Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV
What is biblical faith? I cannot count all of the times I have referred to this passage in providing a definition for faith. And I have heard many others do the same thing. And it is appropriate to use the Scripture in providing that definition. Yet I think we are too often guilty of providing an incomplete definition by not taking the rest of this chapter into account.
While I know that an intellectual faith is not biblical faith, all too often a definition using just Hebrews 11:1 can come across that way. Confidence and assurance can be thought of as mental activities. I am confident that if I do not eat better, that my health will be negatively impacted. But that is no guarantee that my eating habits will improve. In the same way, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that God exists and rewards those who make a public procession of faith in him (Heb. 11:6).
This passage says that the ancients were commended for their faith. But as you read through the rest of the chapter, and the stories of the ancients, you find that their faith was more than intellectual. Their faith was commended, not by what they believed, but by what they did. Sixteen times in this chapter you see the expression ‘By faith someone did something’. The faith that these ancients were commended for was a faith that caused them to do something. It was a faith that they lived.
The witness of this chapter is that if my faith is not resulting in actions that are pleasing to God and obedient to his direction, then it is not biblical faith. Biblical faith is not something that can be obtained and then put on a shelf to bring out when needed. Rather, it is something that should impact my daily life. Lord, help me to live my life ‘by faith’.