Daily Prayer for February 9
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1–2, RSV
Lord our God, we come into your presence, for you are our certainty, our refuge, especially in these times when so much is happening to grieve and trouble us. You are our God and our Savior today and for all time. You have always been our Savior and helper, and you will remain our Savior and helper forever. We praise you and glorify your name. Give a new spirit in our day, we pray, new help through the gospel brought by Jesus Christ. May your name be kept holy, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God’s love and God’s kindness and God’s patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of people.
Do not be too quick to condemn people who no longer believe in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed their faith.
Source: New Seeds of Contemplation
Verse of the Day—
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
In our “dog eat dog” world, in our race to get to the top and leave all our rivals in a heap at the bottom, God tells us both “Whoa!” and “Woe!” He tells us to stop and realize that Kingdom values are different from worldly values — that there is no success without service. He also warns us that he will bring us to ruin if we ignore his values by placing ourselves above the well-being of others or pursuing our own success at the cost of our ethics.
Gracious, almighty, and righteous God, please strengthen me so that I can resist the temptation to exploit, cheat, and lie to get ahead. Dear Father, I truly want to be a person of integrity, character, and blessing. Please help me to see any duplicity in my own heart and to treat others graciously, just as you have so graciously treated me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 ESV
Once during a season of special favor, the Lord doubled some of our computer equipment. At the time, we ran a small computer service company on a tight budget and owned an Okidata C5150 color laser printer and two 21-inch Sony Trinitron monitors that we used daily. It was decent equipment for the era.
During our first service call of the day, the office manager gave us an Okidata C5150 color laser printer just like we had, a full set of toner cartridges for it and another set that was unopened. They said that they did not need it, and helped us load it all into our truck. We felt blessed.
At our next stop, the office there gave us two 21-inch Sony Trinitron monitors just like we had. In one day the Lord had duplicated our office equipment with the same model numbers from two different places.
When you set your focus on the Lord, He will take care of you. I do not know why He chose to do that, but years later we still use that printer that He gave us and we have not run out of toner yet. God is Awesome and He takes care of His people, even their printers.
Prayer: Father, I choose to seek You first. Please be with me this day. Follow me wherever I go and teach me to be sensitive to your presence, in the name of Jesus.
Bible Fun Fact: A chariot imported from Egypt cost around 600 shekels of silver (1 Kings 10:29). That would be about $77,000.
Unstoppable! ‘Devoted to Genuine Fellowship’
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity…
Loving and righteous God, I confess what you already know: I cannot begin to fathom how Father, Son, and Spirit are ONE. The fellowship you have within yourself as God and the love you have for each dimension of yourself, as displayed by Jesus, is truly amazing. I know that Jesus prayed that we, his followers, will be one as he and you, Father, are one. Stir the longing in our hearts to be one as YOU are ONE. May the world see Jesus because of the love and fellowship we have with each other. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
Passion for Praise:
A Year with Jesus: ‘What Will You Decide?’
Note from Jesus
Do you really want to know whether or not I came from God or I am a fraud?
First, you need to realize that is the real question. I don’t allow you any middle ground in response to this question. I’m either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. No other options are available to you. I won’t let you make Me into just another nice religious leader, one Who teaches and does good things — one among many wise teachers. Either I came from God, spoke the words of God, and was present among you as God in the flesh, or I was a self-deceived leader, a charlatan intentionally using deception, or a deeply demented religious nut. You have to decide the answer to this question for yourself, but you need to know that this truly is the real question!
In the verses below, notice that the crowds are wrestling with the radical extremes of this crucial question. They realize I AM claiming that I come from God, that I speak for God, and that I AM among them as the Son of God. So as you read the interchange of the people in the crowd, realize they are asking you to face the same radical choice they had to make!
Second, this is a make or break type of question. The correct answer helps you make the right decision about My true identity. Examine My words and let them challenge you to face the truth of your own heart:
If anyone is willing to act according to His [the Father’s] purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me?
Are you willing to do what God asks you to do and are you willing to hear the truth of God? These are eternally important questions! Even when you truly believe, some of what I say and some of what I do will not make sense to you. There are things about Me that you cannot know or discover on your own; you have to accept them by faith from a heart that is searching for God’s truth and willing to follow it no matter the cost or what others around you think about you and your faith.
