One of the more common characterizations of Christians is that they live by “faith” not facts. Sometimes this is said in the context of a “faith versus science” debate. Scientists (we are told) hold to facts proven to be true, Christians believe in things that cannot be proven by facts. If a Christian is telling the story, then the scientist (probably an atheist Democrat) is too close-minded and too prejudiced to accept things he cannot explain rationally. If a scientist is telling the story, then the Christian is a soft-headed uneducated person (probably a Republican from Texas) who believes in childish things.
I am reminded of a rather funny passage in Douglas Adams’ classic Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. All science fiction stories have to come up with some explanation for why everyone in the future distant reaches of space all speak English. Star Trek has a universal translator, for example. In his story, Adams describes the Babel Fish, a tiny fish which, when inserted in one’s ear, translates all languages into what every language the host person thinks. This fish is so complex it could not have possibly evolved naturally, so it is a clear proof of the existence of God. Adams goes on to say:
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.” “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly disappears in a puff of logic. “Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
As funny as this is, it points out a misunderstanding about faith. Faith is not believing in things you know to be untrue, or impossible, or strange. Having faith in the Easter Bunny does not make him real.
The writer of Hebrews defines faith is being sure of what we believe in. When a Christian talks about having faith, they are certain what they believe is built on a proper foundation and is objectively true.
“Sure” here is an important word, used only two other times in Hebrews (1:3 and 3:14). The NIV renders this word in three different ways, although the difference between Hebrews 1:3 and Hebrews 11:1 should not be as great at the NIV translates (substance vs. sure). Literally, the word means that which stands under, or foundation. The word began as a medical or scientific term, although nothing of that meaning remains in the New Testament usage. The word then was used in philosophy to describe the reality of something, as opposed to the philosophical “being.”
BAGD identifies ὑπόστασις as “substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality…” The meaning here in Heb 11:1 is most often given as “realization” or “reality.” Or as Louw and Nida comment, faith is “that which provides the basis for trust and reliance – trust, confidence, assurance.” The NIV’s “sure” tries to combine these meanings, the substance of hope is the thing that gives one confidence that the hope for goal will occur, something that gives assurance of an abstract concept, something that is not necessarily provable, without substance.
The “substance/proof” is for things that are hoped for, not seen. Hope is “to look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial.” In the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ that provides the basis for that hope, first in his work on the cross, and secondly in his promise to return. In the other five occurrences of the word in Hebrews, hope is rooted in salvation, each verse is talking about the content of our salvation, and in each case that hope is certain.
Hope in modern use tends to be more “wishful thinking.” I hope this is over soon, I hope I get that for Christmas, I hope my kids grow up right, etc. Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen at some point in the future and it is so certain that I can live my life on the foundation of my hope.
30 thoughts on “Hebrews 11:1-3 – Faith is Being Sure…”
I appreciate the first point you make with the “atheist Democrat” and the “Republican from Texas”. In society today it can be so difficult to be a Christian. People need to see proof for everything, or it is not true. This mindset that has overtaken society is negative. I believe that when the author of Hebrews makes it known that “Faith is being sure what we believe in”, the author is trying to have people stray from the doubtful way of thinking. I also really liked what you mentioned about what Faith means. “Faith is not believing in things you know to be untrue, or impossible, or strange.” This is a great way to put it. Personally, the way I have experienced people discussing Faith is usually in the conversation of “we do not know heaven is for real, but we have to have faith.” Faith is not an act of question, but an act without a shadow of doubt. Just as confident as an atheist is in their scientific proof, a Christian can be just as confident in their Faith. The book of Hebrews lets its readers know that Christ is the ultimate sacrifice and the He should be the main person in our lives. With the sureness in our Faith the need for defining proof is unnecessary
This blog post was very thought-provoking for me, and it was very interesting. I think it would be beneficial for all Christians and those walking in faith of the Lord should read and understand the message of this blog post, as well as the message of Hebrews 11:1-3. Faith is a word that is thrown around in Christian communities and the world in general. However, is faith a word that we truly understand the meaning of? According to Gupta (2016), faith can be defined as: “Reliance upon and trust in God; a central emphasis of Christianity” (p. n.d.). This is a relatively common definition of faith in a Christian community and from a Christian perspective and mindset. That being said, I think the definition of faith goes deeper than that, and it seems as if Hebrews 11:1-3 is an indication that he/she believes the same thing.
