“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” Hebrews 11:1-2. That verse of scripture, most of my life meant to me, that these great men of God that are mentioned here in the eleventh chapter, were given a good report by God. This is the way most Bible interpreters read it. But there is a testimony witness involved and a report obtain. There is a two-fold experience here. Look at this verse in the context of Hebrews 11.
We ought to be living in such a way that we have to ask the Lord to make us earthly enough to minister, instead we ask the Lord to make us spiritual enough to minister! We are earthly when we should be Heavenly. While we are living here, we should be there, so much, that much of there comes here, so that we can get folks from here, back there. One of the biggest shocks we are going to receive when we get to Heaven is realizing that we were there, while we were here. I am telling you this to get us in the spiritual realm because this is not going to be mentally comprehended. You may memorize it, but you can only get what I am saying by divine revelation. So your prayer should be, “Oh God, get me out of myself that I might see, not with these eyes, but with the eyes of my heart.”
The main question is, “How do I know the will of God.?” Have you ever heard people ask, “How do I know how to have faith? Where does it come from?” The Lord Jesus had a visitor one night named Nicodemus. Nicodemus said in essence “Lord, how can I get to Heaven?” The Lord said, “Nicodemus, there are two worlds. There is a physical world that you have been born into by the flesh, and there is a spiritual world and you are born into that world by the spirit.” It is obvious from what the Lord said following that, that the mind cannot comprehend the spiritual world. The greatest thing that happens to you when you are saved is not that you are going to miss hell and go to Heaven, but that you take on a capacity to know God and live in the spiritual world, while you are still here physically.
Just to think, that one day I met Him, and I can know Him, and I do know Him, and it wasn’t left up to my intellectual capacity… I can’t explain it, but that’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me - knowing God and taking on the capacity to know God. This experience of the new birth opens up and makes it possible for the inner man, the spirit man, to come alive to God. There are three parts of a man: body, soul and spirit. When a man is saved, his spirit comes “alive to God.” Somebody asked me once, how you could know the voice of God. Get saved, and you will know. That is a hard statement I know, but it is true. I have “thought” that God said a lot to me, but every time God really said something to me, I didn’t think, I knew. You don’t even question it. When God speaks, you know. The amazing thing, because it is contrary to nature, that’s how you know. My motto is, “If there is doubt, don’t.”
When a person is saved, and because he takes on the capacity to know God, he has the ability within his spirit to see, to hear, and to know. Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. He is saying that we do not walk by eyesight, or by reasoning. Here is a man, an intellectual fellow that has a lot of sense, saying, “I am not looking at the things that are seen. I am looking at something that is not seen.” He was saying that he was not looking at something he could see with his naked eyes, but something with his spiritual eyes. He said “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Peter walked with the Lord Jesus a long time and one day he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16. The Lord told Peter that flesh and blood hadn’t let him see that. God had opened him other eyes. That is what happens to you when you are saved. God goes beyond your intellect, your eyes, your senses, and opens your heart. The eyes of your heart are opened, and you just trust and respond to what you see from the heart. The Old Testament tells about the prophet Elisha and his servant. 2 Kings 6: 15-17 says: And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” The heavenly host was there all the time but the first time he looked with his physical eyes, and the second time he saw with the eyes of his heart. Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” Job 42:5. And in the original it says “with my spiritual eyes” Not only do we “have the capacity” to see and hear in the spirit, but there are some things “up there” to be seen and heard. It says in the Bible that the Holy Spirit has to reveal it in the Word of God. God opens up the word to you, and you see it.
One of the greatest examples of seeing things that are not seen, and hearing things that are not heard, is the prayer, “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.” They called this the model prayer of Jesus Christ. But this is the Apostles’ prayer. The Lord Jesus was telling them how to pray, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done In earth as it is in Heaven. Do you mean there is something going on up in Heaven? You know there is! The perfect unlimited will of God is being done! He said “Now pray that what is going on up there, might start and go on, down here.” There is something to see up there: The will of God! God has his perfect will provided for, and Hebrews says, “Waiting on somebody to believe, so He can transfer it out of Heaven into earth.” Our business is to be the medium by which it is transferred out of Heaven into earth. This is where we fail. We are not plugged in!
Let’s look at the example of a man by the name of Elijah. You have heard preachers preach on how Elijah prayed, and it didn’t rain for three years and six months. But have you heard a sermon about the fact that when he looked out over Israel, and saw they needed a revival, and he was in such a dilemma that he didn’t know what to do, so he went out and prayed and “checked with Heaven”? God took him over to the water department and said, “Now here is my plan, son.” God showed him that the water department had plans for a three years and six months’ drought. He said, “I believe it.” God said, “You go down there and tell them, and I will perform it.” That is exactly what happened. That thing didn’t originate with Elijah. Elijah didn’t get out there under a bush somewhere and say, “Now, God, I’ve got a plan that will shake this bunch of devils up, and we will have a revival if you will just send them a drought for three years and six months. Elijah was in such a state of desperation that he got with God, and while he was still in earth, the Spirit of God showed him what the plan, purpose and will of God was in Heaven. He saw it, he believed it, he embraced it, and he confessed it.
