One of the first things to note are the varied manifestations of faith. Faith is the foundation by which we obtain a good testimony (Heb. 11:2). Faith is also the means by which we understand the unsearchable actions of God (v. 3). In other words, by faith, a finite individual can commune with God and understand the very acts of an infinite Being.
In Abel’s experience, faith looks like offering a more excellent sacrifice to God. In his case, faith was an expression of worship (v. 4). We notice that in the quality of his worship, he obtained witness of his righteousness, with God serving as an expert witness to testify of this fact.
When the word of God came to Noah in the form of a warning regarding things that had never been previously believed to be possibilities, he moved with godly fear and prepared his household (v. 7). His faith condemned the world. His faith made him an heir of righteousness.
When the word of God came to Abraham in the form of a command, faith looked like obedience (v. 8). In Sarah’s life, faith was judging God as someone who is faithful, which gave her strength to do the impossible. In a sense, faith is responding to God’s word and believing on that word (only) to do what it has said.
So when the word of God comes in the form of a promise, faith is believing that promise. When the word of God comes in form of a command, faith is obeying that command. When the word of God comes in the form of a warning, faith looks like moving with godly fear and preparing to act, even though it seems altogether impossible that what God has said will actually come to pass.
And faith has another dimension. Speaking of Enoch’s experience, Paul says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Faith requires two things: first, it requires the belief that God is, that He is there, that He is able, and that He is knowledgeable; second, it requires the belief that He is a rewarder. This means that He is not only able but also willing. One of the components has to do with God’s power, the other component has to do with His character. A person cannot be faithful to God without being convinced of both.