Hebrews 11: 1-7…. What is faith?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Comment: Like many words in all languages the meaning of one word varies with its context. It is worth considering what this passage says about ‘faith’ in a Christian context. It is not presented as a hopeful leap of a blind wish into an uncertain hope. While this is not a definition and other aspects are given in other places in Scripture to add to our understanding of the word, here we see certain requirements for us to call it ‘Christian Faith’, and we are given some examples.

  • We must see God as Creator, who made the world around us, that we experience as humans, out of the unseen. Faith is our conviction and assurance that this is historical space-time truth.
  • As seen in Abel – Faith is what makes our offering to God acceptable and allows us to be called righteous. His example is still there in history for us to see and follow.
  • Enoch ‘skipped’ from earth to heaven without seeing death because of his faith. (As was Elijah later.)
  • Trust in the reality of God, His existence and His rewarding of those who seek Him is a core of faith.
  • Noah is given as an example of walking into the unknown because of faith – trusting that God will do what He says.

Prayer: Help me to realize what a serious thing ‘faith’ is in Serving You, O God.

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