This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.
The end of Hebrews 10 sets the context for the verse that launches Hebrews 11 - one of the most often quoted (and possible most regularly misunderstood) passages in the New Testament. “Now faith is the assurance (or confidence) of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It’s the closest thing we have to a definition of the kind of faith that rescues us, and certainly the most practical one.
Even so, Hebrews 11:1 can seem rather obscure or conceptual – like words that attempt to define something simply by identifying its intangibles. And what is one of the necessary ingredients – required “intangibles” of biblical faith? DOUBT. Faith is being convinced of things you can’t see - things you can only HOPE are true. Where there is certainty and/or verifiability, there can’t be faith. FAITH ASSUMES/REQUIRES DOUBT AND QUESTIONS.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” See what I mean about a definition that describes more than defines? Getting our heads wrapped around what Christian faith is reminds me of trying to catch a floating bubble in a baseball mitt. Just when you think you’ve secured it, POOF. It’s gone. The only thing we can be certain of is what Daniel Taylor announces in his book, “The Skeptical Believer”: If you don’t have doubts and questions, then whatever it is that you DO have, it isn’t faith. In order for faith to exist, uncertainty is required.
Feeling somewhat guilty about the doubts and questions you have? Don’t. Read these texts about the serious misgivings and "second-guessings" of some of Christianity’s heroes. Then be encouraged (not to mentioned freed).
- Hebrews 11:1-40 (especially vs. 39-40)
- John 11:1-6 (What about Matthew 3:13-17? Didn’t John already have the evidence he needed?)
- John 18:25-27
The belief of these great people of Christian history didn’t fall into the category of “faith” in SPITE of their questions and doubts, but BECAUSE of them. In order for our beliefs to be “defined” as faith, they must be held in the context of legitimate questions and reasonable doubt. Biblical faith is linked not to certainty so much as to expectation. It’s not the assurance of things proven but of things envisioned.
BE A BLESSING
Guilt over the doubts and questions we have is all around us. For the remainder of this week, look for people who express or imply some level of shame or dismissal over the reservations they have about God, his promises, his teachings.
This might include a Christ-follower who implies that faith and uncertainty are hostile to each other, friends who express defeat or an inability to keep “believing” because they’ve wondered about whether or not God loves them (or even sees them), or a person who’s concluded she doesn’t (or can’t possibly) believe BECAUSE of what she simply finds impossible to acknowledge or even consider.
Pray for them. Then, to the degree that you can, share with them what you’ve been learning about the value of good questions and the normalcy of reasonable doubt. In other words, encourage them to keep questioning, doubting, and seeking.
This one is short and simple. Show up ready to worship this Easter Sunday morning where we’ll walk through the events of Christ’s passion and try to experience the pain, doubts, and jubilation that most certainly existed in Jerusalem on that inaugural resurrection Sunday.