thoughts. When you’re struggling with sin, it doesn’t matter whether you think goody-goody positive thoughts or remove negative thoughts. All that matters is what you think about Jesus.
Matthew 16:7–9 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?
Here Jesus rebukes his disciples for having little faith because they had not recognized Jesus’ authority and power yet. Even after seeing the miracle of multiplication of bread, they remained skeptical — they were unable to see that Jesus had power to provide for their needs. Let us face the truth clearly:
True Faith is recognizing Jesus’ power and authority.
Such recognition comes from knowing Jesus through the Scriptures. To have more faith we must know Jesus. And to know Jesus, we must read the Bible! We must meditate on the teachings of Scripture and on who Jesus is. We must pray and ask God to reveal more of Jesus to us. Only then can we cultivate true faith.
On the other hand, counterfeit faith teaches that you and your words have power and authority — and that through confession and positive thinking, you can unleash God’s power. Such false teachings focus more on your thinking, your confession and your ability to make supernatural things and miracles happen. “You have the key”, they say, “You only have to unlock it through positive thinking and confession”. But Jesus says, “I have all authority and power. Do you know who I am?”
False teachings focus on your words, your confession and your power. True teachings about faith focus on Jesus — on who He is.
I encourage you to read the Scriptures yourself to see where the difference lies. Jesus never taught people positive thinking or asked them to remove negative thoughts and confessions. He only wanted people to recognize who He is. When a preacher or pastor teaches you to focus on your thinking, emotions and confessions, he is not teaching Biblical faith — he is deceived and is leading others astray. True teachings about faith will help you fix your eyes on Jesus, recognize Him clearly and know His power and authority, thereby gradually changing your words, attitude and outlook.
Is Faith “Power within you”?
As we have been seeing, Biblical faith is all about fixing your eyes on Jesus — on Who He is, His power and His authority — and is not based on your thinking or your words. This means that you cannot say or imagine whatever you want and make it happen. We do not have such power or authority. Faith is about Jesus’ power and authority. When He speaks, it happens. God alone has the power to say “light” and create light! We simply do not have that power. However there is a common false teaching so rampant in Christianity today, which teaches that you have power within you — or that God has given you that power — to imagine, speak and make things happen. And that false teaching is what I’ll address next:
False Teaching #2
Faith is inherent power to imagine, speak, confess, decree, declare and bring things to pass
This false teaching has penetrated pulpits and churches across the world. It is not from the Bible. It has its roots in a New Age Satanic teaching called “Law of Attraction” which teaches that in order to change a condition or situation, you need to change your mind, your thinking, your words. Christians who did not understand Biblical faith have taken this idea and adopted it with superficial Bible-language. Whereas Biblical faith is all about Jesus, this counterfeit faith teaching makes the whole faith affair all about your words, your thinking, your confession, your authority and your power. They frequently emphasize that your words have power and that your words or way of thinking can change situations (financial or relationship) and conditions (sickness or poverty). Does the Bible really teach such a thing? Let us study.
Speaking in Jesus’ Name
Firstly, not everything you say in “Jesus’s Name” is going to happen. The Name of Jesus is not a magic wand that you can wield to accomplish whatever you want. The Name of Jesus is not a Christian’s personal rubber stamp. Along with the authority of Jesus’ Name comes the burden and responsibility of His Kingdom. He has given us the authority to accomplish things for the glory of His Name and His Kingdom — not yours or mine. We must first understand and take this to our hearts. Only what God wills and ordains for His Glory and His kingdom will come to pass — not everything someone says in Jesus’ Name. God is not your servant who is bound to do something just because you attach the Name of Jesus to a request or declaration. We cannot say a thousand things in Jesus’ name like throwing darts in the dark expecting that some of them might hit the bull’s eye! Unfortunately that is how many televangelists and self-proclaimed prophets abuse the name of Jesus and teach others to do so.
An example is how hundreds of “prophets” predicted, declared and prophesied, saying that Donald Trump would be re-elected as the President of the USA in 2021. Nothing happened. Hundreds of prophets spoke, declared and decreed in Jesus’ Name but nothing happened — Joe Biden became the President. Does the Name of Jesus lack power or authority? No! Not at all! The truth is that those self-proclaimed prophets were simply taking Jesus’ Name in vain! They were simply proclaiming their own agenda in Jesus’ Name and never had any divine revelation from God. Few of those false prophets came out and apologized but others have been unrepentant. The crux of the matter is this — not everything a person says in Jesus’ Name is going to happen.