If you are not willing to do what God asks of you and you are not open to hearing all the truth, then I can assure you, you can find a way to reject Me. Yes, even if I do miracles, make My presence known in your life, or speak to you in dreams, you can find a way to reject Me if your heart doesn’t yearn for the truth of God!
So join the crowd in the verses below. Ask the questions they ask. Most of all, hear the words that I speak to them because I AM speaking them to you as well.
Verses to Live
Jesus performed many other wondrous signs that are not written in this book. These accounts are recorded so that you, too, might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of God, because believing grants you the life He came to share.
So what will you decide about Me?
This conversation [between Jesus and His unbelieving brothers] came to an abrupt end, and Jesus stayed in Galilee until His brothers were gone. Then He, too, went up to Jerusalem. But He traveled in secret to avoid drawing any public attention. Some Jewish leaders were searching for Him at the feast and asking the crowds where they could find Him. The crowds would talk in groups: some favored Jesus and thought He was a good man; others disliked Him and thought He was leading people astray. All of these conversations took place in whispers. No one was willing to speak openly about Jesus for fear of the religious leaders.
In the middle of the festival, Jesus marched directly into the temple and started to teach. Some of the Jews who heard Him were amazed at Jesus’ ability, and people questioned repeatedly:
How can this man be so wise about the Hebrew Scriptures? He has never had a formal education.
I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One Who sent Me. If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? If a man speaks his own words, constantly quoting himself, he is after adulation. But I chase only after glory for the One Who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me.
Moses gave you the law, didn’t he? Then how can you blatantly ignore the law and look for an opportunity to murder Me?
You must be possessed with a demon! Who is trying to kill You?
Listen, all it took was for Me to do one thing, heal a crippled man, and you all were astonished. Don’t you remember how Moses passed down circumcision as a tradition of our ancestors? When you pick up a knife to circumcise on the Sabbath, isn’t that work? If a male is circumcised on the Sabbath to keep the law of Moses intact, how can making one man whole on the Sabbath be a cause for your violent rage? You should not judge by outward appearance. When you judge, search for what is right and just.
Some People of Jerusalem:
There is the man they are seeking to kill; surely He must be the one. But here He is, speaking out in the open to the crowd, while they have not spoken a word to stop or challenge Him. Do these leaders now believe He is the Anointed One? But He can’t be; we know where this man comes from, but the true origin of the Anointed will be a mystery to all of us.
Jesus (speaking aloud as He teaches on the temple’s porch):
You think you know Me and where I have come from, but I have not come here on My own. I have been sent by the One Who embodies truth. You do not know Him. I know Him because I came from Him. He has sent Me.
Some were trying to seize Him because of His words, but no one laid as much as a finger on Him — His time had not yet arrived. In the crowd, there were many in whom faith was taking hold.
Believers in the Crowd:
When the Anointed arrives, will He perform any more signs than this man has done?
Response in Prayer
O Father, create in me a pure heart and a willing spirit to do Your will. I know that I need to listen to Your words and obey the things You ask of me. I believe, but some days I need help with my unbelief. So help me guard my heart from what is false and through the Holy Spirit within me, I ask you to make my heart ache to hear Your truth and rejoice in doing Your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
The past week’s news headlines in America are a laboratory analysis and forecast of the perfect storm that is lambasting our falling nation.
America mourns as basketball legend Kobe Bryant dies, and every news station, sports talk show outlet and media center in America covers his death and celebrates his achievements in a sport. Meanwhile, a pastor in Nigeria is beheaded for refusal to deny Christ, and no one cares.
I wrote an article a few days ago about Kobe’s untimely death and the vanity of a celebrity gaining the whole world and possibly losing his own soul, and Christians defend him and his Catholic faith while calling me a classless individual who wrote a “creepy post mortem commentary.” The article’s purpose was to simply put us in remembrance of the brevity and vanity of life without Christ, of the permanence of eternity and it was a simple call to salvation.
