Scriptural Gem for August 2012 

In Hebrews 11:1 we read: "Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and being certain of what we do not see."
It seems to me as if many Christians have the idea that the 'assurance' in the verse above, has to do with our abilty to convince ourselves of a hidden reality even though we cannot see it. So, the person who is best able to convince him/herself of this hidden reality by way of powerful auto-suggestion or imagination will have the strongest 'faith'. How many times have you heard people say "You must just have faith!" What they are really meaning is "Just keep on convincing yourself of the reality of what you cannot see and everything will be OK..." This is not what the writer of Hebrews wants to convey.

The word translated 'assurance' - in some translations 'being sure of" - is the Greek word 'Hupostasis'. This word is made up of two parts - 'Hupo' which means 'under' and 'stasis' which means 'reality/existence'. An English term which best translates this Greek word would be 'underlying reality'. So, far from wanting to describe faith as a stirling effort at auto-suggestion or 'imagining' something into being, the writer of Hebrews wants to convey to us that our faith has to be based on some solid underlying reality which we ourselves have perceived and experienced even though it is unseen by others. This is confirmed by the second part of our verse ..."certain of what we do not see".

This leads us to our second reading for this study which comes from Matthew 16:15-17: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

Having seen or experienced an 'unseen' or 'hidden' reality logically implies that that reality has been shown to us. The word 'revealed' in Matthew 16 above is the Greek word 'Apokalupsis' which means 'to uncover that which is hidden'. It is here that we find a wonderful connection between the two passages of Scripture before us. The one passage speaks of faith being the sure knowledge of a hidden reality, the other speaks of how we get to see and experience that reality - by God revealing Himself to us, and this alone can form the basis of true 'faith'. No teaching about that hidden reality or information describing it, can ever form the basis of our faith. Sadly, in religious circles this is all too often the case. True faith can only exist if God has revealed Himself, His Glory and ultimately his Son to us just as he did to Simon Peter. Then alone will the concrete reality of Him, though unseen by others, be beyond question in our hearts and minds and our faith will stand strong through the fiercest storm. This is the heart of the matter: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" Psalm 34:8 


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