Something that caught my attention from this post was the point from the blog post that highlights the misunderstandings of faith. Faith has nothing to do with believing in false and untrue things, concepts, or people. Faith in God is nothing like this. The author of Hebrews claims that faith involves our understanding of God and His ability and creation (Hebrews 11:3). Having faith in God involves knowing and strongly believing and adhering to those understandings and senses of knowledge in regards to God.
Additionally, the difference in how the word “hope” is interpreted in the Bible and how it is interpreted in today’s culture is interesting and something that people must notice and consider. Hope is another word that is talked about and discussed often in Christian discussion. In the Bible, hope carries more significance than it does in today’s culture. The blog post makes that evident. I think this is something that must be considered when studying the Bible. Moreover, when studying the Bible, Bible students should seek out and be aware of other words that may be different in modern culture than they are in the Bible.
Gupta (2016) claims that the Bible does not want faith to be boiled down into a sense of religion and religious practices (p. n.d.). Faith in the Bible refers to belief in what one knows about God. I consider myself a person of faith. This means that I have faith in what I know about who God is, what God is capable of, what God has done, and what God will do. This considers the aspect of covenants in regards to faith that Gupta (2016) mentions (p. n.d.).
Gupta, N. K. (2016). Faith. John D. Barry et al. The Lexham Bible Dictionary.
I was hoping this blog would end up giving some questions to answer, so I must come from a different perspective on how to give my thoughts in responding to this blog. First of all, I was brought up in believing that science was a tool of the enemy to use when questioning a Christian faith in God. Atheists would use science as a method to discredit the Bible of being unreal or inaccuracy. I discovered from reading books by Dr. Caroline Leaf, who is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist, has explained that science was made by God to use for proofing his existence through creation. If scientists are to hold to facts proven to be true, with actual evidence is just another way of proving that God exist. If faith is being sure of what we believe in, could faith prove with science that both are parallel to a degree that leads to the main source, God? We have faith in science, because this method proves things that exist through studies and theories with actual facts. We are always studying God in one way or another, even if the human is atheist, in some weird human reality, he or she still carries the image of God. that is proven fact through science and through faith.
In a recent chapel at Grace Christian University it was pointed out that when discussing faith in Jesus Christ with an unbeliever a Christian should not try to pin faith against science because science will prove true easier than faith. This is why Hebrews 11 has such great importance in the Bible. Hebrews 11 gives readers example after example of believers in the Bible lived by faith and God displayed His faithfulness and fulfillment time and time again. The writer of Hebrews knew that believers would struggle in society, no matter what era they lived in. Therefore, this passage is included in Hebrews to encourage struggling believers who many doubt their faith in Christ. Facts in what an individual believes, religiously or not, give comfort and hope that they believe in the truth. Christians need to first of all, believe that the Bible is truth in order to trust in the facts that they read within the Bible. Jobes in the book, “Letters to the Church” writes about the reward believers will receive after running the race of life and persevering in the faith that they cannot always prove true (Jobes, 2011). Christians need to understand that they may not always be able to bring an unbeliever to the faith that they believe in so deeply, but that gives room for God’s work and grace in their life.
“Hope in modern use tends to be more “wishful thinking.” I hope this is over soon, I hope I get that for Christmas, I hope my kids grow upright, etc. Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen at some point in the future and it is so certain that I can live my life on the foundation of my hope” (Long). This is something that I believe to be true and agree with so much. We as a generation of young believers have such “wishful thinking” of hope, instead of Biblical hope. If we read Hebrews 11, we can see how we must persevere and believe what the Bible says is true. That we know where we stand in our faith in God and we know that our Hope for the future will come true, not that we just want it to, that we truly believe that will happen. Story after story we have seen the faithfulness of God to his people, we hope that this is true for us. Personally, I know that my God is faithful and will remain to what his word says, and that is to have confidence in him, and that we are assured by what we do not see.
