Defining Faith

3 09 2015

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

I was meditating on this passage the other day as I considered faith. What is faith? I hear people all the time say they are “people of faith.” In most cases they mean that they are religious people. To say they are people of faith is to say they have a certain set of religious beliefs. This is not the Biblical definition of faith.

What is faith? In this passage the writer of Hebrews gives us a good definition. This tells us that faith serves to functions. It is substance and evidence. What do these definitions mean for us? Let’s examine them individually.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. What do we hope for?Salvation from sin, eternal life with Christ, reconciliation with God. These are all things we as believers hope for or they are wrapped up in the hope of the Christian.

The statement that faith is substance and evidence is both inward and outward. The inward aspect is the substance statement. Many people (probably too many) struggle with assurance of salvation. They go through life wondering if they are truly saved.

True assurance I’m more and more convinced does not rest in an act. When dealing with assurance we often ask if there was a time they prayed a prayer or we ask how sincere they were with that prayer but this is a bad means of testing because prayer doesn’t save.

God has given us the fruit of the Spirit. This is a good test of salvation. Are you bearing supernatural fruit? Has there been a divine change in your life? If so I would lean heavily that one is saved. Another point of testing is faith.

The very fact that you have faith is itself the substance of salvation. It is the down payment if you will on all of the promises of God. God gave you faith, creating it in your heart out of nothing. You went from an enemy of God and lover of sin to having faith in Christ.

We don’t have a blind faith that God will fulfill His promises we have the substance of faith as assurance. IF He created faith in our hearts He will surely fulfill all that He has promised. Faith from an inward assurance is the substance we can hang on to as assurance God will complete His work in us.

Secondly it’s called evidence. More specifically it’s the evidence of things not seen. Salvation or the work of God is an unseen work. Consider how John described it.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Salvation brings a major change. We go from being sinners, alienated from God to having faith in Him and His Word. When people come to me saying I have faith but I doubt my salvation I point out that their faith is the evidence they are saved.

You once had no faith in Christ and now you believe Him and trust Him. That is evidence of the invisible work of God in your life. This is the outward aspect. Faith makes it clear to others that we are believers and that the work of God is real. We don’t need evidence for our faith, because faith is the evidence.

Faith inwardly is the substance that gives us assurance that God will finish what He began, and it is outwardly the proof that God has begun a work in us in the first place.


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