By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. – Hebrews 11:3

understandingIt is faith, this trust in God that gives us understanding. Specifically here, we are told that by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. Whatever a person believes about the creation or beginning of the universe and life on earth, it is a matter of faith. Will we believe what the scientist tells us? Will we believe the Word of God? Will we believe the fossil record? Will we believe the facts? The truth is that whatever we believe, it is just that, a belief. What we think about the beginning of the world is determined by where we have placed our faith.

Of course, since we trust God and believe His Word, we understand how the world came to be. We know that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This belief, this matter of faith in the Word of God and in God as Creator, gives us the ability to understand creation. In short, by faith, by what we believe, we come to embrace our worldview. More on that in a minute, but first we need to answer some basic questions about faith and understanding.

From Whence Cometh Understanding?

The first question would be where do we get understanding? According to Psalm 119:104, the Psalmist writes, “Through Your precepts I get understanding.” The “Your” here of course is God. So through God’s precepts we gain understanding. Well then, what are His precepts? The word precept means literally a “charge, or command.” So through the commands of God we gain understanding.

You see, the Law of God has been given to us for several reasons. According to Galatians 3:24 tells us that the Law is a guardian, it keeps us and brings us to Christ. The Law points to our sin and therefore to our need for salvation and a Savior. It points us to Christ.

Further, the Law reveals to us the character of God. The Law is after all rooted in His nature and His character. The Law tells us about what kind of God He is and what He expects of us as we strive to love and obey Him.

So through His Law we gain understanding. We understand His nature, His purposes for creation, and His expectation of us as we are empowered to obey His Law and manifest our love for Him through our obedience.

Psalm 119:130 also tells us that “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” The entrance of the Word of God gives us understanding. What is He saying here? Reading, hearing, memorizing, and meditating on the Word of God – taking His Words in to our hearts and minds – that gives us understanding. So if we want to have understanding then we must be in the Word of God – reading it, hearing it faithfully preached, memorizing it, and meditating on it. In fact, the only time the word “success” is used in the Bible it is used when talking about the only path to true success being meditating on the Word of God.

Further, we gain understanding by heeding rebuke (Proverbs 15:32). When we listen to correction, to rebuke for wrongdoing, when we respond to that correctly, then we gain understanding. We learn what not to do. We learn what God expects of us. And we learn humility. By the way, what are some of the things that the Word of God is profitable for? For reproof and correction. The Word gives us the standard to use when rebuking sin in another’s life. In doing so we help them understand holiness and obedience.

One last note here when it comes to getting understanding is that Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit gives us understanding. He opens our eyes to the truth, convincing and convicting us with the Word of God. It is not just a matter of the written Word, but the Living Word, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, our Lord gives us understanding so that we might better serve Him (Luke 24:45; 1 John 5:20).

What is Understanding?

Perhaps an even more relevant question would be to ask “What is understanding?” We know now how we get it. We know that the Living and Written Word of God gives us understanding. We know it is by faith that in the Word that we gain a proper perspective and understand what God has done and is doing for His own pleasure and glory. But what exactly is understanding?

The best definition I have found in my studies (and I do not remember where I copied this from) is that understanding is, “the mental disciplines and abilities to discern and obey the truth of the Word of God.” It is the ability to hear and do the Word.

In the Proverbs we hear often about three things. Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The three are necessary for godly living. Knowledge speaks of the facts, or truth. It is information. Information by itself puffs up and makes us proud (1 Cor 1:8). Wisdom, as we have discussed before, is having a right perspective. To see beyond the surface and see things as God sees them, with a view toward eternity that is to be wise. In fact, we must have a right view of God in the first place if we are to have a right view of anything else (Proverbs 1:7) and understanding joins the two. Understanding takes our perspective, joins it to what we know, and as a result we know how to act and think, even in difficult circumstances. And all of this we get from God. (Proverbs 2:6).

Understanding How the World was Framed

According to our verse for the day, by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. So we have studied knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in order to arrive at this foundation truth for the Christian life. By trusting God, we understand how the world came into being. Here is where our faith informs our mind. We trust what the Word of God says and in believing Him we understand how He created all that is.

This helps us understand God’s purposes for creation. And as we have already stated, your faith will determine what you believe about the beginning of the world.

So why is this important? Because we are speaking here from Scripture about ones worldview. How you view the world around you, its beginning, its purpose, and its end – all of this determines how you relate to God and to others. It determines your values and how you make decisions. A worldview is part of who we are and establishes how we view creation and even what we think about God. Remember too, as we have learned this week, what we believe determines how we behave. So what we believe about creation very much works it way out in the way we live our lives.

The best definition of “worldview” that I have found is that a worldview is “a set of fundamental assumptions about the most important issues in life.” So will these assumptions be based on the Word of God or not? How will we inform our minds and our consciences when it comes to the fundamental truths about the creation of the world in which we live?

As Christians, we should have what is called a Biblical worldview, or a Christian worldview. Sadly though many Christians neglect the Word of God and live in complete ignorance when it comes to the truth given to us about the foundation of the world. Many have secular worldviews, worldviews that in reality reject the truth of God, even denying His existence. How can a Christian hold to such a worldview? Simple really. By rejecting the truth of God’s Word and leaning on their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) instead of gaining understanding from the Word of God.

(tomorrow: Faith and Behavior)

For more on Worldviews, see these devotionals:

Faith and Your Worldview

Faith and Your Worldview – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Deism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Naturalism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Nihilism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Existentialism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Eastern Pantheistic Monism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Post Modernism – Heb 11:3
Defining Worldviews: Theism – Heb 11:3
Taking God at His Word – Heb 11:3, 6