Just about everyone has heard of the famous “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. However, what exactly is faith? What does Paul refer to in that chapter?
Many take faith as believing something without proof, but that’s not that way it’s used in Hebrews 11.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
When people see “hope,” it brings to mind a college student spending too much time in the bar before finals, and thinking, gee, I hope I do well on this test. It’s a faith not based on facts or knowledge.
Looking at the verse in the New Living Translation helps a bit:
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Faith isn’t blind trust in something, rather it’s a belief based on evidence, facts, and experience. Don’t confuse that with proof, for it’s not the same thing.
For example, as you drive over a bridge, you have faith it will carry you to the other side. You see steel and concrete, and know engineers designed it, and skilled crews built it, thus it’s reasonable to believe it will allow you to safely travel across.
However, that’s not proof — did you examine the structural calculations? Did you stop and perform a test on the steel? Of course not — you have no proof the bridge will work, but you do have faith.
That’s what Paul speaks of in Hebrews 11.
Now suppose you came to a river, and just drove off the bank (not a very smart idea, by the way) — would you think you’d make it? Of course not. Any idea you would is blind faith, and is most definitely not what the Bible speaks of.
Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a hope-so. Faith is substance and evidence — substance for a scientific mind, and evidence for a legal mind. (McGee “Thru the Bible V”, page 581)
Something to think about next time you drive across a bridge.