The truth is, America and many professing Christians don’t want their American dream deflated. They don’t want to know that there’s a God they’re accountable to. They are like the disbelieving brothers of Jesus of whom He said:
“The world cannot hate you. But it hates Me, because I testify concerning it, that its works are evil” (John 7:7).
Much of America Hates the Real Biblical Jesus
Much of America hates the real biblical Jesus. Many professing “Christians” do, too, including many of our celebrities. The stronghold in America is not the sinners who love the world, but the professing “Christians” who praise Him with their mouth but whose heart is far from Him—the ones who confess His name, but in works, deny Him.
Folks, here is the big problem. Many of our celebrities and star athletes confess Jesus and have “God-talk” on their lips, but they do not live for Him. As an example, the Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whom I love by the way, is being lauded for his faith in God since his childhood, yet he reportedly is living with his girlfriend and parties with his teammates. There are numerous other examples of this type of double standard and hypocrisy in America’s entertainment industry and among our celebrities. Here’s another one:
Jennifer Lopez prays in the name of Jesus Christ with all the other entertainers before their Super Bowl halftime show, then they go out and perform what amounted to a sleazy, lust-filled, sex-crazed, pagan strip dance. Apparently, her Jesus is the strip club director.
But here’s the worse thing: American preachers defend the faith of these individuals and praise them. They exalt them before our youth as an example of a bold Christian witness, but they’re living in sin. We not only have frauds in the entertainment industry, but the high crime is that we have them in our pulpits.
Pulpits are Not Preaching the Whole Counsel of God
Mahomes says he participates in team Bible studies and chapel services, but who is leading them and conducting them? Who is mentoring young men like him and others, and giving them the whole counsel of God? Who speaks of sin anymore? Who tells them their lives are wrong? What preacher in America lives up to this job description?
“Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2, AMPC).
One nationally known preacher said that in one megachurch he preached in, 60% of couples were living together out of wedlock. But here’s the shocker: None of them thought it was wrong. I have two problems with that. First, were these people even born again? Secondly, what in the world were the pastor and/or local leaders preaching?
Just look at the comments from the sleazy Super Bowl halftime show. Some of those entertainers are professing Christians. Many viewers who defended the show are professing Christians and so-called ministers. It’s alarming to me that a professing Christian could watch this halftime show and not sense the Lord’s displeasure and be grieved in their spirit. Listen, if you are in that category, you are asleep and in great need of a rude awakening. Repent of your false profession and your compromise against holiness.
Have you ever read the following verses?
“And do not let sexual immorality, or any impurity, or greed be named among you, as these are not proper among saints.Let there be no filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse joking, which are not fitting. Instead, give thanks. For this you know, that no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:3-7).
Much of “Christian” America doesn’t even know such verses are in the Bible. Such popular figures like mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg are professing “Christians” who are in a same-sex marriage relationship. Honestly, it makes me want to vomit when I see half of our nation idolizing such. Oh God, how far we have fallen from biblical standards in America!
The Perfect Storm
The deception is rooted in this simple statement: We have divorced Christianity from the Bible. America is a homosexual nation because we celebrate this lifestyle and cater to them all. America’s new religion is sex in all forms, and in all fashions. We have been desensitized to sin and seduced by sex. We are a hell-bound nation. The worst of it is that our children are bearing the brunt of our lust and being exploited by the thousands. It’s all about shock value—it brings down the defenses so after a while it won’t bother you.
I know many of you don’t want to hear it, but it was the Obama presidency that opened the portal of sexuality here in America to a greater measure, and accelerated this vile filth from the pits of hell. Political authority from those eight disastrous years allowed a hell-bent, full-blown, deviant spirit to rule, while too many Christian pastors played church growth-ism by reducing their services to a nursery and pampering their parishioners.
And worse yet, now that a true presidential leader is putting a strangle hold on some of the darkness and prevailing progressivism, and draining the national swamp of its evil, people are having hissy fits as they scream for their Sodom and Gomorrah to remain unrestricted and unrestrained.
It’s a recipe for disaster. It’s the perfect storm. A sleepy church and a sinful society. An unholy church and a hell-bent nation. Cowards and frauds in our pulpits who won’t preach the full truth, while the world parties on into eternal damnation.
