This bible study is open to anyone who wants to learn more about HOW to study your bible - not someone telling you what the bible says. The idea is that, by the end of the study, you have the ability to use the resources available to you to make sure you are being a good Berean (that's someone who checks to make sure the pastor/preacher is telling the truth and using scripture correctly).
Faith is a topic that is very important in the Christian life. Our study of faith will use many resources, mostly on Blue Letter Bible (app or on-line). If you do not know how to use Blue Letter Bible (BLB), please see the instruction lesson on that topic (after the Faith Lessons).
Our first assignment will help familiarize us with the main passage we will be using to give our foundation of faith.
Read Hebrews 10:38-12:2 three times, one time out loud.
Mark (if you don't want to mark your bible, make a copy of it or print it off the internet):
Faith and it's pronouns
Look up the following words in a Concordance/Interlinear (BLB), make notes as to what you see with each word:
Faith substance evidence impossible
please rewarder seek witnesses
beset author finisher
Make notes on who had faith and what it did for them
After reading the passage 3 times, did you feel like you were seeing more than you had ever seen before? I know I did! Things that I just skipped over or ignored. Reading it out loud also helped me slow down and see things I had never seen before.
The following are some things I noticed about the words using the BLB resources:
Faith – the conviction of the truth of a belief, assurance
Substance – that which has a firm foundation, that has active existance, a steadfastness of mind
Evidence – a proof, a conviction
Impossible – unable to be done, powerless
Please – to be well pleased, to gratify entirely (So without faith you are powerless to gratify God entirely)
Rewarder – one who pays wages (Wages of sin is death, wages of faith is eternal life and God's blessings)
Seek – to search out, to investigage, to crave (Like you crave chocolate/ice cream/etc-you dig around until you find it!)
Witness – One who is a spectator of anything, those who after his example have proved the stength and genuiness of their faith in Christ, “martyr”
Beset – thwarting in every direction (I'm reminded of a vine that took over one of my rose bushes. The bush couldn't grow right because the vine was thwarting it in every direction. That is what sin does to our spiritual lives)
Author – chief leader, one who takes the lead, captain, prince
Finisher – a perfector, a completer, someone who has finised something and sets an example (Not only did Jesus take the lead in our faith, He also completed it and set an example for us to go by)
Here is a definition of faith from Tyndale Bible Dictionary: Faith: belief in that which has no tangible proof; trust in God. From Baker encyclopedia of the Bible: Faith is the medium by which the power of God is made visible.
Our second assignment will help us determine how our Hebrews scriptures tie in with the rest of the bible. It will also help us to notice differences in translations – some good, some bad.
Compare Hebrews 10:38-12:2 in at least 3 translations (4-5 are even better) – what are the major differences? Do you see anything that makes you question a translation? Which translation made it easiest for you to understand?
Look up the following scriptures and make notes on how they tie in with Hebrews ch 11. What is the main thing each one is telling us?:
I hope you saw some interesting differences in the translations. I used ESV, KJV, NASB95, NIV84, NRSV (the numbers are the year of the translation) Here is some things I saw:
V11:1 - Substance = assurance, being sure of. Evidence = conviction, certain of
V11:6 only KJV and NIV84 had diligently/earnestly, the other versions leave that important detail out.
V11:7 the interpetation of fear: reverent fear, reverance, holy fear, respected – helped to understand it is not fright, but respect.
V11:11 NIV84 and NRSV make it Abraham's faith, not Sarah's.
V11:13 KJV includes that they were persuaded of the promises and embraced them. All the other versions leave that out.
V11:31 KJV said that those in Jericho perished because they believed not, all the other versions said they perished because they were disobedient. Since we are dealing with faith (and believing in something) I think this is a big difference. They perished because they didn't have faith and Rahab did – disobedient just means they didn't follow a law.
V12:1 beset = clings so closely, entangles. Patience = perseverance, endurance.
V12:2 author = founder, pioneer. Finisher = perfecter
Here is what I noticed in each of the verses:
Genesis 15:5-6 Abraham believed God – that is faith
Habakkuk 2:3-4 righteous live by faith – repeated in Hebrews
John 1:12 believed in him = faith
John 5:24 believe in his name & receive him = faith
Matthew 17:20 they had little faith, but it only takes a little to move mountains.
Acts 16:31 believe = faith
Galatians 2:16 believe = faith
Galatians 5:5-6 faith is what counts
Ephesians 2:8-10 not works but faith saves you – belief in God/Jesus
One important thing we can do when studying a passage is to study what was happening in the world while the letter/book was being written. Also why was it written. Here is an excerpt from The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola (pages 161-162)
A Fire Burns in Rome (July 19, 64 A.D.)
A great fire rages for nine days, destroying ten out of the fourteen quarters of Rome. Shops, homes, and temples are destroyed in the heart of the city. Emperor Nero is blamed, so he looks for a scapegoat to deflect attention from himself. Since they are despised throughout the city, the Christians are blamed by Nero who says they burned the city to fulfill their prophecies.
The Roman Christians are immediately viewed as outcasts by the Roman citizens and are harassed because of it. Though they have not yet shed blood for their faith, the oppression is increasing. Some of the Jewish Christians begin re-attending the synagogue in order to circumvent the persecution. They are returning to the Law, for it is safer to do so. Timothy is released from jail.