Faith is not saying anything in Jesus’ Name that it might be done. As I just showed, false prophets said lots of things about Trump and nothing happened. Why? Because they did not truly hear from God. God was not the source of their declaration. True faith has its source in God’s revelation and character. For you or anyone to declare something and for that to come to pass, one of the following must hold true:
- God must have ordained it and revealed it.
- It must be based on God’s character as revealed in His written word.
This is how everything always happened in the Bible.
When the Bible talks about saying in faith, what it means is that your words must be preceded by God’s decree and revelation or be based on His character.
Let us look at an example from the Bible and see this truth in action.
Elijah in the Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel 37:4–6 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
The false teaching following the above passage goes like this: “Ezekiel confessed, declared, decreed and spoke to the dead bones and they came alive! Therefore, speak into your situations — spiritual, financial or whatever — and they will change as you say! You have power within you! God has given it to you! Unleash words in faith!”
As good as it may sound, it is but half-truth. Let us read what Ezekiel was thinking before that happened:
Ezekiel 37:3 And he [the Lord] said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
Ezekiel had no clue whether these bones could live or not! He answered neither yes nor no! Ezekiel did not have any power within him to make things happen! The dead bones came to life only because God ordained so and chose to give life. Ezekiel had faith in what God said and then he prophesied.
Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
Ezekiel was only saying what God was going to do. His words did not make anything happen. God’s power did. Ezekiel had no confidence in his own ability or power. Ezekiel had no supernatural power to speak and give life with words. Nor did he go around giving life to dead bones again and again! This happened only once — and God was doing it.
Observe the subtle difference: the false teaching says that you can unleash God’s power at your own will, anytime, by declaring or speaking whenever you want, whereas the Bible teaches that God’s decree comes first.
Let me show you more examples from Scripture.
Elijah and the Famine
1 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
Here Elijah seems to be declaring and bringing to pass, a famine. But let us search the Bible and look further into the New Testament:
James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
Here you’ll find that Elijah is not speaking and making things happen. James interprets the Old Testament passage as Elijah praying to God. When Elijah prayed with a burden over Israel’s spiritual deterioration and idolatry, God answered him by sending a famine so that His people might repent. Elijah’s words had no power — James surely does not interpret or teach so. The early Christians never believed such a thing.
The Bible does not teach anywhere, “Decree, declare and confess, and anything will happen!” As I said earlier, such teachings come from the Satanic New Age belief system — it teaches that your words have power (Sadly, many popular preachers teach the same thing). On the other hand, the Bible teaches that Jesus has all power and authority — and when we ask for His Glory, His purpose and His Kingdom, He answers.
Joshua and the Sun
Joshua 10:12–14 At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.
Here the Bible says explicitly that Joshua spoke to the Lord and after God had answered, he declared like Elijah or Ezekiel did. And Joshua did not have any power to stop or move the sun at his own will anytime. God did it only once in response to an earnest request, again, for His Glory.
Faith talk in the Gospels
Biblical faith begins with God’s revelation, His Word and His will. If God has not ordained it, nothing you say or imagine will come to pass. What many popular televangelists and false prophets do is quote only from the Gospel of Matthew and rip off the context:
Matthew 17:19–20 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 21:20–22 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Matthew seems to say that you have got the power to say and bring things to pass. But the Gospel of Mark contains the all-important phrase “Have faith in God”.
Mark 11:21–24 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Jesus first says, “Have faith in God”. Faith needs a source to draw from — and that source is God Himself! It may be God’s will, His revelation, His Word or His character. God is the object of our faith. Our needs, words or imagination cannot become the source of faith. Our faith or declaration always follows God’s revelation. This logic is prevalent throughout the Scriptures:
Matthew 16:15–17 He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Peter could only say what the Father had revealed to him — there was no other way he could have come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God. We have no power or truth in us. God is Truth and all power belongs to Him. And His revelation must be the source of any declaration for it to be true or for it to come to pass. Consider the example of Noah and Abraham. Their faith was based on God’s revelation.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark…
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go…
Abraham didn’t come up with plans to leave his hometown nor did Noah conjure a plan to build an arc on his own. God first told them what to do. Before Abraham obeyed, he was called to go. Before Noah built an arc, he was warned about things to come. Their actions of faith followed God’s calling and warning. God’s revelation always comes first. Faith is merely the response to God’s revelation. Faith is not a power that you possess.
