– Alister McGrath
The author of Hebrews gives us a great definition of faith by writing that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). Since God has promised eternal life in Christ for all who have repented and trusted in Him, we can have an assurance in Jesus’ second coming because He has said He will come again; and He, as God, cannot lie. Our assurance is not in ourselves or in what we think or feel. It goes beyond that. Our assurance is in Christ. And if our assurance is in Him, we shall never be disappointed.
The hope we have in Christ isn’t like the way the world uses the word “hope.” They hope their team wins. They hope it will rain. They hope in this and that. But our hoping cannot make something happen or make something be true. Our hope is in Christ, and that is as sure of a hope as there is anywhere. Ours is not a hope-so faith but a know-so faith, having the assurance in God fulfilling His great and precious promises.
Faith is also placed in things we can’t even see. None of us have actually seen Jesus Christ, but we have a concrete faith that He exists. We know it by the sealing of the Spirit’s knowledge about Christ. Our faith is “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I don’t have to see Jesus to know He exists. The universe must have necessarily been caused, for it couldn’t have created itself. We know that the heavens declare God’s glory (Psalm 19:1) and that the heavens didn’t pop up out of nowhere or by blind chance–it was by intelligent design. The word “conviction” is the same Greek word used for convicting a criminal. Our faith is not circumstantial evidence but solid proof.
Finally, the author of Hebrews writes that it is “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” (Hebrews 11:2). Speaking of Christ, the Apostle John wrote that “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Since God’s Word is always true and John states that God made all things “through him” and that “without him was not any thing made that was made,” that means Jesus is the Creator, although all of the Trinity were involved. The point is that God said it in His Word, and I believe it.
We know that faith is not something that goes against the evidence; it goes beyond it. It gives us assurance and a hope for a future. It is a conviction that God exists and that everything that exists is because of Him. He is the Creator. We are His creatures. That is concrete evidence to which no one can argue.