“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11: 1). While this is a passage that is often quoted, I fear that oftentimes great emphasis is placed upon the faith, to the neglect of that of which it is the assurance things hoped for.
The Hebrew writer points out that our forefathers “looked for a city . . . whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10); they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13); and they desired “a better country, that is, an heavenly” (v. 16). Thus, they truly had a hope that was made sure by their faith. Yet, consider the attitude and nature of those that claim to be descendants of such forefathers!
Oftentimes, you find individuals that claim to be of the spiritual seed of Abraham, thus supposedly possessing the same hope that possessed, in reality do not have one whet the faith of Abraham. Had they been in Abraham’s place they would have most likely been laying foundations on earth; talking as if they were going to live on earth forever; and “hoping” that if an eternal abode on earth was not their lot, they might be able to live in a heavenly country.
The thing that many fail to realize about such hope is that such is not hope. Such is a wish, and faith is not assurance of a wish, but of things hoped for! The reasons for this are very simple: If a man s faith is right, he will have “hope” rather than “wish,” and his faith will be the assurance of this. If his faith is not right, it is not the assurance of a hope or wish, but rather eternal damnation. Thus, we have the significance of the statement: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10: 38).