Updated: May 5, 2020
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” - Hebrews 11:1
“What is faith?” A question that we are all faced with when deciding to follow Christ. Somedays it seems easier to answer and other days much more difficult. Some analogies seem to hit the nail on the head in theory, but are nonetheless challenging to apply in our real lives.
Yes, faith can be a mystery. But it is not a mystery that is meant to be forever hidden from those who are called out by God. We learn what faith is by what it looks like in the lives of those who prove God’s faithfulness. Hebrews 11 is perhaps the most extensive display of this to us. In the song “By Faith”, Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend remind us of the truths we find in this passage.
“In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness…”
By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight
Verse One sets the stage for the examples of faith to come that are set by those who walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is not a New Testament concept; in fact, it is the very thing that led the fathers (Verse Two) and the prophets (Verse Three).
We see in these lines that faith is the conviction of things not seen. Though Abraham could not see the promise land, he carried onward with the power of God’s promise as his hope and assurance. Even to the point of offering up his most prized possession, his son, to God in the assurance of His ability (Hebrews 11:17-19).
We are reminded of the incredible faith that the prophets had in the midst of incredible opposition. These books that come at the end of the Old Testament deserve our attention because these prophets had every reason to give up hope, yet they fixed their eyes on the longed for and promised Messiah (Hebrews 11:32-34).
“By faith the church was called to go…”
By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth
Verse Four brings us into the New Testament. There is a great amount of encouragement to draw from the faith of the apostles and the early church. They had the Great Commission at the center of their aim (Matthew 28:18-20) and the ends of the earth as the finish line (Acts 1:8).
In the power of the Spirit to the lost, thousands were saved (Acts 2:41, 47, 5:14, 11:24), many were healed (Acts 3:8, 5:12, 20:10), and lives were transformed (Acts 9:1ff, 11:21). This is the same power that spreads the church throughout the New Testament, throughout church history, and into our lives today.
By the power of the Spirit that is displayed in the church, we can strengthen and build up our assurance and conviction in the name of Christ. So, what do we do with all of this?
“We will stand as children of the promise…”
"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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
- Hebrews 12:1-2
The author of Hebrews brings us to a point of application in the beginning of the next chapter. Because of the faith that we see displayed in chapter 11, we ought to also put off our worldly selves and “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight
Until the race is finished and the work is done, we live by this faith. As you run this race, you can run in the confidence that He who started this work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). You are not running in vain; you are running a race that is empowered by the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Make this Chorus your anthem on the days that it is hard to define faith in your life. When you meet trials of various kinds, when it seems there’s a mountain to be moved, when your race seems impossible, stand as a child of the promise and fix your eyes on the founder and perfecter of your faith, Jesus Christ.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” - 2 Corinthians 5:7
Blog by Patrick Tayne of CrossWay International Baptist Church.
Published on 30. April 2020 from Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash.