Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Faith in our unseen personal God gives us hope in a world otherwise trapped by mere godless machine. SO: I want my congregation to see that how they see the world is utterly dictated by the unseen God they see behind it. I want them to understand the


We are visual people. When we talking about our understanding of the world, we even use the phrase “how we see the world.” Our sight is fundamental to how we live.

If we were dogs, it would be our sense of smell – they literally see the world primarily not through their eyes but through their noses. Bats are aural creatures – it’s through their ears that they understand the world. But, as Christians, while we may be blessed with five physical senses, we are called to understand the world not with our eyes, but with our hearts. As Michael Card poetically likes to say, God wants us to see “not with but through the eye.” Seeing past the eye means faith, and it you want to understand faith, you have to know the text that we just read, Hebrews 11:1.

Hebrews 11:1 is one of those verses in which you really see English struggle to translate the Greek. Hebrews 11:1 is one of those famous verses you’ll hear quoted often – but its okay if you hear slightly different words, because the fundamental nature of what is being conveyed is both very exact and yet not precisely in categories that we understand.

Depending on your version, any of the following are totally valid translations:

- The classic is “Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

- More modern translations will say, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

- I did some word study here, it’s totally fair to even say, “Faith is the foundation of things hoped for, it is the rebuke of things not seen.” – That last word is the same one that Paul uses when he says that all Scripture is profitable for reproof.

Regardless of how we translate it, the author of Hebrews is trying to make some very basic points about how we see. We can get so caught up in looking for evidence for faith, that we forget that faith does not require evidence – faith is the evidence, it is the very essence of our hope.

What I’d like to do this morning is take a few minutes to think about how we see the world, because how we see the world dictates how we will live in it. We can “see” in different categories, and they are all here in Hebrews 11:1 – 3. Verse 1 tells us that if you see only with your eye, you’ll miss out on hope. Verse 3 tells us that if you see with your ear, you might begin to hear the story behind what you see. But the rest of the chapter, as we’ll see in coming weeks, tells us that we must see with our hearts – looking beyond the forces we perceive, to the person who gives meaning to it all.

But first, as I said, I want to look at what seeing with our eyes really means.

Seeing with the eye

Several of you know that a week ago , I was driving on Route 50 near the weight station before Gilberts Corner. It was cold, the sun was right in my eyes, and my windshield was dirty. Now, I did something really stupid here.

Even though I literally could not see, I kept going in a false hope that nothing was there. Now, one of the basic mistakes people make in life is thinking that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean its not there. If my “faith” was the assurance that I hoped the road was clear, the bumper of that Ford Explorer coming through my engine was the rebuke of things not seen! When the officer took my statement, he asked me how fast I was going. I answered, “Well, since I couldn’t see I was going slow – only about 30 MPH, but I guess that was about 29 MPH faster than I should have!”

One of the developmental stages that a baby goes through is something that psychologists call “object permanence.” When a very tiny baby plays peek-a-boo, for instance, as they cover their eyes, they literally think you aren’t there. As they get older, however, they realize that out of sight doesn’t necessarily have to mean out of mind. The fact that an object has permanence even beyond their perception is called “object permanence.”

Now, when Hebrews talks about the conviction things not seen, I see that there is a call for a form of spiritual object permanence. I don’t fully know why God chooses not to reveal himself through our eyes, but I do know that he calls us to grow up spiritually and learn to trust that he is still up there, and still in charge, even if we can’t see him with our eyes.

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