The Heart of Faith

 

We don’t know who he was because he didn’t sign his name.

Was it fear that drove this anonymity in an age of persecution?  Or was it humility?

When we studied Hebrews 7, we marveled together at the author’s ability to connect the dots between Melchizedek and Jesus, our High Priest forever, based on the power of an indestructible life.  Whoever wrote this letter we now refer to as “Hebrews” certainly knew the Old Testament scriptures, and once again in chapter eleven he’s connecting the dots between a concept — faith — and the way he sees it lived out in the recorded lives of Old Testament saints.

Hebrews 11:1 provides a two-pronged description of faith:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

  1.  The assurance of things hoped for.  By faith, we are sure of God’s promises and are enabled to live in a hope that is so real it gives absolute assurance.
  2. The conviction of things not seen.  According to John Piper, this Greek word rendered as “conviction” in our ESV appears nowhere else in the New Testament.  Used elsewhere, it means “argument, evidence, reason, or proof.”  This is helpful when coupled with Hebrews 11:3:
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

In the mind of this Hebrew writer, faith is a kind of spiritual seeing that enables the believer to know that God exists and to live in the reality of  Psalm 19:1  in which the sky above our heads, the detailed architecture of a pine cone, the majesty of a fluking whale, and the sweet whorl of downy hair on the crown of a baby’s head all bear the fingerprint of God.

The “elders” he speaks of in verse two (and then goes on to describe for the remainder of the chapter) were living proof of the assertion of Hebrews 11:6:

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

He would have found this truth in Habakkuk 2:4, and then he draws it out into an anthem, honoring the faithful throughout redemptive history, for since the fall, it has been God’s intention to honor faith and to regard works as evidence of that faith.

But the author does something else in Hebrews 11:6.  He restates his two-pronged description of faith:

  1.  Believing that He exists;
  2. Believing that He rewards those who seek Him.

 

Capture
Belief that God exists in Hebrews 11:6 corresponds to “conviction of things not seen” in verse 1.
Capture
Belief that God rewards those who seek Him corresponds to the “assurance of things hoped for” in verse 1.

 

The description of faith in the book of Hebrews steers my thinking toward a better understanding of who God is, but also guides my “living by faith,” for I see that God is not interested merely in what I do.  Abel worshiped and Enoch walked.  Noah worked, and the Patriarchs all waited for a glimpse of the promised land, but it wasn’t what they did so much as why they did it.  Motive is everything in the kingdom of God.  This week I will be asking myself questions about why I do what I’m doing, and I invite you to join me.

Is my worship, my manner of living, my work, and my understanding of the promises of God coming from a heart of faith?

Does the way I exercise my faith put God’s reality — His beauty — on display?

Am I communicating an accurate picture of God’s intense desire to reward and His unrivaled ability of fulfill every one of His promises?

 

Photo credit

Only two weeks left in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book.  These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s last week’s blog post.

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will enjoy reading the work of some fine writers and thinkers.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

33 thoughts on “The Heart of Faith”

  1. Wonderful post, Michele. This is what spoke to me > “Motive is everything in the kingdom of God.” I find myself checking my motives very often for the “why”. Grateful for this reminder this morning!

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  2. Thank you for this Wednesday morning peek into God’s Word, Michele. And I love how you’ve displayed all the linkies on the left side of your page. Very fun!

    Meanwhile, and most important, He is risen! May His joy fill your heart as we make our way through this Holy week …

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    1. Thanks for your observation about the “linkies.” I used to have a list at the end of every post, but it seemed so impersonal. During February vacation, I picked away at the alphabet soup to get the pictures where they are. Blessed celebration of resurrection to you, Linda!

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  3. “Is my worship, my manner of living, my work, and my understanding of the promises of God coming from a heart of faith?” Love your questions here – reflecting and looking inward with you! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I enjoyed reading this post very much, Michele. Your comments and breakdown of Scripture regarding faith were spot-on. I have often heard it said that seeing is believing, but in the matter of faith, believing is seeing. Yes, faith is a conviction not based on sight, but on a revelation in the heart.

    I like Hebrews 11:6 – never really thought about the second half of that verse – that drawing near to God also requires us believing that He rewards those who seek Him. It’s interesting to me that believing this requires trusting the other person, believing that they are good and will bless us. This is what God promises. And more often than not, the reward when we seek Him is just HIM – His presence!

    GOD BLESS!

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  5. One of the lines that I love in your words here today, Michele, is that God pays more attention to the motive of our hearts than what we are doing. I think that’s sobering and comforting at the same time. Very profound and thoughtful series, my friend! Thanks for inspiring us to live with heart toward God!

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  6. THIS question speaks volumes: “Does the way I exercise my faith put God’s reality — His beauty — on display?” And now that’s what I’m pondering. 🙂 Thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

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  7. Thank you Michele for this study in Hebrews. I feel a little bit wiser every time I visit here! As I struggle each day to live for Christ. I am constantly needing to check my motives. I feel my faith has grown as I continue to seek Him but God knows the heart. I want my motives to be in alignment with His will for my life. What a poignant reminder to search our hearts as our faith in Christ grows. Thank you for sharing the knowledge and the wisdom that God has blessed you with. Have a terrific Thursday and a blessed Easter weekend!

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  8. I love this thought, “Does the way I exercise my faith put God’s reality — His beauty — on display?” I need to make a notecard of it and carry it around. It can guide one’s whole life if you live it out.

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  9. Michele,
    Sometimes are easier than other to live by faith. I admit that right at this moment I look at the bank account for Redeemer Christian Foundation and the slow trickle in which contributions are coming in at the moment and I start to panic. 35 sweet faces in Pakistan flash before my eyes. I know they are His children before they were ever “mine”, but I’m feeling challenged at the moment to live by faith. I know God will come through, but prayers for my patience in the meantime would be welcomed.
    Blessings for a wonderful Easter, friend,
    Bev xx

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  10. Michelle, I love how you connected verses 1 and 6 and brought out how the motive behind our actions demonstrates faith or not. That explains the list that follows. These people did not live blameless lives, but they trusted God and believed His promises. And God was pleased. I want to live with assurance that my invisible God is pleased with me when I trust Him—even if my actions were flawed!

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    1. Yes, there’s no such thing as abstract “faith.” The Word of God stresses faith in action, in this present moment.. . and God is not stymied by our flaws and failings, as we see in Little Women, Big God.

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  11. I discovered something interesting this week online. While I place my faith in Christ, a lot of folks I know choose to place their faith in what they see or hear: scientific studies, weather patterns, human behavior…and they trust what their eyes see. As I walk this amazing Christian journey, I pray more will do as the author of Hebrews so eloquently stated, “assurance of things hoped for…not seen”. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. Yes, our motives do make a difference. Those are good questions to think about. May God give us faith and hearts of love so that we may have the right motives as we go through our week and serve Him. Blessings to you, Michele. Have a Happy Resurrection Day!

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  13. I never tire of your teaching from Hebrews and love when I get a chance to see one I missed or review again one that I enjoyed!! God has truly gifted you! Happy to be your neighbor for this one at the Linkup at Mary-andering Creatively!

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  14. Verbally living by faith is easy, but putting it into action is what so many have a heard time with. Thank you, Michele, for the reminder of it’s all about the movtive of my heart and that I have to practice what I tell others. Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

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