“ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
At the end of chapter ten, the author of Hebrews tells us we are saved by faith that is strong enough to endure through hard struggles and suffering that cause us to be destroyed if we shrink back, sorrow unto death, and lose faith in God. In chapter eleven, the author now continues on to define what faith is.
Assurance, rendered as a vague “substance” traditionally, means: a pledge, guarantee, or security that inspires confidence and frees us from uncertainty. Pledge, guarantee, or security in turn is something given to provide protection and/or ensure an obligation, such as a binding promise, is kept. This implies that our faith is not of ourselves, but a gift from God to secure our ultimate hope of spending eternity with him in Heaven.
To hope in turn means to desire and expect to obtain, with confidence and can be synonymous with “to trust.” Another way the author of Hebrews could have put the first half of this verse in English is, then, “Faith is given to us to ensure we will receive from God the promises we trust him to fulfill.”
Substance, was probably meant in the sense of “essence” and that rendering means, “Faith is the ultimate reality of the promises we trust God to fulfill.”
That leaves “Faith . . . is the conviction of things not seen.” This is a case where the KJV rendering, “Faith is the evidence,” was clear enough. “Conviction” in this context merely means “Faith is what convinces us of the truth of things not seen.” Evidence is still the most succinct way to say that.
Lord, we trust you today to keep your promises just as you always have before. Remind us, when we grow weary in our struggles, of your faithfulness to keep your word to your people throughout history. We know times are hard now, we know we may not see your word come to pass in this life, but we know you are not limited to the blink of an eye our lifetimes are compared to eternity. Strengthen us, today. Increase our faith. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.