What is Faith (Hebrews 11:1-40)
This text is sometimes called "heroes of faith" and contains one of the most known verses of the Bible: "Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1). Surely this text has something to say about what the faith is.
This text helps us to realize different world perspective. We need to see that there is also a perspective of faith, God's perspective. We do not have only material information about the world but some of the information about us and the world is mediated by God's revelation. Since we can not always empirically test this revelation, it teaches us to trust God on that.
Hebrews devotes most of the space to enlist people from the history who made their choice based on trusting different schemes of things. And the medium for that was always hopefull trust - faith.
What is very important to this text is a message that having a strong faith does not necessarily mean that problems won't come into our lives as it is sometimes popularly promoted. We need to remember that even our Lord Jesus endured great pains, sorrows and died.
There are two groups in Hebrews 11:32-38. The first group experienced great deliverance from their sufferings and problems (Hebrews 11:32-35). The second, however, had to pay the utmost price for their faith (Hebrews 11:35-38). This is what the faith is no matter the consequences or circumstances one stays firm to his belief. And what is the most important is that the Scripture greatly admires this state of things (Hebrews 11:39-40).
The text also stresses hope. For the author of Hebrews and his audience, it is the very important message because the best is yet to come (Hebrews 11:13-16). The author further suggests that the whole humanity will join in the future to receive the fulfillment of God's promises (Hebrews 11:39). Having this hope we are exhorted to hold to a good Christian life having Jesus as an example (Hebrews 12:1-3).