Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
Chapter 10 closes with the declaration that the righteous live by faith, thus setting the stage for a great discussion on faith.
Faith is defined here as ″confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see″ (Hebrews 11:1). First, faith has to do with that which is invisible. Paul tells us that what is seen is only temporary, unlike that which is unseen, which is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). Many people live pragmatically; they live and make decisions on the basis of what they can see. They are like the rich fool who planned for his business expansion and wealth management without paying attention to spiritual realities. He did not know he would die soon (Luke 12:16-21). Such people live by sight, not by faith (see 2 Corinthians 5:7), because they are either ignorant of the invisible spiritual realities or ignore them. God is the greatest reality in the universe, and to ignore Him is to condemn ourselves to a meaningless life. Only when we recognise that God is in the centre of what we cannot see, do we really learn to live. This faith comes from hearing (Romans 10:17), for though we cannot see the invisible God, we can hear Him (usually through His Word). We live by faith when we choose to live by what we hear from God rather than what we see in the world.
Faith is also defined as ″confidence in what we hope for″ (Hebrews 11:1). This world offers all kinds of hope. People hope for a better job, a better house, better health, and the like. Some get what they hope for. But the kind of hope this passage speaks about does not belong to this world. It has to do with what lies in the future when Christ will return: a new earth and heaven. This will become clearer in the following passages. Paul writes that it is ″in this hope we were saved″ (Romans 8:24). He continues, ″But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently″ (Romans 8:24-25).
Such faith recognises the unseen God as the creator of all that is seen (Hebrews 11:3). He created everything ex nihilo (out of nothing) and is at the heart of all reality. ″For in him we live and move and have our being″ (Acts 17:28).
How does worldly pragmatism affect faith? How can faith in the invisible God be expressed in our daily lives? How would you assess your faith in this regard?
What are your real hopes in life? How much of them are related with things that go beyond this world? What difference would it make?