The first question that comes to my mind when reading the definition of faith as seen in Hebrews 11:1, is how can we ever be sure, or confident, about something; when is doubt or suspicion is overridden? P.Long started this post with a quick summary of the science versus faith debate that many Christians face. Proverbs 3:5 says that we should trust God with all our heart and not based on our own understanding. This verse seems to be dealing with the science versus faith battle because it refers to the lack of consistent human knowledge and understanding and points back to God as being the foundation of all things.Since we believe in God the Creator, we believe that he created all things including the theories and discoveries that make up our understanding of the sciences. Is it possible for science and faith to point back to each other and to work together to prove God’s existence, as per the Babel fish example found in the original post? Jobes describes faith as resting in God’s character “… of which there is nothing more certain and constant” (Jobes 2011). This automatically sets faith on a different level than science because it takes the responsibility off comprehension of man’s shoulders and gives it to God as the provider of stability and consistency of our lives.
Based on P.Long’s perspective of hope,what do you think is the opposite of it? What does it look like for reasonable doubt to creep into a believers mind, when their heart clings to a promise or an idea given in scripture but they can not find logic or reason in it? I struggle, like many other Christians, with knowing a concept presented in scripture but being able to actually implement it into my daily life and my conscious thoughts. By default I assume that I have hope for the future because of my faith and my active relationship with God, but am still trying to figure out what exactly that looks like in real life outside of my brain.
To comment on you last bit about God’s faithfulness, Hebrews 10:23 says “Let us hold unnervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”. Jobes referenced this verse in her section on perseverance and apostasy because it talks about our consistent need to cling to the hope that we cannot see but that is promised to us by the Faithful one. I think it is a brilliant foreshadow of the faith definition given in Hebrews 11 while still recognizing that perseverance is necessary because we will still face hardships and the fog can rise between us and the promises of God.
I often find the word ‘faith’ to be confusing. Our belief in the Lord is based on faith. We have not seen Him with our own eyes, yet we have faith that he exists, created us, and saved us. In theology classes we often speak of revelation or how God has revealed himself to us. So I think it is a misconception that faith in God is a blind faith or because we cannot see. He has showed himself to us, in His word and in His creation. In verse 3 we see that God has made things seen, even if He is not visible. I do not want to discredit 2 Corinthians, because Paul is right in saying we live by faith and not by sight (5:7). Paul is making a statement here, not a command. We live by faith now and not by sight, but I think that’s to say that someday we will see what we have longed to set our eyes upon: the glory of the Lord. What we see is not the basis for our faith, but God has revealed Himself to us and I think that is to give us no excuse. His creation demands a creator. I think of the children’s song that we are to build our house on the rock, and not on the sand. Our faith is not wishy washy and swept away easily by the tide, but it stands firm even in the face of strong winds and trials.
I always find it interesting when the so-called debate on science vs. faith is brought up. This is a poorly titled debate. More times than not, when one pits “science” against faith, they mean to be pitting macro-evolution against faith. As a science major who comes from a long line of doctors and scientists, it is sad to see this. To me, truth exists within the same realm. The proven truths of science are not in contradiction to faith at all. The conflict and disagreement arise between proposed theories or hypotheses yet to be proven such as macro-evolution. If there were a true conflict between science as a whole and faith, one would have to be right and the other would have to be wrong. Therefore, the believer would have to deny all of the sciences including medicine, research, and technological advances.
Personally, I believe that science is one of the best proofs of faith. To me, it leads one closer to the belief that there is a God because of its infinite complexity. For example, atoms were originally believed to be indivisible which is literally where the name came from in Greek. Now, most people are familiar with the fact that atoms are made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons; however, those aren’t even the smallest particles in existence. Now we know that neutrons and protons can be further divided into quarks. Another great example to look up is the complexity of genes and epigenetics. To me, all this complexity and detail doesn’t point one towards random chance but rather to an intelligent designer that we can therefore, have faith in. It makes me surer that there is a God.
