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Believing Is Seeing -- A Study Of Faith

“Believing Is Seeing” –A Study of Faith
Hebrews 11 and 12

          The “Doubting Thomases” of our world say, “Seeing is believing,” but the Bible teaches just the opposite.  The apostle John records in John 11:40 that Jesus said to His mother, Mary, “Didn’t I tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?”  The secular mindset says, “See first, then believe.” But so often what God tells us to do is the opposite of human wisdom.

          In our study this time, we’re going to look at the subject of faith. We begin with…


1. Turn first in your Bible to the chapter known as the great “faith” chapter, Hebrews 11. We’ll begin in verse 1:

 Now faith is the _____________ of things hoped for, the _______________ of things ____  _____. 

2. Turn forward to chapter 12.  See verse 2:

Looking unto __________,  the ___________  and ___________ of our faith…”

Jesus is the one, then, who is the originator and central to our faith.
Someone once created this acrostic of the word “FAITH”

If ever we needed an earth-shaking, mountain-moving, devil-defying, sin-destroying, revival-bringing FAITH, this is the time, this is the age, this is the hour.  We need not only to possess a faith; we need to have a faith that possesses us.

How does the Bible define faith? 

Truthfully, you won’t find a definition of faith in the Bible.  But we can find a description of faith. We find it here in Hebrews 11:1.

First, the Bible calls faith “substance.” 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for…  (v. 1).

“Substance” in English is very much like what the Greek word implies: “sub” and “stance.” It is something beneath (sub) you can stand on. 
Faith has reality to it.  Faith is not hocus-pocus.  Faith is not spiritual smoke and mirrors.  Faith does not mean resting on eggshells and Jello.  Faith has spiritual steel and concrete in it. Faith is substance

People have different definitions of faith:

  • a feeling of optimism
  • positive thinking
  • “name-it-and-claim-it,”
  • hoping for the best. 

Those are not faith. 

3. Look again. “Faith is the substance of things _________  _______.” Substance we can understand. It means something concrete; it means reality. But what about “things hoped for?”  Now it sounds not so concrete.  

As the Bible uses the word hope, it’s very different from “hope” in our vernacular today.  We use “hope” to speak of something we desire to come to pass.  Perhaps it will. Perhaps it won’t. But we “hope” it will, like a “hope chest,” when a young woman began storing away nice things to have one day, in the “hope” she’ll get married. Maybe she will, maybe she won’t.

But the Bible’s “hope” means absolute assurance based on the Word of God. (You may want to write that phrase in the margin of your Bible at verse 1.)

Faith is something real.  It has a substance, a basis, something to stand on based on an absolute assurance, based on the Word of God.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

4. We are still in Hebrews 11:1. Faith is also…

…the ___________________ of things not seen. 

Substance—something you can stand on. It’s solid.

Evidence—In a courtroom, evidence says, “Here is physical proof.” You can look at it—sometimes touch it and hold it in your hand. It’s not in your mind—it’s in plain view there on the table.

Crime-solvers look for evidence. Sherlock Holmes gets his magnifying glass and searches for clues.

When in these studies we take “A CLOSER LOOK,” we’re getting out our magnifying glass and looking more closely at a passage or examining background information about it.

The faith you have in your heart is evidence God is up to something.  You see, when God massages your heart, He leaves His fingerprints on you.  When God touches the human life, you can see the fingerprint of God, evidence God is going to do something very real. 

5. Continuing in Hebrews 11:1, what is faith the evidence of?

…things ____  _____.

There is a great unseen world out there.  We’re going to pause for a moment here, because it’s important to establish the fact that there’s much we do not see with our physical eyes.

6. Turn in your Bible to 2 Kings chapter 6. Begin reading at verse 8.

a. Which of God’s great Old Testament prophets is involved here? (v. 1) __________
His mentor, Elijah, has been taken up to Heaven in a fiery chariot, but Elijah’s mantle has now fallen to this man.


It’s easy to get Elijah and Elisha mixed up. One follows right behind the other, both literally and on a timeline. Elijah had a history-shaping ministry dealing with the people of Israel, their rebellion, and a dramatic encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He foretold the  deaths of wicked King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. God fed him supernaturally by ravens in the wilderness when he went into hiding from Ahab and Jezebel.
Elisha, a younger prophet, had asked Elijah for a double portion of his anointing to fall upon him. Elijah told him that if he was with him at the time of his departure, and if he saw Elijah taken up to Heaven, then he would indeed receive that double portion (2 Kings 2:9). As we read the account, the younger prophet, Elisha, never left Elijah’s side! He was committed. Determined to receive that anointing. And true to the promise, the Bible records Elisha performed exactly double the number miracles Elijah had done.

b.   What’s going on in Israel’s immediate world in 2 Kings 6:8?

c. Elisha is trying to help the king of his own people, the Israelites. What prophetic power of his frustrates the enemy, the Syrian king in verses 9-10?

