HEBREWS 11 VERSE 1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This verse is often quoted by pastors, teachers and others, and is used to explain what faith is. In some ways the King James Version of the Bible presents this verse cryptically. So, we look at the English Standard Version translation of this verse to help us better understand it. The ESV translation reads “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In this case I believe the ESV translation is less ambiguous. Here, we see that faith is a confident, solid hope or belief in something that, as of yet, has not been obtained or seen. Faith is more than mere hope or mere belief; it is a confident hope.
Hebrews chapter 11 is a great testimony of faith. Consider that the book of Hebrews was written to the Jews, not the gentiles. While gentiles can gain great insight into God from this book, we need to keep in mind that the author (perhaps Paul) was writing to the Jews. In this context, we can gain insight. The Jews did not believe in Christ as the savior; in fact, they rejected him as was seen during his crucifixion. Their faith was placed solely in their religious practices as required under the laws that Moses delivered. The author of Hebrews is writing to the Jews to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ, and to show them that the beliefs of the founding fathers of the Jewish nation (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), as well as other key people from their past (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sara, Moses, Rahab, etc.), were not what they thought. The author shows that these key individuals had faith in the promise that they themselves did not experience. They were all looking for something that was promised, the messiah. The author then tells the Jews that while these predecessors did not experience the things they hoped for, the Jews of his time had.
Chapter 12 builds on chapter 11 by declaring in the opening two verses
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Here we find that Jesus founded and perfected our faith. Our faith begins and ends in Jesus – he is the beginning and the end. Remember this. Elsewhere in the Bible, God declares that he is the Beginning and the End – the Great I AM! Our faith is built on Jesus Christ – his divine nature, virgin birth, his sinless life, his ministry on earth, his death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension up to Heaven, to sit on the right hand of the throne of God.
The faith that we are to have is supposed to be alive, not dead. James 2 verse 17 tells us “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Faith in Jesus should change our behavior, our way of thinking, our way of life, and our actions. Our faith should be evident in our actions. It should encourage quietness and personal acts of faith as well as public acts of faith. It is important that we understand clearly that an inwardly focused faith that changes our private behaviors is as important as an outwardly focused faith.
Private acts of faith include Bible reading, prayer and meditation. Our private actions also include our personal choices, ones we do because of our faith. Many acts will be private and not readily seen by others. God, however, sees the inner person and knows us through and through. He desires a righteous heart, not just righteous acts.
Public acts of faith include attending church services, participating in Christian activities, contributing to charities, helping others and living peacefully with others. Public acts can also include sharing our personal testimony, sharing the Bible with others and much more. A life that is dedicated to faith in Christ Jesus will ultimately include both private and public acts.
NOTE: It is impossible to due full service to the topic of faith in a couple of written pages. Readers should research the topic and gain a more full understanding through the Bible.
WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
Our individual purpose in life is to serve God with all of our hearts, minds and souls. Jesus provided the perfect example of how we should live. Our faith in Jesus should drive our behavior. To properly understand what our behavior should be, we need to study the life and teachings of Jesus and apply them to our lives. We must not forget that our works is not synonymous with our faith, and we do not perform righteous acts to obtain salvation. We practice our religion because our faith in Jesus Christ encourages a righteous and just life. Faith can enable us to accomplish great things and enable us to see the future clearly.
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