Hebrews is Written (A.D. 64)
Provocation: the writer encourages the Jewish believers in their persecution and argues that they cannot have one foot in the Jewish camp and one foot in Christ's camp. His exhortation is to “let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” The book contains five perenthetical warnings against apostasy – i.e., leaving Christ and returning back to sin and the Law (2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6:20; 10:26-39; 12:15-29). The beautiful theme that runs consistently throughout the entire letter is the High Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the supreme and only effective Mediator between God and man. He is the Author of a New Covenant which is far superior to the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is a “better” covenant that brings forth a “better” hope, “better” promises, and a “better” sacrifice in a “more perfect” tabernacle. The writer ends the letter by expressing his desire to see the church and sends greetings from those Italian Christians who are presently with the author outside of Italy.
Now that we know some background to Hebrews, lets read the entire book for this lesson. Make notes on anything you see that ties in with faith. Do you feel for these people now? Do you understand the reason behind some of the things that have never made sense before? Has your interpretation of the scriptures changed based on what you now know?
Well, I don't know about you, but there were several things in our scriptures we've been studying (Hebrews 10:38-12:2) that I understand more. I understand why the author would say that in the middle of a letter. It has context now. I hope you found things that interested you and helped you understand better also.
I want to give you a few more notes on Hebrews from Dake's Annotated Reference Bible:
From Hebrews 4:16 – 7 steps to obtaining help (from God):
1. Recognition of a meeting place with God – the throne of grace (v 16)
2. Consciousness that this meeting place is made possible through the atoning blood of Christ (10:19-20)
3. Obedience in coming to this throne (v 16; 10:22-23)
4. Calling upon God for mercy and grace to help in time of need (v 16)
5. Boldness to approach (v 16)
6. Fervency and earnestness in presenting needs (James 5:16, Luke 11:5-13)
7. Faith in the answer (Hebrews 11:6, James 1:5-8; Matthew 17:20, 21:22; Mark 11:22-24)
From Hebrews 10:22-25 – 7 Commands for Believers:
1. Draw near to God (v 22)
2. Have pure conscience (v 22)
3. Have clean bodies (v 22)
4. Have unwavering faith (v 23)
5. Provoke others to good works (v 24)
6. Be regular church attendants (v 25)
7. Exhort one another daily (v 25; 3:13)
18 Definitions of Faith
1. Substance of things hoped for (11:1)
2. Evidence of things not seen (11:1, 7)
3. Invisible backing of elders (11:2)
4. Creative power of divine works (11:3)
5. Divine testimony of right doing (11:4)
6. Cancellation of natural laws (11:5)
7. Basis of pleasing God (11:6)
8. Dependence upon God's word (11:7)
9. Trust in an unknown future (11:8-10)
10. Counting things that be not as though they were (11:11-12; Rom. 4:17)
11. Seeing invisible things (11:13-16)
12. Assurance of God's faithfulness (11:17-19; 10:23)
13. Confidence in things to come (11:20-31; 3:6, 14; 10:35; Eph. 3:12; 1 John 3:21)
14. Stimulus of Christianity (11:32-12:2)
15. The life-blood of the just (10:38)
16. Shield of Christian armor (Eph 6:16)
17. Down payment of things desired (3:6, 12-14; 6:11-12; 10:22-23, 35-39)
18. Guarantee of answered prayer (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:22-24; Heb 11:6; James 1)
I also noticed that there were several “lists” that tell us what we need to be doing or believing as Christians – Hebrews 13:1-24; Hebrews 12:12-17; Hebrews 11:13-16; Hebrews 12:1-3
I can't wait to see what each of you saw in your reading – leave me a comment on the “Contact Us” page and let me know how your study is going!
I'd like you to take what you have learned and apply it to your life now...What changes do you need to make? Have you already made them during the study? Are there any things you need to get rid of or add to your daily routine that will help you walk in faith more? What are you facing right now that requires faith?
Keep a journal of what you did, or what you are facing. Write down when you see yourself walking in faith. Go back to it as the days go by and praise God for His faithfulness in your life.
What topic would you like to study next? Here are a few examples, but we don't have to stick to these....
The Character of Christ
Kingdom of God and how it manifests
Blue Letter Bible is free online, and is also free as an app, so you’ll have the choice of working directly from the website or using an app on your smaller electronic device.
I am going to give basic directions based on using the BLB website, plus the app as well. These will be in lighter type.
The assignment is simple, so don’t let its length frighten you. It’s long because of the detailed instructions for those of you who are new to Blue Letter Bible. Read them carefully, following one step at a time.
If you are planning on studying on your small device, install Blue Letter Bible’s app (available in IOS and Android).
Assignment: Pray for patience as you learn a new skill and for self-control that will keep you focused on your study. Pray too for an understanding of who God is and what He is like.
Now let’s look at verses 1 and 2 more closely.
Let’s use Blue Letter Bible to continue considering the names the psalmist has used for God in his song.
If you are using Blue Letter Bible’s app:
(1) Open the app,
(2) Click on the “closed Bible” icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen and select KJV as your translation.
(3) If the screen gives you the option of selecting an additional version, choose the one you are using for your study.
(4) Then click the “open Bible” icon in the upper portion of the screen, type “Ps 91″ in the search box, and click the search button in the lower right hand corner.)
The interlinear lists all the words of the verse in the King James Version.
Each phrase is assigned a number. This is the Strong’s number for the main word in that phrase. This number will help us study the meaning of that main word.
We also see the English transliteration of the original Hebrew word.
Clicking the speaker button will give us the pronunciation of the Hebrew word.
The Most High is Supreme. He’s the uppermost. This reinforces the fact that no one and no thing is higher than God.
As you play around with the website and app you will also see Outline of Biblical Usage, Translation Comparisons, Cross-References, Text Commentaries, Audio/Video Commentaries, and Dictionaries. The app will read to you. You can highlight imporant verses. You can also make notes.