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The Substance of Faith: A Closer Look

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Sue

I have been thinking about faith for quite some time, trying to understand why some people find it so easy to have faith and others struggle with it.  I recently read an article about faith being a substance, and although I don’t have a full grasp of the concept at this point, it is starting to make more sense.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I looked up the definition of the word substance and found that it comes from the Greek word ‘hupostasis’ which means “a support; groundwork; confidence; subsistence; reality; essence; or substratum (that which stands under). The dictionary defines substance as “that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material; the acute matter of a thing, as opposed to the appearance or shadow; reality; substantial or solid character or quality.” The word substance is often found on title deeds, offering confirmation of ownership to a piece of property. These definitions make it clear that faith is more than an idea, a hope, or wishful thinking, but that it is, in fact, a reality with a material quality. Our faith is a confirmation of the confidence we have in the promises of our Heavenly Father.

Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the faith chapter, and in it we can learn much about faith. In verse 3, we are told, “Through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” God used faith to speak the worlds into existence, and He gives us faith to believe in Him and His Word. Faith comes from God and is a part of who He is. Just as God is love, faith is an essential part of Him, so that His faith is not limited by any degree of doubt or fear. As humans, we have a form of faith that is a part of our genetic makeup, but saving faith comes from God alone.

Faith is a gift, as we read in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” In Galatians 2:20 we see, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” And in Romans 12:3, we learn, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Paul understood that his faith came from God, and in 1 Timothy 1:12-14, he says, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” In Romans 10:17 we learn, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” And in Romans 1:17, Paul tells us this about the Word of God; “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”

There are many scriptures that tell us that our faith will be honored when we ask God for something. Matthew 17:20, 20:21-22; Mark 11:23-34; and Luke 11:9-10 are just a few of these. But instead of focusing on the receiving end, I want to encourage you to seek to build up your faith, so that when you do pray, you will know with confidence that God will honor that faith. There is no shame in asking God to increase your faith. In Luke 17:5, we read, “And the apostles said unto the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” In the following verse, Jesus responded, “And the Lord said, ‘If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.’” And in Mark 9:23-24, we read the story of a father who brought his son, filled with a demonic spirit, to Jesus for healing. “Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.’” When we receive a measure of faith from God, it is just a starting point. By immersing ourselves in the Word of God, and drawing closer to Him through prayer, we can go ‘from faith to faith’, increasing our confidence and assurance in God’s Word.

A good place to find encouragement when seeking to build on your faith is the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Although these are only brief looks at what the power of faith can do, we can see that God honors the faith of His children in a wide variety of situations. Abraham found favor in the sight of God through his faith. He hoped against hope (Romans 4:18-19) that he would become the father of many nations as God had promised. He did not doubt even though he was about 100 years old and Sarah was well above child-bearing age. Romans 4:20-21 says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.” And just as Abraham, we can be confident that God will fulfill all that He has promised us and find rest in the certainty of His Word. As Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith always works. It produces. It abides (remains; continues; endures). Divine faith is powerful because it is total and complete confidence that what God says is true. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” In Jude 1:20-21, we read, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”  And after reading about the faithful witness of those in biblical days, we find in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Wherefore seeing we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher (completer) of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It is our responsibility to exercise our faith and increase it. What starts as a small measure or seed of faith can blossom and grow as we nurture it with prayer and Bible study. And if doubts begin to creep in, turn to the Word of God and know that it is there your faith can be strengthened.

Grace and blessings on your path,

Sue

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