Forward in Faith #17
What Is Faith?
This week we move into the third and final section of the book of Hebrews
We have looked at the Greatest Person in whom we place our Trust
We have seen the Greatest Priesthood that Teaches us and the sacrifice he presents that Transforms us
And now in the final section Wiersbe describes it as the Greatest Principle on which to base our life …
The Principle is FAITH
I did a little internet research as I like to do to see what people are thinking today and the Bing Dictionary defines faith … the #1 Definition is “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof”
“Without logical proof”? … really?
Definition for LOGIC then – “sensible, rational, thought and argument”
Can faith be sensible? I think it can?
One of the things that I am finding is that people place their FAITH in what they THINK will best SERVICE them, instead of placing their faith is what is TRUE, REAL, CERTAIN, and in Control
High School students often place their FAITH in their friendships and make decisions based on what they think will make them popular or accepted when in reality those in whom they place their faith will disappear months after graduation and you perhaps will be left with the consequences of their leading and will not be there to help you any longer
Sometimes girls place their faith in a boy who says he loves them and then find themselves stuck with an unwanted pregnancy and often the guy is not there to take care of that responsibility or worse they end that life they have created, but he’s not around to pick up the pieces of that decision
Business men and women place their faith in their job and then the market changes and they find no job or no future,
People place their faith in something like the stock market and then it falls apart and they don’t know what will happen now
But FAITH should be placed in something that THOUGH unseen is something we have surety and certainty discerning that the creator of all is in charge …
Go with me to our text again. Beginning Hebrews chapter 11.
We will answer the question “What is Faith?” And then for the next couple of months we will look at the people listed in Hebrews 11 that DEMONSTRATED Faith.
We will see ourselves and learn how to LIVE in Faith and Demonstrate faith in our daily living
As we finished Hebrews 10:39 made a powerful statement about those of us who receive Christ, are given perseverance in our faith, persevere in the midst of difficulty and persecution, and encourage others to do the same … it says
We are NOT of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved
We are not of those who are hypostole – hesitance timidity …
But we are a different kind of people we are people who believe …
that is HAVE FAITH … pistis – won over, persuaded, firm persuasion
And are SAVED ¬ - peripoiesis – persevere, saved
What IS Faith?
READ Hebrews 11:1-3, 6
What is Faith? Three Things … First …
1. Surety In Hope
Being sure of what we hope for
Thomas Aquinas says Faith brings with it a greater certitude than what can be known by reason
What are you SURE of?
When we talk about faith here we begin talking about it in an abstract sort of philosophical way, there is no article like THE faith or A faith but it says faith.
There is an abstract nature to Faith that cannot be measured that is not anchored in simple reason.
Say it with me … “Faith is assurance”
When the KJV Authorized translated it they went strictly word for word and they translated it “Substance” … The word is hypostasis – substantial nature
to translate it as substance would then say that faith is the REAL NATURE of what we are hoping for …
Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus is the hypostasis of God – that is, he is the REAL ESSENCE of God in Substantial Form
But the underlying thought HERE is that there is something that we HOLD ON to while we are WAITING for what he HOPE for.
So the Substantial thing we have is FAITH which gives us ASSURANCE.
Marvin Vincent writes
It cannot be said that faith is substantial being. It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.
Faith alone is not our foundation upon which to build our life.
But the word here is reported to mean “to stand under” so it is not the foundation but that stands under a foundation. You must have FAITH but your faith then must have something true and substantial built ON it
Faith is the SURETY of what we Hope For
Faith is Assurance ---
The word is found in many ancient business documents where there is a deposit or guarantee for the completion of a transaction and so FAITH is the guarantee for what we have as a hope in Christ Jesus.
One writer went so far as to translate it “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for”
1 Corinthians tells us there are many valuable things in the Christian experience like different gifts … but they will all be gone or useless one day but he says that “three remain: faith, hope and love”
Faith is one of the 3 most important things we have in our Christian experience
Faith keeps me from bragging because I am not hoping my myself but something outside me something that I cannot truly grasp and until I have it in my hand, I have FAITH in what I have hoped for
Rom 3:27 where, then is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith
Faith is the surety of what I have hoped for
I have hoped in the FACT that I am justified by God through my faith in Jesus Christ
Rom 1:17 – in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘the righteous will live by faith.’
Faith is the SURETY of what is HOPED For
Another way to translate it might be that
Faith is the assurance of our expectation
(YLT) says faith is of things hoped for, a CONFIDENCE
And then our writer continues faith is …
2. Certainty in the Unseen
This chapter will lay out the lives of those who have demonstrated faith …
V27 says Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible
Faith is what enables us to lay hold of what we cannot see with our physical eyes or touch with our physical hands
Moses demonstrated faith because of knowing, experiencing, seeing God who is yet unseen
Faith is Being Certain … of what I can’t see
Say that “faith is being certain … of what I can’t see”
Certain – elenchus - el-ain-kos - proof, to convict, conviction, certain persuasion; implies not merely the charge on the basis of which one is convicted, but the manifestation of the truth of that charge and the results to be reaped
Faith is being CERTAIN or convicted of the TRUTH of what you believe in.
But notice it says
“Certain of what” or
“Certain of things”
It is the word pragma – deed thing; to do, perform, (specifically) a thing done in the past
Like our word Pragmatic – something that is settled
So we are CONVICTED, CONVINCED, have found PROOF of the things we do not see because we know they are ALREADY DONE
Augustine said “faith is a virtue by which things not seen are believed”
Faith of course is given to us By God and yet we must act upon the revelation
Thomas Aquinas expands on Augustine’s thought when he says
- to believe is an act of mind assenting to the divine truth by virtue of the command of the will as this is moved by God through grace; in this the act stands under control of free will and is directed toward God. The act of faith is, therefore, meritorious. That is, one is rewarded for believing in what he does not see. There is no merit (reward) in believing what can be seen, since there is no faith involved; it can be seen. The scientist [i.e., philosopher] is impelled to assent by force of a conclusive proof. Thus the assent is not meritorious.
And verse 2 says this is the KIND OF faith that Godly people from every generation were KNOWN for, the faith of Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Joshua, Isaac and Jacob, and on and on.
They saw it though it wasn’t yet in the realm of the here and now and it built there life.
- Heavenly Hope is reality that just hasn’t shown up in my front yard yet!
Faith is a Powerful Force for you to live and move and have your being.
Faith is critical to operating in spiritual realms and Spiritual Warfare
Eph 6 says we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms
Then it instructs us to put on the Spiritual Armor. The Breastplate protecting our heart is Righteousness. The Belt holding all in place is Truth. The Helmet protecting our Mind, Will, and Emotions is Salvation and the Mind of Christ. Our Sword is the Word of God …
and what is our Shield? FAITH?
Why? The Shield is what we get behind so we can be protected from the fiery arrows of the evil one. It is compared to the large 5 foot shield that soldiers could hide behind.
So when we KNOW and are convinced that what is ALREADY done at the cross is sufficient for all that comes my way, then FAITH enables to stand in the midst of spiritual battles
Being CERTAIN, CONVINCED, having Proof that what has already been done secures my past present and future even though I cannot see it or place my hands on it.
John 20:29 - Jesus told Thomas “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"
If you believe in only what you can SEE or Measure or prove scientifically, that is NOT FAITH
Walk by faith not sight
2 Cor 5:7 says we live by faith, not by sight
You’ve heard that but what is the context?
V6 says we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord … we live by faith, not by sight … 8 we are confident … would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord
We have confidence / faith that we have a real eternal home with the Lord and so we don’t focus on what is here and seen and SEEMS to be REALITY but we understand that the most REAL thing in the World is the Heavenly Realms
Faith is having assurance, surety that what we already have in Christ Jesus is a Hope that enables us to be CERTAIN, CONVINCED that it is a done deal though now we cannot see it and so BECAUSE of Faith
As we begin to move in faith and not sight … we can
3. Discerning God’s Hand As Creator
V3 – by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible
Could it be that the reason we can’t figure out how and what God did when he created all things is because he didn’t make it out of stuff that we have?
Do you wonder why I and so many Christians are SO adamant about the Creation of all things by Jesus Christ?
It is because it is the MOST BASIC point of faith.
- Discerning his hand in Creation LEADS us to Discerning his hand in Salvation
Blaise Pascal said “we shall never believe with a vigorous and unquestioning faith unless god touches our hearts; and we shall believe as soon as he does so”
Discernment comes from an inner compelling and an outward telling
That’s right we don’t know that God is here unless he reveals himself to us
John 6 says we don’t come to the Father unless he draws us.
There has been a time in all of our lives where we looked at a sunset or a shooting star, the beauty of the Grand Canyon or the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado and you say “SOMEONE DID THIS”!
That is God calling to us in the wind, in the song of the birds, in the beauty of his creation.
What is the connection to this and faith?