7. Continue reading the story down to verse 23, the end of this part of the drama.
Elisha is staying put in the city of ______________ as the Syrian army advances. As soon as the Syrian king gets wind of that, what does he do? (v. 14)

Therefore _______________________________________________: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

The city of Dothan and the prophet within were surrounded.

a. What does Elisha’s servant find upon waking up the next day? (v. 15)

No wonder the servant came to Elisha and said, “Alas, my master! How shall we do?” “Master, we’re in trouble.  All around us are the enemies of God—your enemies—and they’re here to destroy us.” 

b. Elisha answers,

16 …Fear not: for _______ that be ________ us are ______ than they that be with ________.

The servant looks around and says, “What? They’ve got armed soldiers, horses and chariots. There are just two of us. And here all these armies.” 

We’ve already been told there was “a great host” with the enemy. Right now, the servant is thinking, “We’re trapped. We’re defenseless. We’re doomed!”

8. What does Elisha ask God to do? See v. 17

17And Elisha prayed (listen to this) and said, “Lord, I pray Thee, _______  _____  __________ that he may ______.” 
And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of ____________ and _______________ of fire round about Elisha.

That’s one of the greatest verses in all the Bible to me.  And I get to thinking no matter where I go, God’s angels are  all around me when I’m walking in the Spirit, when I’m obeying God.  Friend, there’s an unseen world there. The mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire.  This young man couldn’t see it until God opened his eyes that he might see the invisible.

Can you picture the scene? Outside the city, the Syrian army has them surrounded. The horses and chariots of God are not in the city—they’re in the mountains above and around the city. Suddenly, from the mountains above the city, a larger force of horses and chariots begins to descend. And suddenly, I imagine everyone can see them. I imagine the noise was deafening. I imagine the sight scared the Syrians to death.

We have stopped and parked on this story, and there are many, many lessons here. But our purpose for doing so is to point this out: Clearly there is an unseen world—one as real as the one we can touch—although it is unseen.

Those horses and chariots of fire were real, sent by God to protect His prophet, Elisha, from the Syrian army. One doesn’t send ephemeral, gaseous spirits to ride upon horses and chariots.

So we have Faith as substance : something concrete to rest upon, rock-ribbed promises we have from the Word of God.

Faith is also evidencethat there’s something else—an unseen world where God is moving and working. The only way you know it’s there is the evidence you have in your heart.  That evidence in your heart of a great unseen world is faith.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen, but we know are very real.


What does Faith do? Why is Faith necessary?        

Faith is necessary for three vital things you need in your life: wisdom, worship, and wealth.  They all come by faith.

Faith is Necessary for Spiritual WISDOM

10. Hebrews 11:5
a. “Through faith we ___________________...” 

There are things that you can only know by faith. 

b. How do we know/understand how the world came into being? (See v. 3)

 Through ________ we ________________ that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.



In plain English, he is saying that the reality and existence of God cannot be argued; God cannot be explained.  We accept the fact of God by faith. 

There is no philosophical argument for God in the Bible. It doesn’t go through an exercise to give a philosopher’s complex reasoning for God.   It just starts out, “In the beginning God...”  It takes for granted that you understand God exists. You accept that by faith.

Things that were made, were made out of things that are not seen! Perhaps this is one of the reasons God included in the Bible the story of Elisha’s servant and the angelic, protecting hosts. It was evidence for us that things we can see before us were made by an unseen hand.

Moffett puts it this way: He translated verse 3 by saying “The visible is made out of the invisible.”  That’s a good translation. How do you know?  By faith. 

The atheist or skeptic may say, “You soft-headed Christians, you just accept by faith that there is a God.” 
And I say, “You’re absolutely right.” 
He says, “You can’t prove there’s a God.” 
I say, “You’re absolutely right.  I can’t prove it.  I just accept it by faith.” 
And so he gets real smug.
Then I say to him, “You accept by faith there is no God. Prove there is no God.” 
He says, “I can’t prove there is no God.” 

