Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 HCSB)
The NKJV has this as, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of a thing is it’s underlying reality. The interesting thing about the Greek word, hypostasis, which speaks of the underlying state, is that it was sometimes used to refer to a title deed. A title deed signifies possession. So, for example, if you have the title deed to a piece of land, you legally possess the land itself.Hope is about what we have not yet seen, or what has not yet come into manifestation. But just because we have not yet seen a thing does not mean that there is no reality to it. For example, I may inherit a piece of land that I have never visited before, but that does not make it any less real. And if I possess the title deed, not having yet seen the land does not make it any less mine. The title deed is the proof that that land belongs to me.
What I want to focus on today, though, is the time factor. Hope is about the future, about what I fully expect to see even though it has not yet come about. That is the nature of hope. Paul said, “hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).
Hope is future, but faith is now. The author of Hebrews does not use the word “now” as a simple connective, like “so,” “and” or “but.” Rather, he is showing the relationship between the faith we have now and what we expect to see in the future.
These things concern the promises of God, which is the only biblical basis for faith. If God had never promised anything, we would have no reason for expectation. But because God has made certain promises to us, and since He does not lie, we can believe Him and expect to receive from Him everything He promised.
Faith is about believing the promises of God. By faith, we take possession of those promises, even though we have not yet seen them come to pass. Indeed, faith is the reality, the evidence, the proof, that we will see them come to pass. The faith we have now is the reality that connects us to what we expect to see. Faith and hope each do their part until we have seen the full manifestation. And in between is patience.