When I was a kid, I loved playing video games on the family computer. I wanted the best computer so I could beat the best players online. Sometime during middle school, my parents finally decided we needed a new family computer, and I was ecstatic because I knew it would be able to play a bunch of new games our old one couldn’t. This was before two-day Amazon delivery, and it felt like I waited months for the UPS man to drop off our new computer, when it really only took a week or two. I was hoping and waiting with eager anticipation for that computer to come. Some days I wondered if it ever would. My faith wavered.
In Hebrews 11, we find a beautiful, brief definition of faith, and then a handful of examples of people from the Bible who demonstrated faith. Because Hebrews 11 strikes such a victorious chord of triumphant faith, it’s tempting to read through the chapter spending most of our time admiring these faithful followers of God and their tremendous acts of faith. Reading about them can be faith-building, but I want to focus on the first two verses of the chapter, which are foundational to understanding faith, though sometimes overlooked.
Verses 1–2 say, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.” These verses, especially verse one, can seem a bit cryptic. What does the author mean by “the reality of what is hoped for” or “the proof of what is not seen”? How is faith “reality” or “proof”?
In his commentary on Hebrews, Be Confident: Live by Faith, Not by Sight, Warren Wiersbe writes, “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences.” God has spoken to us through His Word about things both seen and unseen, and faith is trusting that what He says is true, especially about the things we can’t see. His Word describes “reality,” and is all the “proof” we need to believe.
The entire Christian life is meant to run on faith, not sight. We read that God’s approval is “won” by faith (v.2), and that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (v.6). Why does faith matter so much to God? Because our faith brings Him glory. When we take Him at His word, He shows Himself faithful and accomplishes His will through us. The Scriptures testify again and again that walking by faith is part of the normal Christian life. It isn’t just for elite Christians, but for all Christians, including you and me.
Written by Chris Martin