The book of Hebrews says: first, Abel worshipped God; second, Enoch walked with God; third, Noah worked with God. What we basically do in the church is this: we get people saved, and we put them to work before they ever worship. We do not know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in worship. Some people think they have learned to cooperate with God in worship by singing, and a few other things. We have the audacity to put out on our church signs, “worship service”. When you worship God, you won’t have to advertise it. Worship is the first thing that should take place in the life of a believer. We come to the altar, we confess, and we do everything the preacher say to do, but that is not good enough. We need to go to such a place of repentance that it is possible for a Holy God to come. That is why it is necessary to repent to be saved. The Holy Spirit is gracious enough to bring you there so a Holy God can come and commit Himself to you. That is worship! And when you worship, you are changed. But most of our meetings are made up with messages and experiences where our intellects are expanded and our emotions are thrilled, and we go home and say, “God was there today”, and we have not changed one iota. God was not there. Every time you meet with God you will change.
When I step off a plane, my wife can tell if I have met God during my meeting. She knows it because she can tell the difference. There is a difference every time you meet God. What we usually do, is to sit around, and in the meeting God meets with one or two persons maybe, that received the blessing, and we say “God was there today!” If He didn’t change you, you didn’t worship. When the Magi came to Jesus when He was a baby, they went back a different way. You must worship because it’s that state of worship that makes it possible for a Holy God to get you out where He can give you spiritual things. This life is so earthly that you need to be in a state of repentance so God can communicate with you.
Have you ever noticed a little baby when he is starting to walk? You don’t stand behind him and push him, do you? You get before him and with the loudest and most unusual things you can find, you start coaxing him. When they start seeing something, they start wanting it, and the first thing you know, they want it so badly they start working at getting up. They fall down, they stumble, but after a while, if you keep holding before them whatever the object may be, they start taking a few steps. That is how you learn to walk. You start “seeing”. You see what His will is, and you may stumble for a while, but the first thing you know, you start walking. Once you start worshipping, or communicating with God, you start walking, and when you start walking, you can go to work. You’ve got something to work on. God gave Noah the blueprint and the dimensions of the ark. God told him exactly how to make it. Then you are a co-laborer, not just a laborer. That means Christ is your strength. Christ is your wisdom. All you are doing is just cooperating with Him.
The verse, “For by it the elders obtained a good report.” Hebrews 11: 2, does not mean that these great men of God had no troubles. “In their troubles” they went out and worshipped God. In that experience of worship, they sought the will, plan, purpose and provision of God. And when they saw it, they were persuaded of it. They embraced it. They confessed, and God performed it. What you believe in your heart, you confess. What you confess, God brings to pass.
One hundred and fifty years ago, there were none of these modern conveniences that would keep you out of trouble. People didn’t have them, and they had to go to God. That is the reason there were men with spiritual backbones like logs. Deacons knew more about God in those days than preachers do today, because they had to go alone and find out what God said. They experience crisis, and that’s what we want to avoid. “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” Psalm 4:1. But we are afraid of distress. That is our problem. We are afraid we are going to fail.
Abraham had trouble! Hebrews 11:17-19 says: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Abraham must have seen something. This is what I think it happened: Abraham, when God said “offer up Isaac”, went out in a dilemma and talked to God. While he was out there in that experience, in that dilemma, something happened to him. He looked and saw the Will of God. The Will of God is in the now, not the yesterdays and the tomorrows. When he saw the Will of God, he saw his son in a figure. If you don’t believe it, recall Jesus Christ talking to some Jews over around Jerusalem one day. Juan 8: 39, 56 says: “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham…Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” Abraham saw Jesus Christ coming into the world. When he saw Him, he knew that his son had to live, or there would never be a Son of God. He saw Jesus Christ, and that fellow got so much faith, he wasn’t afraid. God could raise Isaac even from the dead.
Abraham, after he saw Jesus thousands of years in the future, went to his servants and said, “He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’” Genesis 22:5. Where did he get such faith? “This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:2. He got the report! He wasn’t worried about how God was going to do it. Have you ever thought about that? God had the ram headed up the side of that mountain at the same time Abraham and Isaac were headed up the other side. Where did he get his faith? He saw something by spiritual sight.
We can understand why faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. These men of God heard and believed. They saw, they were persuaded, they embraced the promises, they confessed. And when you confess, Jesus says, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Mark 11:23. This kind of faith which speaks to mountains will change the world. This is the “Activity of Faith.”