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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.*

To encourage you in your prayers let’s reflect on this weighty verse.  The author of Hebrews raises it as the banner for his “hall of faith”—believers who lived and died before the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.


           What does faith look like?  A year ago, on our way to Riga, Latvia, Dawna and I stared at an Airbus A330 parked at an international gate at JFK.  At 209 feet long and weighing over 500 tons, how could anyone believe this massive hulk would get off the ground?  And even more, to land at our destination thousands of miles away. That takes a lot of faith.

Yet apparently some 300 people did so believe, including two Vermonters;  we all boarded, and 8 hours later arrived safely in Amsterdam.  You could say we had “assurance,” an inner persuasion based on facts (something about lift, weight, thrust and drag, and a century of smart engineers building stuff).  But that’s all in the past.  We needed conviction now that this jet will arrive safely in the unseen future;  to declare in our hearts, “Yes, it flies!”

           In its essence, faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ is no different.  It’s the assurance of things hoped for.  The Greek word for “assurance” is literally that which “stands under”—like a “foundation.”  The solid foundation of God’s Word provides the objective reality we build our confident hope upon.  God is Truth, and his Word is Truth.  By faith, we experience that basic fact at the core of all Reality. 

           Faith is also the conviction of things not seen.  Well, okay, we admit this type of faith rises to another order of magnitude:  we’ve seen lots of planes in the air, but no one has seen the dead rise again to eternal life.  Not yet.  But we will!  The foundation of that trust is absolutely solid because the same Christ who spoke into creation the laws of aerodynamics also assures us, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;  believe also in me….And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

           Our Lord clearly reveals that faith never stands alone.  “Just believe!” tells us nothing.  Faith always has an object, so that what people believe and in whom they believe matters.  In fact, it matters for eternity.  The rest of Hebrews 11 tells of people of faith who believed in God’s promise of salvation, robust and genuine, even though its fulfillment was invisible to them and the future for them. 

Our faith looks to the past—the perfect life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, and glorious ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And with the clear vision of faith, we live confidently in the present as we behold the futureThough you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

           May you live and pray with that same hope, even in the midst of the world’s turmoil. 

* Hebrews 11:1.  See for exegetical insights Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1977), p. 339-340.  Other Scripture cited or alluded to:  John 1:3,10; 14:1-3; 17:17; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:8-9.


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