Unit 28, Day 3: Hebrews 11

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

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

Hebrews 11:1–6

Paul teaches Church members the importance of exercising faith in Jesus Christ

Read the following account, and notice what the young woman did to exercise faith:

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 to the marketplace with only 20 pesos left (adapted from the video “Pure and Simple Faith,” LDS.org).

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: In what ways did this young woman exercise faith in Jesus Christ?

Read Hebrews 11:1, looking for what the Apostle Paul taught about faith. Also read Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:1 (in Hebrews 11:1, footnote b).

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used Hebrews 11:1, as well as other sources, to explain three basic elements of faith:

Elder David A. Bednar

“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).

  1. journal icon2.

    Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      Write a brief explanation of what it means to have faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. b.

      Complete the following definition of faith, as given by the Apostle Paul in Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:1: Faith is the assurance of … , the evidence of … (Consider marking or noting this truth in Hebrews 11:1.)

Think of a time when you were asked to do something that you felt nervous about doing or that seemed beyond what you could do. Perhaps your confidence was strengthened when you remembered something you did or experienced in the past. That previous experience provided evidence that may have helped you face the new challenge with an assurance that you could succeed. In spiritual matters, evidence of God’s help in the past gives us assurance as we face the future, and it helps us act confidently with faith in the present. As Elder Bednar taught, assurance, evidence, and action—three elements of faith—work together as we face the future, look to the past, and take action in the present.

  1. journal icon3.

    Respond to the following in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

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

    2. b.

      How does the account of the young woman from the Philippines illustrate the three elements of faith that Elder Bednar described?

    3. c.

      Describe a time when you exercised faith in the Lord.

Read Hebrews 11:2–5, looking for examples Paul used to illustrate what can happen when people exercise faith in Jesus Christ. The phrase “the elders obtained a good report” in verse 2 means the elders received a witness, or testimony.

Read Hebrews 11:6, looking for what Paul taught about faith.

One principle we learn from Hebrews 11:6 is 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. Consider marking or noting this truth in verse 6.

Read the conclusion of the account of the young woman from the Philippines, looking for what happened because she exercised faith in Jesus Christ:

As the young woman went to pay for the other items her family needed, 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 the video “Pure and Simple Faith,” LDS.org). We can have faith that the Lord answers prayers in His own way and in His own time.

video icon If you have access to the Internet, you may want to watch the video “Pure and Simple Faith” (5:22), which is available on LDS.org.

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What evidence did this young woman gain from exercising faith in Jesus Christ? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How might this experience help the young woman exercise faith in the future?

When we look to past evidences that God has helped us, we can be assured that He will help us again in the future. Because of this evidence and assurance, we can have faith to take action in the present. If we continue to act in faith, then this process will continue and our faith will grow stronger.

Consider what faithful actions you need to take in your life. Do you believe that God will help you as you act? You may want to write a goal to act on one of the promptings you may have had during this lesson. As you fulfill your goal, you will gain evidence of God’s love for you.

Hebrews 11:7–40

Paul gives 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? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As you study Hebrews 11:7–40, look for the blessings of exercising faith in Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul gave examples of righteous people from Old Testament times who exercised faith. This was to assure his readers that they too would be blessed by exercising faith. Quickly scan Hebrews 11, looking for the phrases “by faith” and “through faith.” Consider marking or noting these phrases in your scriptures.

Read Hebrews 11:7, looking for how Noah exercised faith in God. What blessings did Noah receive because he acted in faith?

  1. journal icon4.

    Read about the examples of faith in three or more of the passages included in the accompanying chart. As you read them, look for how the individuals exercised faith and what blessings they received. In your scripture study journal, draw the chart with the passages you chose, and include your thoughts about those individuals you read about. Also include a list of similar blessings that you hope to receive by exercising faith in the Savior.

Scripture Reference

Individuals Who Exercised Faith

Thoughts

Blessings I Hope to Receive

Hebrews 11:8–10

Abraham

  

Hebrews 11:11–12

Sara (Sarah, Abraham’s wife)

 

Hebrews 11:17–19

Abraham, Isaac

 

Hebrews 11:20–21

Isaac, Jacob

 

Hebrews 11:23–28

Moses

 

Hebrews 11:29–31

Israelites, Rahab (see Joshua 2:1–22)

 

Read Hebrews 11:13–16, looking for what we can learn from the example of Abraham, Sarah, and others about exercising faith. The phrase “better country” in verse 16 refers to eternal life.

Many of the promises given to Abraham and Sarah were not fulfilled while they were alive. Why do you think they stayed faithful even though they did not receive all of God’s promises in this life? How can their example help us to remain faithful?

Read Hebrews 11:32–35, looking for additional blessings that have come to those who exercised faith in Jesus Christ. You may want to mark or note what you find.

Read Hebrews 11:36–40, looking for what happened to many individuals even though they were faithful.

The Joseph Smith Translation of Hebrews 11:40 reads “God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect” (Joseph Smith Translation, Hebrews 11:40 [in Hebrews 11:40, footnote a]). Notice the blessing that is promised to all who exercise faith in Christ.

One truth we can identify from the example of these faithful people is that 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.

  1. journal icon5.

    In your scripture study journal, write about someone you know who is an example of exercising faith in Jesus Christ. What blessings have you seen come into that person’s life because he or she exercised faith?

Think again about situations that require you to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Look for opportunities to trust His promises and faithfully act in a way that will invite His guidance and blessings.

  1. journal icon6.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Hebrews 11 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: