Category Archives: Hebrews 11 Bible Study

Faith and Grace

By Kristen Entwistle

On June 17, 2015, a 21-year old white man walked into a church during a prayer service and murdered nine people.  Among those killed was the senior pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney.  Clem, as he was better known, was preaching at the age of 13, pastor by 18.  At the age of 23, he was elected as a state legislator to the South Carolina House of Representatives.  He married his wife Jennifer in 1999, and had two daughters, Eliana and Malana.  President Barack Obama began his eulogy for Clem this way:

Giving all praise and honor to God.

The Bible calls us to hope.  To persevere, and have faith in things not seen.

‘They were still living by faith when they did,’ Scripture tells us.  ‘They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on Earth.’

We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith.  A man who believed in things not seen.  A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance.  A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed.1

The President went on to tell of the things that Clem had done in his life, and the mark he had left by his faith on his congregation, his family, and his country.  Clem was a modern-day man of faith, one who followed in faith to where God called him.  He was not perfect, but he followed in faith.  We don’t know all of the details of Reverend Pinckney’s life.  But the people who did know him knew of his faith.  And they tell of it still today.

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Remember how we defined faith?  We said that faith encompasses “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth, a personal surrender to Him, and a conduct inspired by such surrender.”2  Faith isn’t just belief or just giving our lives to Christ, or even just how we are living.  It’s a combination of all three.  This is the faith that our heroes in Hebrews 11 showed us, and that those living by faith still show today.

We’ve seen throughout this study that God uses ordinary, messed up, broken people to fulfill His purposes.  He used a prostitute, a murderer, a doubter, an adulterer, a stealer, and a cheater to show us examples of faith.  How much more does He use us, His imperfect vessels, for His purposes through faith.

Join me as we enter the final chapter of our Hebrews 11 Study!

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Even More Heroes

By Kristen Entwistle

At the end of Hebrews 11 we find the most comprehensive list of all that God accomplished through these heroes of faith.  The Israelites and their leaders conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised – a land of their own and so much more.  God shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel, and quenched the fury of the flames in the fire for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Countless stories in the Old Testament tell of those whose weakness was turned to strength, becoming powerful in battle and overtaking their enemies, including some that we have studied, including David and Gideon.

There are certainly many more people in the Old Testament whose lives are full of faith: Aaron, Moses’ brother, who became the first of the Levitical priesthood; Joshua and Caleb, who alone of the twelve spies came back to Moses and Aaron believing that they could conquer the land with God’s blessing; Ruth, who left her home and her family to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to her homeland and to the Israelite God; Solomon, the wisest king ever to live, who was wise only because he asked God for wisdom; Nehemiah, who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem despite much opposition; Esther, who went before the king unsummoned to save her people; Job, who endured persecution and hardship at the hand of Satan but never turned away from God; the prophets, who do not get mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, but who nonetheless make up many of the books in our Canon – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, not to mention Elijah, Elisha, Nathan, and many, many others.

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By Kristen Entwistle

At the championship meet in my senior year in college, I had the chance to break a record: the 200 yard butterfly.  On a good day, the 200 fly was hard.  On a day where I had already raced the mile freestyle, the 1000 yard freestyle the day before, and one relay – it was near impossible.  During the preliminary heats that morning, I felt alright – my arms were hurting by the end of the race, but it was the end of the season and I knew I just had to make it to the final heats that night.  I made it to the finals, but when I stepped up behind that block, I knew I had nothing left.

My coaches came up to me before the race and said, “I know you can do this.  Keep your head down, don’t breathe, and just swim like I know you know how to.”  I looked at my coach and I said, “Coach, I want to break this record.  But I have nothing left.  I don’t even know if I can finish this race.”  My coach looked at me and said, “Go out there and swim.  I’ll be proud of you no matter what.  And look – your teammates are all at the end of the lane, ready to cheer you on.  Go get ‘em, Scarecrow.”

There was a giant in my way that day – in the form of 200 yards of butterfly.  One start.  Seven turns.  Eight laps.  One finish.  One.  More.  Race.

As I put on my goggles, I prayed, “God, just give me the strength to finish this race.  I want to finish strong.”  I stepped up onto the block, and at the gun, I gave it all I had.  It wasn’t near enough to break the record, but that mountain in my way was removed.  It was a hard climb, and I fought for every breath, every stroke, every turn.  But with God, I was able to finish.  There’s no way I could have touched that wall without His strength.

Today in our Hebrews study, we come to David, Samuel and the prophets, who faced giants of their own.  David faced a literal giant and some figurative ones, while Samuel and the prophets faced many figurative giants.  Their faith in the God of the Universe gave them the victory over these giants, and ultimately brought the glory back to the One in whom it belongs: God.

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Using the Ordinary for the Extraordinary

By Kristen Entwistle

I was a competitive swimmer in high school, and at the end of each season, we would swim in a final regional championship meet.    The fastest forty swimmers from our region and two others would then get to compete in the district meet a few weeks later.    In my senior year, I finally made it to the district meet in one individual event and one relay event with my teammates.