He can’t, any more than you can prove there is a God.  He’s a believer, just like you’re a believer.  You believe in God.  He believes there is no God.  But both are believers.  Science can neither prove nor disprove God.  Going into a laboratory to try to find God would be like taking a piano apart trying to find a song. 
We accept the existence of God by faith. 
It’s not a matter of the mind.  It’s a matter of the heart. 

11. We’ve visited this verse before, but let’s look again. Turn to Psalm 53:1.

Who is talking, and what is he saying?

God has looked at him and labeled him a fool.

In last month’s study, we dealt with the many reasons a person commits to a belief that there is no God. He doesn’t have intellectual difficulties.  He has moral difficulties. 

God has so created man that when man’s heart is right, we respond to God in a way the Bible calls “faith.” By faith we understand, we know things we can never learn any other way.  That doesn’t mean we crucify logic.  Faith goes beyond logic, but it is not antithetical to logic. 

Faith Is Necessary for Spiritual WORSHIP 

12. Continue in Hebrews 11 to verse 6:

 But without faith it is ___________________to please God…   

No matter what else you do, no matter how well you sing or praise God, He had much rather have you believe Him than praise Him. 

Worship is not the highest good. Faith is the highest good. 


Let’s say someone says something nice about you, praises you publically in front of friends and family, but afterward he says, “There’s just one thing about him: you can’t believe him.” 
No matter what good things were said, if a person cannot be believed, their character has been destroyed. 
No matter what you might say about me, if I am not believable, if I do not have integrity and character, if you cannot believe what I say even if I am telling the truth, you have done the worst thing you could possibly do to my character. That is the greatest assault.

13. Turn to 1 John 5:10 says,

He that _____________  ____  God, hath made Him a ______.

There is no greater thing you can do to worship, give God honor, and give Him glory, than to believe Him.  The way to please God above all things is simply to believe God.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God…”  You cannot please God by disbelieving Him. 

Faith Is Necessary for Spiritual WEALTH 

14. Back to Hebrews 11 again.

6 …for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a ______________  of them that diligently seek Him.

I don’t know how much God blesses you or uses you, but I can tell you the measure of it, because Jesus revealed it. 

a. Turn to Matthew 9:29

_______________ to your ____________,  be it unto you. 

Faith is the medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven.  On earth, it may be a credit card, cash, or check, but in the kingdom of heaven, it is faith.

Your spiritual life is no greater than your faith.
God does for us, God does through us, what we believe God for.


Is faith limited? 
God has given us this wonderful 11th chapter of Hebrews to show us that faith is absolutely unlimited.

15. Faith is not altered by appearances.  Go to Hebrews 11:26-27. We’re talking again about things that are unseen, which is why faith is required.

Who is the writer of Hebrews talking about in the following verses?

26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the _____________.
27“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is _____________.

Moses, we learn here, didn’t fear the king’s wrath, for he saw “Him who is invisible,” Almighty God.  He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter or enjoy the pleasures of Egypt because he “esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater treasure than those of Egypt.” 

Adopted grandson of Pharaoh, heir to the throne, Moses could be the potentate of the mightiest kingdom the world has ever known to that time.  He can have it all: fame, wealth, ease, luxury, power.  And he sees all of that.  But he trades it for what was unseen,

25 Choosing rather to ___________  _______________ with the people of God, than to enjoy the ________________ of sin for a ____________.

“For a season” is temporal. “For he endured as seeing him that is eternal.”  Moses looked and saw all of this that’s temporal.  Then he took the telescope of faith and looked into the distance.  He saw Jesus on the throne.  By faith he saw the kingdom of Christ, the riches of Christ, the glories of heaven.  No one else could see it.  He saw the invisible, which is very real, and said,

“I’m going that way.  It just makes more sense.  There are greater riches there than here.” 

How did he see that?  “By faith he endured, as seeing Him that is invisible.”  There’s an invisible world. 

16. Turn to Colossians 1:16.

By Him [the Lord Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, _____________and _______________…

There is more to life than what you can see, touch, taste, smell, or hear. 
In many ways, the invisible world is more real than the visible world. The invisible world was here first:  “…things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).  Again, as Moffett says, “The visible was made of the invisible.”  The invisible was here first.  The invisible will be here last.

17. Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:18: 

Anything you can see is temporary.  They are here only for a time. The things you cannot see are eternal.  They last forever.  As a child of God, you need to learn to see the invisible. 

  • When Moses had to make a choice, how did he make it?  He saw the invisible. 
  • When Elisha was in trouble, how did he endure?  He saw the invisible. 
  • When the apostle Paul suffered, how did he endure? Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  He says,

17 For our light affliction, which is ____  ____  ___  __________, worketh for us a far more exceeding and _____________ weight of glory;

Wait a minute, Paul.  You call being beaten a “light affliction”?  Is being stoned a “light affliction”?  Being put in prison a “light affliction”?  Paul says, “Oh, yes.” 

