The Substance of Things Hoped For
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
A substance is something you can taste, touch, see, hear, or smell. Anything that has substance is something we call real. Here is a truth,
If you have faith, real faith, it reveals its substance in what you do or don’t do. In other words, living faith is evidenced by real world action or sometimes even in-action. For instance, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price. In His story the man who finds it buys a whole field in order to possess it. The substance of that mans faith is evidenced by the fact that he took action to possess it. In other words he paid the price.
Noah, demonstrated his faith through building a boat on dry land, simply because God told him to do so. We can imagine how people mocked him and told him, especially as the years dragged on, how crazy he was. His belief in the Word of God that foretold of a great flood, caused him to take action and that action was the substance of His faith. The great Ark was a testimony to an evil generation of a flood that had not happened yet. It was a visible and prescient warning to all the world that God had determined, to judge sin. The Ark was the substance of His faith.
We read in the book of James,
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
James teaches us that a man who says he has faith, but demonstrates no evidence of his belief, is fooling himself. If you believe, you will do according to that belief. If you believe in Jesus, you will obey His commandments. If you believe in heaven, you will work to lay up your treasure there and not strive to accumulate earthy wealth. Your priorities will be ordered by, and will show evidence of your faith.
At times, the substance of our faith is in-action and that price can be even higher. When Jesus was told Lazarus was sick, the Bible says he tarried. In the gospel of John we read,
“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”
Jesus probably knew that Lazarus was dying for he knew of his death,
“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead”
John 11: 14
It took great faith on the part of Jesus to not act to prevent Lazarus’s death, because He knew He could. Sometimes the substance of faith is not to do what your natural man wants to do. We read further in John,
“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”
Not doing what people expect of you because God has not released you to do so is perhaps one of the most difficult forms of substantive faith. You love people so much you want to meet their expectations and relieve their suffering. However, until God allows you to act you must not act or the objectives of God may be derailed. People, not understanding what God is doing, may even ridicule you for not acting as expected. In John we read again,
“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?”
In the end Jesus’ great faith of in-action resulted in one of the greatest miracles He ever performed. It is written,
“And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.”
Friends, if you truly believe, your life will reflect that belief in the actions or in-actions you take. If you say you believe, but do not have action or in-action that follows, then your faith has no substance and, as James says, it is dead. What God asks us to do on a daily basis is not difficult to understand, but it is costly for the natural man to follow. However, if our spiritual man believes we will certainly act accordingly.
We need to unify and encourage each other to put the substances of our faith together, to work in unity, so that we might realize our collective hope in Him. If we truly believe then our actions, the substance of things hoped for, will surely follow.