What Is Faith?

Hebrews 111 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 11:1–3 (ESV)

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Understanding and Applying the Word

What is faith? If you have ever heard this question asked in a church setting, you have probably heard Hebrews 11:1 quoted in response. That is good, but what does Hebrews 11:1 mean? I do not think it means what many Christians think it means. It sure does not define “faith” the way the world defines it.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The King James Version translates this verse as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The world thinks that faith is just wishful thinking. It is something that we believe despite a lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary. That is not the biblical definition of faith. Faith is being convinced of things in the future based on the evidence of the past. Christians are sure of their future hope because of all that God has done in the past, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our faith is not wishful thinking. Our faith is firmly rooted in the historical acts of God and his promises about the future.

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