Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is often a mystery to many. A mystery that many attribute to those whose soul and spirit are seeking for something more than what exist within in what they can physically touch, see, or explain. A brief examination of Hebrews 11 may answer some of the mystery of what faith is. Hebrews 11 is a passage often referred to as the “Hall of Faith” and teaches us the definition of faith, how faith functions, and how to implement it within our daily lives.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from a professor at seminary was the greatest tool for defining biblical terms is often times the Bible itself. In the verse seen above we have a biblical definition for faith. Faith consists of two elements — substance and evidence. Substance and evidence are things that can physically be seen or provide proof of. However, the substance, evidence, or proof is based on that which is not seen. As a Christian, faith is evidence that exists in our life proving Jesus Christ, who is not seen, loves each and every one of us, and there is substance in our life further providing proof we are destined for a place called heaven.

We examined the biblical defining of faith, but let’s examine how it functions or works. Faith always requires obedience to God. Faith is not a blind risk based on whim or feeling, but is obedience to that which is sure. In Hebrews 11:4, Abel, by faith, offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than his brother Cain. It was not the content of the offering that made it more excellent, rather it was the faith that Abel displayed by his obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Faith is not a respecter of persons and can be exercised by any of us willing to obey the word of Lord. Abel obeyed the Lord and did that which was right by faith, but in jealousy and anger his brother Cain murdered him. We also see that faith may cost you your life.

In Hebrews 11:8-10, we see another function of faith. It may guide, direct, or change our course in this life with out a full explanation. Can you imagine being Abraham coming home to tell his wife Sarah, “Hey honey, God has led us to move somewhere, but I’m not sure where somewhere is. I just know we are supposed to pack everything up, and the Lord will then provide the next step.” Faith often times goes against conventional knowledge, yet is not a risk because it is based on the sure word of the Lord.

Scripture gives us a definition for faith and shows us how it functions, but it is up to each of us individually to live a life full of faith. There are several common points that each of the stories in Hebrews 11 share, but none more important than the fact that each of the individuals mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” had to enact their faith personally. As an unbeliever in Jesus, you need to enact the faith that he truly was God manifested in flesh. He was sent for one purpose. That purpose was to be crucified, buried, and risen on the third day having conquered death, hell, and the grave, providing eternal life for all those that believe in their heart that he is the living Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, faith is not just a one time transaction. Substance and evidence ought to exist in our life on a daily basis. My pastor would occasionally close with this statement at the end of his messages. “If you were convicted of believing in Jesus, and placed on trial before a jury, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

My pastor was not interested in the church’s members displaying their own self righteousness as a cloak of honor. However, he was challenging those that claimed to be followers of Christ to live a life of faith where substance and evidence abounded in that which was not seen.

Tim Braddock is pastor of Emerald Coast Baptist Church in Miramar Beach and can be reached at