Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Substance of Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)

         The philosopher, Rene Descartes, reasoned that the world is divided into three sorts of substances: God, the mind, and the physical, material being. But God says there is yet another substance: Faith. And I would contend that faith encompasses all three of Descartes’ supposed categories; for it begins with God, is envisioned in our minds, and manifests itself in the world around us.

         I think it was Matthew Henry who said that faith is to the soul what the senses are to the body. Just as the senses relate us to the natural world, faith acclimates us to the spiritual. All things around us—nature, people, sounds, etc.—are actually there, whether or not we are able to see, touch, smell, or taste them. And the same is true of spiritual things. God, and the revelation of Him through Jesus Christ and the Scriptures, is real. If one cannot, or will not, accept it, this does not change the fact.

         As I see it, there are two kinds of Biblical faith: 1) Saving faith, which enables us to respond to God’s initial work in the heart, determining the destination of our souls; and 2) Living faith, that responds to the clear admonitions of Scripture and the promptings of the indwelling Spirit of God. This faith determines the quality of our relationship with God and the effectiveness of our Christian lives. Unfortunately, once we have taken the primary leap of faith for salvation, some of us are hesitant to step up to the next plateau in our walk or faith with God. But the God to whom we entrusted our eternal souls has promised to take responsibility for maneuvering us through this life, as well; and He is eminently able to fulfill that promise.

         We say that in order to be able to hold on to something, the thing must have substance. Abstracts like love, curiosity, or pity, for instance, are intangibles. But God says faith has evidentiary substance that can change hope from air to an anchor that can be held on to. Hebrews 6:18 tells us to “lay hold upon the hope set before us.”

        Faith…we need to get a handle on it!   


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