Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
What is faith? It’s a word that I’ve used for most of my life, yet I still sometimes struggle to understand it fully. Since it substantially impacts how we experience life – not to mention eternity – I thought it’d be a good idea to look a little more closely at the definition found in Hebrews.
In short, faith is seeing what our senses can’t show us. It allows us to comprehend truth beyond the realm of our senses. That is why faith can be difficult for those who only trust what they can feel, see, smell, taste, or touch.
The author demonstrates this in two ways. First of all, faith is connected to hope. The word “reality” refers to documents that prove ownership. So you could say that faith gives us the foundation on which we can build our hope. It assures us of what we hope for, in the same way that a title deed proves that someone is the owner of a house.
In other words, faith accepts the promises of God as a fact, and this conviction opens the door for us to see them come true. Unfortunately, as the author points out later in the chapter, we won’t experience the realization of many prophecies until eternity, which certainly makes believing more of a challenge. Nevertheless, faith is the key to seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises in this life and beyond.
The second area that faith touches is the invisible world, which includes the spiritual realm and anything else beyond the ability of our eyes to see. The word “evidence” describes proof that demonstrates something to be true. In other words, thanks to faith, we can become convinced of realities that are typically invisible to us.
The author lists the creation of the universe as an example. None of us were there, so there are obviously no eye-witness accounts. Science can neither prove nor disprove what happened because it could never replicate it. Therefore, our beliefs about our origins can only be based on faith.
I can hear the comments now: “So, this means that there can be no evidence for faith.” This verse doesn’t say that. In fact, the author wrote the first ten chapters of Hebrews to prove that Jesus was the only way to salvation. So he understood the importance of having solid reasons to believe.
We do need a certain amount of proof to back our beliefs. Even God thinks so, or he wouldn’t have spent almost two thousand years preparing Israel for the Messiah, nor would he have gone through the trouble of having the Bible written. And Jesus wouldn’t have performed so many miracles to support his claim of being the Messiah.
The historical evidence, the fulfilled prophecies, the experiences and testimonies of others, and even our very existence all give us the foundation we need to believe. Still, our senses have their limits, and that’s where faith comes in because it allows us to go beyond them. Ultimately, we must choose to accept what we can’t perceive – the proverbial “step of faith.”
Let me use the example of sky diving to illustrate what I mean. The parachute represents all the evidence for faith that our senses can process, and there’s no way we would take the plunge without it. But just sitting in the plane with the parachute on means nothing – we must head for the door and jump. Otherwise, we haven’t skydived. In the same way, we’ll never experience what God has for us unless we step out in faith.
In summary, faith is taking God at his word, allowing us to experience him, see his promises fulfilled, and grasp spiritual truth. It will always have an air of mystery because it operates beyond what we can see, feel, or touch. And yes, it may be a scary step to take, but it’s worth it.