Since I got all soapboxy on you yesterday, we actually need to go back and look at faith. The author gives us the best definition of faith we find in scripture: “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
What is faith? Is it wishful thinking? Is it what so many opponents to Christianity accuse us of having, “blind faith.” “Christians” they say, “have no evidence to back up their claims found in scripture.” Except, that is a lie.
The Old Testament is built on the historicity of the Exodus and the New Testament is built not he historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus. Never once are we commanded to believe in either of these events by faith. Rather, they can be verified by historical proofs. In fact, there is likely no other event in antiquity that has the evidences that the resurrection itself has. Everyone has to decide whether they believe that Jesus is who He said He was, but not a single person can deny His existence. Every person will have to decide what they think the resurrection of Jesus means, but they cannot deny that the event occurred. If we deny the historicity of the resurrection, there is no historical event that can be trusted. Anywhere. Ever. Period.
So, faith, especially New Testament faith is no blind faith. It is a confidence that God will keep the promises yet to come based on the way He has already kept the promises of the past.
“The ancients” as the author calls them, are commended for this very thing, their belief that God would keep his promises. Some of them had far less “history” to base their faith on, yet they did. And as we discussed yesterday, they all had the faith that God created the earth and everything in it.
To help illustrate the fact that our faith is not blind I would like to borrow and illustration from Mikel Del Rosario aka “The Apologetics Guy”. Imagine you really wanted something like a new iPad. What if you wished as hard as you could for it, entered an online giveaway for it and even made that your wish when you blew out your birthday candles that year. You really believe you’re going to get it, so you stop on your way home from work and get a case for it. That act of buying the case is blind faith.
But now, on the other hand, imagine you go online and order an iPad. Then you get a confirmation email, then an email from UPS with a tracking number, eventually a message saying the package has been delivered and finally you get a message from someone at home saying: “Your iPad is here.” Now, when you stop on the way home to get a case for your iPad you have confidence that you will have something to put in that case when you get home. You have yet to see the iPad, but you are confident it will be there when you arrive. That is what Biblical faith is like.*
We have faith or confidence that God will keep the promises yet to come based on the way He has already kept the promises of the past. This is why I encourage you to dig into the historical evidence for Christianity. The more historians try to prove it wrong, the more evidence they find to support the claims of the Bible. Just like the more scientists try to disprove the God of the Bible they end up proving Him. There’s nothing to fear when it comes to the foundations of our faith. There is nothing blind about it.
Carrying on. Why do you think “it’s impossible to please God” without faith? My argument is simple. It’s because our faith is in the invisible God. Sure, we have the evidence of past works to bolster our faith, but our faith is not in the works themselves but the one responsible for the works. Our faith is not in Noah and his ark, our faith is in God who saved Noah and his family through the ark. Our faith is not in Abraham and his obedience, our faith is in the one who made the promise that his offspring would be more numerous than the stars. “Because anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Abraham believed God this way. And he had far less evidence than we have. As Paul wrote in his introduction to his letter to the Romans:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)
We have all the evidence we need to believe in God, but because it’s unpopular to hold these views we allow them to be suppressed by the wicked, anti-God voices of modern society. This is something God doesn’t tolerate.
One final note to draw out of today’s passage: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance…”
While we have the assurance that faith brings that God will keep his promises, we should not allow ourselves to be rattled when His promises don’t come true in this lifetime. I think this is one of the primary messages the author of Hebrews wanted to drive home to his audience. “Look, just because you’re not getting your reward in this lifetime doesn’t mean that you should give up. Look at all these people, Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob and Sarah. They didn’t receive what they were promised in their lifetime, but they died living by faith. And their promises were fulfilled. So, just because it looks like the fulfillment of your promises is so far off, don’t lose your faith! God is always faithful. He always comes through.”
I don’t know what you’re going through right now. But, no matter how dark the days become, we must never allow our present circumstances to crowd out our faith. We may be facing dark days ahead, but we can’t people who shrink back, throw our confidence overboard and die out at sea. Let us be those who sail full sail into the darkest storms with our heading firmly established on Christ and the assurance of hope that he who promised is true.
For more from Mikel Del Rosario, read his article on faith: http://apologeticsguy.com/2012/05/story-about-faith-illustration/