What is faith? What are some of the attributes of faith? Not a faith, as in Christianity, or Judaism, but faith. What is the faith that is spoken of in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (ESV)” or as the Message puts it “trust in God,” a “handle on what we can’t see.”
Hebrews 11 goes on to give examples of faith: Abel, Noah, Joseph, and many others. The first part of verse 1 says that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” The Greek word translated as assurance is ὑπόστασις. The King James Version translates it as the “substance of things hoped for,” rather than assurance. Assurance. Substance. Hope. This is not a foolish hope. It’s not “If I hope long enough, hard enough, and well enough, I am assured of getting a new Ferrari.” It’s not “If I hope long enough, hard enough, and well enough, I am assured of a life without trouble.” It is a trust in God. It is “I am assured of my hope in a savior—Christ—that came to earth two thousand years ago in human form, lived among humans, was crucified, and rose again. It is trust that whatever this Hope says will happen, will.
“Now faith is the…conviction of things not seen.” Here we go back again to the Hope. Though people two thousand years ago saw Christ and walked with him in the flesh, we have faith, we have conviction that he is real, that he is who and what he says he is, even though we do not see him. We have faith and conviction that his promises are true, that whatever he says and promises will happen even though we perhaps do not see it now. Noah built an ark on the “conviction of things not seen.” Abraham waited for a son, and for descendants as many as the stars, on the “conviction of things not seen.” It’s “I know that I know that I know. I know that God is real. I have knowledge of his realness. I have knowledge of him. I know that he will keep his promises. I know that I know that I know.”