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Seeing the Invisible. What is the difference between faith and hope?

For Discussion:

  1. Hebrews 11:27: Moses sees the one who is invisible. Last week the focus was on hope; this week the focus is on faith. In an entire chapter that focuses on faith, does the experience of Moses help define the difference between hope and faith? Is believing that one has seen the invisible (a physical impossibility), a way of grounding one’s faith in something that cannot be proved wrong?
  2. Romans 8:28-39: Building good out of the impossible. The powerful words of Romans 8 are grounded in a kind of impossibility, i.e. God’s willingness to save those who do not deserve to be saved. Given the conviction that God can do the impossible, two verses from the latter part of the chapter stand out as being particularly significant:
      1. Romans 8:28: God at work in all things. This famous verse can be translated in a variety of ways. The NIV margin offers an alternative that affirms faith in the midst of difficulty without going all the way with the Calvinist view that everything is good that comes from the hand of God, even the bad: “And we know that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good.” In that connection, two striking quotations are worth noting:

        George MacDonald, “The Bloodhound,” from The Curate’s Awakening (Bethany, 1985), 200: “It is so true, as the Book says, that all things work together for our good, even our sins and vices. He takes our sins on himself, and while he drives them out of us with a whip of scorpions, he will yet make them work his good ends. He defeats our sins, makes them prisoners, forces them into the service of good, and chains them like galley slaves to the rowing benches of the gospel ship. He makes them work toward salvation for us.”

      1. Paul Tournier, in a Person Reborn, 80-81, via Philip Yancey (
    Reaching for an Invisible God, 264
      1. ): “The most wonderful thing in this world is not the good that we accomplish, but the fact that good can come out of the evil we do. I have been struck, for example, by the numbers of people who have been brought back to God under the influence of a person to whom they had some imperfect attachment…. Our vocation is, I believe, to build good out of evil. For if we try to build good out of good, we are in danger of running out of raw materials.”

    The question: Does the essence of faith involve accepting the conclusion that God can do the impossible or the nearly impossible?

    1. Romans 8:38-39: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. If one can accept the testimony of those who first affirmed their faith in the risen Lord, then one can assert an unshakable faith in the love of an eternal God. Given the often bleak circumstances in our world, is the ability of believe in the historical Jesus and a genuine resurrection from the dead a key factor in our ability to believe and hope that God will one day restore the creation?
  3. Isaiah 40:27-31: From doubt to certainty. A significant tension lies within this marvelous Old Testament testimony to a future hope. The passage opens with a confession of doubt: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?” Then the prophet moves to an affirmation of the everlasting God whose ways are “unsearchable”: Those who wait for the Lord “shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (40:31). What was it that enabled the prophet to move from doubt to faith? Does hearing the spoken word serve to affirm our faith and our hope, even in the absence of visible signs?

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