There are a lot of “definitions” of faith, a lot of thoughts about it. I just saw one talking about a “leap of faith.” “Faith” has become a synonym for “religion,” so that we hear of “people of faith,” regardless of what that “faith” might be. There are “faith-based” organizations. “Faith is the willingness to act upon your sense of what you think lies behind the external circumstances.” This one from a well-known Christian artist whose paintings are indeed beautiful. However, faith deals with what God says lies behind the external circumstances. Our “understanding” of such things tends to be faulty, to say the least. Then there are those who think faith is some sort of bell we can ding to get God to do something for us.
The world has its “definitions” of the word. “Faith is believing what you know not to be true.” “Faith is a leap in the dark.” “Faith is believing in something despite the evidence.” Now, there may be some truth in that, though not the way the world thinks of it. “Faith” is irrational and unreasonable. Faith is for the weak and ignorant. Faith is for the gullible.
To restate one of the “definitions” above, I prefer to think of faith as “a leap into the light.” Or maybe, because of the light.
Faith is not some vague, nebulous, wishful thinking. According to Hebrews 11, it is something based solidly and only and completely on the Word of God. As you go through that list of Old Testament saints, you’ll find that their guiding light was what God had told them and promised.
The writer starts off with the idea that “faith” indeed deals with things not “in evidence.” This is what I meant a moment ago in my comment about one of the world’s definitions.
The writer starts off with creation itself: the worlds were framed by the word of God. He refers to and corroborates Genesis 1 and 2. God said. God said. God said.
By the way, how did the “ignorant goat herders” who are alleged to have written the Bible know that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible? That is, they were not “in evidence”?
Abel offered the sacrifice God commanded. Cain thought the best he could do would be good enough.
Enoch walked with God in a time of increasing ungodliness and wickedness, kind of like 2013.
Noah built an ark to escape a flood in a world where it never rained.
Abraham pulled up stakes and moved somewhere he didn’t know about simply because God told him to.
[Have you ever really thought about that? Abraham comes home one day and says to Sarah, “Start packing. We’re going to move.”
“Oh? Where are we going?”
“I don’t know.”]
Abraham and Sarah both believed they would have the child God promised them, though they were well beyond the ages for such things.
Abraham believed God could raise Isaac from the dead when he was told to sacrifice that very same beloved son of promise.
On and on. I leave you to read the rest of the chapter. See how the Word of God guided and controlled what these “faith-worthies” did – and suffered.
So you see, “faith” is an active and obedient response to the Word of God. It isn’t about what we think or can see, but about what God says. It isn’t just some vague feeling. It’s not about some momentary emotional response based on some “experience”. It’s a solid, every-day commitment to what God says. It isn’t just about “doctrine,” though doctrine is very important, and should have much more attention paid to it than is usually done. It does matter what you believe. But what we believe must be based on what the Bible says, not just on what men say the Bible says. This means that we have to read it ourselves. One of the sad things about the church in our time is the fact that only a small percentage of “Christians” read the Bible and know what it really says.
Why do you think there are such attacks against the Bible? Why are there such efforts to destroy its credibility? Because it tells us things the enemy of our soul doesn’t want us to know. It tells us to do things that we don’t want to do in and of ourselves.
Oh, let me encourage you. Read the Bible. Believe what it says. Do what it says. It’s God’s love letter to you.
[If you want some more on this, read my earlier posts of “Abraham and Isaac,” and “Look Now Toward Heaven”.]