We still question, What is faith?

Published 8:01 am Friday, July 1, 2005

By Staff
Verse 1 of chapter 11 of the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews declares, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." All faith-based people can buy into the concept-existing in one dimension while hoping in another.
Faith makes hope reality; faith sees evidence where nothing is visible.
The Living God of heaven has determined that faith will be the great watershed of relationship. He could do more to make Himself known, but He chooses to require faith.
Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 6, sets the basic ground rules of relationship with God: "But without faith (in Jesus) it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 10:19-22).
The only real impossibility with God is attempting to please Him without faith.
Every person who is going to have a faith-based life must begin with the premise that God is. That seems a bit far out.
Where do you begin? Obviously everything begins and ends with God, but we are not mindless robots. We must drive down a stake somewhere in our lives and conclude, "God is."
The next fact to be digested and assented to is the basic goodness of God. We must believe that He rewards the diligent seeker.
This is not a passionless game. It is rooted in the love God has for us.
God's desire is that His love would draw us to love Him.
How does faith flesh out? Is it a big smile and happy thoughts all the time? Is it sailing serenely through life as God's pet because we have chosen to believe in Him? The answer is no.
Faith is gritty. Faith is that slender, yet resilient thread that carries us over the abyss of doubt and despair. Faith is not really faith until it is tested.
The latter part of the epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 10, puts some real handles on faith. Verse 34 of Hebrews 10 gives a motivation of a faith-based life: "knowing that (we) have a better and an enduring possession for (ourselves) in heaven." Every circumstance and situation in life can be victoriously faced if we are convinced, beyond doubt, that the next life is better than anything this present life has to offer. Every fear and insecurity can be laid aside as we look to the certainty of heaven.
The next handle on faith is found in verse 35 of Hebrews 10: "Do not cast away your confidence." We must conclude that, if we are exhorted to not cast confidence in God aside, there will be things that will push us to the limit. Faith keeps the faith.
Verse 36 of Hebrews 10 continues, "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise."
There are probably more Christians outside the church looking in than Christians in the church because there has been a dearth of teaching on the need for endurance. We want quick fixes-formulas that add up and produce results. When it does not happen like we expected, we cast away our confidence and find something else to do on Sundays.
Verse 38 of Hebrews 10 speaks of drawing back or shrinking in the midst of difficulty. Drawing back, shrinking, or caving in are rooted in lack of faith.
Most of the 11th chapter of Hebrews is the "Hall of Faith," or a list of heroes of faith. We read the names and quickly remember the life stories candidly portrayed by God in the Bible.
We wonder how some of those people got their name on the list. Timid Gideon, Senseless Samson always chasing the wrong woman, Barak who would not go to war without Deborah (Judges 4:8). As we continue our faith journey, we find ourselves in good company.
Keep faith, hang in there, and believe God against all odds. He is!-"the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).