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Faith Participates: Hebrews 11:1-2

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
—Hebrews 11:1–2

We are called to live by faith – even in deep discouragement. That message to believers under pressure isn’t new. In fact, the writer of Hebrews addressed a massive audience of converted Jewish Christians oppressed by Rome and their fellow Jews.

The recipients of the book of Hebrews found themselves in a challenging situation. They were living in a time when their faith was constantly tested, and they faced persecution and societal pressure to renounce their beliefs. In such a discouraging environment, the writer of Hebrews sought to encourage and uplift the spirits of these believers by reminding them of the exemplary faith displayed by their ancestors.

In our Faith That Inspires series, we will examine 16 Old Testament heroes of faith. These individuals, whose stories have stood the test of time, serve as beacons of inspiration and models of unwavering faithfulness. Each hero's story has a ripple effect that transcends generations, touching the hearts and minds of believers today.

Discussion Questions

Icebreaker – Tell the group about the strongest Christian you have ever known. What made them so special in your eyes?

  1. Read Hebrews 10:35. In boxing, if a fighter’s manager thinks he is too injured to continue, he can throw a towel into the ring to stop the fight. This expression “throwing in the towel” has come to mean giving up.
  2. Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel regarding your faith? Tell the group about it.
  3. Read Hebrews 10:36. Why does the writer say we should not quit but continue in the faith?
  4. What does it mean to “do God’s will," and why is that sometimes difficult?
  5. Think about your daily, everyday life. In what ways do you do difficult things that often require persistence in the face of adversity? What makes those things worth the effort?

Dig Deeper: The Judgement Seat of Christ 

Read 2 Corinthians 5:10.

The Bible teaches us that our actions will be examined and judged by Christ, who will weigh their value and impact on eternity. Some of our actions are wasteful, while others will ripple through generations, impacting life upon life. The former actions are described as rubbish, while the latter is defined as precious, eternal, and reward worthy.

Citizens and subjects of the Roman Empire would have been familiar with the concept of a “judgment seat” in the first century. The judgment seat was the location from which municipal authorities welcomed visitors into cities, extended favor to righteous citizens making pleas for justice, and assessed punishments on social deviants.

The New Testament writers directly reference the concept of a judgment seat nine times. In Acts, the term refers to the historical judgment seat of Roman judges (Acts 12:21; 18:12, 16–17) or tribunals (Acts 25:6, 10, 17). In the Gospels, the term describes the seat of Pilate during the trial of Jesus (Matt 27:11; John 18:28–33). Perhaps the more critical passages for understanding the judgment seat of Christ include the two references to an eschatological court scene, one governed by God (Rom 14:10), the other by Christ (2 Cor 5:10).

The actions of our lives that will be judged as reward-worthy are all based on faith.

We can define a life of faith as “the objective reality of future promises and blessings.” There is a faith that saves us (our belief in Jesus) and a faith that sanctifies us (our focus on Jesus). It is faith that accepts the promises and faith that participates in the promises.

So, exactly how do we participate in the promises?

Read Hebrews 10:19-25.

How many ways of living by faith can you find in that passage? Which one is the most meaningful to you?

How many examples can you implement into your life now? Tell the group how you intend to do that.
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