Now Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the proof of things not seen. For by this the people of old were approved.
- Hebrews 11:1 (LEB)
Realization, “hypostasis” in the original Greek: the substance, matter, essence. It is the proof of things not seen. This isn’t so much about believing in what we can’t see or prove (though it is that too) but rather how what can’t be seen ends up being proven by our response. The passage goes on to list, exhaustively, many of the great people of God, what they’ve done that demonstrates their faith, and how this pleases God.
Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him. By faith Noah, having been warned about things not yet seen, out of reverence constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family, by which he pronounced sentence on the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
- Hebrews 11:6-7
In our desire for instant gratification and inconsequential religion, we gloss over this. We assert that we’re saved by faith, but then proceed on the assumption that faith means idle or intellectual assent to a theological proposition. We “accept” Jesus. “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, therefore I’m saved.” Well, yes and no. As James points out, demons believe in the truth - it terrifies them - but this mere acceptance of this spiritual reality doesn’t qualify as faith, does it?
Our obedience isn’t what saves us; the cross does that. But obedience is evidence that our belief is genuine. Do I believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him? Do I trust Him?
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.