Hebrews 11: The Meaning of Faith

How would you define the difference between “hope,” “faith,” “believing,” and “trust”?

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Hebrews 11:1 Faith believes when physical evidence is lacking.
King James
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Upon what was the leaders’ good report based?

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Hebrews 11:2 Leaders of old were able to give a good report because of their trust in God.
King James
Hebrews 11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

How can we know for certain that God created the universe out of nothing?

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John 16:13 “But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own authority but will say only what he hears. He will reveal to you things to come.”
Hebrews 11:3 We need faith to know that God spoke the universe into existence—that what we see was made out of nothing—because obviously we weren’t there.
King James
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

What made Abel’s sacrifice better than Cain’s?

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Genesis 4:4 Abel brought an offering that was the choicest cuts of meat from the very best of his flock. God approved of Abel and his offering,
Hebrews 11:4 Because of his faith, Abel offered a much better sacrifice than Cain did. God’s acceptance of the offering confirmed Abel’s righteousness. Although Abel is dead, his example still speaks to us today.
King James
Genesis 4:4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

What must we do to please God?

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Matthew 17:5 While Peter was still speaking, a brilliant cloud overshadowed them. A voice came from the cloud. “This is my dearly loved son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”
Matthew 26:42 Again, Jesus left to pray. “My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be emptied without my drinking it, let your will be done.”
John 17:4 “I have glorified you on Earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
Hebrews 11:5 Enoch’s faith let him step into God’s presence without dying. He vanished from Earth because God took him, which shows how much Enoch pleased God.
King James
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

If Enoch had such a great relationship with God, why wasn’t he left on Earth for ministry?

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Genesis 6:5 God saw how wicked that people on earth had become, how everything they thought and every motive was consistently evil.
Hebrews 11:5 Enoch’s faith let him step into God’s presence without dying. He vanished from Earth because God took him, which shows how much Enoch pleased God.
King James
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

How important is our belief in the reward?

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Genesis 15:1 After this, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision. “Do not fear, Abram, for I am your protector and great reward.”
Philippians 3:14–15 I focus entirely on the heavenly reward that comes in following Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 11:6 Unless we believe in God and the rewards that follow, we’ll neither approach him nor seek to please him.
King James
Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Philippians 3:14–15 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Why didn’t people believe the warning that Noah preached?

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Matthew 24:38–39 “Before the flood, people were eating, drinking, and having a good time until the day Noah entered the ark. They did not believe until the flood swept them away. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes.”
Hebrews 11:7 Although a world-destroying flood had never happened before, Noah believed God’s warning. Moved with a healthy respect for what he knew was true, he obeyed God, saved his family, and became a testimony to future generations, receiving righteousness by faith and condemning the world for its unbelief.
2 Peter 2:5 God spared none of the ungodly of the ancient world. Only Noah, who preached righteousness, and seven others were saved in the Great Flood.
King James
Matthew 24:38–39 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Why might Noah have chosen to believe God? What reasoning might contradict that faith?

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Hebrews 11:7 Although a world-destroying flood had never happened before, Noah believed God’s warning. Moved with a healthy respect for what he knew was true, he obeyed God, saved his family, and became a testimony to future generations, receiving righteousness by faith and condemning the world for its unbelief.
King James
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

What must we have before we can step out in faith?

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Psalm 34:8 Taste the Lord’s goodness and you will want more. In all things, trust him, and you will be blessed.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith, Abraham left his homeland when God called him to go to another place, which would become his inheritance from the Lord. But at the time he left, he didn’t know where he was going or how he would get there.
King James
Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Why might we think Abraham was foolish to leave his homeland?

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Hebrews 11:8–10 By faith, Abraham left his homeland when God called him to go to another place, which would become his inheritance from the Lord. But at the time he left, he didn’t know where he was going or how he would get there. By faith, he lived in the land of promise as if this was not his home either, dwelling in movable tents, as Isaac and Jacob also did, who were heirs of the same promise. Why? He was looking for a permanent home, a city whose architect and builder was God.
King James
Hebrews 11:8–10 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Why was faith important for Sarah to conceive and give birth to Isaac?

