Faith and its substance

Photo by Brett Jordan on

Scripture reference ( Hebrews 11:1-6)

Illustration: Imagine for a moment you are standing on the seashore, gazing at a large ocean liner. The sun is shining, there is no wind and the sea is calm. Suddenly, to your amazement, about 30 people dive off the end of the ship and cling to a lifeboat.

You shake your head in disbelief at their foolishness. Then, without warning, that great ocean-liner strikes an iceberg and suddenly sinks, taking with it all on board.

Those who looked like fools in abandoning the ship were actually wise, and those who seemed wise by staying on board, were in truth, fools!

We don’t have to have to much perception to see that this great ocean liner, mother earth, is slowly sinking. Economically, politically, and industrially, she is reeling to and fro. We have enough major problems to sink a ship—inflation, unemployment, starvation, violence, corruption, population explosion, drug addiction, etc.

The first words from the “captain of our salvation” in Mark 1:15 are to abandon ship (repent and believe the gospel), before judgement falls. In that day, those who have obeyed His word (exercised faith) will be seen by the world to be wise, and those who refused to obey the command will —sadly—–but surely—- perish.

11 Now faith is the certainty of things [a]hoped for, a [b]proof of things not seen. For by it the people of old [c]gained approval.

By faith we understand that the [d]world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying [e]about his gifts, and through [f]faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for before he was taken up, he was attested to have been pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

Those words in Hebrews tell us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of things not seen. They tell us it is impossible to please God or be saved by God without faith. Faith it seems, is very important, not just in this life, but the one to come. So, let’s take some time and look into what the word of God says about faith and how it applies to us.

FOCUS ONE: The nature of faith 

 Genesis 15:1-6 (Abraham and the promise)

Almost ten years had passed since the original promises were given. Neither Lot his nephew nor Eliezer his steward could fulfill the promise. Who then is going to be his heir? That’s the 50 million dollar question on Abrams mind.

Questions abound, but here we see God graciously revealing Himself as the Lord of the covenant. God, more explicitly, makes the promise clearer to Abram. The heir would be his very own son who was yet to be born. Greater than that the Lord tells him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God reaffirms His oath to Abram and Abram believed! His faith, we read, was “accounted to him as righteousness,” that is, a God righteousness, not a works righteousness.

Abraham exercised great faith, and that is amazing considering the lack of evidence for those promises being fulfilled. So, it appears that there is a vital difference between knowledge and faith, so, lets explore that a bit further.

FOCUS TWO: Hebrews 11:1-3 (faith the substance)

Here we can quickly gauge that there is a difference between (knowledge) and (faith). Knowledge is based on experience while faith is based on testimony. We exercise faith ever day in our society. For example, a check is accepted by faith (the issuer promised that he has the money in his account). one commentator explains: “Gospel faith rises above this everyday type of faith in one major essential: belief in the divine testimony. We have never seen God, heaven, angels, etc. The divine word, however, testifies to their existence. FAITH takes this divine testimony and acts upon it. Faith appropriates all the promises of God and proceeds on the basis of those promises. Faith gives substance to things that are not yet seen. By faith we apprehend the presently invisible and gain greater assurance of its reality.”Faith is taking almighty God at His word, asking no questions. That is what Abraham did and that is what all these people in the hall of faith recorded here did!

But faith also has many benefits.

  1. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (Blessings of)

These words remind me of Psalm one, they are almost identical. Here as in Psalm one the writer is describing the blessedness which comes to the person who trusts in the Lord. The basic idea here in a life of faith is stability (like a tree planted).

“The tree that has found a source of sustenance by putting down deep roots also yields its fruit in season, even though drought surrounds it. The roots of the life of the blessed man are found in God, in whom is his trust. Such a life, such faith, produces holiness and righteous deeds.”

  • Philippians 1:6 (God will complete what He started)

Another wonderful benefit and great encouragement is found in these words. God is the originator of our faith in Him, He is also the completer of this walk of faith (cr. Rom. 8:28-30). But faith in check writers or governments no matter how trustworthy, can never save us from our sins. That is why:

3. John 20:27-31 (Faith in Jesus is essential)

Thomas struggled with believing the Lord rose again. He did not believe the testimony of his fellow disciples and he made the statement that he would not believe unless he could See His hands and place his finger in them(look at verse 25).

8 days later the Lord appears again and Thomas is with them. The Lord gives him the opportunity to “touch and see,” but he doesn’t, he cries out “my Lord and my God.” Please take notice to what Jesus says in verse 29. “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Faith in the word of God saves. And that is even more blessed, according to Jesus, for those who do not have the opportunity to touch Him and walk with Him!

God’s word tells us how to be right with Him. It tells us how we can be forgiven and reconciled to Him. One place we see this is in John 3:16-18, 36:

God so loved the world

He gave His only Son

The one believing

Should not perish BUT have everlasting life!!

The one who believes (trusts in His promise) is born again, forgiven, justified.

The one who does not trust in His promise will not be forgiven or justified and will suffer the wrath of God for all eternity. I hope each one of us here today are trusting in His promise of salvation through Christ Jesus.

If you could imagine a place on earth that never saw the sun. Day in, day out, it is covered with a thick cloud. From the time a person was born, until the time he died, he never saw even a tiny glimpse of the sun.

Now, suppose you visited this place and tried to convince the inhabitants of the reality, beauty, and power of the sun. “where I come from,” you say, “a huge yellow ball rises up over the sea each day and floats across the sky, no strings attached, giving warmth and light to those upon the earth.”

“The reason you don’t experience it, is because you are cut off from it by the clouds.”

Although the thought may seem fantastic to those people, the fact that they don’t believe in it, does not change the reality that it exists.

Friends, each of us are born separated from the reality of God’s love by our sins. The cloud of sin cuts us off from the warmth and light of God’s love. The love of the unseen God may seem somewhat unbelievable to us, nevertheless, it is a reality.

Let us look to Christ who saves us by faith Let us walk in this life by faith not sight And one day our faith will be made sight!

Illustrations by Ray comfort

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