What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. — Hebrews 11:1
Everybody believes something. Everyday life is not possible without the exercise of belief, trust, and dependence. An activity as mundane as driving along a road requires belief that the signs are truthful, confidence that other drivers are trustworthy, and trust that when you have a green light the opposite direction will have a red—and that those coming toward the red will stop! Faith at the level of ordinary living is commonplace. But faith is also exercised at a much higher level.
After the early generations of Christians “first learned about Christ,” their faith was strengthened so they could remain “faithful even though it meant terrible suffering” (Hebrews 10:32). Their faith showed itself “in confident trust in the Lord” (10:35). Their whole lives could be summed up in the ancient statement, “a righteous person will live by faith”—a “faith that assures [one’s] salvation” (10:38-39).
The significance of faith cannot be overestimated and must never be underestimated. But what is faith?
Faith is believing that something you have been told is true. The conviction that it is true is based on the source of the information being trustworthy. Trust is placed in that which is believed to be true, to such a degree that the believer begins to look forward to the actualization of that which is believed. In this way faith becomes “the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen” (11:1). This confident assurance begins to captivate the thinking of the believer so that even when the consequences of their believing become a challenge, and even a threat to their physical well-being, they do not waver. They remain faithful—for those who are full of faith are, by definition, faithful!
Should we be tempted to embrace the common philosophy that “seeing is believing,” we should remember that in fact, much of our “seeing” is determined by our “believing.” When Jesus walked on the water to the disciples, they did not believe in people walking on water (and who could blame them?!)—but they did believe in ghosts. So what they believed determined what they saw! Believing was seeing. For faith “is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (11:1).
No human was present at the beginning of creation—no one saw what happened. So speculation and scientific exploration continue unabated to this day. But the believer accepts that it is “by faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command” (11:3). The believer’s life is all about believing in every dimension. The big issue is, who and what do you believe!
For further study: Hebrews 11:1-40
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.