“Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.”
One of my very favorite verses is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) I love taking verses apart and finding the definitions of words to discover a deeper meaning. Wanna see what I found?
Faith, to be beneficial, must always be now, in the present tense. We can’t have hindsight faith. However, the meaning of the word used in this verse for now does not mean at this moment of time, though many good sermons have contained that meaning.
It is a conjunction or connecting word between two thoughts. It means but, moreover, moreover also, and, also, and also, or but rather. It would be more appropriate to say, “And also faith is…” or “Moreover faith is…”
The Greek word for substance is hupostasis, which means a setting under, support, essence, assurance, confidence, person, the substantial quality or nature of a person, substructure or that which has foundation, hence, is firm and has actual existence.
(This word is used in Hebrews 1:3 of Jesus as the “express image of His essence,” or the actual existence or personification of God.)
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “It here may signify a title-deed, as giving a guarantee, or reality.”
*Things hoped for…
The word for things hoped for is elpizo, which means to expect, confide, trust, or confident expectation. Its root word means to anticipate, usually with pleasure.
Evidence also means that by which invisible things are tested or proved, conviction, proof, or test.
Pragma is the word for the second use of the word things, which also means an object, business, matter, work, that which is an accomplished fact or is being accomplished, that which exists, and so on.
(From this, we get our English word pragmatic, which one definition means the testing of concepts to determine their validity by the practicality of their results.)
Therefore, defined, this verse might say, “Moreover, faith gives actual existence as a guarantee to what is expected, as the confident anticipation of matters being accomplished with practical results as proof of the invisible.”
When we co-operate with God by faith, we are fellow-workers with Him and we will see the answers to our prayers, which are already accomplished and held in expectancy in heaven as something yet to arrive or be revealed.
Only when faith is attached to all we do are we pleasing God, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, “So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith.” (Heb. 11:6 NLT) If we have no faith to please Him, how do we co-operate with Him?
Those who are willing to trust God and apply faith to His Word, without further evidence, will receive the visible proof of His promises. And “if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Rom. 8:25 NKJV)
Smith Wigglesworth said, “I believe there is only one way to all the treasures of God and that is the way of faith.” And St. Augustine said, “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”
Just remember, faith is not a big, copper cauldron in which we conjure up our slightest wish. Nope, nope, nope! Faith is the producer of the will of the King, not the will of the servant. As Jesus said, “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 NKJV)
A. B. Simpson once said, “True faith drops its letter in the post office box, and lets it go. Distrust holds onto a corner of it, and wonders that the answer never comes.”
Faith: Though the eye beholds no evidence, the spirit is assured of its existence.