You took the words out of my mouth! This is so true and I agree wholeheartedly with your post. In my personal opinion (as you), science does not contradict or “debunk” the Christian faith or God. I think science helps the Christian faith and it truly allows you to open your eyes and see the perfect design God has made. If you look at the earth, at the moon, the stars, the sun and how everything is so perfectly fit and everything is so perfectly designed, it’s truly amazing. The only thing that Christian do not approve of (as you said) is the theory evolution. Looking at humans and the way our bodies work and how the world works and how even animals works and how everything is perfectly set in motion and here for us to survive, it makes it known that God is real and that He was the one that set this all in motion, there is and is not anyone or anything other than God himself who could have made a perfect design like humans and earth.
First of all, this blog post started extremely bold and anti-politics and I loved it. I was shocked at first because it is not 2012 anymore. In 2020, it seems as though we are a bit less harsh. At least your political comments have become more kind. Anyways, I would like to comment not on the word usages but the implications of the faith that the author is talking about. You put it so well when you called today’s idea of home “wishful thinking” When in all reality that is not biblical hope at all. Biblical hope is concrete belief of the future promises. This type of hope changes the way a believer behaves, or at least it should. This is also why having strong doctrine is so important because when we have a clear understanding of what we believe we begin to live it out. This faith changes our lives, more specifically, the way in which we live our lives. The author of Hebrews is adamant about solidifying faith. It is the understanding of the beginning of all things and the looking forward to the future of what is to come (11:3).
This clear, formational, foundational understanding of faith whether for a Jewish-Christian living in 60 A.D. or a Christian in America today shapes the way in which life is lived. It shapes what you spend your time and money on. It shapes the importance of your religion. It shapes your ethics as an individual. Basically, this faith and hope in the future changes everything. That is why people call the Gospel of Jesus Christ transformation. This is how we become set apart from the world. It is our faith that leads us to action that is contrary to the world’s norm. As believers, the future we have faith in is a concrete fact to us. The truth is worth living differently. The truth is worth persecution. This truth that I have faith in is worth dying over.
Faith as a confident belief without having to confirm it as stated in Hebrews 1 gives deeper understanding of the faith shown by the individuals listed later in the chapter. Most striking to me is the example given by Abraham concerning his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. In Hebrews 11:19 it is said that Abraham believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. This show of faith is remarkable as Abraham did not have the full revelation of God’s word that we have today and God raising the dead would not be a known concept to him through this. Unless Abraham reasoned that God had the power to raise the dead because God had already made life (Isaac) from those that were already as good as dead (Abraham and Sarah). I can’t help but think that if this level of faith was more common that far less people would struggle with their Christian walk.
When I was in eighth grade we read and watched Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the only thing I honestly remember about that was the Babel fish. I thought it was ridiculous and as we read the book I could not figure out how it would fit in your ear, that is beside the point. Faith is an easy word to throughout when someone is going through a difficult time, “have faith, it’ll get better” they say. It is an interesting thing to say to someone and typically it does not help. Faith is more than that, it is the basis for trust. It is not a blind trust, our faith has evidence that we get from the Bible. The second part of this is hope. I believe Hope is not talked about enough. I have hope in everything, as small as my car starting to waking up tomorrow. I have hope and faith that God has my whole life planned and He is working through me. I know it’s true because of the Bible, but it is the extra step of believing that He’s got my life beyond the words written. These things are so prevalent in our relationship with God because it is our belief in Him and what He has done past and present. Honestly, it is okay to have some small doubts at moments in our life. The problem is when those doubts build up like a snowball and we never dig deeper into understanding them. Doubts should be asked, they should be studied, so that we as believers, can continue walking and growing in our relationship with God.
I agree with the fact when you say “Christians believe in things that cannot be proven by facts”. Many people around us that aren’t Christians find it hard to believe in Jesus because the only proof there is, is what is read in the Bible. I like when you talk about how Hebrews defines Faith as being sure of what we believed in, because I believe this statement to be true. You can have believe in anything you want, but without faith then your belief is something that you believe in and have no faith that it is actually true. (If you get what I’m saying). I believe society has a negative outlook on Christians as we believe in a God that we cannot see or have no proof of being true, but it’s the faith that keeps the Christian belief going.