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Hebrews 11:11 When she was long past the age of childbearing, Sarah needed faith for strength to conceive and give birth to Isaac. For she believed God was faithful, that his promise would be fulfilled.
King James
Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

What is the difference between misplaced and well-placed “faith”?

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John 8:31–32 To those who believed, Jesus said, “If you keep following what I say, you really are my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Hebrews 11:12 Through one impotent man’s faith, God brought forth a multitude of descendants, their number as incalculable as the stars in the universe or grains of sand on the seashore.
King James
John 8:31–32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

With so many people exercising faith, why don’t we see more miracles?

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Matthew 13:58 Because of their unbelief, he did very few miracles there.
Mark 16:17 “These miraculous signs will follow those who believe: Under my direction and authority, they will cast out evil spirits, and they will speak in new languages.”
John 14:12 “I guarantee, those who believe in me will do the work I have been doing. They will do even greater work because I go to the Father.”
Hebrews 11:13 All these people believed God’s promises but died without seeing their fulfillment. They saw enough from a distance to be convinced of the truth and confess that they are foreigners just passing through.
King James
Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

How might people have gained faith for a place much better than anything they had seen on Earth?

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Genesis 17:1 Abram when he was ninety-nine years old when the Lord appeared, saying, “I am Almighty God. Walk with me and do what is right.”
Genesis 48:3 Jacob said to Joseph, “At Luz in the land of Canaan, God Almighty appeared and blessed me.”
Isaiah 64:4 Since the beginning of the world, eye has not seen nor ear heard. No mind can even imagine the wonders that God has prepared for those who long for him.
John 8:56 “Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. When he saw me, he was overjoyed.”
Hebrews 11:14–16 Clearly, these people are looking for a different land that will be their eternal home. If they wanted to live in the country they left, they could have gone back. Since they look for a heavenly land where God resides, he is proud to be their God and prepare a place for them to live.
King James
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Genesis 48:3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Hebrews 11:14–16 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

People in pagan cultures sacrificed their children to false gods, a practice that God abhorred. How could Abraham believe God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac?

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Leviticus 18:21 Never sacrifice your children on altar fires to the god Molech or do anything to disgrace the name of your God, for I am the Lord.
Hebrews 11:17–19 Abraham needed faith to pass the test when he went to sacrifice his only son, who was promised to be the father of many nations, for God had said his descendants would be through Isaac. Abraham still believed God and thought his son might somehow be raised from the dead, and there is a sense in which that’s exactly what happened.
King James
Leviticus 18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
Hebrews 11:17–19 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

How could the blessing of Jacob and Esau be more than something Isaac hoped for and believed would come to pass?

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Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, for he certainly hadn’t seen their future himself.
King James
Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

Why did Jacob bless the younger son of Joseph above the elder?

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Genesis 48:17–19 Joseph didn’t want his younger son blessed above his brother, so he tried to move his father’s right hand from Ephraim onto Manasseh’s head. “No, Father,” Joseph said, “this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”ut his brother will be father to a multitude.”
Jacob refused. “I know, my son, I know it. Manasseh and his people will be great, but his brother will be father to a multitude.”
Hebrews 11:21 When Jacob was dying, he revealed his faith when he bowed in worship, leaned on his staff, and blessed Joseph’s sons.
King James
Genesis 48:17–19  And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

What did Joseph have against being laid to rest in Egypt?

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Genesis 50:24–25 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am dying. One day, God will visit you and take you from Egypt to the land he promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear they would carry his bones with them when they left Egypt.
Hebrews 11:22 Because of his faith, Joseph made the Israelites swear that when God led them out of Egypt, they would take his bones to the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
King James
Genesis 50:24–25 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

What did Moses parents risk by hiding their son? Why did they set Moses adrift on the Nile River, not knowing what would become of him?

