Summary: Ask yourself the question, do you have faith? How do you know you have faith? What is faith, so you can know you have it? What hangs on whether you have faith or not?


Hebrews 11:1-12:2

(Verse 1) gives us a two-fold definition of faith:

“Faith is…

(1a) …the assurance of things hoped for.

(1b) …the conviction of things not seen.

It is important to understand that these two words, assurance (substance in KJV) and conviction are two very hard and difficult words to translate into English.

So what is the reality behind these two words and what is the definition of faith?

???? Think about it. Ask yourself the question, do you have faith? How do you know you have faith? What is faith, so you can know you have it? What hangs on whether you have faith or not?

These are very relevant questions to our life.


Let’s start by explaining the second definition given in

(Verse 1b): “faith is the conviction of things not seen.”

The word here translated as “conviction” isn’t used anywhere else in the New Testament. Outside of the New Testament, its normal use is “proof” or “argument” or “evidence.”

Most translators don’t use the words “proof” or “evidence” because it doesn’t seem to make sense. How can faith be evidence or proof?

How is faith evidence? How is faith evidence of things not seen?

…I took my clue from another place in the New Testament where God’s invisible attributes are said to be clearly seen by man in Romans 1:20. “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

So Romans 1:20 seems to say that the evidence that God made the world is the things made – meaning they clearly point to a maker.

Hebrews 11:3 seems to say that the evidence that God made the world is faith.

So what do we make of this? Faith, at least in part, is the spiritual seeing or perceiving of the fingerprints of God on the things He has made. The fingerprints being the order, the beauty, the greatness, the complexity…

3-D Image Illustration: When I was growing up, we had those pictures with the hidden 3d images. They were art work where on one level they were one thing, but at another level is something quite different. At your first glance all you see is the surface color and chaos. But if you let your eyes focus more deeply, or more distantly, you may see a train or car not only appearing, but standing off the page. Some people stare at these pictures and see nothing but color and chaos, but others almost immediately see a farm animal or an airplane. If someone says, “How do you know the airplane is there?” the answer is, “I see it.” You’re seeing is the evidence. They may not see it, but that won’t change your mind.

Just So… Some people look at God’s creation and see nothing, but color and chaos and others have a deeper view and suddenly God’s fingerprints come into focus.

What evidence can they offer? They see it.

Now some might say, “Should that be called faith?”

…Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” Paul’s meaning was that Christ is not physically on earth for us to see with our physical eyes, but is in Heaven. He wasn’t saying that there is no spiritual perception of God’s reality.

Hebrews 11:3 says, “We understand by faith.” So we see that faith is not just a responding act of the soul, it is also a grasping or perceiving or understanding act. It is a spiritual act that sees the fingerprints of God. True faith is based on real truth. It looks deeply at the world God has made, looks through it and by the grace of God it sees the glory of God standing forth off the creation like a 3d image (Psalm 19:1).


(Verse 1a): “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for…”

The word assurance here could also be translated as “substance” or “nature.”

- I think that what the writer is saying is that faith apprehends the goodness and the sweetness of what God promises so clearly that this goodness and sweetness are substantially present in faith. –

In other words, faith grasps or “lays a hold of” God’s goodness and sweetness.

Faith is a spiritual apprehending or perceiving or tasting or sensing of the beauty and sweetness and goodness of what God promises.

Explanation: Faith does not just feel confident that this day is coming some day. Faith has spiritually laid hold of and perceived and tasted that it is real. And this means that faith has the substance or the nature of what is hoped for in it.


(Verse 2) “For by it the men of old gained approval.”

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