Faith based on God’s character
There are lot of examples in the Bible where people who spoke or did things did not have God’s revelation. But their actions or words were based on God’s character. And things happened as they said or did. Observe Abraham and Sarah here:
Hebrews 11:17–19 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, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
Hebrews 11:11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
The Scripture says that they considered God to be faithful and able. Their eyes were on God. They knew what kind of a person God is. They acted without God’s revelation but knew God’s character.
Can we say or do things in “faith”?
In all incidents in the Bible, God’s revelation or His answer or His will comes first. Or people spoke and acted based on who He is. You are not the source of power or any solution. You cannot initiate anything directly by invoking God’s Name. God is not bound to fulfill whatever man declares in Jesus’ Name. Next time you hear a preacher say that if you have problems in life, you must declare and decree solutions in Jesus’ Name, you may know for sure that he is an impostor who does not really know God. Such teachings come from the pit of Hell. Any teaching of faith that teaches you to focus your attention on your words, is not from God and is of the Devil. Summarizing the previous point and this one, here’s a simple comparison of what Biblical and counterfeit faiths look like:
Biblical faith grows as you seek to know Jesus more each day by meditating on God’s word and having fellowship with Him through prayer. On the other hand, counterfeit faith works through mental manipulation. Here’s how meditation (what the Bible teaches) and manipulation differ:
I encourage you to read through all of Scripture and not base your understanding on just two or three passages. If you know what Biblical faith is, you will not practice or fall prey to New Age teachings disguised in Biblical language. If you’re ignorant, you’ll end up being disappointed or deluded. If you keep declaring things in line with “false” faith and nothing happens, you’ll be disappointed and injure your faith. Or you might choose to ignore reality, manipulate yourself and continue saying things in a state of mental delusion. You’ll become blind and spiritually numb inside gradually while putting on false clothes of religiosity outside. I pray that the Lord will open your eyes to see the Truth that sets you free.
Does faith guarantee answers?
We now know that faith is not inherent power but an act of response to God. But then there’s another category of false teaching that portrays faith as something that guarantees answers to prayers. It is not uncommon to hear preachers say, “Your prayer was not answered because you didn’t have enough faith!” or “He was not healed because he did not have enough faith!” or “That happened because you doubted!” Have you heard such teachings or accusations? I have heard plenty. We’ll examine this teaching by comparing it with what the Bible says.
False Teaching #3
If you’re not healed or if you prayer was not answered, it is because you did not have enough faith
What exactly is faith?
As I have shown in detail so far, Faith recognizes Jesus, His identity, His power and His authority. It is not positive thinking. Faith is not a means to get what you want from God. Rather, faith holds on to Jesus, His eternal promises and the Heavenly calling despite every doubt, fear and chaos all around. Observe these passages:
Matthew 14:31–32 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Jesus rebukes Peter for not focusing on Him. Faith focuses on Jesus, holds on to Jesus and receives Jesus Himself in the end!
Luke 22:31–32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail — that Peter would not cease to trust Jesus but come back to Him and cling to Him. And Jesus asked Peter to strengthen others once he has turned back to Him.
Faith is all about Jesus. If you look unto Jesus, you will have faith and not be overpowered by the stormy seas of trials and temptations. And Jesus is praying for you that your faith might not fail — that you might continually look to Christ and keep coming after Him.
Just as Jesus is the object of our faith and source of our faith, Jesus is also the end and the reward of our faith!
How false teachers twist faith
False teachers intentionally disconnect faith from Jesus. They turn faith into some kind of positive power, imagination or thinking by which you receive something from God. For them faith beings with your mind, imagination, words and thoughts. Faith, they say, is the currency for buying blessings from God. Dear ones in Christ, that is not what the Bible teaches. For us, faith is the means to secure eternal salvation and hold on to Christ amidst the storms of life without wavering. Faith is the means to grow in our walk with the Lord. Faith is not the means to receive things here on Earth. Read Hebrews 11, the defining passage on faith.
Hebrews 11:1–6 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Observe the first two examples of faith — Abel and Enoch. They received nothing here on earth! Abel was murdered shortly after he offered a pleasing sacrifice to God. Enoch was taken away after he was found pleasing in God’s eyes. What was the reward Abel and Enoch received for their faith? They pleased God and were accepted by Him — that was their reward! The reward of faith is God Himself. Faith is not the means to guaranteed answers to your prayers. Faith is not the means to mere healing. Faith is the means to please God! Faith looks to Christ alone and to Heavenly blessings. Look at the next example of faith
Hebrews 11:7 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.
