What Faith Is Not

What Faith Is Not

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
–Hebrews 11:1-2

If you live on planet Earth, then you are going to face problems in your life. How can you make sure that you endure rather than buckle under problems? What is the key to holding on to your beliefs in difficult times? Faith.

I think the best way to explain faith is to explain what it is not. It is not positive thinking. It is not believing or praying for something hard enough that you will it into existence. That is not faith; that is presumption. The writer of Hebrews tells us exactly what biblical faith is: “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). The word for “assurance” in Greek is “hupostasis,” which referred to a foundation in which pillars would be set. In other words, faith is not some mystical hope that something might happen; it is the concrete assurance that something is going to happen. Specifically, it is the assurance that God will do what He has promised to do. What has God promised to do? He has never promised to spare you from illness, heartache, or death. But He has promised to redeem you when you die and take you to be with Him forever.

I remember talking to a couple who were suffering the pain and heartbreak of infertility. They had prayed and prayed that God would give them a child. They had gone through expensive treatments. Nothing worked. They said to me, “Pastor, we believe that whether or not God gives us a child, God is going to use our experience to help and encourage others who are going through this problem.” They ended up leading an infertility support group in our church.

That couple exercised faith. Not faith that God would give them a child–in fact, He never gave them a child–but faith that God would use their pain for good. Faith that, as 2 Corinthians 1 says, “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others” (v. 4 NLT). That is what God has promised to do. He has not promised to take you out of your problems right now, but He has promised to use you to encourage others. That is what biblical faith is: an assurance that God will do what He has promised to do.

But faith is not just an assurance; it is “the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Hebrews 11:1-2). Conviction means doing something as a result of your faith. It means believing God and acting accordingly. Taken together, faith is believing that God will do what He has promised to do and acting accordingly.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Necessary Ingredient” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotation marked (NLT) is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved; all other Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org