Hebrews 11:1-3 Faith moves men to receive vision and brings it to fruition
This text is the prelude to the chapter on faith. Faith is set in motion by divine vision and a lifestyle of obedience. Without faith, men act on their fleshly passions and presumptions. Faith increases over time as a believer learns to obey God starting with the mundane. Faith moves men to receive divine vision and brings it to fruition.
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The literal translation from the Greek text: Now faith is assurance while hoping, conviction of things while not seeing. The Greek form of assurance is upostasis, which means “that which stands under”, “basis”, “foundation”. Thus, “Faith is the basis of hope” is probably a better translation. Hope is an anticipation or expectation of a certain outcome. But hope without a basis becomes groundless optimism. Therefore, hope that is built on an immovable foundation of faith goes beyond mere optimism; it becomes conviction. Conviction of things is a divine vision; it is the believer’s first reality while the actual fulfillment is the second. With the believer’s hope firmly built on the foundation of faith, the believer acts with certainty while awaiting its fulfillment.
2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 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.
This text forms the prelude to the hall of faith. Faith is the basis on which these men are commended before God. In other words, God judges all men by their faith expressed through their obedience.
The next phrase can be translated as follows: By faith we understand that the world was set in order by the word of God, what is now the reality was previously non-existent. Faith is wholehearted agreement and obedience to God’s vision and instructions. What we see in the world today is the outcome of faith-filled men who saw it before it came into being. The establishment of Israel back to sovereignty, the abolishment of slavery and the spread of Christianity today is the consequence of men of faith. Men of faith facilitate the path of human history towards the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth and in heaven: it is through faith that heaven and earth was set in order by the word of God.
Trust and obedience is the only expression of faith. Many churchgoers have misunderstood the meaning of faith. They suppose that faith equates earnest expectation. Faith is more than just earnest anticipation; it is the virtue of waiting upon God’s timing and directive. Faith demands obedience when God speaks while trusting Him to bring it to fruition in His time. It is being fully committed to what God has commanded knowing that God has already provided for our every need. Put in a nutshell, faith is a composite of godly virtues. In fact, Faith without the virtues of trustworthiness and obedience is wishful thinking. Men of faith have set the world in the path of God’s purposes by repeatedly putting themselves into great dangers. Without these faithful men, we would not be where we are today. Faith is earnest dependence on God by seeking out His directives for the day. Faith is believing that God is in full control of our every situation. Faith is being fully focused on the tasks at hand without undue concern for tomorrow.
Vision is the first reality and actual fruition is the second. In other words, without the first reality, there is no second. God puts the vision of His kingdom into men and women of faith. Through faith, the vision becomes conviction that drives them into action. The vision when built on faith becomes the first reality leading to the second: Faith… is conviction of things not seen (which is the vision and the first reality). Therefore, men must first receive the vision of God and the conviction of the first reality before he sets himself to work.
Many Christians have acted on their fleshly compassion; they were moved solely by pragmatic concerns and what they could see. Christians must not be moved by the physical needs of people alone, but more importantly by the directive and vision of God. Without God’s directive, there will not be faith, only human determination. As a result, work will not sustain and time and resources become wasted. Therefore, when men receive a divine directive, they will also receive faith from the Spirit. Jesus was not moved by need alone but by divine purpose. When the people pleaded with Jesus to stay, He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43.
How do we know if a vision is of God?… How do we know if there is faith? First, faith is not presumptuous, it is founded on the lifestyle of obedience. If one obeys God in the small things, God will entrust bigger things to him. Faith is evident in how one conducts himself in the mundane things of life. Jesus taught, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, ’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20. If a believer hears God and obeys consistently, he can be trusted to bring God’s vision into fruition by faith. If one does not hear and obey God in the small things of life, God cannot entrust him with the bigger things of the kingdom. Therefore, a believer learns faith by faithfully acting on the little tasks that God has commanded on a daily basis.
- Are you accustomed to taking time to discern between fleshly passion and divine commission or vision? People invest their time and resources out of a need to feel useful. However, faith is not compulsive or presumptuous, it is built on the foundation of obedience and self-control.
- Are you accustomed to hearing God’s instructions on a daily basis? Faith translates to a lifestyle of dependence on divine directives. Faith is a conviction that a day lived without divine purpose is a day wasted in aimlessness and vanity.
Dear Lord, use me as a vessel to help chart the course of human history towards your kingdom. Mold me into a fitting vessel for your use. Feel me with your virtues of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.