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Exodus 2:2–3 Jochebed conceived and gave birth to a son. After three months, when she could no longer hide her beautiful baby, she made a small boat out of reeds and covered it with tar. With the baby resting inside, she put it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile River.
Hebrews 11:23 When Moses was born, his parents had faith to hide their son for three months, not fearing Pharaoh’s decree.
King James
Exodus 2:2–3 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.
Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

What led to Moses’ rejection of his upbringing in Pharaoh’s household?

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Hebrews 11:24–27 By faith, Moses as an adult refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, preferring affliction with the people of God above the pleasures of sin for a season. The reproach of being God’s anointed was a greater treasure to Moses than all the riches in Egypt, even though he hadn’t yet seen the reward for his commitment. His faith in the gifts of God whom he couldn’t see caused him not to fear the wrath of Pharaoh whom he could see, so he endured the hardships of leaving Egypt.
King James
Hebrews 11:24–27 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Why did Moses command the Israelites to smear blood on the doorposts?

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Romans 10:17 People must hear the Word of God before they can believe it.
Hebrews 11:28 By faith, Moses commanded the Israelites to smear blood on the doorposts, so the Angel of Death passed over their houses and did not kill their firstborn sons.
King James
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Hebrews 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

After faith took the Israelites through the Red Sea, what led to their worshiping the golden calf?

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Exodus 14:21–22 When Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, God sent a strong east wind all night to divide the waters and leave dry land in between. With a wall of water on their right and left, the children of Israel crossed the middle of the sea on dry ground.
Exodus 32:1 After a while, when Moses still hadn’t come down from the mountain, the people went to Aaron and said, “We don’t know what has become of this Moses who led us out of Egypt. Make us gods who will lead us.”
Exodus 32:6 They rose early the next morning to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to the golden calf, feasting and drinking and enjoying pleasures of the flesh.
Hebrews 11:29 Faith took the Israelites through the Red Sea, and the pursuing Egyptians drowned when they tried to follow.
King James
Exodus 14:21–22 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

To what extent might obedience depend on faith?

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Hebrews 11:30 Because of faith, the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for a week before they saw the walls come crashing down.
King James
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

What motivated Rahab to welcome foreigners?

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Joshua 2:10–13 We heard how God parted the Red sea for you when left Egypt and your utter destruction of the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, on the other side of the Jordan River. After hearing these things, our hearts melted in fear. No one had any courage to fight, because your Lord is the God of the skies above and the earth beneath. Please swear in the name of your Lord and give me a sure sign that you will show kindness to my father’s house as I have shown kindness to you, that my parents and my brothers and sisters and their families will not be killed.
Hebrews 11:31 Rahab the prostitute revealed her faith when she welcomed Israel’s spies and was not killed with the people of Jericho.
King James
Joshua 2:10–13 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

What did all the examples of great faith share in common?

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Hebrews 11:32–39 What more can I say? There aren’t enough hours in the day to describe all the examples of great faith—people like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel and all God’s prophets. Faith made them victors, not victims. They overthrew kingdoms, acted with integrity, and closed the mouths of the lions that would have devoured them, always trusting God’s promises. They survived the fiery furnace and escaped death from the sword. Their weaknesses became their strength. In surrendering to the Lord, they became superheroes on the battlefield and caused whole armies to flee. Mothers saw their children raised from the dead. Tortured people refused to recant their faith. Why did they do that? Because they had faith in the priceless reward they would receive after their death. Others endured trials of verbal abuse, physical beatings, and chains in prison. They were stoned, sawed in half, and killed with the sword, subjected to torture and the threat of death to pressure them to recant their faith. Left in poverty, beaten and crippled, wearing the skins of sheep or goats, they wandered the wilderness and mountains, sleeping in caves and dugouts. With greater honor than those in the world, all were known for their great faith, yet they died without receiving the promise.
King James
Hebrews 11:32–39 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

How can we know what great plans God has for us?

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Jeremiah 29:11 The Lord says, “I have fully drawn up the plans I have for your lives. The details are laid out to complete something very good, not to harm you at all, but to give you hope for what comes in the end.”
Hebrews 11:40 God has great plans for us, greater than what they saw and believed, for we shall all be made perfect together.
King James
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Hebrews 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.