I won’t get to the part about escaping lions, and fires, and swords until tomorrow, Lord willing. Won’t chew on what motivates someone to be willing to accept torture rather than release, or be willing to endure mocking, flogging, chains, and imprisonment rather than renounce. But I know it’s coming. And it makes the first sixteen verses of Hebrews 11 all the more sweet and sobering.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
or, as I memorized it way back when,
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
Yes and amen!
Was “set up” for chewing on faith this morning in my Isaiah reading:
Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on His God.
(Isaiah 50:10b ESV)
We sing (or used to at least) “Trust and Obey.” But who doesn’t know times when we could use a song written by someone to remind us to “Trust and Rely.”
Trust and rely
When there’s no other why
You will stand fast in Jesus
Just trust and rely
And as I hover over the first part of Hebrews 11, amidst all the observations that can be gleaned about faith, a couple stand out. Faith is tied to promise. Faith evokes desire.
By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
(Hebrews 11:11-16a ESV)
Sarah gave birth to a child but never really saw the promise of land, seed, and blessing fulfilled. But she believed they’d come because she considered Him faithful who had promised. Faith is the substance of things hoped for because it is faith in promises given by a faithful Promiser.
And when we focus on the Promiser, our faith takes on a certainty. It is assured. Not just some I-wish-I-may-I-wish-I-might kind of fairy faith, but a rock-solid, both feet firmly planted, kind of faith. Not because of how much faith we can muster (some times it’s just a mustard seed), but because He is faithful.
And promise-based faith, which brings assurance, is power-giving faith which evokes desire. Though we experience but small, intermittent tastes of what’s in store, we greet the full-meal deal from afar. Reminded that this world is not our home, we seek the homeland we were created, and re-created for. As we gain clarity on the substance, or lack thereof, of this country, we desire a better country. Faith evokes desire.
Trials below set our hearts on things above. Testing here and now give us a hunger and thirst for there and then.
So, we believe. Assured of things hoped for. Spirit affirmed evidence, building an enduring conviction, resulting in an insatiable desire for a better land yet to be seen.
Love this chapter! What an oasis.
Because of grace. For His glory.