Hebrews 11 – Merited Trust

Hebrews 11 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Forest Mint Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Forest Mint Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageHebrews 11

I recently dreamed that my brother, two friends, and I were talking in my dorm room at college, except that it was a dorm room I’d never actually lived in, a room made up for the dream. “So I read your latest Chocolate Book post,” my brother told me. “And…are you still a Christian?” One of my friends came to my defense with a few words about faith which, while intended to put my questioning in a positive light, didn’t really have a whole lot to do with what I’d actually said. So I sat down on the side of my bed.

“I think faith is–” I started to tell my brother, but I got choked up and had to give the definition through tears. “I think faith is admitting that you don’t know what you need to know, and you don’t know how to find out.”

And I suppose that might be true with a caveat that faith is admitting your ignorance specifically to God. But while the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is best known for its “Hall of Faith,” the author begins his list of Old Testament faith heroes with a definition of faith that didn’t come to him in a dream about his blog. He tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (1). Faith isn’t simply an admission of frailty. Faith is confidence.

But, of course, it’s not just any confidence; it’s trust. And the key question of faith is, “Is it merited?” Is the object of trust trustworthy? The author of Hebrews, who is talking specifically about faith in God, would unequivocally answer “yes.” The word “assurance” here connotes a guarantee, and it could just as easily be translated “underlying substance” or “reality.” Similarly, “conviction” may be rendered “evidence.” Merited faith has a foundation, a leg to stand on.

And as I type that sentence, it reminds me of something I heard Reese Roper, frontman of the band Five Iron Frenzy, say at a concert back in the late 90s. “Some people say Jesus is a crutch. For me he’s more like a stretcher.” We humans need a leg to stand on. Anyone can admit he doesn’t know what he needs to know and doesn’t know how to find out. But if he doesn’t have a trustworthy god to teach him, the situation is uncertain at best and hopeless at worst. As the author of Hebrews says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (6). To demonstrate that faith in God is merited, the author appeals to the examples of faith from the Bible.

And I know that isn’t going to cut the mustard with everyone. But at least somewhat, at least here and now as I type this, it cuts a little mustard with me.

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