In such an evil day the words of Leonard Ravenhill seem so fitting: “The world is going to hell fire because the church has lost Holy Ghost fire.”
May a holy remnant arise with holy fire in their bellies and sound the alarm on the blatant hypocrisy of make-believe Christians who are hell-bound.
From Julian Peters’s upcoming collection Poems to See By (Plough, 2020).
Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays,” from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher (New York: Liveright, 1985). Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
The Star Bible and the Scriptures
We are often asked to show how the revelation of God in the Heavens, which we call the Star Bible, is based on scripture. We do so gladly.
The scriptures tell us in Psalm 147:4 and Isaiah 40:26 that God named the stars. God grouped them into their constellations according to Job 38:32. Archaeologists have unearthed the ancient names of the stars and constellations from Mesopotamia, home of the earliest civilizations after the Flood of Noah. They tell the story of Genesis 3:15, how the Seed of Woman will be bruised in the heel and crush the head of the serpent.
Psalm 19 says that the Heavens declare the glory of God. The Apostle Paul at Romans 10:17, 18 used Psalm 19 as proof that the knowledge of Christ had been revealed to all Israel, so the Heavens also contain a revelation of Christ. In Psalm 19 the Sun is likened to a bridegroom and a champion, a picture of Christ, who runs His course through the Heavens. This course throughout the stars, known as the Zodiac (meaning “The Way”), runs through twelve constellations which tell the story of Christ from the promise of Christ to Adam and Eve (Virgo) through to the ultimate destruction of Satan (Leo). The Zodiac, along with the other constellations, covers the night sky with pictures of God’s redemptive plan, like the ceiling of a great cathedral. Get a free download our book The Stars of His Coming at https://bit.ly/StarBook for more information.
The Moon is described in Psalm 89:37 as the Faithful Witness in the sky, a picture of those Beliverers who looked forward to Christ before He came or followed Him after He came. God used the Lunar Calendar to establish His calendar for the Feasts of Israel which pointed to the Coming of Christ. Periodically the Sun and Moon interact with each other in an eclipse. In a lunar eclipse the Moon moves into Earth’s shadow and the sunlight refracts through Earth’s atmosphere, turning the Moon red, hence the name Blood Moon. The moon covers the sun in a solar eclipse, known as a Dark Sun. According to Joel 2:28-32 as quoted by Peter in Acts 2: 17-21, the solar and lunar eclipses are signs of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and salvation during the Church age. See our book The Mystery of the Blood Moons and get a free download of our book Teshuvah Eclipses at http://bit.ly/TeshuvahEclipses for more information.
Christ is described as the Bright Morning Star in Revelation 22:16, being symbolized in the Heavens by the planet named for the false pagan “mother” of the Seed of Woman, Venus. Satan is described as the Morning Star laid low in Isaiah 14:12, a description of the planet Mercury. Together with the Sun, Moon, the other three visible planets (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), and an occasional comet or nova, they serve as pointers, highlighting portions of the Star Bible as celestial messengers. The most famous of these, the Star of Bethlehem, has been found to be a black hole, the remains of a supernova, which reached Zenith directly over Bethlehem, just where the Bible said it would be. The Star of Bethlehem was one of the signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars surrounding the birth of Christ, and He has told us that there will be signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars of His Second Coming (Luke 21:25). In fact, the Stars mark the “Appointed times” of God’s prophetic calendar (Genesis 1:14).
God told Abraham to “Tell” the Stars in Genesis 15:5. Abraham would have told the Star Bible story of the Seed of Woman from Genesis 3:15. God then said “So shall thy seed be”, a promise that Christ would come through his family (See Galatian 3:16 also). The Star Bible was the Bible read by Adam, Job, and Abraham. Isaiah, Daniel, John, and others incorporated its images into scripture. The Wise Men used it to find Christ when He was born.
And Jesus Himself told us to look for signs of His Second Coming in the Sun, Moon, and Stars.
The Star Bible is the beautiful story of Christ, written in fire across the Heavens, declaring the glory of God as the Bible says.
We invite you to join us in our effort to understand the Star Bible and hear what God is saying in the Heavens.
Anne Graham Lotz: Follow God’s ‘Road Markings’ to Live in His Abundance
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, and the curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way which I am commanding you today” (Deut. 11:26-28a).
