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1Now faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.

2It was this faith that won their reputation for the saints of old.

3And it is only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole universe was formed by God's commandthat the world which we can see has come into being through what is invisible.

4It was because of his faith that Abel made a better sacrifice to God than Cain, and he had evidence that God looked upon him as a righteous man, whose gifts he could accept. And though Cain killed him, yet by his faith he still speaks to us today.

5It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken to the eternal world without experiencing death. He disappeared from this world because God had taken him, and before that happened his reputation was that "he pleased God".

6And without faith it is impossible to please him. The man who approaches God must have faith in two things, first that God exists and secondly that God rewards those who search for him.

7It was through his faith that Noah, on receiving God's warning of impending disaster, with reverence constructed an ark to save his household. This action of faith condemned the unbelief of the rest of the world, and won for Noah the righteousness before God which follows such a faith.

8It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the summons to go out to a place which he would eventually possess, and he set out in complete ignorance of his destination.

9It was faith that kept him journeying like a foreigner through the land of promise, with no more home than the rents which he shared with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs with him of the promise.

10For Abraham's eyes were looking forward to that city with solid foundations of which God himself is both architect and builder.

11It was by faith that even Sarah gained the physical vitality to conceive despite her great age, and she gave birth to a child when far beyond the normal years of childbearing. She did this because she believed that the One who had given the promise was utterly trustworthy.

12So it happened that from one man, who as a potential father was already considered dead, there arose a race "as numerous as the stars", as "countless as the sands of the seashore".

13All these whom we have mentioned maintained their faith but died without actually receiving God's promises, though they had seen them in the distance, had hailed them as true. They freely admitted that they lived on this earth as exiles and foreigners.

14Men who say that mean, of course, that their eyes are fixed upon their true homeland.

15If they had meant the particular country they had left behind, they had ample opportunity to return.

16No, the fact is that they longed for a better country altogether, nothing less than a heavenly one. And because of this faith of theirs, God is not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared for them a city.

17It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered Isaac for sacrifice. Yes, the man who had heard God's promises was prepared to offer up his only son

18of whom it had been said "In Isaac shall thy seed he called."

19He believed that God could raise his son up, even if he were dead. And he did, in a manner of speaking, receive him back from death.

20It was by faith that Isaac gave Jacob and Esau his blessing, for his words dealt with what should happen in the future.

21It was by faith that the dying Jacob blessed each of Joseph's sons as he bowed in prayer over his staff.

22It was by faith that Joseph on his deathbed spoke of the exodus of the Israelites, and gave orders about the disposal of his own mortal remains.

23It was by faith that Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, for they saw that he was a beautiful child and refused to be daunted by the king's decree.

24It was also by faith that Moses himself when grown up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.

25He preferred sharing the burden of God's people to enjoying the temporary advantages of sin.

26He considered the "reproach of Christ" more precious than all the wealth of Egypt, for he looked steadily at the ultimate reward.

27By faith he left Egypt; he defied the king's anger with the strength that came from obedience to the invisible king.

28By faith Moses kept the first Passover and made the bloodsprinkling, so that the angel of death which killed the firstborn should not touch those of his people.

29By faith the people walked through the Red Sea as though it were dry land, and the Egyptians who tried to do the same thing were drowned.

30It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, for the people had obeyed God's command to encircle them for seven days.

31It was because of her faith that Rahab the prostitute did not share the fate of the disobedient, for she welcomed the Israelites sent out to reconnoiter.

32And what other examples shall I give? There is not time to continue by telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jeptha; of David, Samuel and the prophets.

33Through their faith these men conquered kingdoms, ruled in justice and proved the truth of God's promises. They shut the mouths of lions,

34they quenched the furious blaze of fire, they escaped death by the sword. From being weaklings they became strong men and mighty warriors; they routed whole armies of foreigners.

35Women received their dead raised to life again, while others were tortured to death and refused to be ransomed, because they wanted a more honourable resurrection.

36Others were exposed to the test of public mockery and flogging, and to being left bound in prison.

37They were killed by stoning, by being sawn in two; they were murdered by the sword. They went about with nothing but sheepskins or goatskins to cover them. They lost everything and yet were spurned and illtreated by a world too evil to see their worth.

38They lived as vagrants in the desert, on the mountains, or in caves or holes in the ground.

39All these won a glowing testimony to their faith, but they did not then and there receive the fulfillment of the promise.

40God had something better planned for our day, and it was not his plan that they should reach perfection without us.

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