Faith is something I give attention to and from time to time I reflect on the practical issues of faith as a lifestyle. This reflection is a fresh way to communicate what “living by faith” is all about. But before I get to that, let me back track with you and give you a couple of headlines on why faith is a big deal for me.
Faith is the only way to please God! That’s what Hebrews 11:6 says. “Now, without faith it is impossible to please Him” (meaning God). That means that “faith” has to be a primary quality in every person’s life. If we do not have faith we do not please God. This does not mean we have to blindly believe crazy things. We can have a reasoned understanding of the things we believe. But when all is said and done “faith” must be the essential ingredient. Otherwise we have completely failed to please God.
Christians, therefore, are not to simply apply faith as some initiation rite into the fold. Faith must be an on-going element of the Christian life and lifestyle. It is no use saying, “I had faith 35 years ago when I put my trust in Jesus.” In order to “please” God we must have an ongoing experience of faith. The Bible refers to that as “living by faith”. The concept is given in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4) and quoted several times by New Testament writers (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). “Righteous people will live by faith”.
Living by faith can involve two broad expressions – the pro-active faith that presses in to win battles and make gain; and the passive lifestyle of faithfulness that maintains commitment and direction over time and against obstacles. The Greek word translated ‘faith’ in the New Testament can equally be translated as ‘faithfulness’. So, faith does not have to be demonstrative to be real and to please God.
OK, so that’s my quick summary of some faith essentials. Now, to the point at hand. Faith functions in the Christian’s life in the same way that ‘substance’ does. That means that a person who has faith for an outcome will feel the same joy, etc as someone who actually already has the outcome. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Faith is the substance of the things that are hoped for. It is the evidence of things which are unseen” (Hebrews 11:1).
A person who has faith already “has” the substance of what they believe for. Faith does not leave a person in a “hope so” state. It brings an assured confidence in the outcome. Over the years I have met some lovely and well-meaning people who were raised on the “do good” gospel. These sweet people made it their business to be caring, sacrificial servants who did as many good works as they could. Yet they were putting their faith for eternal salvation and God’s favour, in their good works. One such lady said to me, “I hope I get to heaven”. She had no ‘substance’ – because she did not have faith.
Now, let me fuse two of the faith verses together and give you my fresh perception. If Christians are to “live by faith” and “faith is the substance”, then people of faith, are people who are “Living in the Substance”.
Christians are people who live in the substance of salvation, their eternal destiny, God’s blessing, their victory over sin and the devil, their hope of glory and so on.
Another way of putting it is that people of faith are the Possessors of the Unseen. Yet again, people of faith live in the reality that others do not see yet, because people of faith have the substance even before it is outworked in their lives. Which ever way you look at it, living by faith is a radical lifestyle. It is the way millions of people live, right across the globe. It is the privilege that gives eternal and miraculous power to the underprivileged, disadvantaged, inconsequential and overlooked people in the world. It is something that everyone should enjoy.
I recommend living by faith. I recommend “Living in the Substance”.