Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Many people know this verse and use it as their definition of what faith is, and a Biblical definition of faith (at least in my opinion) is a pretty good definition to have. However, this definition has come to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And I would argue that the rest of Hebrews 11 and also Hebrews 10 (always look at context) really describes what that definition of faith means. I will take some time to explain it, but I would also argue that none of us can truly know what faith is until we are in a position to really exercise faith. That is why I want to reemphasize the idea that we cannot practice faith by sitting in front of the television everyday, or taking our kids to the baseball field/dance studio/etc. every night of the week, or by spending only 2 hours/week thinking about the will of GOD. With that backdrop, here is what Hebrews tells us about faith…
Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
How awesome is that verse? We are not of those who shrink back…Right before that it says, “But my righteous will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” Faith does not include shrinking back, it includes believing and being saved and then acting on that belief.
Read through the rest of Hebrews 11 and you see the faithful men and women of the Old Testament who consistently acted on their faith. Notice the number of action verbs in this passage and how true men and women of faith act on that faith. (Side note: PRAYER IS ACTION!!!!!!).
And then, finally, read the awesome, incredible promise of Hebrews 11:39-40, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. GOD had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” We have received the promise! We have the Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament, the Messiah that all of these men and women of faith waited and longed for and never saw. And now, we have the power of Christ on our side, the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
So what is faith for us? It is knowing that we have Christ! It is living our whole lives on the premise that the GOD of the universe, the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world loves us and has died to forgive our sins! When we know that, when we grasp this Savior, this promise, then faith is truly being sure of what we hope for.
When we are sure of what we hope for, everything changes. When we are certain of what we do not see, everything is different. This is not the type of hope that may or may not come to fruition. This is the type of hope that WILL HAPPEN NO MATTER WHAT.
I am trying to live my life every day with this type of faith. This endeavor that Jess and I have started through the leading of GOD is definitely increasing my faith. But more than that, I am starting to realize that faith is different than I ever realized. It is so much more than words, it is a complete change in the way I view my life and the world. And even though it should be really simple (after all, we do have the GOD of the entire universe to place our faith in), it is difficult.
So what I would ask of everyone who reads this is…
- Pray for our faith. Pray that GOD would continue to increase it as He completely stretches us to a new depth in our relationship with Him.
- Pray for your faith! Ask GOD to teach you how to live by faith. To not be “one who shrinks back.”
- Act on your faith in GOD. Trust me, this will take you to places you may have never gone before. It may lead you to not take that expensive vacation you have been planning, or it may take you onto your knees for hours every night, or it may even take you to quitting your job so that you can live for your Savior, and who knows-it may even take you to another country to share the love of your GOD and Savior Jesus Christ. I don’t know where acting on your faith will take you (Trust me, I never thought I would be here in my life!). But I do know where it won’t take you…
It won’t take you just to church every Sunday and nothing else. It won’t take you to a place of silence in your job and in your life where you never tell others about your Savior. And it will not take you to a place where you hoard, save, or spend all of your financial and physical resources at the expense of others who need it.
I want to invite everyone who reads this on this journey of trying to figure out what it means to live not as those who shrink back and are destroyed, but as those who have believed and been saved!