First, because it is addressed first in the Bible’s famous faith chapter–Hebrews 11.  First, because it is indispensable.  Essential.   Foundational. 

First, because everything that follows–Noah building ark (v. 7), Abraham leaving his home area (v. 8),  passage through the Red Sea (v. 29)–is based on believing in God. First, because it is first. 

Faith’s first achievement is grasping the reality of the Creator.  God.  Belief in God gives us an explanation for the origins of life and the universe–huge issues. Believe in God or remain your own god.   

God is philosophy’s “first cause.” By faith we come to understand that one supernatural mind and power has to be responsible for “what is seen”–the physical world, nature, people, life, order that we can count on like the sun coming up each morning, salmon returning to lay their eggs where they spawned and summer following spring. Order and design are obvious to the unbiased mind. 

Seeing   The Spirit of God enables us to see the uniformity of what God created, which is the undeniable reality of the Living God.  We “see” as we once did not and conclude, “God made the universe.  In the words of our text: “. . . we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command . . . .” 

But let’s back up and notice the definition of faith given us in verse 1.  Hebrews 11:1-3 says:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not seeThis is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.” This first, enormous conclusion from faith arises out of the invisible (notice the underlined words above). “Not see,” “seen” and “not…visible” are set opposite each other.  The visible is born from the invisible; the knowable from the mysterious; the structured from the riddle; the ordered from the enigma; the logical from the perplexing; the here and now from the transcendent; the visible from the invisible.  

Inserting that definition into verse 3 would make this verse read, “By being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see . . . so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Three times the issue hinges on  the capacity for sight and what it provides to help us arrive at truth.  Spiritual and mental “seeing” becomes the basis for believing (or not believing);  determining certainty about the invisible.  

Evidence   Faith is confidence in the sufficiency of the evidence. And there is lots of evidence of God being alive and active in both the created order and in daily life.  The happy people pictured in this article show that God is and He is at work among people.  There is lots of evidence if one has their eyes open.  The opposite view–the evolutionary explanation for life and the universe–is willingly blind to the evidence (How long would you have to shake a box of radio parts before those parts would assemble themselves into a working radio?  Evolution says this is possible. I believe it is impossible, even assuming the existence of the parts to begin with). 

Christians believe in what they can’t see because of what they can see.  This is the most basic dividing line for humanity.  Carl Sagan, the popular astronomer, never embraced supernaturalism. Bertrand Russell, never gave himself to God.  Did Sigmund Freud? I do not know.  Possibly to a god of his own making.  

Yet there are things we can’t see that govern our orientation.  We cannot see: 

  • Love, yet much of the world pursues it, writes songs about it, wants it, is desperate for it. 
  • Democracy–people pour into America across the southern border to live within a democracy.  
  • Microwaves that heat our leftovers. 
  • TV and radio waves surround us, but we can’t see them. Without them, no 6 P.M. news and no fighting crime in New York at 9:00 P.M.  

Without the invisible, the visible would not happen. So visibility is not such a clear dividing line for humanity as some (like those of the Empirical school of thought and philosophy) would have us believe.  So certain is humanity of the visible that it incorrectly becomes the basis for life’s most essential, foundational orientation.  But God chooses to remain in the ultimate dimension of reality – the spiritual dimension into which we cannot see.  He remains invisible to our natural eye.  

God has arranged His world to operate on the basis of faith.  “. . . that’s what the ancients were commended for.” Faith is what God values. Faith in His own plan to redeem mankind (trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who atoned for our rebellion and sin) is what pleases Him.  It’s how He runs His universe.  The coinage of His realm.

God makes things happen for us based on faith (“according to your faith be it unto you,” Matthew 9:29). 

Faith is not a matter of money, not a matter of education, not a matter of social position.  Everyone can believe and no one has an advantage over another person.  The Son, shining from a distance, can reach you if you are 4 foot 10, or 6 foot 8. God has put the cookies on the lower shelf so everyone could reach them. By faith.