Faith, the evidence of things, hoped for …
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”N (KJV)
The word translated “evidence” is the Greek word elengchos, which often refers to an argument or case. Faith is an argument for that which is not yet seen. Of course, faith doesn’t prove something that is not yet seen—only the One who made the promise can prove the promise by making it come to pass. Faith is the certainty of something that one does not see.
Toward the end of chapter 10, the writer of Hebrews describes why the new covenant in Jesus was superior to the old covenant of animal sacrifices. The old covenant sacrifices never satisfied the sinner’s debt but instead foreshadowed the better covenant that was to come. In Hebrews 11, the writer presents example after example of those who demonstrated faith as the substance of things hoped for: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” Hebrews 11:13.
Faith, being the substance of things hoped for, is also an external force. Having the reality of hope supplies believers with the motivation to endure trials and hardships, resulting in obedience. This kind of faith caused the ancient heroes of faith to act upon their hope. This type of faith activates believers to: preach boldly, pray unceasingly, love unconditionally, serve compassionately, and work tirelessly, “as long as it is day,” as recorded in John 9:4. The faith in our hearts moves and stirs us, while the faith outside of us moves mountains.
What faith can do for the believer:
- Faith enables people to overcome. Hebrews 11:2, “For by it elders obtained a good testimony.” (NKJV). The early church was discouraged, so they built up their faith by listening to the testimony of the Old Testament saints.
- Faith gives us understanding. We did not see the act of creation; we only know it by faith.
- Faith helps us to enter into the right relationship with God. The difference between Cain and Ables sacrifices was not animal and vegetable, and the difference was that Abel’s sacrifice was made by faith.
- Faith helps us to please God. This is the basis of the faith required of anyone seeking after God; one must believe He is.
God gives faith to those that seek it. A believer can increase their faith by reading God’s word and prayer or listening to examples of the faith. Personal testimonies linked to God’s word are of great encouragement to believers. The Apostle Paul says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.” Romans 10:17.