Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.
God accepted our ancestors because of their faith.
Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen.
Faith led Abel to offer God a better sacrifice than Cain's sacrifice. Through his faith Abel received God's approval, since God accepted his sacrifices. Through his faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
Faith enabled Enoch to be taken instead of dying. No one could find him, because God had taken him. Scripture states that before Enoch was taken, God was pleased with him.
No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God's approval that comes through faith.
Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going.
Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God.
Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.
Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise.
Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.
All these people died having faith. They didn't receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth.
Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country.
If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back.
Instead, these men were longing for a better country--a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.
When God tested Abraham, faith led him to offer his son Isaac. Abraham, the one who received the promises from God, was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice.
God had said to him, "Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name."
Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense.
Faith led Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau.
While Jacob was dying, faith led him to bless each of Joseph's sons. He leaned on the top of his staff and worshiped God.
While Joseph was dying, faith led him to speak about the Israelites leaving Egypt and give them instructions about burying his bones.
Faith led Moses' parents to hide him for three months after he was born. They did this because they saw that Moses was a beautiful baby and they were not afraid to disobey the king's order.
When Moses grew up, faith led him to refuse to be known as a son of Pharaoh's daughter.
He chose to suffer with God's people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while.
He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt. He was looking ahead to his reward.
Faith led Moses to leave Egypt without being afraid of the king's anger. Moses didn't give up but continued as if he could actually see the invisible God.
Faith led Moses to establish the Passover and spread the blood [on the doorposts] so that the destroying angel would not kill the firstborn sons.
Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned.
Faith caused the walls of Jericho to fall after the Israelites marched around them for seven days.
Faith led the prostitute Rahab to welcome the spies as friends. She was not killed with those who refused to obey God.
What more should I say? I don't have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets.
Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions,
put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies.
Women received their loved ones back from the dead. Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life.
Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison.
Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated.
The world didn't deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised.
God planned to give us something very special so that we would gain eternal life with them.
Since we are surrounded by so many examples [of faith], we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.
We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.
Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don't become tired and give up.
You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven't killed you.
You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: "My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don't give up when he corrects you.
The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child."
Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers.
If you aren't disciplined like the other children, you aren't part of the family.
On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn't we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live?
For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him.
We don't enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.
Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees.
Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won't get worse. Instead, let it heal.
Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don't, you will not see the Lord.
Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn't take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you.
Make sure that no one commits sexual sin or is as concerned about earthly things as Esau was. He sold his rights as the firstborn son for a single meal.
You know that afterwards, when he wanted to receive the blessing that the firstborn son was to receive, he was rejected. Even though he begged and cried for the blessing, he couldn't do anything to change what had happened.
You have not come to something that you can feel, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a storm,
to a trumpet's blast, and to a voice. When your ancestors heard that voice, they begged not to hear it say another word.
They couldn't obey the command that was given, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death."
The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said he was trembling and afraid.
Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together
and to the assembly of God's firstborn children (whose names are written in heaven). You have come to a judge (the God of all people) and to the spirits of people who have God's approval and have gained eternal life.
You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than Abel's.
Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks. Your ancestors didn't escape when they refused to listen to God, who warned them on earth. We certainly won't escape if we turn away from God, who warns us from heaven.
When God spoke to your ancestors, his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the sky."
The words once more show clearly that God will change what he has made. These are the things that can be shaken. Then only the things that cannot be shaken will remain.
Therefore, we must be thankful that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Because we are thankful, we must serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him.
After all, our God is a destructive fire.
Continue to love each other.
Don't forget to show hospitality to believers you don't know. By doing this some believers have shown hospitality to angels without being aware of it.
Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are mistreated as if you were being mistreated.
Marriage is honorable in every way, so husbands and wives should be faithful to each other. God will judge those who commit sexual sins, especially those who commit adultery.
Don't love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, "I will never abandon you or leave you."
So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can mortals do to me?"
Remember your leaders who have spoken God's word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Don't get carried away by all kinds of unfamiliar teachings. Gaining inner strength from God's kindness is good for us. This strength does not come from following rules about food, rules that don't help those who follow them.
Those who serve at the tent have no right to eat what is sacrificed at our altar.
The chief priest brings the blood of animals into the holy place as an offering for sin. But the bodies of those animals were burned outside the Israelite camp.
That is why Jesus suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem. He suffered to make the people holy with his own blood.
So we must go to him outside the camp and endure the insults he endured.
We don't have a permanent city here on earth, but we are looking for the city that we will have in the future.
Through Jesus we should always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, words that acknowledge him.
Don't forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.
Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)
Pray for us. We are sure that our consciences are clear because we want to live honorably in every way.
I especially ask for your prayers so that I may come back to you soon.
The God of peace brought the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, back to life through the blood of an eternal promise.
May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to listen patiently to my encouraging words. I have written you a short letter.
You know that Timothy, our brother, has been freed. If he comes here soon, both of us will visit you.
Greet all your leaders and all God's holy people. Those who are with us from Italy greet you.
May God's good will be with all of you!