Faith is believing without seeing. As you described in the blog, it’s not believing in things we know to be untrue, impossible or strange. According to Gupta (2016), faith can be defined as: “Reliance upon and trust in God; a central emphasis of Christianity” (p. n.d.).
Having faith is more than an action, faith is believing in more than what we know is true or untrue. As Christians, we have not seen heaven, but we believe there is heaven and have faith that Christ went to prepare for us in heaven so we can live with Him forever. The book of Hebrews lets the readers know that Christ is the ultimate sacrifice and that He should be the Main person in our lives. With the sureness in our Faith the need for defining proof is unnecessary. In Hebrews 11:3, the author claims that faith involves our understanding of God and His power through all that was created.
Mixing religion and philosophy always leads to no where. As a Muslim, I look to the revealed book Quran and to our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God on him) or Hadith the sayings of the Prophet himself. Imaan, which can be loosely translated as Faith was taught to us through angle Jibraeel as “belief in one God, belief in Prophets, belief in angles, belief in His books which were revealed to Prophets, and the day of judgement. Rest is a way to this truth. Hope you get there.
Hebrews 11 starts with a definition of faith- “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). A common stereotype of Christianity is that Christians “live by faith not fact,” and that Christians are unintelligent because of faith, believing in childish things. However, Biblical hope is much different than the way hope is expressed in today’s society. Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen in the future. It has a certainty that one will build their life’s foundation on top of. Thus, hope is rooted in salvation. Once faith becomes the basis of what someone believes, then one’s actions will reflect as much. Faith becomes more than just a belief, but a driving force behind every action one makes.
In today’s society, it is very important to have strong faith, firm belief in what you believe. The author of Hebrews defines faith as, “being sure in what we believe in.” This is important because Christians have a very negative stereotype and stigma, causing non-believers to occasionally lash out towards believers. Faith allows the believer to stand strong within these occurrences and exercise Christ-like qualities, such as, ‘loving your neighbor as you love yourself.” In today’s society, loving your neighbor can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, without compromising one’s personal beliefs that you hold true. Being judgmental of others, alienates one from accomplishing what they are called to do by God.
Jobes explains this faith by saying that “Biblical faith can claim a confidence beyond one’s own experience because it rests in the character of God, of which there is nothing more certain and constant” (p. 48). This whole idea of being sure of our faith is because God is faithful, and so when we trust in Him, we are able to trust in what He says and what He does. We know that God is faithful because of all the times He proved that to us, such as saving Noah and his family (Genesis 6-9), when He saved Daniel from the lions den in Daniel 6, and all of the many times he saved Israel from war and slavery, despite their sins. Because God has always been faithful, one can trust that He sent Jesus to die for our sins as well.
Another thing that Jobes points out is the idea that the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 all acted on their faith in some way. Abel “offered” a sacrifice (vs. 4); Enoch “pleased God” (vs. 5); Abraham “obeyed” (v. 8), and so on. As Jobes says, “Clearly the faith in view is not a mere intellectual assent to a set of doctrines, but a complete trust in God that energizes one’s actions and decisions in life” (p. 49). It is not enough to simply claim that you have faith. True faith will be apparent in one’s life because one will actually live out what God commands. So even though faith is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:1), that faith will be seen in those who follow Christ.
The writer of Hebrews chapter 11 with a brief description of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). For Christian we walk by faith not by sight (1 Cor. 5:7). Faith is the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. The clause faith is the substance of things hope for describes that here and now what we hope for and what God has promised us in the future. We can have full confidence in the Lord’s promises because they are real and a firm foundation for this life. It seems like the substance or assurance describes our inward, heart believe response to God’s trustworthy and unfailing nature. Because the Hebrews writer goes on to show, biblical heroes of every generation have proven them to be true. “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death” (Hebrews 11:4-5). And there goes on and on the list. And faith being the substance of things hoped for is also an outward. It results in decisive obedience that kind of heroes of faith to act upon their hope. That faith, as the substance of things hope for, activate the disciples of Jesus to preach boldly, pray unceasingly, serve compassionately until they die. Paul says that we are looking at things that are not currently seen because the things that are not seen are future things, eternal things (2 Cor. 4:18). I think the Biblical faith is refers to reality that will be happen in future what God promises to us. I have faith that He will fulfill his promises to us. Until we see that come to pass, our faith in him is an evidence of things not seen.
