Hebrews 11:1. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:6. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Christian, there’s only one thing you will need to make it to the end of life’s journey. Only one tool in the spiritual toolbox of the Christian life. One response to God that is required.
Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. But what is faith? And faith in what?
Hebrews 11 gives us a mountain top definition of faith – faith is assurance, conviction, believing God exists, and seeking him. This is all very general. But we must not forget where we’ve come from, the mountain we’ve climbed here in the book of Hebrews. The mountain of Christ our High Priest and atoning sacrificial lamb. The mountain of new covenant promises. Let’s remember what we saw in yesterday’s reading:
Hebrews 10:19-23. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
And so back to basics. Why? Because these dear Christians were facing some very difficult days. Hebrews 10 ends with a list of all the persecution they faced (reproach, affliction, imprisonment, plundering), and a plea for endurance, along with a reminder that they WILL endure.
Hebrews 10:36-39. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
So what is faith, and faith in what?
Faith is an enduring commitment to rest all your hope in the work of God in Christ. Faith is believing and trusting in the unseen promises of God that will be fulfilled in the return of Jesus. Faith is drawing near to God, knowing that in his presence is great reward.
Faith always follows hope. Hope in the finished work of Christ. Hope that transcends our “seen,” circumstances. Hope that takes your heart beyond the disappointments and sorrows of today and into the promises of grace and glory at the coming of Christ.
And this hope allows faith to constantly look forward. Forward to our glorious future with Christ. Forward to a life lived in the presence of God. Faith IS drawing near to God. It allows our hearts to be drawn deeper and deeper into his reward of love.
But where faith begins as looking to our future hope, it must be hope expressed in the present. Faith is living right now as if we are already home with Jesus, because Jesus is at home in us. Faith is living each moment as if we are already in the presence of God, because God’s presence is already in us. Faith is the daily present conviction that we are already experiencing life in Christ. Faith makes our hoped for future our present reality. Faith makes the yet unseen promises in Christ seen in us.
Here’s the good news: faith is assurance that produces endurance – we are…those who have faith and preserve their souls. In Christ you have all the assurance of being in him, and all Christ’s own faithful endurance in you.
So now with this assurance in mind, let me ask you, how’s your faith? How’s your endurance? Have you been shrinking back from seeking God in Christ? How’s your assurance? Have you been living from needing reassurances or from hope filled assurance? Do you need constant reassurance for your faith, or have you anchored your soul to the assurance of things hoped for? Do you need another pep-talk on Sunday morning, a reminder that your present circumstances will all be OK? That you’ll SEE a victory soon? Or worse yet, are you relying on self-assurance? Are you trying to materialize the unseen things of life (God’s love and peace) by your hard work, or performance?
“To live is Christ” means placing all our hope in the unseen things of God. It is fixing our eyes on Jesus on the cross, where what was seen appeared godless and faith destroying, but what was unseen was the fullness of God in Christ.
Might this be true for you today? Might what appears to be lacking God’s presence actually be where the unseen Christ is seen? And might his unseen presence now be seen in you?
How would you define faith?
You in Christ
Is your faith flowing from your hope in Christ?
Christ in you
Where might you need to apply Christ’s endurance to your faith today?