Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Belief or Make-Belief?

KEY TEXT: Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. 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. ESV

KEY THOT: The writer to Hebrews gives us a definition of faith that has two parts: 
  1. conviction of what is (a present aspect): “a conviction of things not seen”. Here faith is a conviction that reality does not consist only of what is visible but also of what is invisible. In other words, faith sees beyond the physical reality to the eternal reality that is God.
  2. assurance what is to come (a future aspect): “the assurance of things hoped for”—faith is looking forward to the future because God has given us a promise about what will be—the coming of the heavenly City of God. We may call this aspect of faith as hope. 
Faith is not irrational but supra-rational. Faith is based on evidence we see in nature. In nature, we discern order (natural and moral laws), beauty (awesome sunsets/sceneries, amazing galaxies), intelligent designs (mathematical patterns in atomic structures and life forms, goal-oriented life-processes), and goodness (livable atmosphere, life-giving sunshine, drinkable water and edible food in abundance to sustain animal and human life). All this evidence suggests there is a Creator and He is an Intelligent Designer in whom beauty, order and goodness are found. And from Scriptures, we learn who this Creator is and also what His plans are for us humans. From nature, we gain a conviction of what ultimate reality is; but in Scriptures we gain the assurance of what ultimate reality will be like in the coming City of God.

But faith is never passive believing—for the devil and his demons believe too in the truth of the present and future reality. But they were never commended for that belief: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). True biblical faith goes beyond just believing—it must lead to obedience. Abraham believed and he obeyed: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (v.8). Biblical faith is always active: obedience is not works, but “works of faith” (1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:11). If we have biblical faith, we will align our lives with the ultimate reality that is and is to come. 

So, do we really believe? If we do, our life-goals ought to be consistent with our beliefs, Or do we just have “make-beliefs”? 

Father, deliver us from self-deception of believing one thing but doing something else. Align our lives with Your eternal Kingdom so that we may inherit the City of God when it finally arrives at the soon coming of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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