The question of how faith is defined, has come up a few times in my short experience being a Christian. I have heard a couple sermons on faith, and I have a had at least one person encourage me to stop using the word “hope” the way that we often do. I hope I get that new job…. For the same reason you wrote about here. It is something that we often use much differently in our context than what Biblical text meant by the words hope and faith. I think Jobes does a pretty good job explaining what faith means when she writes the old saying “Faith is believin’ what you know ain’t so.” Jobes rejects this idea and goes on to explain that. “Biblical faith can claim a confidence beyond one’s own experience because it rests in the character of God, of which there is nothing more certain and constant.” (Jobes, p 48) I love this description. This reenforces Hebrews 11 with explaining that that faith is not following blindly or needing proof, it’s more than that. I could not have put it in to better words. I also believe that you made an excellent point differentiating between hope and faith and how each of these are used far to often in our current language and time.
Jobes, Karen H.. Letters to the Church (p. 48). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
I had hoped or thought that this blog would have a question to answer, I guess I have to give my perspective on this blog. There is more faith than action which is believing that we know it is true or not true. We believe there is a God who is the one who created the universe and brought his Son, Jesus Christ to the world. If Jesus had not died on the cross and created on earth then this world would be chaos, no laws or rule, and not have guidance. That means we will not have faith at all. Proverbs 3:5 talks about trusting God by having faith. We do need to have faith. Christians and those who believe in Christ believe there is a heaven, and that Christ is preparing for us to come home and be with Him forever. We do not know what heaven looks like but we know there is such a thing. Hebrews 11:3, with our faith that we understand that the universe was created by God. The more we have faith and trust in God, then something good or reveal to us when we ask God for guidance or open the doors that He has something better for us. Hope is more “wishful thinking” that is used (P. Long, 2012), it sounds like it is going to happen or not. It sounds like you can be negative when someone hopes for something which the person should say about having faith.
Christians and scientists have been saying the opposite arguments probably forever. I recently watched a TedTalk that gave, I think, the best argument for God’s existence and relationship with science that I have ever heard (https://youtu.be/sn7YQOzNuSc). One thing the speaker says that blew my mind was this; “God does not overstep the bounds of science but works within the bounds of nature. If modern science tells us there are examples of unusual activities with finite probabilities, then theologically we should not be surprised by miracles which may merely be low probability events.” As believers, we need to grasp the fact that God created science in the first place, and we need both God and science to be able to grasp God as Creator and Maker of all things in heaven and on earth, and to be able to trust science. Scientists and atheists should understand that God is incomprehensible and not a being that can be explained, but can explain the existence of the universe if they would only argue for Him using their own arguments for science.
Jobes has a very practical, modern explanation and example of 11:1. Putting our hope in Jesus and having confidence in what is unseen is very similar to us putting our hope in a friend (or maybe even more so, a stranger’s online review or recommendation!) and their experience in another place, and then planning your trip around their experience and recommendations and looking forward to it.
As you stated, “Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen at some point in the future and it is so certain that I can live my life on the foundation of my hope.”
It is genuinely heartbreaking and almost incomprehensible to me that there are people in the world (heck people in my own life!) that do not know Jesus and don’t know or have that kind of hope. Part of me is just like, “then what is the point of life? what gets you through hard times? What sort of foundation do you place your life on make your decisions from?” Hope has so much more depth and eternalness than simple “wishful thinking”, as you noted, and thank God for that, literally.