After a crowded warm-up early in the morning, the preliminary heats began.  Only the fastest forty swimmers in each event from our district and four others would get to compete in the state meet two weeks later.

This meet was the culmination of my entire high school swimming career, and I was determined to make the most of it.  I wanted to be that one in a million shot – the swimmer who had no chance of making it to the state meet, but somehow made it.  I wanted to be extraordinary.

I wasn’t.  I had a very bad race, and did not make it to the state finals (which I never really had a chance at making anyway).  I felt inadequate and ordinary.  But my coach reminded me that day that even though I wasn’t the fastest swimmer, and even though I didn’t make it to the state meet, God had different plans for me.  The local newspaper had written an article on me because I was a swimmer with a life-shortening disease who had made it to the district meet.  I was just an ordinary girl, with her own insecurities, challenges, and struggles, but God used me for His extraordinary plans, in ways that I may never fully understand.

I am ordinary, and that’s a good thing.  Because when God uses my story for His glory, I hope that people see Him instead of me.

As we near the end of our study on the Heroes of Hope in Hebrews 11, we come to two ordinary men – Jephthah and Samson – who, just like me and you, were ordinary men with an extraordinary God.

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Download Chapter 11 now!

A Faith Walk That Matches Your Faith Talk

By Kristen Entwistle

I am an insecure, imperfect, young, follower of Christ.  I do not get everything right, nor do I always say (or write) the right thing.  But for some reason, God has given me a platform to speak His truth into people’s lives.  Me – that imperfect, insecure, young girl.  He chose me.

Fortunately, I’m not alone.  The next woman that we come to in the Hall of Faith is Rahab, a woman of not-so-great occupation, but great faith.

Before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River, Joshua sent two spies to check out the city of Jericho.  Joshua chapter 2 records that the spies “went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” (Joshua 2:1, NIV)

The first thing we learn about Rahab is that she is a prostitute.  Not the most ringing endorsement for a woman who ends up in the genealogy of King David, and therefore Christ, but it’s certainly not the last thing we learn about her.

Heb 11 31Download Chapter 9 now!




Between A Rock And A Hard Place

By Kristen Entwistle

When I was in college, I had to take a class that involved a 12-day wilderness expedition in the Adirondack mountains.  My group spent the majority of our trip kayaking through the waters in the mountain range, but before we set off, we did a few “team-building” activities – two ropes courses – high and low, and a rock wall.

The morning that we got to the rock wall, it was overcast, threatening rain.  I was the last person in our group to attempt the rock wall, and by the time I got strapped in, it was pouring.  The rock face was slippery, hard to hold on to.  As I began to climb up, I would find a few footholds, make it a few feet, and then slip back down a foot.

Two steps forward, one step back. 

When I finally made it about halfway up the rock face, rain pelting my face, thoroughly soaked, I came to a ledge that I had to find a way around.  I tried a few different ways around, under, and over the ledge, but without success.  I looked down at my belayer, and asked, “Can I just repel down?  I can’t get around this!”  My leader looked up at me and smiled before she replied, “You can do it.  I’m not letting you quit.”

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

I was stuck.  Couldn’t go down, I could only press forward.  And that ledge?  It wasn’t budging.

I had to find a way around the ledge, but I couldn’t see a way around by myself. 

The rest of my team, soaking wet on the ground below or above me, began to show me things that I couldn’t see myself.  “Try putting your foot on that hold about two feet to your left!” they called.  “Okay, now put your hand there – yeah, there – and move so that you’re hanging under the ledge.  Now you can maneuver around that rock – yeah, there you go – and put your right foot two feet to the right…”  They continued to help me get around the ledge, seeing things that I couldn’t, until I finally hoisted my soaking wet self over the top of that rock wall.

It’s a beautiful image of what God does with us.  Sees things that we can’t, giving us ways out when we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place – whether literally or figuratively.

Because if we admit it to ourselves, we find ourselves between rocks and hard places a lot. 

And more often than not, like I did on that rock wall, we try to find ways out on our own, when all along we should be placing our faith in and relying on the One who has seen us through every trial, every storm, every rough patch.  The One who bore our sins on the cross, died for us, and rose again, preparing a place for us in heaven.

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The Israelites were no strangers to rocks and hard places.  And both of the stories that we come to next in Hebrews 11 reveal their doubts and complaints against the God who led them out of Egypt, and the sovereignty and power of God, who provides a way out of those rocks and hard places.

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Moses: More Than The Exodus

By Kristen Entwistle

If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Prince of Egypt, or heard the stories about the Exodus from Egypt in Sunday school, you’re probably familiar with the life of Moses.  His parents – at great personal risk – hid Moses as a baby.  There came a time, though, when it was no longer possible to hide the baby.  When she could hide him no longer, his mother placed him in a basket and set him adrift on the Nile, trusting his fate to God.  The basket was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who took pity on him and raised him as her own son.

