Lesson 138

Hebrews 11

“Lesson 138: Hebrews 11,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul taught Church members about faith. He cited examples of righteous men and women from the Old Testament who exercised faith in Jesus Christ and thereby performed miracles, endured hardships, and received great blessings.

Suggestions for Teaching

Hebrews 11:1–6

Paul teaches Church members about faith

Read the following account of a young woman from the Philippines. Invite students to listen for how the young woman exercised faith.

video iconInstead of reading the account, you could show the video “Pure and Simple Faith” (5:22), from which the following account is adapted. This video is available on LDS.org. Stop the video after the young woman has the impression to buy the things she needs (time code 2:36).

 

A young woman from the Philippines explained that one summer her father had to go away to work. When he received his pay he would send it home to his family. One Saturday, the family had used all the money except for two bills worth 20 pesos each. As the young woman looked at the list of items her family needed, she knew they would not have enough money to buy all of the items and pay the fare to transport her family to church the next day. She asked her mother what she should do. Her mother told her to buy the items and that God would provide the means for the fare.

The young woman prayed that she could buy the items on the list and still have enough money to pay for transportation to church the next day. She first had to buy charcoal so her family would have fuel to cook. She was shocked when she found out that the price of a bag of charcoal had doubled from 5 pesos to 10 pesos. Knowing that her family needed the fuel to cook their food, she bought two bags of charcoal for a total of 20 pesos. This young woman prayed even more fervently that her family would still be able to go to church. As she prayed, something whispered to her: “Go on and buy the things you need. It’s all right.” So she continued on her way with only 20 pesos. (Adapted from the video “Pure and Simple Faith,” LDS.org.)

  • In what ways did this young woman exercise faith?

Invite a student to read Hebrews 11:1 aloud as well as Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:1 (in Hebrews 11:1, footnote b). Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about faith.

  • According to verse 1, what is faith? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.)

Explain that Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used Hebrews 11:1 as well as other sources (Alma 32:21; Lectures on Faith) to explain three basic elements of faith in Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bednar.

Elder David A. Bednar

“These teachings highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for that are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 62).

Write the following on the board: Assurance—facing the future; Evidence—looking to the past; Action—initiating action in the present. Explain that Elder Bednar taught that these three elements of faith—assurance, evidence, and action—work together as we face the future, look to the past, and take action in the present.

  • How is exercising faith in Jesus Christ different from merely believing in Him?

  • How does the Filipino young woman’s account illustrate the three elements of faith Elder Bednar described?

  • What can happen when we exercise faith in Christ?

Invite a student to read Hebrews 11:2–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for examples Paul used to illustrate what can happen when people exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

  • What happened because these people exercised faith in Jesus Christ?

Invite students to read Hebrews 11:6 silently, looking for what Paul taught about faith.

  • What did Paul teach about faith?

  • Based on what Paul taught, what must we do to please God? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that to please God we must exercise our faith by coming unto Him, believing in Him, and believing that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. You may want to suggest that students mark this truth in verse 6.)

Invite a student to read aloud the conclusion of the Filipino young woman’s account. Ask the class to listen for what happened because the young woman exercised faith in Jesus Christ.

video iconIf you chose to show the video instead, play the rest of “Pure and Simple Faith” (time code 2:36 to the end).

 

As the young woman went to pay for the other items, she reached into her pocket and felt a big lump of paper. When she opened it she found an additional five bills worth 20 pesos each wrapped in her one remaining 20-peso bill. At that moment she knew she had enough to purchase the things her family needed and pay the fare for her family to go to church. This young woman explained that during this experience she felt God’s help and God’s love for her. When she got home she thanked Heavenly Father for the miracle. (Adapted from “Pure and Simple Faith,” LDS.org.)

  • What happened because this young woman exercised faith in Jesus Christ?

  • How might this experience help the young woman exercise faith in the future? (Because she recognized the evidence that God was helping her during this experience, she can be assured that God will help her again in the future. Because of the evidence and assurance she received, she may have faith to take action in the present. If she continues to act, then this process of acting in faith will continue and her faith will grow stronger.)

