Bible Study for August 4th @ 7:00 p.m., CDT
(Zoom sign-on instructions are at the end of the email.
Notes from the Boyd Adult Christian Life Sunday School Book, July - September 2021.)
Unit II: “Faith Gives Us Hope”
Lesson: “The Example of Heroes”
Lesson Scripture: Hebrews 11:1:8, 13-16
Background Scripture: Hebrews 11; 13:1-9
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)
Masked heroes like Black Panther, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and Wonder Woman are among the most widely-known fictional characters ever conceived. Created as comic heroes, they remain widely known through television, movies, and a robust presence in American popular culture that ensures their identification by millions who have never read a comic. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have remained continuously in print and involved in unbroken sequence for over 50 years. Heroes are the models we put up to as the people to be and act like.
In our lesson today, with power and authority, the author of Hebrews speaks to his audience, seeking to convince these discouraged converts to not turn away from their Christian faith. Knowing that some of them are ready to give up prompts him to employ an impressive set of persuasive techniques in which he shows himself to be well acquainted with ancient rhetorical devices. Each of the eighteen examples employed in this chapter begins with faith. These people experienced persecution and did so joyfully because of their belief. Looking back on their example should inspire confidence that God will make right on His promises, even if our earthly lives do not last long enough to see them come to fruition.
By the end of this lesson, we will: identify the faith contributions of the heroes in Hebrews 11, value the people in their lives who act heroically through faith, and grow in our potential to become faith heroes.
SUGGESTED DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Verse 11:1 speaks of faith as “the conviction of things not seen.” What “things” do these Jewish Christian readers need to maintain conviction of?
2. The Greek word translated “faith” in Hebrews 11 is pistis. It is also translated in the New Testament using the English words “trust” and “confidence.” How do you see these three aspects of pistis interacting in this passage (11:1-16)? What is the relationship in this passage between faith in God and hope in verses 1-3?
3. Verse 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” At first glance this makes it sound like, unless we have sufficient confidence in the “things not seen” (v. 1), then God is displeased. Is that what the author is saying?
4. Raymond Brown sees five aspects of faith in the story of Abraham in 11:8-12: his faith was responsive, since he obeyed the call; it was sacrificial, given all he gave up to follow that call; it was courageous, since he was going to a strange land; it was persistent, because he and his offspring faced many challenges making their way to Canaan; it was dependent—he had to depend on God to follow through. And, for Abraham, God’s promise of so many offspring was fulfilled only after his death.
a. What is the most difficult thing God has called you to do?
b. Which of the five aspects of faith listed above did (or do) you find most challenging?
c. What promises do you look forward to, which may be fulfilled only after your death?
5. The individuals listed in the first 22 verses of Hebrews 11 were not without fault. How does their spotty past impact their example of faithfulness?