Our first scripture in He 11:1 also tell us that faith is ``the evidence of things not seen.'' What does this mean? What is evidence?
Evidence is what the jury weighs when they consider whether to convict a man of a crime. You see, the jury was not actually there at the scene of the crime. They did not actually see what happened. They must reconstruct what happened -- something that was ``not seen'' - by looking at the evidence. In order to do this there must actually be some evidence to consider. Without any evidence, there can be no conviction.
This is a crucial point. If we want conviction regarding something we hope for, then there must be some evidence to prove its existence. Paul tells us that faith is this evidence. It proves to us the reality of something we have not seen.
This business of having evidence to convince us of something we have not seen is not unique to either the judicial system or the theological system. It is fundamental to the scientific method. Gravity cannot be seen, yet we have much evidence to convince us that there really is such a thing as gravity. In fact, gravity is a force - something that we can never see. The only way an astronomer or a physicist can learn about gravity is by evidence.
Tycho Brahe (1546 - 1601) made a remarkable star catalogue of over 1000 stars, far more than any astronomer before him. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was forced finally to the realization that the orbits of the planets were not the circles demanded by Aristotle and assumed implicitly by Copernicus, but were instead the "flattened circles" that geometers call ellipses. This discovery, determined from the voluminous data collected by Brahe, was the evidence that enabled Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) to formulate his famous law of gravity. This law is still used today to calculate the orbits of spacecraft such as the Space Shuttle.
All that scientific stuff about gravity, and yet nobody has ever seen gravity, but the more evidence they had, the more they knew about gravity. Nowadays, we actually use gravity to fulfill the hopes of men who want to explore the far reaches of outer space.
So what about the things you and I hope for -- the spiritual things, like seeing lost loved ones come to God, like seeing a small home missions church grow to become a mighty influence on the community. How do we accomplish these things? First we need to identify them. Then we need to ask ourselves, ``Do we really have hope for these things?'' If we do, then we need faith to give substance to these hopes and dreams. We need faith to turn these hopes and dreams into hard evidence that they are real, that God already knows about them and is working on them, and that he will give them to us.
Mt 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?