Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Faith: Assurance and Conviction - Hebrews 11

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen."
(vs 1)

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Bible's "Hall of Faith." It begins with faith's definition and then proceeds to show us what faith has looked like in the lives of numerous fathers and mothers who've gone before. Over the next few days I'll pause to examine the lives of some of these precious saints. But for today - what is faith?

The apostle tells us, simply, that it is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Matthew Henry breaks it down this way: "Faith is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that He has promised to us in Christ. It is the evidence of things not seen. Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannnot be discerned by the eye of the body. It is designed to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body."

Christian faith is a faith full of "assurance" and "conviction". It is a "hypostasis" - an assured belief in that which we have not fully within our hand but in that which we know we shall take hold of one day. "The apostle reminds us, that faith regards not present things, but such as are waited for" (Calvin). It is not a "hope so" hope but a substantial trust in that which is to come. It is the conviction or the evidence of things not seen. We are waiting patiently, with assurance and conviction, for the full realization of things that we have by promise now.

Calvin's comments on the "not seen" nature of faith are poignant. He writes:

"Then these two things, though apparently inconsistent, do yet perfectly harmonize when we speak of faith; for the Spirit of God shows us hidden things, the knowledge of which we cannot reach by our senses. Promised to us is eternal life, but it is promised to the dead! We are assured of a happy resurrection, but we are yet involved in corruption. We are pronounced just, and yet sin dwells in us. We hear that we are happy, but we are as yet in the midst of many miseries. An abundance of all good things is promised to us, but still we often hunger and thirst. God proclaims that He will come quickly, but He seems deaf when we cry to Him. What would become of us if we were not supported by hope, and did our minds not emerge out of the midst of darkness above the world through the light of God's Word and Spirit? Faith, then, is rightly said to be the substance of things which are not yet the objects of hope and the evidence of things not yet seen."

The character of God is the source of this type of faith. Faith is a gift of God (Eph 2:8) and the assurance and conviction of it are based upon the promise and power of God. God has told us what will come and He cannot lie. God has told us what He will do and He, as the omnipotent God, will bring it about.

How's your faith? Are you assured and convicted here in the shadowlands?

Waiting patiently for the full realization of that which I long for with assurance & conviction,


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