Questions for Littles: Of what is faith the substance (v1)? Of what is faith the evidence? What did the elders obtain by faith (v2)? What does v3 say that we understand by faith? By what were the worlds framed? Of what were the things which are seen not made?In the sermon text this week, we thought a lot about faith. This is a subject that we want to know about, since the previous passage told us that there are two options for us: drift away and be lost, or persist in faith and be saved.
So, we want very much to know what this faith is, and the Holy Spirit immediately begins to tell us. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.”
Now, it’s important for us to understand that the word translated “hope” here isn’t a word that means uncertainty. In English we often say that we “hope” for something, when we mean that it is very unlikely, but we still wish it would happen.
But the Greek word is almost exactly the opposite. It means to be so sure of something that we do not see (usually because it hasn’t happened yet), that we can already enjoy its reality even though we don’t see it with our eyes (cf. Rom 5:1-4; Rom 8:24-25).
So, it is pretty strong for v1 to tell us that faith is the “substance” of this. A better word for “substance” is the word “assurance,” or “certainty,” or “confidence.” Hope is the enjoyment of the unseen thing’s certainty. Faith is the certainty of the unseen thing that we enjoy.
How is it the certainty of the unseen thing? Faith has verified it. Now, you can see how this is very different than what people call “blind faith.” “Blind faith” is to accept something without verification. The Scripture here says that biblical faith, saving faith, is exactly the opposite.
That’s difficult for us to understand, because we trust our eyes too much. We aren’t willing to accept alternate forms of verification. But the fact of the matter is that there is something more reliable by which something can be verified, even than if we could see it: the very word of God!
Most of the rest of the chapter will give examples of v2—how the people of old received their commendation by faith in God’s Word. But before moving onto that, v3 challenges us immediately on the doctrine of creation.
The Bible starts off with a great miracle that cannot be verified by sight. In fact, there is no theory of where things came from that can be verified by sight. Even the anti-theistic theories of men, in order to say something about origins, have to come up with very different and impossible circumstances that stretch the imagination.
The question for us is: are we willing to accept God’s Word as verification? Or, will we instead blindly believe some other theory from someone who was not there? The “we” in v3 is the “we” from 10:39. It has to be, because creation is not the biggest miracle in the Bible.
The incarnation. Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Christ’s bodily resurrection. His ascension into glory. His current, physical session (sitting) at the right hand of the majesty in glory. All of these are far greater miracles than the creation of everything from nothing.
Yet, without these, there simply is no such thing as a Christian and no hope for salvation at all.
Are you part of the “we” who accept God’s Word as the most reliable form of verification?
Who is someone that you know who doesn’t accept God’s Word as verification? What do they accept instead? What is an example of why that thing is not reliable?Suggested Songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or HB260 “The Spirit Breathes upon the Word”