Sunday, January 30, 2005

Faith is Evidence

Faith is … the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
The Greek word for “evidence” is elegchos, which means proof or conviction. A. T. Robertson translates this phrase as “the proving of things not seen.”

The English word “evidence” refers to that which is obvious or can be seen. This might seem to be a funny way for the author of Hebrews to talk about things which are not seen. But he is making a point about things which can be seen with the natural eye, and things which are seen apart from the natural eye. He is talking about seeing things in the Spirit.

Just as faith is the substance, or underlying reality, of the promises of God which we expect to see fulfilled, faith also makes evident, or obvious to our spirit, the things which we cannot yet see in the natural. Faith is able to make it obvious to us on the spiritual level because faith is itself a spiritual matter. It comes from the Spirit of God by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The Greek word used here for “things” is pragma, which is where we get our English word “pragmatic.” It refers to things which are under consideration, things which have been, or are being accomplished.

These things are accomplished on the spiritual level even though they are not yet visible on the natural level. This is the true nature of things — first the spiritual, then the natural. The natural comes forth from the spiritual, because all the natural realm was created by God, who is Spirit.

Hebrews 11:3 says, “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.” In other words, everything that is now seen comes from that which is invisible, namely, the Word of God.

Faith lays hold of the Word of God, and makes it obvious to us that what God has promised is being accomplished at the spiritual level, even though we do not yet see it at the natural level.

Paul understood this well, for he instructed the Corinthian believers, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” First comes faith, then comes sight.

Jesus taught the disciples this same principle, although in a bit different way. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).

Notice the tense of Jesus’ words. He did not say, “Believe that you will receive” (future tense) but rather, “Believe that you receive” (present tense). The NASB has this as “believe that you have received.”

This is significant. The receiving does not happen when we see it manifest in the natural. The receiving occurs when we pray believing. First comes believing, then comes receiving.

Believing leads to receiving; faith leads to sight; the spiritual leads to the natural. The pattern is consistent throughout. What we see by faith in the spiritual, we will eventually see by sight in the natural. Faith is the evidence.