Ask students to think of a time when they exercised faith. Invite a few students to share their experiences.

  • How did that experience provide you with evidence that God will help you in the future?

Hebrews 11:7–40

Paul cites examples of righteous people from the Old Testament who exercised faith

  • What are some situations that you face now or will face in the future that require you to exercise faith in Jesus Christ?

Invite students to look for truths as they study Hebrews 11:7–40 that can help them know the blessings they can receive as they exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

Write the words by faith and through faith on the board, and explain that Paul cited examples of righteous people in the Old Testament who exercised faith to assure his audience that they too would be blessed by exercising faith. Invite students to quickly scan Hebrews 11, looking for the phrases “by faith” and “through faith.” You may want to suggest that students mark these phrases.

Invite a student to read Hebrews 11:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Noah exercised faith in God. (You may want to explain that the phrase “moved with fear” means that Noah acted with hope and assurance based on God’s guidance [see footnotes b and c].)

  • How did Noah exercise faith in God?

  • Which elements of faith described by Elder Bednar (assurance, evidence, and action) are manifest in this account of Noah?

  • In what ways are they manifested?

Write the following scripture references on the board: Hebrews 11:8–10, 11–12, 17–19, 20–22, 23–28, 29–31. Divide the class into six groups, and assign each group one of the references. (If you have a small class, assign each student one of the references, or divide the students into pairs and assign each pair more than one reference.) Invite each group to read their assigned reference together, looking for answers to the following questions (you may want to write these questions on the board):

Who exercised faith?

In what ways were the three elements of faith (assurance, evidence, and action) exemplified?

What situations do we face today that require similar faith?

After sufficient time, invite a student from each group to report their answers to the class.

Invite a student to read Hebrews 11:13–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what we can learn from the examples of Abraham, Sarah, and others about exercising faith. Explain that “better country” (verse 16) refers to eternal life.

  • According to verse 13, what happened to Abraham and his wife Sarah as well as other faithful people?

  • Why did they stay faithful even though they did not receive all of God’s promises in this life? (You may want to explain that to see the promised blessings “afar off” means to have hope and confidence to receive the blessings after they die.)

  • How can their examples help us to remain faithful?

Write the following phrase on the board: As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we can … Invite students to write this phrase in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Hebrews 11:32–40. Ask a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:35 (in Hebrews 11:35, footnote b), and invite another student to read Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:40 (in Hebrews 11:40, footnote a). Ask the class to follow along, looking for how they can complete the phrase they wrote down. You may want to suggest that students mark words or phrases in their scriptures that stand out to them.

Ask students to complete the phrase based on verses 32–40. After sufficient time, invite several willing students to report what they wrote. Summarize students’ responses by writing the following principle on the board: As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we can endure suffering, accomplish miracles, receive divine promises, strengthen our testimony of Him, and move toward perfection.

  • What are some ways we can exercise faith in Jesus Christ?

  • What blessings have you seen come into someone’s life because that person exercised faith?

Invite students to think again about situations that require them or will require them to exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

Encourage them to set a goal to exercise faith in the Lord in those situations. Invite students to write down the goal by completing the phrase “By faith I will …”

Commentary and Background Information

Hebrews 11:1. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained three basic elements of faith:

“The Apostle Paul defined faith as ‘the substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we ‘hope for things which are not seen, [but] are true’ (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is ‘the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness’ and that it is also ‘the principle of action in all intelligent beings’ [Lectures on Faith (1985), 1].

“These teachings highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for that are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present.

“Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. …

“Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to, and results in, hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way [see Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 54]. The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present.

“Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.

“Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 61–63).

Hebrews 11:4. “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice”

“The Prophet Joseph Smith explained why Abel’s offering was acceptable to God and Cain’s offering was not: ‘By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith; he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man, for this was the plan of redemption, and without the shedding of blood was no remission. And as the sacrifice was instituted for a type by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 48)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 486).