The author of Hebrews makes it clear that Noah’s reward for his faith was righteousness — Noah pleased God and that was the reward of his faith! What greater reward can we have! To be righteous before God and to be able to have fellowship with Him is the greatest gift here on Earth. God gives us Christ’s righteousness when we come to Him in repentance and faith — that is the reward for our faith today. And he gives us the assurance of a Heavenly home when we persevere through the storms of life. Look at the next examples — Abraham and Sarah (Hebrews 11:8–12). What reward did they get?
Hebrews 11:13–16 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. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 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.
Abraham and Sarah did not receive the fulfilment of promise here on earth! They were looking to Heavenly blessings. Faith does not always receive here on earth. Faith awaits the fulfilment of heavenly promises and does not demand things here on earth. From Abel to Abraham, the first five examples quoted by the writer of Hebrews did not receive anything on Earth. Rather they were found pleasing in God’s eyes and lived for their Heavenly reward.
False teachers declare that if you have more faith, your prayers will be answered and that you’ll always be healed, whole and financially well off, having a flourishing life here on Earth. But the Bible teaches the exact opposite — that people of great faith did not receive things on earth but had their eyes fixed on Heaven. Look at the conclusion of the chapter.
Hebrews 11:39–40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
People commended for their faith by the Bible — people hailed as heroes of faith by God Himself — did not receive what was promised! They were looking for better things — heavenly things! When a preacher says, “You were not healed because you doubted!” or “Your situation has not changed because you don’t have enough faith!“, you can immediately know for sure that he is a servant of Satan and does not really know God. Only the devil teaches the opposite of what the Bible says. Heroes of faith in the Bible did not receive what was promised but were still holding on to the One who gave the promise — they were clinging to Christ and not to perishable things! Today’s false teachers would have demeaned them as having little or no faith!
Hebrews 11:35b Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life
Hebrews 11:24–27 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Faith enabled heroes of faith to endure adverse situations on earth because their faith was all about Jesus and His eternal blessings. They saw Jesus and the better life that lay ahead and the resurrection to come! That is the kind of faith God wants us to have! That is the kind of faith that pleases God; Not the cheap counterfeit faith that always demands healing, change of situation and definite answers here on earth; Not a faith that looks for answers but a faith that looks to Christ alone. And God rewards such faith by giving Himself!
God answers prayers
We must not go to the other extreme of thinking that God will not do anything at all here on Earth. In response to your faith and in accordance with His will, God answers prayers and changes situations here on Earth. Hebrews 11 has examples of the same:
Hebrews 11:32–35 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.
God did great things when people trusted Him and prayed. And God still does. But the focus is always on the eternal, says the author of Hebrews. That’s the emphasis and conclusion the passage. That is the kind of faith we are called to cultivate.
Hebrews 11:39–40 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Biblical faith is always focused on Eternity and is not dependent on what happens in your life here and now.
Habakkuk 3:17–19 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
This is the kind of rock-solid faith God wants us to have — faith that is not shaken by your circumstances, no matter how adverse.
Psalm 46:1–3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling
And such faith overcomes the world and stands firm because it is looking to unshakeable, eternal things.
1 John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
A faith that always demands change and always seeks answers here on Earth has not and cannot overcome this world. Such faith has not really grasped the glory of Christ or the blessedness of Heavenly rewards.
The conclusion of Hebrews’ discourse on faith
The passage about faith does not end with chapter 11. The author of Hebrews goes on to say in chapter 12 that we must look to Jesus. Chapter 12 concludes chapter 11. He writes that faith is all about looking unto Jesus and running the race with endurance.
Hebrews 12:1–3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
The author of Hebrews was writing to a persecuted Jewish community and he wasted no time telling them that life will be comfortable here on earth. He keeps reminding them to put their faith on eternal things and Christ’s Heavenly calling. Only then could they endure persecution and stand firm in all circumstances. He is reminding them that just as Jesus endured the Cross keeping the joys of eternity in mind, we too must fight the fight of faith by keeping eternal joys in mind. If you are doing that despite every trail and temptation surrounding your life, then you have great faith! Do not let others judge your faith based on your health or circumstances. Your faith has greater rewards — rewards that are lasting, eternal and incomparable in glory!