Closing the Gap – Week 2 Study Guide

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1-2

Background on Hebrews

Over the next nine weeks we’ll be spending our time in Hebrews chapter 11:1-12:1.

Hebrews is technically an anonymous epistle because the author is not named. However, the readers of the book obviously knew who the writer was, though his name has not been preserved for us. There has been a lot of speculation throughout history as to who the writer could have been. Some have said it was Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, or even Luke. There is no way of knowing for sure, so it’s probably best to admit that we cannot know with certainty the identity of the author of Hebrews.

The epistle was written to Jewish Christians. But where did these readers live? Again, we’re not sure. The suggestion that the readers had not seen or heard of Jesus during his earthly ministry makes it less likely that they were Palestinians. It’s likely that the letter had a Roman destination in mind.

All scholars agree that the book is written for Christians who are being urged to continue their profession of faith.

It is difficult to determine the exact date of the letter, but certain indicators suggest that the book was written prior to 70 A.D. Its style is that of a sermon or general address, but it is best to view the document as a letter in which the author used portions of sermons or an address to complete the writing.

Commentary on Hebrews 11:1-2

The author described the nature of faith as a conviction of certainty about what we do not see. This kind of faith motivated the godly men and women of the past to move towards the promises even though they did not inherit them. The writer is telling us what faith does for us: it brings the future within the present and makes the invisible seen.

Faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God. It is the conviction that what God says is true and what He promises will come to pass. Faith must have some revelation from God, some promise of God as its foundation. It is not a leap in the dark. It demands the surest evidence in the universe, and finds it in the word of God. It is not limited to possibilities, but invades the realm of the impossible.

The word “hope” in Scripture is a confident expectation for the future, describing both the act of hoping and the object hoped for. When grounded in God, hope provides the motivation to live the Christian life even in the face of trouble. Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen. It is a sure and confident expectation in God’s future faithfulness and presence. The horizon of Christian hope extends beyond death into an eternity prepared by God himself, the reality of which is guaranteed by Jesus Christ.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”   -Hebrews 11:1-2

  1. What is faith? How does faith—your confidence in the trustworthiness of God—differ from blind faith, a “leap in the dark?”
  • Why is putting put our confidence in God to the point of “taking a leap” never a blind choice or even a leap into the unknown?
  • Is there a gap in your faith? Why?
  • What are some things you can do today to close the gap in relationship with God and confidence in God?
  1. What is hope? What do you ultimately hope for?
  • Is this hope visible in your life: in the things you talk about with others, in the things you think about?
  • Is your hope enough to hold through this life and beyond?
  • How is what you’re placing your hope in shaping you?
  • Are there ways that you’ve misplaced your hope? What’s been the result of misplaced hopes?
  • What are somethings you can do to make sure your hope is tethered to what is real?
  1. Can we truly know things with certainty?
  • Can you live a life with certainty in the Gospel and if so, how does it differ from the certainty found in worldly wisdom?
  • Where are you in living with certainty? Does the gap need to be closed?
  • Will you close the gap today on your certainty (be humble regarding the things you don’t know for sure and be confident regarding the things you do; live confident, grateful, and humble)?
  1. What are you certain of that you do not see right now?
  • Read the following statement:
    “We do not see God, yet everything depends on him. We do not see God, yet our purpose comes from him. Those who have placed their confidence in God even though they have not seen him are blessed precisely because they are living their lives in line with what ultimately matters the most.”
  • In what ways does the statement encourage you to live with certainty? Why?
  • Do you need to close the gap today in believing what you do not see and not being overly impressed with what you do see?
  1. The “ancients” is an impressive word. It means ancestors, those who have gone before us.
  • Since what matters most at the end matters most now, what can we learn from the ancients?
  • How can they help us to close the gap on faith and love?

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