Heb 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)
I must once again give credit where it is due and thank the Holy Spirit for the revelation of this particular passage.
Of all the topics (and controversies) surrounding The Bible (and any form of deity worship for that matter); faith is, perhaps, the most contested and often challenged point of conversation. You NEED it to believe in any deity that inhabits a metaphysical/spiritual domain and it’s the point at which many Christians (in particular) becoming unstuck. You believe what you believe because you believe it for what it is, not because it can be proven or tested through methodological scrutiny.
I have always been thoroughly impressed with the verse that begins Hebrews Chapter 11 because as a man that greatly appreciates logic; it is the closest I have come across to a “dictionary definition” of any topic within The Bible. By the way, a dictionary defines faith as “trust of confidence in a person or thing; a strong conviction…” It was always a good memory verse I learned from childhood but it never really made sense till I thought about it afresh after listening to “Off the Hook” by The Cross Movement.
Now, the following will be aimed largely at those who are familiar with the Christian faith and the nature of God. Those who subscribe to it SHOULD know that judgment comes for all men (according to Heb 9:27: “And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment”; see also Acts 17:31) and that Christ acts as an “Advocate” for us to The Father (1John 2:1).
Now, when I thought of this definition offered up by Hebrews, two things stood out to me: “Now faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.” It is generally accepted that the physical and spiritual realms operate according to different rules and with this in mind; I’d like to propose my understanding of this verse.
If every man is to stand before God to face judgement then it stands to reason that every man will need a lawyer with which to defend his or herself as well as evidence to support/refute any allegations.
We have already established that Christ is our Advocate (not the capitalisation signifying a noun) to The Father who will be the judge. We know that all have sinned & fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23) so the evidence against us WILL be overwhelming!
I propose this: suppose that while to us, in the physical realm; Faith is an intangible, obscure CONCEPT based on belief; but in the spiritual realm Faith is tangible matter. It is what Christ will present as evidence in your defence on the day of judgement. To God, your faith is matter that is real as the screen with which you read this.
That is to say, it can be touched, weighed, measured and is completely quantifiable. I propose that to God, our faith is a substance that can be grasped. It stands before Him as evidence (in the legal sense) as an item with which a person’s guilt can be proven or absolved. Your faith will speak for or against you on the day of judgement.
In conclusion, Faith IS a substance when you hope for something from God. A bank account of sorts from which you can withdraw for whatever your needs are (See Matthew 9:29) as long as you have credit to match it (on most occasions). Luke 5:20 specifically refers to Jesus the Christ “seeing” the faith of a person as does Paul in Acts 14:9.
Your faith will serve as evidence to justify you (Rom 5:1) but it is important to remember that your faith not only serves as insurance for requests from God but also to encourage YOU in whatever you do – Roman 14:22. Be confident in what you believe knowing that you do so according to the measure that God has given you – 1Cor 2:5, 1Cor 16:3, 2Cor 5:7 and all of Hebrews Chapter 11.