Nov 4 11

Substantive Faith

vmsmith

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

Our scripture reading today brings us to one of the most well known chapters of the Bible. The subject is faith; the kind of faith that urges the believer in Christ to keep on trusting God in the midst of severest trials. It is the faith that perseveres which shows it is anchored solidly in the object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Those that have real saving faith do not fall back to perdition but believe to the final saving of their souls (10:39).

This faith is one that brings the future promises of God into the present so that they are assured as if they were already realized. It is not an unfounded hope but is implicit trust in God grounded in the revelation of Him through His word. This faith causes us to believe that the blessings of God are actuality and that we will possess them because of God’s own faithfulness and power to make them happen. Arthur Pink wrote concerning this faith: “The confident expectation which faith inspires, gives the objects of the Christian’s hope a present and actual being in his heart. Faith does not look out with cold thoughts about things to come, but imparts life and reality to them. Faith does for us spiritually what fancy does for us naturally. There is a faculty of the understanding which enables us to picture to the mind’s eye things which are yet future. But faith does more: it gives not an imaginary appearance to things, but a real subsistence. Faith is a grace which unites subject and object: there is no need to ascend to Heaven, for faith makes distant things nigh (see Romans 10:6, 7). Faith, then, is the bond of union between the soul and the things God has promised. By believing we ‘receive’; by believing in Christ, He becomes ours (John 1:12). Therefore does faith enable the Christian to praise the Lord for future blessings as though he were already in the full possession of them” (Exposition of Hebrews).

This kind of faith is absolutely essential for the Christian because of the powerful enemies that war against our soul. The scripture says that God’s people are appointed to suffering and that the world is always against us. Without an enduring faith, we would soon succumb to those evil forces and give up our confidence in God. This faith is not conjured up from natural intestinal fortitude because we are incapable in our sinful disposition to believe these things are real. This faith is initiated by God. As the man in Mark 9 cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief,” so we must depend on God to grant us this kind of faith by changing our sinful nature to one that is enabled to trust God with all of our heart.

The result of this faith is seen in the following verses of Hebrews 11. Multiple examples are given of those that endured the worst persecutions imaginable without obtaining the promise in this life, yet they never thought that God had abandoned them. Their promise of eternal life with God in heaven was as sure to them as if they had already received it. This is the faith we must ask God for—a substantive faith that has complete confidence in Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection.

Pastor V. Mark Smith