Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I began my normal routine of things I do when a can’t get to sleep: take a shower, get a bowl of cereal, read. Reading usually does the trick, but last night was rough. I had been thinking about faith, so I decided to meditate a little more on the subject in my temporary insomnia.
Hebrews 11:1 is a famous verse that defines faith, but I never really understood it. Last night it clicked for me. I had always read the verse in the New King James version (which I really like, btw), but the way it is written caused the meaning to escape from me. So I began to explore the greek and look at different translations. And even though for the most part I dislike the NIV translation, I believe these folks did a good job on this verse:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Heb 11:1 (NIV)
This verse does a fantastic job of explaining what the bible means when it says the word ‘faith.’ Now, don’t get confused. Faith is a simple word to understand. It simply means ‘belief.’ The word ‘faith’ and the word ‘belief’ are the same thing. The phrase ‘have faith’ and the word ‘believe’ are the same thing. To have faith in something simply means to believe in something. It’s exactly the same thing.
But, with that said, we need to understand what the writers of the bible are thinking when they say the word ‘faith’, or when they say the word ‘believe’. The devil has done a fantastic job of watering down the word ‘believe’ so that when people say that word today it means an entirely different thing than what the writers of the bible where thinking.
For example, have you ever asked someone a question like this: “Are you coming to the party tonight?” And then the answer they give is: “I believe so.”? Yes, we hear that answer all the time. And what does it mean? It means, “I think I am, but I’m not 100% sure.”
Isn’t it amazing that we use the word ‘believe’ in such a doubt-filled statement?
But thank God for Hebrews 11:1. It shows us exactly what God means by the word faith:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Heb 11:1
Or you could say it like this:
Faith is being absolutely sure that you have exactly what you have hoped for and it is being absolutely certain of truths that you cannot see.
Faith is very similar to knowing. Knowing is assurance of something based off of the five senses. For example, “I know I am a boy.” Faith is also knowing something, but it is generally not based off of the five senses, although it can be. Look at Doubting Thomas for an example. Jesus appeared to him and let him touch the nail prints in His hands and the hole in His side where the spear had pierced Him. And He said to Thomas:
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jn 20:29
Now Thomas SAW Jesus with his eyes and touched Him with his hands. And Jesus said to Him, “because you have SEEN, you have believed.” Most people would consider that ‘knowing’ and not ‘believing.’ “I SAW him so I KNOW He is real.” No, Jesus said, “you have seen and you have BELIEVED.”
The reason I point this out is so that you understand that to KNOW something and to truly BELIEVE something is the same thing. Thomas knew that Jesus was really alive, didn’t he? Yes, he knew because he saw Jesus. The point is that Jesus used the word ‘believe’ instead of the word ‘know’, thus showing us what the word ‘believe’ (and the word ‘faith’) really means.
The reason this is such an issue is because of the way we misuse the word ‘believe’. For example if I were to say, “I believe I am a boy,” you would laugh at me because in modern usage you would interpret what I am saying as “I think I am a boy, but I’m not sure.” But if you understood the bible definition of the word ‘believe’ you would know that when I say, “I believe I am a boy,” I really mean this: “I am absolutely sure that I am a boy.”
Do you see the trouble with this????
Have you ever heard someone say, “I believe that God is going to see me through this tough time.” What does that mean to you? If it doesn’t mean, “I am absolutely sure that God is going to see me through,” then you aren’t defining the word believe correctly.
Lets look at a bible example of this kind of faith and I believe this will put the nail in the coffin for us:
Abraham is known as the “Father of faith” and for good reason. God had told Abraham that though his son Isaac, he would become the father of many nations. That means that Isaac would have kids, and his kids would have kids, and their kids would have kids, etc. But one day, while Isaac was still a child and had no kids, God said to Abraham, “Offer Isaac as a burnt offering to me.” Or, in other words, “Kill the son that I promised would be the avenue of the promise.”
Now you have to understand the significance of this. There was no possible way for God’s promise to be fulfilled to Abraham without Isaac. God had specifically said “ISAAC is the one.” But still God said, “Sacrifice your son to me.” But look at Abraham’s faith:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead… Heb 11:17-19
Abraham said to himself “I know God’s promise is true. I guess God is just going to have to raise him from the dead!” He had such confidence in God’s promise that he took his son, bound him to an altar, and raised the knife to plunge it into his chest! This isn’t the “I think so” kind of faith. This is the “I know so” kind of faith! And we know of course that God stopped him before he killed his son and the rest is history.
Glory to God. Lets get a better understanding of what faith is and I believe that we will have a much better understanding when we read about in the bible.