When I drive down the highway, painted lines on the pavement provide helpful guidance. A dotted white line lets me know that if the lane of oncoming traffic is clear, I can pass other cars. A solid line means no passing is allowed. The highway department is not trying to take away my joy in driving. The lines on the road are intended to keep me safe, and keep others safe, while I’m on my way to my destination.
In a similar way, as we live and travel down life’s road, we can push the boundaries God has established. But we do so at our own peril. If we go outside His “road markings,” the likelihood is that we will get hurt, as well as hurt other people. At the very least, we will experience life on a lower level than He intended. The alternative is to take God at His Word, stay within His boundaries and trust Him to know what’s best for us.
Let’s consider some of His road markings:
—When God says to have no other gods before Him, He knows that other gods—such as money, fame, sex, pleasure, power—will enslave you.
—When God says not to create and worship idols, He knows that behind them are demonic forces who will weaken you, deceive you and suck you into evil attitudes, words, actions and thoughts that you had no idea you were capable of having or saying or doing.
—When God says not to misuse His name, He knows that unless you reverence Him, you will not have even the beginning of wisdom with which to live and make your decisions.
—When God says to set aside one day in seven in order to focus on Him, He knows that such a lifestyle will help keep your faith anchored and remind you that the world doesn’t need your effort to continue spinning.
—When God says to honor your parents, He knows it will lead to a richer, fuller, longer life.
—When God says not to murder, He knows that human life has a high value. Yours and theirs.
—When God says not to commit adultery, He knows sexual betrayal destroys a marriage bond and cracks the foundation of a nation.
—When God says not to steal, He knows that if we want others to respect us and our possessions, we need to respect them and their possessions. Without mutual trust, we cannot have safe, healthy relationships.
—When God says not to lie, He knows that integrity is foundational to a successful life and a strong society.
—When God says not to covet, He knows the danger of never being content with what we have, whether it’s a spouse, a home or a job. We will be dominated by greed that demands more and more until we are insatiably unfulfilled (Ex. 20:3-17).
This simple and incomplete rationale for heeding God’s road markings illustrates that His practical, divine directions for living are for our own good. And while you may be questioning what the Holy Spirit has to do with what is in essence the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, we may benefit from being reminded that the entire Bible is “God-breathed”—divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, both Old Testament and New Testament (2 Tim. 3:16).
When you or I go outside His directions for living—His road markings—we wind up with less than God intended us to have. This begs the question, what if you have gone outside God’s road markings? What if you have hurt yourself or someone else and now want to live according to God’s directions? The first step is just to tell Him. Be honest.
So at the beginning of this new year, whether you have been living in ignorance of His directions or in rebellion against them, tell Him what you have done, where you are and that you want to live as He directs. Then start reading your Bible. Study it, love it and live by it. God the Holy Spirit is your helper. Your strengthener. Your Counselor. He is just waiting for you to turn to Him and give Him the freedom and authority to bring order out of your chaos.
Anne Graham Lotz, second child of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the founder of AnGeL Ministries and former chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force. She has authored 15 books, including her new release, Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion.
WHAT IS FAITH?
R. C. SPROUL
Sproul, R. C. (2010). What Is Faith? (Vol. 8, p. i). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.
A HOPEFUL VISION
When we talk about Christianity, we are more likely to call it the “Christian faith” than the “Christian religion.” This is appropriate in that the concept of faith is fundamental to Christianity because faith is central to the biblical view of redemption. Yet faith is a many-faceted concept, so even many professing Christians struggle to understand exactly what it is.
In this booklet, I want to explore the nature of faith as it is defined in the Bible. We will focus on how faith relates to our salvation and will discuss the necessary ingredients of what we call “saving faith.” We’ll also look at how faith relates to reason and at other issues that we encounter in the Bible with respect to this concept.
Faith Is the Substance of Hope
The most foundational definition for faith in the Bible is found in Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony” (11:1–2, NKJV). Note the distinction the author of Hebrews makes between faith and hope. These ideas are intimately connected, but they are distinct nonetheless. In a similar way, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 of the great triad of Christian virtues: faith, hope, and love. This passage also reveals that there is a distinction between faith and hope.
