What is faith? We hear the term faith used so very much today. From discussions about different types of faith to ones’ personal faith. The term certainly has different meanings depending upon context and usage. But a basic understanding of the term is needed to cut through the chaos. Recently, I have been studying the book of Hebrews, which teaches us much about faith. The Hebrew Christians are considering giving up their faith in Jesus and returning to the Jewish system of faith. The writer of Hebrews extols how Jesus is far better than the old Jewish system. He encourages these struggling saints to endure! They are not to shrink back from following Christ, but rather are to “have faith and preserve their souls” (Heb. 10:39).
The writer then launches into a long chapter with many illustrations from past heroes of the faith (ch. 11). This chapter is sometimes called the “Hall of Fame” of Scripture. But God is not trying to pick out the greatest performers through the years to grant them an honor by being enshrined in a “Hall of Fame.” Rather, God is trying to teach us what it means to live by faith. His basic message is that faith means trusting in the unseen promises of God. He has spoken throughout the epistle about the promises of God. God’s promises are certain and dependable. They are an anchor of our soul that help us to persevere. These Hall of Fame members trusted in God’s promises, though they were unseen. They were yet future and not in reality yet, but they lived and acted as if they were certain.
For example, Noah was warned by God about the flood, which involved future unseen events, but he responded with reverent fear constructing an ark for the saving of his household (v. 7). Abraham left his home and followed the leading of God to an unknown land and trusted God would make from his offspring a great nation (v. 8-19). Moses endured the afflictions of Egypt by keeping his eyes on Him who is invisible (v. 27). The writer continues to discuss other heroes of faith. But the point is the same; faith means trusting in the unseen promises of God.
This is the kind of faith God wants us to have. A faith that is assured of the truth of his promises and lives everyday based upon those promises, though they are unseen. This is a faith that will endure or allow us to “run the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1-2). Do you live trusting in the unseen promises of God?