Romans 1 says that what may be known about God has been revealed by him
Rom 1:19-20 since what may be know about God is plain to them, because god MADE it plain to them. 20 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 men are without excuse
So God is revealing himself through creation
Genesis 1 says In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
John 1:3-4 through him (Jesus) all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men
Heb 11:3 says - By Faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command …
Do you believe that? I Do …
I believe that with the simplicity of his WORD Jesus Created all things
… Spoke NOTHINGNESS into SOMETHING
V3 says the universe was formed at God’s command …
Katartizo – put together; adjusted; the parts fitted to each other
He fit this world together with his command just as the scripture says
I don’t look at the Mona Lisa and think “wow, how did the paint get spilled like that, looks just like a woman”
Lisa and I went to the tallest building in the U.S. A. in Chicago and I looked up at that beautiful glass and steel structure and thought “wow how did that happen”.
No I look at that art and think “There is an Artist, what is their name?”
I look at that building and I know “there is an architect and builder, who did this?”
And so faith looks at this world, though we cannot see the mind behind it
We cannot see the force that created it
We cannot understand the ability necessary to create
but we can see the beauty and know there was an artist
We see the intricacy and we know there was a skilled architect and builder
Why is THAT faith important to MY faith for Salvation from the effects of Sin?
Well Rom 10:17 faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God
And I need to be able to believe ALL of the Word of God
Believing in Creation leads to believing in Salvation
Because I NEED someone who can make Something out of nothing
Because, Romans 3:9 says there is no one righteous, not even one
And I can’t do ANYTHING about it because I am NOTHING when it comes to righteousness
Romans 3:23-24 everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard
But listen to verse 24 … in the midst of our NOTHINGNESS …
V24 – Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins (NLT)
The NIV translates it “justifies Freely” but it literally means - DECLARED RIGHTEOUS
I Have Faith that Jesus Christ DID what the Bible said he did … He Spoke and this world went from being NOTHING, EMPTY, VOID to being full of Beauty, Majesty, and Purpose, Perfectly fit together
And because I believe that is true and settled in the past … I can BELIEVE that the work of Christ at the Cross settled my account with God
so that when I trusted Christ and placed my faith in him …
… immediately He SPOKE and I was Righteous in God’s eyes
He spoke this world into life
He spoke my world into eternal life and has perfectly fit me together and is shaping me into the image of Christ
When we understand by Faith the work of Christ in Creation
We can understand by Faith his work in Salvation
- Faith is only as good as what it is based on.
If you have faith that I will Dunk a basketball you have wishful thinking NOT faith because there is NO WAY
If you have faith that I will shoot a better than par round of golf this year, you will need to have some information. Am I practicing, am I working on my game to get better? And the truth is I AM working on my game, I AM practicing so you can have a moderate level of faith that I will break par
If you have faith that a lump of cheese will save you from your sins and give you an eternity of free gouda you can BELIEVE as hard as you want but it is wishful thinking NOT Faith
But if you know something about God, Jehovah, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, you can have a foundation on which to base your FAITH that is SURE and CERTAIN, DISCERNING his hand at work gives you something on which to BASE your faith, BUILD your faith and you can build your life around what is not seen.
Hope in scripture is a REALITY that has not yet appeared in my front yard
But you know the interesting thing about Faith is this.
Salvation is a result of God’s Grace. Yet it is entered into by Faith. But faith is NOT based on REASON. Faith can be supported with reason.
But while you can look at this world and decide that God DOES exist you can still choose not to believe IN God though reason shows THAT you should.
But when God moves on our heart and we respond to his moving by exercising faith then we understand and reason.
That’s why Augustine said “I had to believe that I might understand”
FAITH is coming to the place of being SURE in the HOPE we possess
Being CERTAIN of what we cannot see
Because we have come to discern and Understand that the one Who Created everything including me is worthy of giving my life, my soul, my all `
Isn’t it strange how long a night can grow
Before the morning and the dew?
Isn’t it strange how black a cloud can blow
Before the sun breaks through?
Faith is remembering before break of day,
Or before the storm is done,
That out of somewhere speeding on their way
Are the morning and its sun!
Is Faith in Christ Sensible? Logical?
We place our faith in all kinds of places every day …
You have faith that the guy at the fast food place isn’t poisoning you
You have faith that a bridge will support the weight of your car
You have faith that a plane will get you where you want to go
You have faith that the cable man will come between 12-5
You have faith that the one you love will be there for richer, poorer, sickness, health
But what is the foundation under which you lay your faith?
The Same One who made the sun that lights the sky, who gave that cardinal, outside your window, his song …
That same God will make you new, grow you up, and present you before God in Heaven.
He can restore your life, he can rebuild your marriage, he can redeem your soul
Faith is the surety of what we hope for
Logical? Most definitey
Intelligent? Without a doubt
Sane? It is the only thing that is
Faith is the certainty of what we cannot see