I really thought this blog post was interesting and it made me think. I think those who are Christians should read and understand Hebrews 11:1-3 as faith is the foundation of what Christians believe. Christians put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. In the Lexham English Bible I like how it puts these verses in simple terms that are easier for people to understand. It explains faith “the realization of what is hoped for, the proof of things not seen”. Just as P. Long said in the blog post, when a Christian talk about having faith, they are certain of what they believe in and is backed up with a very strong foundation. I also agree with P. Long when he mentions that hope is looking forward with confidence and as the New Testament goes on talking about Jesus it gives a couple ways that Christians believe Jesus is the hope of our lives. First I believe that when Jesus was put on the cross and went through all of the pain and suffering it gives us hope that He will come back and return based on many verses throughout the Bible (Hebrews 9:28, Matthew 24:1-51, Revelation 22:12). As Christians we believe that Jesus died on the cross and saved us from our sins and that is why we are still here. We put our Faith in Jesus as He is our firm foundation, and we have a hope and a promise from Him that He will return again.
The statement “faith not facts” is often referred to the idea of “faith verses science.” Scientists need concrete facts in order to see something to be true. As Christians we base our truth on the Word of God, which is also considered to be Truth (with a capital T). However, many beliefs of Christian’s can not be proven facts, which is where having faith comes in. We cannot physically see or touch God, but we believe he is with us every moment. The idea of having faith is often misconceived that we believe an untrue thing to be true. This statement does not make sense though, because as we know the Bible is God breathed–creating it to be True. According to the book of Hebrews, having faith means being sure in what we believe. This idea is important in Christian faith because it helps us establish a genuine relationship with the Lord. The song Build my Life by Patt Barrett sings the lyrics “I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation.” These lyrics are powerful words to sing to Jesus because it shows that you entrust with your life that the Lord is a firm foundation.
As we think about our Christian faith, it is connected closely with the idea of Biblical hope. Biblical hope is true hope that is ensured to happen later, such as the hope we have to be in heaven one day. Unfortunately the word hope is thrown out so often that people neglect to see the true meaning of it.
The debate of science versus faith. When we compare our beliefs with a scientist manty controversial topics surface. How can we believe in something with little evidence or science? Our faith in Christ is the foundation for what we believe in. It comes from salvation that provides us with hope. Hope for a great God and hope for life after death. Professor Long writes “The writer of Hebrews defines faith as being sure of what we believe in. When a Christian talks about having faith, they are certain what they believe is built on a proper foundation and is objectively true.” (Long, 2012) The importance and meaning of the word hope has changed over the years. It has less purpose and significance. We can say that we hope for things to happen but when we use hope in our faith it needs to mean much more. When we say we have hope and faith that makes us accountable for being sure of what we believe in. A big struggle that we see today is the thought of not having actual proof of God. People need to see it for it to be true. There is a lack of that hope and trust. The author of Hebrews uses his words to help the people who doubt that God is possible. If you think about it, an atheist is very sure that there is no good with their own scientific proof. That only makes it right that a believer can be sure that Christ is the truth by their own proof. It is so crucial to understand the context of words. Having faith, believing in, and being sure are all phrases that hit different for people when we are speaking in the context of Christ. The way we interpret words now is very different from how people did back in the day. No matter what, we must stay true to our faith and hope in Christ and let no one change that.
Christians and scientists have been saying the opposite arguments probably forever. I recently watched a TedTalk that gave, I think, the best argument for God’s existence and relationship with science that I have ever heard. One thing the speaker says that blew my mind was this; “God does not overstep the bounds of science but works within the bounds of nature. If modern science tells us there are examples of unusual activities with finite probabilities, then theologically we should not be surprised by miracles which may merely be low probability events.” As believers, we need to grasp the fact that God created science in the first place, and we need both God and science to be able to grasp God as Creator and Maker of all things in heaven and on earth, and to be able to trust science. Scientists and atheists should understand that God is incomprehensible and not a being that can be explained, but can explain the existence of the universe if they would only argue for Him using their own arguments for science.
