Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 11:1
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1
What is faith? Is faith the same as belief? Is faith the hope that what we want to believe is true? Is faith belief with no rational reason to believe? There are many views we have regarding faith. Let’s look at these three and then look at what the writer of Hebrews has to say about faith.
First, is faith the same as belief? Does it take faith to believe everything? I believe that a triangle has three angles and three sides. The idea that a 2-dimensional, three-sided shape is a triangle is an objective truth. We can see the three sides, and we know that someone gave this name to it, so is faith involved with this? No. Therefore, faith is not necessarily the same as belief.
Next, is faith the hope that what we want to believe is true? Again, not necessarily. Back to the triangle metaphor. If I believe a triangle has four sides and I want to make this true, does it take faith to believe this? No, it takes a misinterpretation of what a triangle is. This goes back to the same idea that a 3-sided, 2-dimensional object being a triangle is an objective truth, and a four-sided, two-dimensional object being a rectangle is an absolute truth.
Lastly, is faith belief with no rational reason to believe? This is similar to the second one, except this one does not deal with objective truth. This idea can be traced back to the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). This is known as a ‘leap of faith’. It is a belief in something that has no hope of being true. There is no reason to believe it, but we do anyway. This was Soren’s view of faith in God. There is no rational reason or base by which to believe there is a God. Therefore, you take a leap and believe what is impossible. This is a very simplistic discussion of Kierkegaard’s view on faith, but it is enough to show it is not true faith; there is no reason to believe, but we believe anyway.
So, what is true Christian faith? It is what our focus verse expresses. First, true faith is based on God. It is absolute belief and trust in God and what He did for us through His Son’s death on the cross. So, with God as the basis of our faith, we see two things. First, that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Hope here is what we wait for, knowing it will come. So, faith is the assurance that what God has promised will come to pass. And it is the conviction of things not seen. It is the fact that we are convinced that those things God has told us are absolutely true whether we see evidence of it or not. “For we walk by faith, not by sight—” 2 Corinthians 5:7. Also, “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” Hebrews 11:11
Therefore, faith is not based on belief with a seen objective truth, or belief in what we desire to be true, or even a belief in something that has no rational reason for us to believe. Faith is based on God, and it is the assurance that what He has promised, He will bring to pass, and even if we do not see with our eyes what He has promised, we are convinced that it is real. Because we believe God. This is faith. We who are saved must live by it, for as Paul wrote, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Romans 1:17.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.