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October 15 2013 3 15 /10 /October /2013 14:58

...what it is, and what it isn't.


"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...."

Thus begins the most well known Biblical treatise on the subject of that spiritual condition known as "Faith", found in Hebrews 11:1.


The definition of the word "substance" can be found in Strong's concordance, where it is extrapolated from the Greek - #5287 ὑπόστασις hupostasis hoop-os’-tas-is from a compound of 5259 and 2476; n f; TDNT-8:572,1237; { See TDNT 820} AV-confidence 2, confident 1, person 1, substance 1; 5


1) a setting or placing under, thing put under, substructure, foundation

2) that which has foundation, is firm, 2a) that which has actual existence

2a1) a substance, real being ,2b) the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing, 2c) the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution

2c1) confidence, firm trust, assurance


So we see by this that it is more than a mere concept. We see that, though it can not be experienced by the five senses, in an immediate way, it is substantial,  it is real,  it is foundational to our belief structure, in fact, it is what we build our trust in God on. It is/was what produces the matter on which our world stands - it was by faith in His own words that God spoke this physical world into existence. 


It also states that Faith is "evidence", that those things which not seen by the naked human eye are, in fact, real - more real than those which are seen!


Evidence -1650 ἔλεγχος elegchos el’-eng-khos from 1651; n m; TDNT-2:476,221;

{ See TDNT 231} AV-reproof 1, evidence 1; 2 1) a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested 2) conviction


If this is studied out one sees that it is like the evidences by which scientific theories come to be proven as actual fact, or like the solid clues, or "evidence" introduced in a courtroom, by which an accusation becomes a legal, or firm, conviction. In both cases a common word is "proof". So faith is PROOF of our trust in God. And it is said to physically "produce" those things which that trust would indicate. For example, as Abraham and Sarah's faith produced Isaac; Moses' faith produced the freedom of the Israelites from Pharoah's slavery, etc.; so our Faith will result in whatever its possessor is believing for - righteousness, holiness, healing, contentment, diligence....etc.


However, in reading through the "faith hall of fame", which is found in Hebrews eleven, I am struck with a profound realization that the generally accepted teachings on this subject have profoundly missed something! Had the people listed in this text been judged by today's commonly accepted definition they would have to be marked off the list! The criteria that the main-stream religious bunch have used to determine whether someone is "walking by faith" or not, has been severely perverted from this text's clear implications! It varies so far from the intended meaning that I am fairly sure that most of those people listed - who were declared to be people of great faith - of whom it was said that the world was not worthy, no less - would not have even passed muster under the criteria of the modern day charismaniac!


Sorry. I do not want to fall into mockery, nor an attitude of judgment. However, I admit that I have lost patience entirely with much of the doctrine on this subject that has been rampant for the last couple of decades! It has been so confusing, so unnecessarily complicated, so condemning, and so paralyzing! It has caused many sheep to wander off, to flee in order to preserve something of their sanity and hope! And for those of us who have hung in there, it has been one huge sort and pitch session, hoping to find something of value in the melee' of false, burdensome ideology. It has been much like thrift-store shopping, in that one must spend hours and hours of digging through junk to find one thing of some value, even an occasional treasure!  It has typically taken way too much time and patience - but the vote is still out on whether that which was gained was commensurate to the effort - right now I have my serious doubts.


Faith has too long been measured by the exact same status symbols which the world uses to assign worth to humans! One is considered to have great Faith, for example, if one has garnered the attention of a majority, or if one's "ministry" has obtained its own jet! Mother Theresa had great determination, great humility, and great success, but you won't hear her touted as a great 'person of faith" among those who believe themselves to be great in this area.


What!? As ridiculous as that seems to me, I am simply stating the obvious conclusions of what I have observed. It is utterly absurd of course, but seems true nonetheless! As far as I understand how this system works the common criteria would exclude this true saint of God, who put her "money where her mouth was" - in other words, she actually lived out in real time every day what she claimed to believe! That is faith in operation! Not this "name it and claim it" mess that has pervaded all of charismania! While it is necessary to speak forth one's beliefs with authority, what has been missed is that there IS NO Authority if one is not living up to the standard one is claiming to believe! 


This one example alone tells me all I need to know about the common "faith message". This woman, Mother Theresa, lived a life of great faith - one of the greatest in modern history! She just didn't use her success in this realm to heap things to herself; she didn't live for the accolades of mankind, nor the creature comforts of this world. She lived for the smile of her maker, and the relief of her fellow creatures, and by my observation she was wildly successful at both.


Now, don't get me wrong. I am not one of those who believe that money is the root of all evil! I do believe that the excessive love of it is! But it is said of Abraham that he was "Blessed to be a blessing", and that he was one of the richest men of his time, in those things that counted as assets back then. As ONE of our examples in the faith, we can expect to be blessed in what we do! Faith does produce! But the issue comes in what we are using our faith to produce! Mother Theresa had millions of dollars come through her hands over the years, but it was used to benefit millions of people, not just herself and those few nuns closest by!


"Faith" is not merely the ability to conjure things up by speaking in a certain way, as is commonly taught - in fact, that is more like voodoo or witchcraft! Faith does speak with confidence about what it really believes, but those beliefs are not based in creature comforts or fleshly motivations - and those words/beliefs are backed up by life choices! The beliefs which under-gird faith are based solely on confidence in what God has said, and in His Character, which does not lie! Faith is an absolute, unshakeable belief in the Written, proved, spoken Word of God. That is the source from which our substance comes. So a life of faith is best demonstrated in a life of obedience to the Word of God! Cover to cover, not just select portions! It is written, "Faith works through obedience....".


