I have noticed a pattern with my posts lately that got me to thinking. The pattern has been emphasizing the importance of reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis. I realized growing up Word of Faith, I was taught to give the Word first place and make it final authority in my life. Having been out of the Word of Faith for a year now, I understand why I’m emphasizing time in the Word and also how different the emphasis is.
I have always been “a Word guy” and there were certain things that I always questioned such as the hyper-emphasis on tongues, the laughing revival, and prophetic words that didn’t come to pass or just sounded like nonsense, but put it aside because I didn’t want to grieve the Spirit or hinder my breakthrough. But the truth is, we are supposed to make sure what we are being taught lines up with the Word. Last night I had an idea to explain how popular verses were misused in the Word of Faith and how to rightly understand them.
Does this sound familiar to you, Are you keeping your faith strong as you’re believing for that new house? Have you been confessing your Scriptures? Remember we cannot become slack in our faith. Faith must be working now, when it looks like it’s not going to happen, get out your Scriptures, get the Word going in you again, listen to good teaching. If you have ever been in the place where you’ve asked a fellow Word of Faith person why you don’t see anything happening yet, you have likely heard that faith is the evidence of things not seen, just keep believing and keep confessing.
That answer comes from Hebrews 11:1. If you have been in the Word of Faith you have more than likely used this verse as an encouragement to stay in faith. Let’s take a look at it in the King James Version, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you are listening to someone teach from Hebrews 11:1 you likely heard the King James first, followed by the Amplified Classic Bible which says, “NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not been revealed to the senses].” We were then told to hold on to faith, declare Scriptures, and to see ourselves possessing what we were believing for. I am not against believing God for something, but the question is, is Hebrews 11:1 a blank check to ask for anything we want?
When we look at a verse it is important to know the context, an easy way to get the context is to read three verses before and after the verse you are looking at. In the context of Hebrews we need to keep something else in mind, we need to remember that a letter is meant to be read from beginning to end. One thing that helped me to realize much of the mistakes in the teaching I had heard was to simply sit down and read a New Testament book in one sitting. I highly encourage you to do that, so you can better understand the context of Scripture. It’s also Important to note that the chapters and verse numbers were added later to make it easier to locate text, that’s also why I recommend reading at least three verses before and after.
To fully understand Hebrews 11:1 we need to go back to the very beginning of the letter and see what it’s about. Hebrews 1:1-4 NKJV “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” The entire book of Hebrews is about how Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant system, that is important to keep in mind throughout the entire book.
The entire Old Testament points to Jesus and the book of Hebrews was written to explain that fact. To get the context of Hebrews 11:1 let’s look at three verses in front and after it. Hebrews 10:37-11:3 NKJV “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 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.”
The verses preceding talk about waiting for the second coming and the verses after, the entire chapter in fact, rehearse the stories of all those in the Old Testament who believed God. It isn’t until chapter twelve that the narrative changes to be directed at us. The faith of the patriarchs was in God ultimately for the coming of the Messiah.
The context of the book of Hebrews makes the misuse of chapter eleven, verse one easier to spot when you look at the whole. Hebrews 11:1 isn’t a verse to use to stay in faith for a new car or a new house. Hebrews 11:1 is not an encouragement to make a vision board to keep your faith focused so we can get what we want. Scripture promises us that God will meet our needs and even prosper us, but when we’re pushing ourselves to have bigger faith for better things we can quickly get out of bounds. We don’t need to believe for the next big thing, we need to be content with the blessings God has given us. Bible faith is faith in God for His will to be done and for His kingdom to be advanced.
We must guard against operating in faith for things and not faith in God. When our faith is in God, we still keep our focus on Him during hard times. If our faith is focused on things and the things don’t come how our faith is wanting, we have a tendency to give the devil more authority in our thinking than God. Can we pray in faith for things? Absolutely, we are promised in Scripture to have our needs met, but we are also warned in James, that we pray and do not receive because we ask to fulfill our own desires. Too many times we use Hebrews 11:1 as the key to our selfish desires. The book of Hebrews is about Jesus fulfilling the Old Covenant and Hebrews 11:1 is about faith in His fulfillment of that covenant.
Not every verse will be this easy to deal with, but I wanted to start with this one to show how much the context can clear up misuse without necessarily having to dig for understanding for hours. The truth is much of the misuse and misconceptions of verses is easy to unlearn, we just have to train ourselves to look at the Scripture based on its full context and not read our situations into the context.
I hope this look at Hebrews 11:1 has been helpful and from time to time we will look at other misused verses, sometimes it will be easier to see how it was misinterpreted or applied, at other times it will take a little more work, but we’ll work through the text together, so we can understand it and rightly apply it.