No word in our language is more common than faith. We use the word in a multiplicity of ways all the way from what we believe to the different faith communities in our world. As with any word that is commonly used it is vital that we understand it in the same way the Bible uses it or our study and even our discussion with others will always be confusing and will lead to all kinds of different notions among those we talk to. One of the clearest statements of faith as used in Scripture is found in Hebrews 11. Verse one says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Verse two continues, “This is what the ancients were commended for.” The writer then begins a lengthy list of illustrations of faith from the past that should lead to our clear understanding of the word. Look at the first few of these illustrations. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did, By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: He could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as on who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Verses 3-6)
If you were to look up the word translated faith in the Bible you would find words such as “belief, trust, confidence, assurance or ones standard of beliefs. For example we may speak of a “faith community” referring to those who share some particular faith or belief system. At the same time we use the word to refer to one’s personal beliefs especially such beliefs in religious or spiritual matters.” So our use of the word isn’t too many miles from how the word was used in Scripture.
God led the writer of Hebrews to say that “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Matters of faith aren’t things that can be placed in a test tube in the scientific community and determined to be true or false. But faith isn’t at all the “leap in the dark” that many have described it as being. Faith is assurance and confidence in something based on evidence. There is a world of difference between one saying, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” than one declaring, “I believe God made the worlds because of some personal revelation I received last night from heaven.” In Romans 1:20 it says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The faith that our world, our universe came into being by the work of Almighty God is based on evidence all around us of creation. It isn’t some guess. It isn’t something that can be tested by some scientist. Like multitudes of things we all believe, it is based on strong evidence but it wasn’t witnessed by any news team. There wasn’t anyone back there to take notes. But signs have been left of God’s creation all around us. Based on such evidence we have faith God made the worlds. In reality any belief one has about origins is a matter of faith. If I believe it was simply by accident that one day there was a huge explosion from which came all the planets, the stars, the sun, the moon and every thing else in the universe. By some chance the earth happened to be just the right size, leaning at just the right angle, and the exact right distance from the sun, circling the sun at just the right orbit so that it might sustain life. That life, by chance came into being on the earth and by chance over billions of years the single cell life form evolved into greater forms of life and over eons of time that accidental evolution resulted in all the plants, and animal life on the earth and the existence of humanity. By that same evolution and chance humanity became a thinking, feeling and spiritual being. They came to believe they could actually think, plan and reason about life and have choices, but the truth is they are not able to choose at all, but everything is determined by something in them brought on by chance evolution and we don’t really choose to love another person or show care and compassion for another. It is all something predetermined by chance and evolution. Now if I believe that to be the case, I can’t prove an ouch of it. It is strictly a matter of faith. You tell me which form of faith makes the most sense.
The faith God tells about led Abel to choose to do what God wanted and make the right offering and God accepted it. His actions of faith still speaks out today as a marvelous example of how we should live. It was that same kind of faith, by choice that led Enoch to walk with God and so please the Lord that God took him right into heaven without having to face death. Without that kind of faith that trust God, and submits to him, obeying His teachings and will for our life we can’t please God. One must believe that God exist and that he rewards the ones who seek him to be saved from sin and be right with him. Such faith looks at the evidence of God and determines to put their trust in him and follow His teachings in life. God is pleased with such faith and will reward us for it.
Please understand, faith isn’t simply declaring I believe a thing. Real faith, believes and out of that belief, trust or confidence in the Lord, yields to him and by faith follows His teachings for our life. The writer goes from that point to give numerous illustrations of how faith changed people’s lives.
By faith Noah built an ark and saved his family. By faith Abraham went out at God’s command and left his home land, his family and every part of that life to follow God’s lead to a land God would show him. Even when he was 85 years old and his wife 75 and they had no children he believed God’s promise that he would have children and out of his descendants all the world would be blessed. When he trusted God, God counted that faith as righteousness. By faith Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Every example of faith led to a change in life. It led to obedience. There aren’t any examples of faith in the Bible that led to raising ones hands or saying the sinners prayer. Faith in Scripture became a way of life and often led through tough situations and amazing sacrifices for God. Without such faith it is impossible to be pleasing to the Lord and have his rewards in life or eternity.