We all have an idea of what ‘evidence’ means in relation to our time and culture. Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Science and law use evidence as something which backs up their claim.
In the bible we see evidence appear a number of times and sometime from different words in the orignal. For example ‘cepher’ which is translated ‘evidence in Jeremiah 32:10-44 means ‘a writing’ or ‘a deed’. In Hebrews 11:1, we see the word evidence translated from the Greek ‘elegchos’ Acording to Dr. W.F. Moulton, The Greek word denotes “putting to the test,” examining for the purpose of proof, bringing to conviction. Thus if “test” or “proving” be adopted, a firm conviction of the reality of things not seen is implied as the result of putting to the proof. In juristic Greek elegchein was not merely to reply to an opponent’s claim, but to refute, an opponent.”
So the word describing what faith is in Hebrews 11:1, translated “evidence”, means “conviction.” This inward conviction which enables the believer to believe things not yet seen, that God perform what he has promised.
A captain of a ship on which George Mueller of Bristol was travelling told the following story. (Mueller was a man who had several children’s homes and depended on God alone to provide for them.) During his lifetime he received more than 1,000,000 pounds from the Lord without advertising – every penny came as an answer to prayer.
“We had George Mueller of Bristol aboard, said the captain. ‘I had been on the bridge for twenty-four hours and never left it and George Mueller came to me and said, ‘Captain, I have come to tell you that you must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.’ ‘It is impossible.’ I said. ‘Then very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years; let us go down into the chart room and pray.’
‘I looked at that man of God and thought to myself. What lunatic asylum can that man have come from, for I never heard of such a thing as this?’ ‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you know how dense this fog is?’ No he replied, ‘my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.’ He knelt down and he prayed one of the simplest prayers. When he had finished I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. ‘As you do not believe He will answer, and as I believe He has, there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.’
‘I looked at him and George Mueller said, ‘Captain, I have known the Lord for fifty-seven years and there has never been a single day when I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door and you will find the fog has gone.’
‘I got up and the fog indeed was gone and on that Saturday afternoon George Mueller kept his promised engagement.”
‘Elegchos’ in this full conviction in the faithfulness of God. George Mueller said ‘I have never failed to get an audience with the King’, he had full confidence in God. David when preparing to fight goliath said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samual 17:37), He knew the faithfulness of God and had full conviction in it.
Finally Romans 4: 18-21: 18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”