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The Anatomy of Faith
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb 11:1).
How do you understand faith? A lot of times, I think, faith is placed in the context of someone's ability to accomplish tasks as in "I have faith in you." Ironically though this is what God expects of us, not just Christians but all of His creation - that we have faith in Him.
Faith Is Being Sure...
There is a certain confidence that comes through the assurance of faith. A double minded mind, the Bible reveals, is unstable in all his ways and that's because there's no confidence in his stance. There is a boldness that inherently becomes a part of the believer, a person that has given their life to Christ because doubt gives way to the assurances and promises that God has given to us through his Son. Can't turns into can, maybes into difinites and 'mights' into 'wills.' It was a lack of faith that caused the Israelites to have to wander 40 years in the wilderness because they weren't convinced of what God had declared to them directly. It is faith that led the three Hebrew boys, Mishach, Shadrach and Abednego, even though they were slaves in a foreign land, to declare to the King Nebuchadnezzar, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it..." in Dan 3:17.
...Of What We Hope For...
God doesn't simply expect us to have faith in Him. He actively encourages it by layering in rewards to the faithful:
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him," Heb 11:6 (NIV).
It's impossible to please God without faith because God's Word is true and will always come to pass, so doubting in our hearts as believers as akin to declaring God a liar and denies the power that God so desires to make available to and through us.
We have to keep in mind that the ultimate reward, though we may receive many in this lifetime, is the one to come after this life has ended.
...And Certain of What We Do Not See
Faith does not require evidence. The patriarchs mentioned by the writer of Hebrews didn't have a sign or some other indication that God is capable of doing what He said He can but simply acted on their, sometimes innate, trust and confidence in God and the hope of a promise being fulfilled. Abel's faith led him to express correct worship to God. Abraham's pushed him to travel to a far and unknown land despite being completely clueless as to where he was going, with the promise that he will own the land. Sarah's allowed her to conceive even though she was well past the age of conception.
Despite this fact God, in His infinite understanding of human psyche, provides sufficient evidence of Himself throughout His creation,
"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. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:20-21 (NIV)
The Word of God declares that we all are without excuse because the evidence of Him is clear in God's handiwork. Even so He wants us to trust Him unconditionally based on his revealed Word.
What exercise of faith is there when evidence is before you? The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of us who have faith and haven't seen with our own eyes when speaking to Thomas,
"Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 (NIV)
This is what God desires of us, because faith in this way is honored by God and allows us to have a more experiential relationship with our Maker.
How can we be "certain of what we do not see"? How do we build this level of trust and confidence in the God we claim to serve? It is only by getting to know Him. Who places trust and confidence in a person they don't know? God knows this and has made every effort to make Himself known to us so that we will put our trust and confidence in Him. There is nothing that God hasn't already done to encourage our faith and justify hope in Him - He sent His Word, through the prophets, through His Son and now He's revealing Himself through the indwelling work of His Holy Spirit.
Lord Help My Unbelief
The Lord speaks of how little faith we have,
"He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." Luke 17:6 (NIV).
I've not experienced this with my Lord as yet. I'm not sure if I ever will but it's clear that the opportunity is there for all who take Him fully at His Word.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!