Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
“What is faith?” asked the writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. Then he answered his own question, saying, “It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead” (Hebrews 11:1, LB). Two words express this reality. The first word, translated “confident assurance,” is a very positive expression; but it is the second word which gives us a picture which enlightens us.
In the first century this Greek word elegchos was used for a title deed. For example, you buy a piece of property which you have never seen, but when the transaction is completed you are given a title deed—a legal piece of paper that says you own the property. “But you have never seen the property!” someone exclaims in surprise. “True,” you say, but then you add, “I own that property; I have the title deed in my possession.”
In a very real sense that is how faith functions in relationship to God. There are two aspects to biblical faith, and apart from both of these, faith is defective. The first ingredient is belief which relates to knowledge; the second is trust which demands commitment and action. Believing is important, very important; but it isn’t enough.
Let me illustrate. Suppose you wanted to hire a person for a position in your company. After an interview, you make a proposal. In your letter you offer the individual a position, outlining the benefits of working for you. But you never get a response from the individual. Then you call asking, “Did you receive my job offer?” Hesitantly, the person admits that he did. “Well then,” you ask, “why haven’t you responded?” Reluctantly, the person admits that he believes you can make good on your offer, but then adds, “But frankly, I just don’t trust you!”
How would you respond? There is no way you would bring that person into your firm, right? At times, we treat God the same way. We believe He exists, and we even believe His word is true, but we don’t really trust Him enough to commit ourselves to Him and walk with Him.
Unlike employers who make promises and don’t keep them, or friends who forget what they tell you, God is never remiss on coming through with what He says He will do. The foundation of our faith in God is His very character. Because people fail us, we often bring God down to their level, wondering if He really can be trusted as well, forgetting the times when He has met us in the past.
The father of a little boy about five years old stood his son on a table and said, “Son, jump and I’ll catch you.” The boy hesitated and the father repeated his command: “Jump, son, and I’ll catch you.” Finally, the little boy leaped, and as he did so, the dad withdrew his arms and the little fellow landed in the floor. Picking up the crying boy, the father said, “Son, I’ve just taught you a very important lesson: Never trust anyone. Do you hear? Never!”
Okay, your earthly father may be untrustworthy, but our Heavenly Father isn’t like that. The Bible puts it pointedly: “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19). And the obvious answer is, “No!”
The Quaker scholar, David Elton Trueblood put it so well as he said, “Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation.” Believing is important but trusting is what brings the promises into our lives and our families. Real faith includes both.
Resource Reading: Hebrews 11:1-7