“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). Some see this as a comprehensive definition of faith. I believe the apostle’s words are more accurately a preface to what follows in the real life illustrations of faith in chapter 11. Faith is defined comprehensively in the activity of these people who believed.
- In this lesson we will consider the first part of Hebrews 1:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” What connection does faith have to hope? Do you have a faith that hopes?
I. The Substance of My Faith: The word “hupostasis” , which we translate “substance”, or assurance, signifies subsistence, that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on. This word is used twice more in Hebrews. In 1:3 it is rendered “person” or “exact representation”, as opposed to mere appearance. In Heb. 3:14 it is translated assurance or confidence.
A. Faith is the source of confidence that is expressed in our hope. One author states that faith is the present essence of a future reality. “Faith gives reality to the things that are hoped for.”(Chrysostom).
1. Faith is not illusion or mere wishful thinking. The idea presented here is that of substance or reality. I like the word “confidence”. The Christian has confidence. He is not just reaching out into thin air and “hoping on a star” that things will work out in the end. True faith has substance. How can I have confident faith?
a. By heeding the testimony of God in scripture. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) Peter spoke much about the force of hope in our lives. Out hope keeps us going and keeps us going straight. Notice in 1 Peter 1 how he describes the substance of this hope as faith in God revealed word. 1 Peter 1:3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
- A hope that is alive, looking toward an inheritance that is certain (reserved by God) and kept alive for us through the power of God through faith.
- Peter goes on to say that our faith is tested through trouble and is refined so as to survive until the full revelation of Jesus Christ (v. 6-7). Notice how he describes this victorious faith that sustains our hope
b. 1 Peter 1:8-9 – whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls.
- We do not see Him but we believe. Christians are certain (confident) of what they have not seen with their own eyes. By living according to their confident assurance they obtain the salvation of their souls (end of their faith) On what basis do they have this confidence?
c. 1 Peter 1:10-12 – Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things which angels desire to look into.
- Peter takes the source of this saving faith back to the revealed words of God. The prophets prophesied of “the grace that would come to you” , and these very things that were spoken to the O.T. prophets have been reported through those who have preached the gospel to you – “sent to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”.
- Paul told the Ephesians – “… you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:” My faith is not a blind leap or a wish in the dark. I am certain of what I believe because God has spoken.
II. The Direction of My Faith: The substance of my faith looks in all directions. I am certain about the past, the present and the future.
A. I am certain about the past through faith. I believe that God created all things. I believe the accurate and historical account of man’ beginning in Genesis. I believe that God worked through Abraham to call His own people to holiness in preparation for the coming of Christ, my Savior.
1. I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin at just the right time in history. That he performed miracles, revealed the character of God through perfect obedience, voluntarily died on a Roman cross, rose from the grave after 3 days and ascended to heaven. “I believe in hill called my Calvary. I’ll believe whatever the cost” Do you believe that too? On what basis – God has spoken.
B. I am also certain about the present. We may think that faith does not apply to the present because we can see what is happening today. But can you see everything with your eyes? Are you forgiven of your sins? Are you pleasing to God now?
1. I believe that I am redeemed form my sins at this very moment in the blood of Jesus. I believe that God hears me when I pray, cares about every aspect of my life, intercedes with his own blood when I ask for forgiveness. I believe that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for me in my prayers with groaning which cannot be uttered. I believe that God gives me every good gift and is the source of all blessings. I believe that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord. How can I be certain of those present realities? Because God has spoken.
C. I am also certain about the future. This is the one direction that poses the greatest challenge to our faith. How can we be confident of what is not yet happened? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” My faith is the basis for my hope.
1. I believe that this world will not destroy itself through environmental mismanagement or a great ecological mishap. I am confident that this world will end in the blazing melting heat of God’s divine judgment. How can you be certain? God has spoken.
- The last chapter of Peter’s 2nd epistle focuses on the end and the reality of the Christian hope. Not everyone knows what is to come. Not everyone believes, but we can be certain. Read 2 Peter 3:1-13
- Notice that Peter connects their faith in the reality of the past (Noah and the flood) with their certain expectation of the future (‘earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire”) and even their conduct in the present (“what manner of person ought you to be…” . It is all based on faith.
2. I believe that Jesus Christ will return and judge all men according to their works.
- 2 Cor 5:9-10 – 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
- Acts 17:30-31 – Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
3. I believe there is a hell prepared for the Devil and his angels. I believe that God’s wrath will be extended towards those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:8)
4. I also believe there is a heaven. I am confident that God has prepared a place for His people, separate from sin and every vestige of suffering or pain. An eternal dwelling with God, undefiled, incorruptible and that will never fade away. That is my hope. I am certain of it through faith because God has spoken.
III. The Hope of My Faith. We often use the word hope to describe uncertainty. It may be something that we want, but it is not a sure thing. “I hope the economy turns around”, “I hope the Bengals win the Superbowl next year”. We do not really even expect it, but we have hope. Biblical hope goes further. When the Christian speaks of hope he is speaking about that which is real and certain. This is true for the Christian because his hope is based on his faith.
A. Let me express that another way: If God is trustworthy, my hope is certain. Can God be trusted to always keep his promises? Do you have absolute confidence in Him? The extent to which you trust God is the measure of your hope.
B. Take Abraham for example. (we will look closely at the extent of his faith in a future lesson). But consider Hebrews 6. How did God instill hope in Abraham?
- Heb 6:13-20 –For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
1. God’s promise to Abraham was based upon God’s inherent trustworthiness (swore by himself.) God could not give us any stronger consolation than the veracity of His own words.
- 2 Tim 1:12 – I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
2. My faith is based upon the fact that it is impossible for God to lie. Have you ever been surprised when another person whom you thought a lot of turned out to be a liar – (Mark McGuire, Pete Rose,) Seems as though nobody can tell the truth all the time – God cannot lie. That is the source of my faith and the basis for my hope.
3. How does your hope impact your life? That is the story of Heb. 11. These people lived in a certain expectation that motivated every decision. They did not live by sight but by faith. The hope that God instilled by faith in Abraham caused him to endure to the end and receive the promise (v. 15).
- Heb 11:13-16 – 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
- Their hope was an anchor for the soul – sure and steadfast. – The purpose of the anchor is keep you from moving. The anchor of the ship disappears into the darkness of the sea, but is connected to the ship with the rope. My hope rests in what is not seen, but it is attached to the seen through faith. My hope is sure because it is rooted in Christ, the rock. It keeps me from moving because I am connected to it through faith.
- I Like how Adam Clarke describes our anchor of hope: The storms of life continue but a short time; the anchor, hope, if fixed by faith in the eternal world, will infallibly prevent all shipwreck; the soul may be strongly tossed by various temptations, but will not drive, because the anchor is in sure ground, and itself is steadfast; it does not drag, and it does not break; faith, like the cable, is the connecting medium between the ship and the anchor, or the soul and its hope of heaven; faith sees the haven, hope desires and anticipates the rest; faith works, and hope holds fast; and, shortly, the soul enters into the haven of eternal repose. (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
- The writer of Hebrews says that this steadfast anchoring hope has entered the Presence behind the veil. This refers to the veil of the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the holy place. The inner compartment was the presence of God Himself (notice the capital “P” in Presence). No one except the high priest could enter. Jesus entered that place once and for all with His own blood. He opened the way for me to follow through faith. I am certain of my salvation because Jesus is my High Preist.
Conclusion: My hope goes with Jesus and His blood behind the veil into the presence of God. I believe in the blood of Jesus. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Do you believe? Do you have hope?