Faith must be more than a conviction or an activity of the mind. It has to operate in the realm of the spirit because faith is not naturally reasonable. If it made sense to our mind, faith wouldn't be required.
So as we look at the definition of faith, remember, faith involves our intellectual but more importantly faith is a spiritual activity of our heart (spirit).
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In this verse we get to the root of what faith is. Hebrews 11 gives us a good definition. As we look at it we need to ask and expect that the Holy Spirit will give us revelation because without the Spirit teaching us, it is simply knowledge with very little impact.
Notice there are two words that jump out - Faith and Hope. While Faith and Hope are different, they are both required.
Hope Defined - Hope is in the future, it looks forward. Hope is the goal. Hope is the promise that you see in scripture. Hope is what you are looking for God to do. Hope is – the desired healing, the answered prayer, the job you need, the resolving of the family conflict, the financial need taken care of.
Example of Hope - In Mark 9 a father brings his possessed son to the disciples but the disciples couldn't heal the boy, so the father then went to Jesus. Why? The hope was Jesus would heal his boy. That is the hope. It’s the end goal. It’s what is desired.
But hope by itself won't get our prayers answered. Often we pray hoping, we want God’s answer and promise, but faith is not involved. Even Jesus said to the father, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The father had hope, but needed to mixed with faith.
Faith Defined - Faith is present tense. It is in the now moment. While hope looks forward, faith gives substance/evidence to what we hope for.
In Hebrews 11 there are two descriptions of faith:
1) The substance of things hoped for
2) The evidence of things not seen
Definition - Faith is the persuasion of heart (spirit) and mind of things not seen (they have not come to pass yet) of things hoped for (the desired goal).
Faith is not used on something that is seen or that has already been answered. Some people say – seeing is believing. You don’t need faith (you don’t even really need hope) if you can see it. You don’t need faith to sit on a chair because you look at it and see that it will hold you up. The evidence is presented to you.
Faith (gives substance/evidence) stands in the place of the thing hoped for until what is hoped for becomes a reality. It (faith), is being persuaded that what the Bible promises is not only true but that it is done (has been accomplished), when it has yet to become a reality outwardly. The evidence then, is faith, and faith stands in the place of the thing promised until it appears.
Now people might say that sounds like presumption. Aren’t you just operating on presumption? No faith is not presumption. Presumption is belief without promise. God never asks us to have hope or faith in anything unless He first provides a foundation for hope and faith. Faith won’t work without it.
Faith and Hope (as described in Hebrews) always has a foundation.
Again, Definition - Faith is the persuasion of heart (spirit) and mind of things not seen (they have not come to pass yet) of things hoped for (the desired goal).