Most Christians are familiar with Hebrews 11:1, which states:
And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction.
It is straightforward that ‘matters not seen’ refers to spiritual matters, such as ‘the beginning’, matters that cannot be replicated — except on another planet — as such, have to be taken by faith. In this respect, note that any experiment conducted by scientists utilizes ‘stuff’ that already exists, meaning it normatively is impossible for science to replicate the beginning of life and consciousness on earth. If scientists are to credibly replicate the beginning, they must start with nothing, but then, they exist and did not create themselves, meaning we arrive at a snafu, which is, science inherently lacks capacity for arrival at any credible, that is, replicable statements about arrival of life on earth.
Since Science can claim knowledge of truth or facts only in respect of matters that are replicable, it is normative that science cannot be the authority in matters that relate to origins of life on earth.
However, much it may be eschewed, it is important that rational man arrive at the consciousness that, for matters which relate to origins of life on earth, it cannot look to science, only can seek to arrive at rational and credible philosophies for origins of life. In this quest, science only can serve as a backdrop, as a provider of evidence that either is consistent with, or inconsistent with competing philosophies for origins of life.
Most people interpret the first part of Hebrews 11:1, ‘of things hoped for a confidence’ to pertain to the things of this life, things such as cars, houses, jobs, spouses that stay and love forever etc. that make our life on earth enjoyable.
This interpretation of ‘of things hoped for a confidence’ misses the mark, cannot be construed to be an accurate interpretation. What then is accurate interpretation of, ‘of things hoped for a confidence’?
First, an illustration (story excerpted from Genesis chs. 15 through 17).
In Genesis ch. 15, The Father promised Abraham a child — Isaac — that would come through his wife, Sarah. Along the way, through no fault of his, perhaps with Sarah desirous of being sure he was not the source of their childlessness, Sarah gave her handmaid, Hagar to Abraham as concubine. If you are not familiar with ancient customs, note in those days, this was no big deal. Hagar, eager to escape characterization as a ‘handmaid’ for arrival at elevated status of ‘concubine’ and mother, promptly conceived. There then was proof of Abraham’s virility, and arrival at birth of Ishmael.
In Genesis ch. 17, The Father reiterated to Abraham His promise that He would have a child, specifically stated that the child He was promising would be delivered, not by Hagar, but by Sarah. In response to reiterated specificity of the promise as pertaining to Sarah, and not Hagar, Abraham responded as follows (words in brackets mine in spirit of an amplified reading of the Scriptures).
And Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live in thy sight (O that Ishmael might serve to satisfy your promise of a child)— Genesis 17:18!”
The response from The Father?
No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him and multiply him exceedingly; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation (Genesis 17:19–20).
Friend, Abraham did not have faith that he and Sarah could have Isaac, presented Ishmael as sufficient for the promise from The Father. Abraham did not even desire yet another child, did not request for another child, yet The Father promised him one anyway. Regardless of a lack of desire for, and a lack of faith for, The Father has characterized Abraham as, among men, the father of faith (Genesis 17:1–6; Romans 4:1,12,16; Galatians 3:7,29; James 2:21).
How exactly does a man who could not have faith for having a child become a father of faith?
Since a characterization by The Father must be deemed to be true, we arrive at the conclusion that ‘of things hoped for a confidence’ does not, in reality, pertain to the things of this life, does not pertain to things such as cars, houses, jobs, children etc.
The corroborating Scriptural evidence? In the evidence adduced for Abraham as a person who, via his faith, pleased The Father (Hebrews 11:8–19), there is not any mention of faith in respect of things of this life, there is not any mention of receipt of a child by faith.
The account in respect of Abraham, Moses, and other men of faith emphasizes the fact that ‘of things hoped for’ pertained to the hope of arrival at a spiritual city, a city that has foundations, a city built by God Himself (Hebrews 11:10). We know now that the city to which Abraham, Moses, and other heroes of faith looked forward to was the New Jerusalem, the spiritual city that now is home to all those who repose faith in the name of Jesus Christ. In respect of that spiritual city, through Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit inspires as follows in Hebrews 12:22–24.
But you (spiritually speaking) have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels (that is, ‘ministering spirits’, or ‘messengers’; note, in ancient times, an ambassador or emissary of a government was considered ‘a messenger’; the word messenger then has an exalted meaning, connotes a person who has merit and is trustworthy), to the general assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
How can you be on earth, and yet be part of a spiritual city, the heavenly Jerusalem?