We don’t know whether Moses was raised with the knowledge that he was a Hebrew or if he discovered this later on.  What we do know is that as an adult he went to watch his own people at hard labor.  While he was there, Moses witnessed an Egyptian who beating a Hebrew slave.  Moses, believing that he was alone, killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.  But, someone apparently had witnessed the attack and news had spread.  Fearing that he would be caught, Moses fled across the desert to Midian.

In Midian, Moses took up like as a shepherd, married, and had two sons before meeting God in the burning bush.  At the burning bush, God directed Moses to return to Egypt, where he would be God’s instrument for freeing His people from slavery.  Moses argued with God, saying that he was not well-spoken enough and that no one will listen to him.  But God provided him with his brother-in-law, Aaron, as a spokesman, as well as signs to convince Pharaoh and the Israelites that God had indeed sent him.  Moses returned to Egypt, and performed many signs and wonders before Pharaoh.  But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go.  Ten plagues fell upon the Egyptians, ending with the death of the firstborn.  Only then did Pharaoh let God’s people go… but a few days later he pursued them, only to have his army swallowed up in the Red Sea.


Moses continued to lead the Israelites, through the desert where the Lord provided the people with manna and quail and water from the rock, to Mount Sinai, where Moses brings down the Ten Commandments and the Law.  Although Moses was a great prophet, leader, and instrument in the hands of God, he was not perfect.  Numbers 20 records that Moses and Aaron did not follow God’s instructions and so the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Numbers 20:12, NIV)

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Interestingly, we learn more about Moses’ story and his great faith in Hebrews 11, where we will dig deeper into Moses’ life today.

Download Chapter 7 now!

Glasses To See What’s Next

By Kristen Entwistle

I remember being a first or second grader, and realizing that I couldn’t see what the teacher was writing on the board.  I couldn’t read things unless they weren’t right in front of my face.  And so, my parents signed me up at the eye doctor’s office, and I got glasses.  I thought they were pretty cool at first.  I thought they made me look pretty smart.

Then I started swimming in middle school, and realized that when I put on my goggles, I couldn’t see anymore.  Fortunately, someone came up with the idea of prescription goggles that fixed that problem.  When I started wearing contacts, life got a lot better.  I was no longer the nerd with glasses, but I could still see, which was great for both my social life and my grades.

I wish there was a pair of glasses that I could put on that would show me why things happen the way they do.  Or what’s coming next.  Or maybe even what comes after this life – what God has in store for us.

Jacob and Joseph didn’t have glasses like that, but their faith allowed them to look beyond the temporary, beyond the here and now, and beyond even death. Join me today as we study these heroes of the faith.

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Loving The Next Generation To Jesus

By Kristen Entwistle

Jud and Jan were like family to the students of Gordon College, inviting them into their home and their lives, loving them as only they could.  One of the other icons of Gordon College, if you will, is Dr. Marv Wilson.  Dr. Wilson is a short, older gentleman who teaches in the Biblical Studies department at Gordon College.  He is a translator and editor of the New International Version of the Bible, and has also contributed notes in the NIV study Bible for two Old Testament books.  Learning from Dr. Wilson was truly a highlight of my career at Gordon College, as was learning from the example set by Jud and Jan Carlberg.

Jan has written a book called The Welcome Song, in which she recounts a story of the funeral of Marv Wilson’s mother.  She writes,

“Marv Wilson spoke first, though he said nothing from the podium.  He simply sat on the front row with his wife, Polly, and their grandson, Ian.  I watched Ian nestle under the wings of Marv and Polly.  Sometimes Ian’s head rested on his grandpa’s shoulder.  And God spoke to me of safe places and strong shoulders and of loving the next generation to Jesus.  I want to be that kind of person.  I want Gordon College to be that kind of place. […] These grandparents pray that, someday, by faith, Ian and Jay will take their own stands beneath the cross of Jesus, and they’ll become the strong shoulders, the safe places, the singers, and love-links for another generation.”

Isn’t that what every Christian parent and grandparent wants for their children?  To be a strong shoulder and safe place, showing them the love of Christ so that they might become the strong shoulders and safe places for the next generation?  Even as just a babysitter to many kids in my church, this is what I want for them.  That when they need a shoulder to cry on and mom’s not there, I can be.  I pray that my example can be one to follow, and that they will grow up and by faith walk in the light.

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Join us today as we study our next hero of hope, Isaac.

Download Chapter 5 today!

Impossible Things

By Kristen Entwistle

Impossible, according to Webster: not able to be accomplished.  There are a lot of things that I think are impossible.  But with God, all things are possible, right?  What if God asking you to do something impossible today?  What can we learn from the next person in Hebrews 11 – Abraham?

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Remember Noah?  Abram is his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson.  Abram (later Abraham) gets the biggest chunk of Hebrews 11.  His faith and obedience when God tells him to do what seems impossible are excellent examples for us to follow.  Three different situations in Abram’s life are worthy to be mentioned in Hebrews 11, each of which we’ll take a look at today.

Download Chapter Four now!