Hebrews 11 is famous as the chapter about faith. It is a series of illustrations of the author’s statement in the previous chapter that the righteous man will live by faith.
Faith is essential in Christian living. Spurgeon comments, “We live by faith, not for it or because of it – this were to confound faith with works. Nor do we live on faith. Faith would make poor food for our souls”. He goes on to add, “I know it is very easy for us to degenerate into a congratulating of ourselves because of some quality of our faith. We may as easily make an Antichrist of our faith as of anything else.” It is not faith itself that does anything; the whole value of faith is in its object. The essence of faith is dependence on God and His word.
Faith was no religious duty or exercise with Abraham. As God’s friend he could believe while Sarah mocked , and he trusted his Friend. Faith is not a technique for getting what we want. Faith knows God; it trusts Him as a faithful Friend Who is also Almighty. Faith never tramples on God’s sovereignty – God is always God and He has the first and last word. We see this clearly in the story of Abraham who was called by God to leave his home and promised a new inheritance in a new land and that he would be the father of a great nation. We receive promises according to the trustworthiness of the person who makes them and Abraham  considered that the One who had made these promises was faithful, and would fulfil them. We may have received promises, prophetic words, scriptures that God has made live for us in a personal way or convictions the Holy Spirit has brought to our hearts. Faith takes hold of these promises; without re-interpreting them according to circumstances or probability.
Faith is not an intellectual exercise. Abraham showed faith when he “obeyed and went”. The promises of God are more than an encouragement or a future statement of intent – they are an action plan. Faith involves determining what actions are appropriate to the word God has spoken. Faith prays promises into reality and takes steps towards actualisation..
Abraham had a comfortable lifestyle in his homes in Ur and Haran. He was wealthy with many servants and high status in a developed and civilised part of the world. His faith led him on a journey to an unknown destination. Faith drops protectiveness of our convenience and comfort and calls for a willingness to sacrifice. Faith is accepting the responsibility to take action. God had not told him where he was going, and so Abraham took the initiative and went, trusting God to direct him. Faith is always like this. Faith trusts God in new things. Even to move into fresh spiritual gifts, for example, a matter of faith. God’s problem in us is inertia! Faith deals with the fear of “I’d never cope.”
God had given Abraham promises of a new land and even a new nation with a tremendous purpose to bless the world. We live in the present, and therefore find the future by its very nature insecure. For Abraham the new land and the many descendants were facts, even though they were not yet present. The future rests in what God has said not in what we choose to believe for. Faith lives in a way that is consistent with what God will do, and we focus not on what we hope for but on what God has said.
Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” This sounds confusing – and some teachers have encouraged the making of confessions that we have received, say, our healing when actually we have not! Jesus meant that the answer is already provided in the grace of God for you. That is why God says, “Before you call I will answer”; we can simply trust God as the faithful Giver and loving Father, not the forcefulness of our prayer. When we pray for the sick we have the word of God that they will be healed. We expect miracles but we recognise we cannot dictate to God what he will do; the Bible encourages us to see that God is not only able to heal, but is compassionate and willing to heal.
We live and die by faith but also need faith to die as Christians. That is how martyrs  and godly men of every generation have faced death. Despite our hope of glory, the waters of “Jordan” can be very threatening. We still need to know the faith that sees God always with us. We need to be reaching forward in faith even in death . We are to live by faith until we die and then go on living for him in the “better country…He has prepared.”