We obtain the power to obey through Faith in God - His Word, Written and Living! It is also Written, that, "Faith works through LOVE"! It can not work through prideful self-orientation! Faith must be acted on, not passively presumed upon. Works are empty without faith, but faith is impotent without works! Mother Theresa's faith was based on a belief that God is good, and therefore wanted to do good to others through His servants - that fervent belief is why she dedicated all of her days to the doing of that good. She kept very little for herself. She was a very clear, successful picture of faith in action - which is the only kind of true faith there is!


But we are taught to want so much, to believe that we need so much! We can not get a clear picture of what service to God - or to others on His behalf - looks like because it is so muddied by the glitz of the world. We have erred in that we have let the world define "blessing" for us, what it must look like. The result is that we usually look to those who have great finances to be the ones who have the great faith! They can have! But it can also be great marketing techniques! We need to realize that wealth is not the ONLY measurement of Faith! We have clearly succumbed to the criteria of the fallen flesh. We have left God's definition of "faith" far behind, in a pile of presumption and fleshly lusts. We have misplaced our values and have developed twisted priorities. We are in need of a cleansing.


But we are in luck! The same Word which is the fuel of our Faith, will also wash us clean of our filth and presumption, if we will spend enough time soaking in it - and soaking it in! It is Written that, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God". I have always found that wording to be a bit curious. But as I think on it it slowly sinks in. Faith "comes" - is generated and accessed - by getting into the Word of God, by hearing it - precisely - as we meditate on it, perhaps, by speaking it out loud? And our hearing is turned on, or tuned in, by spending time in the Word of God! Our ability to hear with the ears of the Spirit, not the carnal understanding of the fallen human nature.


The Word of God opens up vistas to us not available to the normal human nature. Faith is a supernatural building material, it can not be manipulated by human flesh. It is generated by the Word of God, and it is accessed by Spirit of God enlivened spirit-men, and used most effectively by those whose utter existence revolves around God, His will, His Word, and His Work! People of great faith, who successfully walk in faith, are not some spooky super humans of comic book ilk, but simply people who have taken the time and devotion to dig into the Word of God, with the intention to get to know this Great God! Faith is all about knowing God, faith does not come from just knowing about Him. It is about knowing and doing His Word, not just knowing it enough to show it off in thereligious realm. It was never intended as a religious status symbol! Real faith produces humility, not pride. 


Faith is about using what we learn, not to get ahead, but to get a heart. Faith first produces His loving character in us, and then that character begins to command worlds! Faith is a mountain moving, cancer healing, dead raising, demon defeating, storm quenching force! But only in the hands of someone whose trust lies solely in an Almighty God - whose trust is well developed. "The Just Shall LIVE by FAITH", it is written. And we have come to the time wherein those who do NOT actually, fully LIVE by their faith possibly will not make it to the end of their race with even their initial faith in tact! The enemy is anti-faith, and anti-God. He is out to defeat us, to drive us away from faith, if he can - our faith is what God uses to defeat him! Of course he would like to minimize that! Yeshua questioned, "When Messiah comes, will He find faith on the earth?" That is a very good question indeed. He sure won't find any if His people do not cultivate it!


Our work is not going down a list of religious good works and just marking them off so we can get a gold star on our Sunday School chart. When we stand in judgment on that day, God will not be looking for gold stars! He will be looking for those who look like Him, who have allowed His Spirit to use His Word to transform them into His image. He will be looking for those whose faith have brought them to Him, Holy, Whole and fully redeemed. It will not matter then whether they drove hot cars or walked, whether they dressed in brand names or rags, whether they conquered lions or just their own flesh, whether they ministered to millions or just raised children who loved God. God is not in a numbers racket. Souls matter, of course! And the more brought in the better! But even better are those who are not just brought in, then left to fin for themselves, but those few who are actually discipled - and made entirely fit - for the Kingdom of God! Those will be the ones who endure to the end and who will enter the gates of His Kingdom in honor, hearing the longed for words, "Well done, good and faithful servant...".


That is the ultimate goal of faith, that is what it was sent to produce. Otherwise we are fighting as one who beats the air, boxing at shadows. Otherwise our religion is vain, worthless, a profound waste of our time and resources. Will we be found in faith when He comes? Working in it, living in it, thriving in it? That is the question. That is the point. When He comes, may we be found faith-full!




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  • Sandra Carlton Duncan
  • I am a devoted follower of Yeshua, the Messiah. I have been married to Gene Duncan II for 37  years, and counting. I have 7 children, 3 boys & 4 girls - all grown up. They have been home educated, K-12. I also write, hence the blog  (including, but not limited to: children's books, poems, and personal growth art. ) Please stay tuned as I share my personal journey through poems and writing.
  • I am a devoted follower of Yeshua, the Messiah. I have been married to Gene Duncan II for 37 years, and counting. I have 7 children, 3 boys & 4 girls - all grown up. They have been home educated, K-12. I also write, hence the blog (including, but not limited to: children's books, poems, and personal growth art. ) Please stay tuned as I share my personal journey through poems and writing.