Set your mind on things above (on things that are spiritual, such as kindness, true humility etc.), not on things on the earth (evil desire, covetousness etc., see Colossians 3:5–9). For you died (spiritually, when you received Jesus Christ by faith), and your (resurrected) life is hidden with Christ in God (for safekeeping so it cannot be touched by the devil)— Colossians 3:2–3.
I have been crucified with Christ (spiritually speaking, I have died with Christ); it is no longer I who live (my own resurrected life now is with Christ), but Christ who lives in me (the life I live now is the life Christ would live if The Father sent Him to earth to do the things He requires of me); and the life which I now live in the flesh (the life I live on earth) I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (the life I now live, I live by the will of the Son of God) — Galatians 2:20.
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).
When faith in Jesus Christ arrives at maturity, all of the spiritual realities specified in Hebrews 12:22–24, namely: The Father; Jesus Christ; The Blood of Jesus Christ; ministering spirits; the first born registered in heaven; and the spirits of just men made perfect, make a difference to how a person who has faith in Jesus Christ lives out their life on earth.
What then about the things of this life?
In context of the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the things of this life are not received by faith, they are received as reward for seeking out God, and for doing His will. The things of this life are an obligation owed by God to all those who are faithful to their faith in Jesus Christ.
But 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 diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom (reign) of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you — Matthew 6:31–33.
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work (Revelation 22:12).
Friend, your paycheck is not something that you hope for, is a debt, is an obligation. The Father and The Lord Jesus Christ declare that if you are faithful to Christ, that they consider themselves obligated to you in respect of the things of this life.
But, we live to the glory of Jesus Christ, not because of the reward — after all, one does not need faith in Christ in order to make a living — but because having loved us so much, we owe Him a debt of love.
How does The Father provide the things of this life?
The Father provides giftings for different professions, then in course of your applying yourself diligently in your chosen profession, and with your diligence rooted in demonstrations of the Love of Jesus Christ, The Father provides you with opportunities and blessings that maintain and enhance your capacity for generation of income.
The Catch? It is in course of your chosen profession that The Father expects you to seek His reign and righteousness. When you demonstrate the Love of Christ in interactions that subsist at work, you are seeking the reign and righteousness of The Father.
The Father already takes it for granted that you do not marry to abuse, that you marry to love; that you do not procreate to abuse, that you procreate to love. So then, The Father checks your commitment to love in context of interactions with people to whom you do not have a fiduciary duty of love. But, if you do not love your family — biological and church family, naturally that then counts against your faithfulness to The Father.
The Mischaracterization of Faith?
The teaching that the things of this life are received by faith is a mischaracterization of faith in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, the things of this life are a debt owed to those who are faithful to Christ by The Father. There, however, is a price, which is, the willingness, via commitment to loving with the Love of Christ, to pleasing of The Father. If, as was the case with Job, you are called on to demonstrate that your love for The Father outweighs the debts He owes to you, with outcome you experience persecution, this is not failure of The Father, rather, if you remain faithful, is a transitory trial that opens doors to greater opportunities.
The promise from The Father is, if you make His business — demonstration of His righteousness in your daily living — your business, that He simultaneously will make provision of opportunities and blessings that enhance your daily living, His business.
What then is accurate interpretation of, ‘of things hoped for a confidence’?
Because whom He did foreknow, He also did foreappoint, conformed (shaped) to the (spiritual) image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
When faith in Christ arrives at maturity, Christ merges with and rounds out your personality, transforms your character, enables you arrive at love essence of The Father, and helps you with living out of your career — a career that He Himself prepared for you in eternity . A person who has faith in Jesus Christ is supposed to have confidence that these objectives will be achieved.
The Father does not call perfect people, calls imperfect and flawed persons to embark on a journey of faith whose goal is that they become like Jesus Christ in character and essence. It does not matter how imperfect or flawed a person is, while The Father will not be pleased if a person does not want to give up sins and limiting weaknesses, The Father bids all come initially just as they are.
Given a person who has faith in Jesus Christ must, all the while he or she is hoping to become like Christ, have the things of this life for sustenance, it is faithfulness to Christ at each point in time that attracts fulfillment of the promise from The Father that He will ensure those who repose faith in Christ do not run out of supplies of the things of this life.
The promise in this respect from The Lord Jesus Christ?
I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
I pray you arrive at life that is abundant, in Jesus Name. Amen.