According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (ASV). A healthy understanding of faith comes from digging into the entirety of the book of Hebrews as a whole, and especially the eleventh chapter. This chapter is often referred to by Bible scholars and students alike as “faith’s hall of fame.”
Faith is a matter of assurance, of conviction. It is not mere opinion. It is the “assurance” or “conviction” of “things not seen.” It is not, as Carl Sagan once remarked, “belief in the absence of evidence”; or in the words of one anonymous schoolboy, “the power of believing what you know ain’t so.” Opinions come and go; feelings are here today and gone tomorrow; but assurance and conviction of a genuine faith serves as an unshakable foundation for life.
Faith is inseparably linked with obedience to God. Abel, by faith, offered God a sacrifice; Enoch, by faith, pleased God; Noah, by faith, obeyed God by building the ark “to the saving of his house.’” Abraham, by faith, “obeyed…went out”. In fact, all those souls commended for faith in Hebrews’ eleventh chapter are so commended, not because their faith did nothing, but because their faith did something – because it was obedient to God’s will.
Faith trusts that God “is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” The wandering Israelites of Exodus did not disbelieve in the existence of the one true God of heaven and earth as did Pharaoh – “I know not the Lord” (Exodus 5:2) – but they were nonetheless guilty of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:19.) Yes, they believed that God was, and that God had done marvelous works, but they did not trust God to see them through the trials of the wilderness. Their worrying and constant complaining revealed a serious faith problem. And the same is true for you and me today. We may believe that God is, and that God is all-powerful; but do we cast all our care upon God, believing that He cares for us? (1 Peter 5:7.)
Faith continues – is faithful – to the end. The similarity of the word, “faith” and “faithful” is no accident. Those of Hebrews eleven pressed forward, through good times and bad, through joys and tribulations; and Jesus, the noblest example we could ever hope to imitate, “endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Hebrews 12:2.) Our savior “endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself”, for us, that we might enjoy salvation. (Hebrews 12:3.) Our faith must neither flag or fail. We must be “faithful unto death.” (Revelation 2:10.) A faith that quits is not a faith that saves.
How does your faith measure up?