18 While we ________  _____   at the things which are _______, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are ______________; but the things which are not seen are ______________.

Are you suffering?  Get your eyes off of that which you can see and get your eyes on that which you cannot see. 
The dimension of faith is this:  It’s not limited by what you can see.  There’s an unseen world that was here first.  It’ll be here last.  You have a choice to make.

  • Be like Moses and make it in the light of that which can’t be seen.
  • If you’re in trouble and the enemy is all around you, be like Elisha and say, “Lord, I see the mountains also full of horses and chariots of fire round about me.”
  • If you’re like the apostle Paul and you’re going through trouble, pain, and affliction, you need to be able to say, “This is going to pass.  The things that are seen are temporal.  The things that are not seen are eternal.”

See the unseeable so you can know the unknowable and do the impossible.


How can you have a faith like this? 

Four things you must do if you would have strong faith.

1. Be saturated with the Word of God.

Go forward to Hebrews chapter 12. What is the first word of the chapter?

The word “wherefore” refers to everything he said in chapter 11, the illustrations, the promises, and the precepts. 

Wherefore (on the basis of the Word of God) seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith….

God gave this book, His Word, to engender faith in your life.

Turn to Romans 10:17.

 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. 


Dwight L. Moody was a man of great faith.  But he said, “In my younger ministry, I used to pray and ask God for faith.  I used to beg God for faith. And frankly, I was weak in faith. Then I discovered Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I stopped praying and asking God for faith, and I began to saturate myself with the Word of God, and I found faith welling up in my life.”

Do you want to have a strong faith?  Saturate yourself with the word of God.  

2.  Be separated from sin. 

1 Wherefore we’re compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the _______ which doth so easily beset us…. 

Weights weigh us down.  Sins trip us up.  You don’t run a race with an overcoat on or with your feet chained.  He says, “Get rid of this excess baggage, these things that will entangle you, so you can run the race.”  The race is the race of faith.

Is there in your heart any unconfessed, unrepented of sin?  If there is, you’re going to have difficulty believing God.  The great enemy of faith is sin. Unbelief does not come out of the head; it comes out of the heart. 

Turn back to the 3rd chapter of Hebrews, verse 12:

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an ______  _________ of _____________...

Unbelief is not a mental problem.  It always comes out of an evil heart.  You see, when your heart is right, it’s easy to believe God.  If there’s sin in your life, that’s the reason you’re having difficulty believing God.  Get your heart right and pure with God.

I don’t know what your pet sin may be.  But it is not worth the price you’re paying for it, because it is killing the faith in your heart.  There is nothing more damning, more debilitating, more stultifying to faith than sin in the heart. 

You’re going to have to “lay it aside.”  Don’t ask, “God, take it away.”  He’s not going to take it away.  You’re trying to put the blame on Him.  You lay it aside.

3. Be dedicated to the Son of God

 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…. (11:2) 

As you study the Bible and discover who Jesus Christ is, faith is the by-product of looking to Jesus.  He’s the one who engenders faith, and He is the goal toward which we’re running.  He’s the one to which faith brings us.  He is the one that pulls the trigger that starts the race.  He is the end of the goal that welcomes you there.  He’s the one that gives you the strength to run the race.  He’s the coach. Keep your eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not primarily great faith in God that you need.  It’s faith in a great God, to see who Jesus Christ is, to know Jesus Christ.  To understand Jesus Christ is to have faith automatic in your heart and in your life because He engenders faith in your heart to know Him and to love Him.

4. Be activated by the Spirit.

          …let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. 

There is a difference between faith and belief.
Belief is the first cousin to faith, but it is not faith. 
Faith is belief with legs on it. 
Faith does something. 
Faith acts.
Faith moves. 

The reason some of us don’t really understand faith is, we want it all to be academic.  But if you will read this eleventh chapter of Hebrews, which is God’s Hall of Fame, God’s Hall of the Faithful, all of them did something by faith. 

  • By faith Moses forsook Egypt. 
  • By faith Noah built a boat. 
  • By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice. 
  • By faith Abraham obeyed God. 

By faith they did something.

          Saturated with the Word,
Separated from sin,
Dedicated to Jesus,
Activated by the Spirit  
You’ll find that faith growing in your heart and life.

Let’s believe God.


Posted by dave hare at 12:00 AM


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