Before we explore the link between these concepts, let me address the biblical idea of hope, because the word hope functions somewhat differently in the New Testament than it does in Western countries today. When we use the word hope, we usually are referring to an emotional state of desire in our hearts regarding what we would like to happen in the future but are not sure will come to pass. We may hope that our favorite teams will win football or basketball games, but that hope may never materialize. For instance, I am a perennial fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I regularly hope that the Steelers will win their football games. This may be a vain and futile hope because it’s anything but a certainty. There is a kind of hope that does not make us ashamed (cf. Rom. 5:5), but I’m constantly afraid that my hopes for the Steelers may make me ashamed, for while they regularly win championships, they lose games, too.
However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it is not referring to a desire for a future outcome that is uncertain, but rather a desire for a future outcome that is absolutely sure. Based on our trust in the promises of God, we can be fully confident about the outcome. When God gives His people a promise for the future, and the church grasps it, this hope is said to be the “anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). An anchor is that which gives a ship protection against aimless drifting in the sea. The promises of God for tomorrow are the anchor for believers today.
When the Bible says “faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1, emphasis added), it is speaking of something that has weight or significance—something of extreme value. The implication is that faith communicates the essence of the hope.
In a real sense, hope is faith looking forward. The word faith carries a strong element of trust. If my hope is based on something God has said will happen in the future, the hope I have for that future promise finds its substance from my trust and confidence in the One making the promise. I can have hope because I have faith in God. Because I can trust the promise of God for tomorrow, there is substance to my hope; my hope is not just a chimera, a fantasy, or a wish projection based on idle dreams. Rather, it is based on something substantive.
Faith Is the Evidence of Things Not Seen
The definition of faith continues: “faith is … the evidence of things not seen.” The author uses a reference to one of the senses of the human body through which we gain knowledge, the sense of sight. There is a popular expression today, “Seeing is believing.” Similarly, people from Missouri like to say, “Show me.” This attitude is not opposed to biblical faith, for the New Testament calls us to put our trust in the gospel not on the basis of some irrational leap into the darkness but on the basis of the testimony of eyewitnesses who report in Scripture about what they saw.
Think, for example, of the apostolic testimony of Peter: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Likewise, when Luke begins his Gospel, he addresses it to Theophilus, saying, “it seemed good to me …, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you” (v. 3). He is talking about things he has substantiated on the basis of eyewitness testimony. In the same way, when Paul defends his confidence in the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he appeals to the eyewitnesses of the risen Christ: Cephas, the Twelve, the five hundred, James, and all the apostles (vv. 5–7). Then he writes, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (v. 8). Paul is saying, “I believe in the resurrection because many eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Christ, and I saw Him myself.”
So there is a link in the New Testament between faith and seeing, and yet the author of Hebrews describes faith as the conviction of things not seen. Maybe this is why some people argue that there is a biblical ground for regarding blind faith as virtuous. After all, if one cannot see, one is said to be blind, so if faith is evidence for that which cannot be seen, that must mean that the faith of which the author is speaking is blind faith.
I cannot think of anything that is farther from the meaning of Hebrews 11:1–2 than blind faith. Those promoting blind faith say: “We believe what we believe for no reason whatsoever. It’s totally gratuitous.” The idea is that there’s some kind of virtue in closing our eyes, taking a deep breath, and wishing with all of our might that something is true—then saying, “It’s true.” That is credulity, not faith.
The Bible never claims that we should jump into the darkness. In fact, the biblical injunction is for people to come out of the darkness and into the light (cf. John 3:19). Faith is not blind in the sense of being arbitrary, whimsical, or a mere expression of human desire. If that were the case, why would the author of Hebrews say that faith is “the evidence of things not seen”?
When faith is linked to hope, it is put into the time frame of the future, and the one thing that I cannot see at all is tomorrow. None of us has yet experienced tomorrow. As I said earlier, I have hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win their football games. But I cannot know in advance whether that will happen or not.
