"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (Hebrews 11:3).
We learn right away, in this chapter, that though faith will often go above our human reasoning, it is not unreasonable. For a belief in a Creator God is logical.
Many in modern science might say that what is seen was made out of other visible things. But it must be asked, where did those visible things come from? The believer says, what is seen was not made out of things that are visible, for God is the originator.
My friend, David Guzik, said it this way in a sermon on Hebrews 11 entitled Jesus' People Of Faith: "This isn't against reason. Consider this reasonable and rational statement: 'the greatest system our world has ever seen was designed by a great engineer.' Does that take great intelligence? No, it is a very reasonable, rational statement. Or this: 'The design of creation has an intelligent designer behind it.' These are entirely rational statements, truths for us to understand. Oftentimes, the conflict in our modern world between science and Scripture is unnecessary."
The Way of Faith
But all this is not the point of the author of Hebrews. He wasn't trying to wade into a debate about evolution or naturalism or creation. His goal was to show us the way of faith. He used the phrase "by faith" many times in this chapter to show us how faith works.
Here, he goes back to the first pages of Genesis to teach us about faith's power. What he notes is simple: by faith we understand. There is understanding which comes only through what we can see, but then there is one which comes through faith. God created the world, and we weren't there to see it, but we trust the power of the word of God. We know and understand his word is powerful.
Faith, you see, is confident in the power of God's words. Faith says, "I believe God. He speaks. I trust him." It is precisely this facet of faith that is needed when we face trials, adversity, and suffering, for, in those moments, it is difficult to believe God is who He says He is. As our pressures mount, we are tempted to disbelieve in God's word. But faith does not find an excuse to depart from trusting God and instead presses in to lean upon Him.
At Your Word I Will
An excellent example of this comes from the life of Christ. One day, on the shores of Galilee, the crowds pressed upon Him. They wanted healings, and He gave them teaching. While He taught, the numbers swelled until He was forced to borrow His friend Peter's boat, push it out a little from the shore, and teach from it to the people on land. After completing his message, Jesus turned to Peter and told him to go out on the lake and cast his fishing nets.
Now, Peter was a fisherman, while Jesus was a carpenter. Peter had already gone out the previous night, presumably the right time to catch fish on that body of water, and had found nothing. He was likely greatly fatigued from the night of hard work. But he answered Jesus, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your word, I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5).
It's as if Peter says, "If anyone else told me to do this, I would reject them, but because you said it, I will go." We are not surprised, in reading the story, to learn that the boats overflowed with the great haul of fish. Jesus is powerful.
And this is often the way faith must work. Because His word asks something of us, we must go. Because He desires it, we will move. Too many believers are waiting for everything to be lined up, for their world to make perfect sense before they move out in obedience to God. But if you are waiting to be strong enough, waiting for all the resources, waiting for every question to be answered, you'll be waiting for a long time. Sometimes faith kicks us into gear by helping us say, "nevertheless at Your word I will..."