Jobes has a very practical, modern explanation and example of 11:1. Putting our hope in Jesus and having confidence in what is unseen is very similar to us putting our hope in a friend (or maybe even more so, a stranger’s online review or recommendation!) and their experience in another place, and then planning your trip around their experience and recommendations and looking forward to it. As you stated, “Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen at some point in the future and it is so certain that I can live my life on the foundation of my hope.” It is genuinely heartbreaking and almost incomprehensible to me that there are people in the world (heck people in my own life!) that do not know Jesus and don’t know or have that kind of hope. Part of me is just like, “then what is the point of life? what gets you through hard times? What sort of foundation do you place your life on make your decisions from?” Hope has so much more depth and eternalness than simple “wishful thinking”, as you noted, and thank God for that, literally.
Typically when I think of faith based off of society’s influences, I tend to equate it to a hope or belief in something, similarly mentioned at the end of this post. I think it is interesting to bring in the visual of politics. They have become such a stronghold on society and something everyone can easily understand and picture. Jobes (2011) talks about faith and it’s ties to God’s character “of which there is nothing more certain and constant.” If faith is being sure of what we believe in, according to Hebrews, it explains how our faith is tied to God and his character. I think looking at hope and faith in a less modern way is an interesting concept, especially when filtering it through the book of Hebrews.
While the book of Hebrews talks heavily about faith, I think it’s also important to note that the faith described in James could be explored as well. How do the ideas of faith in the book of James tie into the idea of hope such as Hebrews does? Is the idea of faith presented in James the same as it is in the book of Hebrews?
This blog post was very interesting and important for all Christians to really understand, because after I read Hebrews especially Hebrews 11 it was clear that believers can easily drift away accidentally just based on the way one defines the words hope and faith. Thus, after reading the end of the blog post, it really had me reevaluating a lot of situations in my head and how I need to really use the word hope and how I need to cherish my faith and not just use these words but truly believe in what I hope and have faith in. “Biblical hope is an expression of something that will happen at some point in the future, and it is so certain that I can live my life on the foundation of my hope” (P.Long). This quote from the blog post stuck with me because most people use the word hope as something that they wish for or want, when we as Christian believers need to see hope as the returning of Christ in which we hope and pray for, thus our firm faith in Him will bring us into eternal life. Looking back at the beginning of the blog post really opened my eyes because having faith does not mean it needs to be scientifically proven and factual. I really liked the examples that proved that if we have faith in God, we do not need to scientifically prove it nor do we need evidence or an equation to show someone, it is all about what one believes in and truly live their life by, giving people that do not believe every word of advice that they can.
It is interesting to look more in depth in the word faith. I have heard the word faith get thrown around especially in situations of difficulty and suffering. But it is used in the context that the unreal can happen. For example.. Having faith that there will be no more pain or suffering. But realistically we will be experiencing suffering and pain as long as we are on this earth. Like you said (P.Long) “faith is not believing in things you know to be untrue, or impossible, or strange”. As Christians we should be applying the word Faith to our lives as a bases for our beliefs. When talking about faith we should leave no room for doubt. Fully believing in what’s to come. Even though I know that having faith can be difficult. We tend to ask for proof before believing, or in some areas of our lives we have faith but in others we don’t. Faith can be very confusing for me sometimes.
The arguments of “faith versus science” have always been interesting to me. As Christians, we have a belief that God and the Bible are the ultimate authority and that there is no authority higher than Him. This can’t exactly be proven like science can, but it is also not an uncommon concept. Every single person has a belief of highest authority, whether they hold to Christianity, a different religion, or they believe themselves to be the highest authority. None of those can be proven with science because beliefs like these require some initial presuppositions. The second half of this blog post goes on to talk about faith and define it. Hebrews 11:1 starts off by telling us that faith is being sure about and hoping for the things we cannot see. Faith is a necessary part of Christianity but also many other aspects of people’s lives that could never be “proven by science”. As Christians who have faith, we can hold fast the promises Christ gives us in His word, and not just wish that they would happen, but we can keep a watchful eye for when they do happen. We don’t have to wonder if God really meant what He put in the Bible, but we can hold to His Word as our security and promise for what is to come in the future. This aspect also separates Christianity from a lot of other religions. Being able to hope for the future and the things that God has promised to us helps strengthen Christian’s and encourages them to persevere through this world and all of the hardships in it.