However, Hebrews says that faith is the evidence of things not seen. Evidence is tangible. Evidence is something we can know through our five senses. Evidence is what police officers inspect and try to collect at a crime scene—fingerprints, traces of gunpowder residue, articles of clothing that are left behind, and so on. All these things are visible and point beyond themselves to some important truth. That’s why people analyze evidence.
The idea is this: I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, but I know that God knows what tomorrow is going to bring. So if God promises that tomorrow will bring something, and if I trust God for tomorrow, I have faith in something I have not yet seen. That faith serves as evidence because its object is God. I know Him; He has a track record—He is infallible and never lies. God knows everything and is perfect in whatever He communicates. So if God tells me that something is going to happen tomorrow, I believe it even though I haven’t seen it yet.
That’s not credulity or irrationality. On the contrary, it is irrational not to believe something that God says regarding some future event.
What does God say regarding the future? He not only reveals to us events of tomorrow that we haven’t yet seen, He also reveals to us much about the supernatural realm that our eyes cannot penetrate. We cannot see angels at this time. We cannot see heaven. But God reveals to us the reality of these things, and by faith we see that they have substance because God is credible.
Faith Is Believing God
When God came to Abraham, who is known as “the father of the faithful” (see Rom. 4:16), He spoke to him about the future. He said: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1–3).
Abraham believed God. He set out, not knowing where he was going, journeying to a country and a future he had never seen. The New Testament tells us that “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder was God” (Heb. 11:10).
Abraham was not a prospector looking for hidden treasure based on a legend about pirate plunder hidden in a cave somewhere. Abraham was looking for a place because God had told him that He was going to show him that place. He trusted God for what he had not yet seen, and by doing that became the father of the faithful.
Like Abraham, we are pilgrims and sojourners in this world, searching for that heavenly country, the city whose designer and builder is God. We have not seen this city, but we know it exists, and the evidence for it is the trust that we have in the One who promises to bring it to pass.
At its root, this is what faith is. It is not believing in God. It’s believing God. The Christian life is about believing God. It is about living by every word that proceeds from His mouth (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). It is about following Him into places where we’ve never been, into situations that we’ve never experienced, into countries that we’ve never seen—because we know who He is.
This is the kind of faith that the Bible calls, in one sense, childlike faith; not childish but childlike. When we were infants, we had very little knowledge about what was safe and what was dangerous. We would put our hands up into the hands of our fathers or mothers, and they would take us down the street. When we came to a corner, we didn’t know the difference between a red light and a green light. But they guided us. When they stopped, we stopped. When they stepped off the curb and crossed the street, so did we. We trusted our parents because we were under their care.
Sadly, there are parents who are so corrupt that they violate the trust that their small children give to them. These parents beat their children and sometimes even kill them. Nevertheless, a child’s trust in his or her mother and father is not an irrational thing in most cases. By analogy, we are called to trust God, to know that He is looking out for us. He’s not going to lead us into disaster. Childlike faith has confidence in the character of the God who regards us as His children.
The pilgrimage of the Christian life is a pilgrimage of faith. It begins when God creates faith in our hearts. In the first stage of our Christian experience, we embrace Christ and trust Him for our redemption, but the whole pilgrimage of the Christian is rooted and grounded in that confidence, that trust. The whole process is defined by living in faith (cf. Col. 2:6). That’s why God told the prophet Habakkuk, “the righteous shall live by his faith.”
Habakkuk was mystified that God would allow His chosen people to be defeated by a pagan nation and be put in a state of oppression. Habakkuk said that he would go up on his watchtower and wait for God to declare Himself. He writes:
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:1–4)
This seemingly innocuous statement, “the righteous shall live by his faith,” is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38); it is a central motif in the writings of Paul. It means that God is pleased when His people live by trusting Him.
God tells Habakkuk: “I will answer your question. But I will not answer it immediately. You must wait. But while you wait, remember that the answer will surely come.” Then He makes the contrast to the proud person, who is not upright, who lives according to his sight, by what’s immediately in front of him. He has no time for trusting the invisible promises of God. In stark contrast is the man of faith. Even though God’s promises tarry, they are sure to come to pass, and the righteous person in God’s sight is the person who lives by faith.
