One of the elementary principles of faith is the ability to trust the unseen. But trusting the unseen is not the same as trusting the unknown. Although we might not yet have seen a promise from God fulfilled, it is necessary to have a promise so that true faith can operate. Faith must be connected to something that God said, not just to a whim that we might devise.
Someone might say, “I am believing God for bigger and better things and I expect it to happen because I believe it.” That is not having faith in God at all. Taking such a position is an attempt to believe in something that the Lord has never spoken through His covenant word, and it is an attempt to trust the unknown. It is putting faith in faith itself and is utterly foreign to biblical teaching.
Biblical faith is founded in our covenant with God and becomes operative as He reveals the tenets of that covenant to us. Faith then reaches out to God with expectant confidence that He will reward it. Hebrews 11:6 reveals this expectancy: “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
We all readily believe that God is (i.e., He exists in the eternal realm), or else we couldn’t exercise faith toward Him. Although we believe that God is, we often do not believe that He is presently rewarding those who are diligently seeking Him.
If we don’t expect that God is presently rewarding all who are diligently seeking Him, why bother to seek Him at all? The expectancy of faith reaches into the heart of God and, bringing His word into focus, applies it.
Another principle of having faith in God is that faith has substance. It is not something mystical and nebulous, but it has solid grounds of existence. The first reference for this principle is Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The word “substance” in this verse means “a setting under; a support; a foundation; an assurance; or an essence.” It is the underpinning of the things hoped for, even before seeing the evidence.
God always gives us a promise that it is beyond our experience. Faith is the uniting link that reaches out beyond the “comfort zone” of experience and expectantly embraces that promise. It is the substance of our assurance that the promise will become our experience. Faith then is the means through which ordinary men and women enter into the extraordinary realms of God.
To gain a greater understanding of the substance of faith, I will look at the same word used in two other references, both in Hebrews. The word used in each of these verses is the Greek word HUPOSTASIS.
The first reference is Hebrews 1:3: “who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person….” The word translated “person” in this verse is the same word as translated “substance” in the eleventh chapter!
Think of it. The substance of faith is a Person! That is why having faith in faith is not a Godly principle. We must have faith in God because God Himself is the substance of faith. When we put faith in what God said, we’re placing faith in His person. The integrity and immutability of His being are the very bedrock of faith! Therefore, we can have strong confidence and great anticipation that God will fulfill the promise as we come to Him.
HUPOSTASIS is found again in Hebrews 3:14: “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” The word translated “confidence” is the same word that is translated “substance” in chapter eleven!
Now we have a compound definition for the substance of faith: The very substance, the foundation, the essence of faith is the steadfast confidence in the person of God Himself! This confidence is why faith comes to us through the righteousness of God, who cannot lie. As our confidence in Him deepens, so does our faith!