"Now faith is the substance...." Hebrews 11:1
What do you think of when you hear the word "substance"?
What is your favorite substance?
When I think of a substance I think of something you can see or touch. You can measure a substance by the ounce or the pound or the inch or the foot or the year or the gallon. You can't buy a pound of faith or a gallon of faith. You can't get faith by the inch or the foot. So, how can faith be a substance?
The word translated "substance" comes from the Greek "hupostasis" which means "a placing or setting under, a substructure or foundation." This word appears elsewhere in the New Testament as "confident" or "confidence" (2 Corinthians 9:4; 11:17; Hebrews 3:14).
So, faith is a "foundation" or faith is a "platform". Now that makes more sense doesn't it?
Bible Scholar and Commentator, John Ritenbaugh writes, “In the phrase "faith is the substance of things hoped for," Paul is not really defining what faith is, but rather he is showing what faith does in an operative sense: Faith undergirds what we hope for. Substance means "that which stands under." Faith is the foundation for what we hope, the foundation for our relationship with God and everything that it implies within His purpose. Faith is the very beginning of everything that really matters spiritually.
By saying that it is the "evidence" or "assurance" (the word can literally be translated "title deed," but "assurance" seems to be the best all-around word) of things hoped for, the author comes much closer to defining what faith is. In its simplest form, faith is merely belief. As our understanding becomes more complex and operative, when we begin to put faith to work, it becomes "confidence," and finally, in its best form, when it becomes fully operational, it is "trust." This trust, this full measure of faith, is alive and works within our relationship with God.”
That almost sounds like Forrest Gump doesn’t it? Remember? “Stupid is as stupid does!”
In Hebrews 11 Paul is saying, “Faith is a faith does!”
So, in practical terms here is how it works, I choose to believe what God says and I act according to that belief. My behavior demonstrates my belief even though the foundation under the behavior IS THE BELIEF!
The substance of faith for me, the believer, is my belief in God. But the substance of faith for others is my behavior which demonstrated my belief.
No wonder this entire “faith” chapter of Hebrews 11 is filled with thrilling examples faith exploits by heroes like Abraham, Noah, David and Moses!
Will you add your name to this great “Hall of Faith” list!
Will you give substance to your belief today by faith-filled living?