This expression, “the righteous shall live by his faith,” is translated by Jesus in His conflict with Satan in the wilderness when Jesus reminds the Devil that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). To say that we live by all the words that God speaks is the same thing as saying that we live by faith. We take God at His word. We trust our lives, body and soul, to Him, to His value system, to His structure, and to His Word.
Faith and Evidence
As he continues to unfold the meaning of faith, the author of Hebrews turns our attention to one of the most astounding sights that our eyes can behold: the universe we live in. We read: “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” (Heb. 11:3). That’s a somewhat complicated sentence, but note that the divine origin of creation is embraced by an act of faith, not by an act of credulity.
Many people think that the conflict today between science and religion is a conflict between reason and irrationality. But the Bible does not call us to believe in the divine act of creation simply through a leap of faith or by a crucifixion of the intellect by which we ignore what reason can teach us. The great theologians of church history—people like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, for example—distinguished between faith and reason but insisted that what is embraced by faith is never irrational.
Neither are faith and reason antithetical. Both Augustine and Aquinas believed that all truth is God’s truth, and that all truth meets at the top. God reveals His truth not only through the Bible, but also through what we call “natural revelation.” Genesis 1–2 shows us that God is the Creator of all things, but also, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul tells us that God’s invisible attributes—they’re invisible in the sense we cannot see them—can be perceived through the things that have been made (Rom. 1:20). In other words, a knowledge of the invisible God is revealed to us through that which is visible. The creation itself screams out the reality of the Creator. Therefore, there should be no conflict in our understanding of the nature of the universe and our understanding of the origin of the universe, which no one has seen.
Many years ago, I engaged in correspondence with Dr. Carl Sagan, the late astronomer and astrophysicist, when we both responded to a publication on questions of theology and philosophical cosmogony. We talked about the “Big Bang” theory that he was espousing. Sagan said that through the scientific apparatus, we can now go back to within a nanosecond of the moment of the Big Bang. I replied: “Well, let’s go back before that. What was there, in your judgment, before this explosion? You have said there was a complete concentration of all matter and energy into an infinitesimal point of singularity, a point that had been in a state of organization and inertia for eternity, but which suddenly decided to blow up. I want to know who moved it. I want to know what outside force perturbed its inertia.” He said: “Well, we can’t go there. We don’t need to go there.” I said, “Yes, you do need to go there, because if you assume that the Big Bang happened gratuitously, you’re talking about magic, not science.”
The point is that no scientist was present as an observer for that event. There were no eyewitnesses of the creation. So we come to the origin of the universe through some kind of deduction from the things that we see, or we look to the supernatural revelation that God gives us, which antedates the material universe as we know it. I believe that we come to the same conclusion either way.
Hebrews tells us, “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” (11:3). That’s like saying, “The things that are seen did not come from things that are seen.” At some point in your scientific analysis, as you reason backward from what you can see, you run up against the causal necessity of an unseen, invisible, nonphysical cause for all that you see. That’s why historically Christian theologians have spoken of “creation ex nihilo”—creation out of nothing.
Of course, that does not mean that nothing was involved, because God is a something and not a nothing. An eternal, self-existent being was the efficient cause of the universe. He brought it into being. The idea behind ex nihilo is simply that God did not merely rearrange or reshape preexisting matter as a potter forms clay into an attractive vessel. Instead, God brought the physical world into being from nothing. Had God brought the world into existence out of preexisting matter, that matter would have required a material cause, and that material itself would have required a material cause, and so on, all the way back into eternity, which is absurd. No, “what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
So when Hebrews 11:3 says that we understand creation by faith, it means that we are to trust the Word of God at this point. We were not there at the creation, but God was, and He has given us an account of it. He says: “Here’s how it happened. I commanded the universe into being. I am who I am. I have the power of being in and of Myself. I am eternal. I am the Author of the non-eternal existence of a finite universe. It came into being through My creative power. I said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
We trust God’s Word to understand that the world in which we live was designed, framed, and created by the Word of God, so that the things that are seen were not made of things that were (or are) visible. We cannot find anything in the universe today that has, in itself, sufficient power to account for its existence. In fact, the more we analyze it, the more finite and contingent it manifests itself to be.
Sproul, R. C. (2010). What Is Faith? (Vol. 8, pp. 1–17). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.
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