The Importance of Faith (Part 5): Understanding

The Importance of Faith (Part 5): Understanding

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

The Hebrew writer mentioned the above verse at the beginning of the chapter on faith. This expands upon what he said in the first verse: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:1). We can have assurance and conviction as we have understanding.

Faith is more than just a wish – we would like to believe in a loving God, a sacrificial Savior, and a reward of heaven; so we choose to believe. However, Biblical faith is not a preference; it involves assurance, conviction, and understanding.

Many hold to the concept of a “leap of faith.” In other words, they choose to believe in God and His promises against their better judgment. However, we have evidence for our faith. One example of this is in the resurrection of Jesus. Like any other matter of history, we can know that it happened based upon eye-witness testimony – from the apostles (Acts 1:8; 1 John 1:1-4) who were willing to die for their testimony about Jesus to over five hundred individuals at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Our faith in God is based upon facts, not wishes.

What do we understand by faith? First, we understand that “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Creation teaches us about God. The psalmist wrote, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Paul indicated that the created world served as a witness of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” and provided such incontrovertible proof that those who would deny God’s existence were “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). The world did not come about by accident. It was purposely created by God to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Second, we understand that the word of God is true. This is implied in the previous point about Creation. God created all things as He said He did. Remember, faith comes from the word (Romans 10:17). God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). It is demonstrated to be truth in the fact that it was written by about forty different men in three languages over a period of 1,500 years, yet it contains a consistent theme throughout without real contradictions. As Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). The only explanation for how this could happen is that the Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).

Third, we understand that what is seen (material) is temporal, but that which is unseen (spiritual) is eternal. By faith we know to seek spiritual things first. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). He then said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Because of this understanding by faith that spiritual things must take precedence over material things, Paul said, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

From the word of God – the source of faith – we get understanding about God, His truth, and the importance of spiritual things. Paul told the Ephesians, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). This understanding is to be a common understanding. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). By faith, we can understand what God has revealed to us.

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