Friday, January 28, 2005

Faith is Substance

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1)
The Greek word for substance is hupostasis and refers to the underlying (hupo) state (stasis) of a thing. Similarly break down the English word “substance” and we find: sub (under) and stance (stand). Substance is that which stands under a thing.

In Greek, the word hupostasis had a legal meaning which signified a foundational document, such as a title-deed. That is why Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan rendered this translation: “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”

A title-deed is an important document. It shows ownership. For example, I have a car sitting in my driveway. I know that it is my car because I possess the title-deed, which demonstrates my ownership. If anybody wants to do anything with my car, they have to come and see me, because the car belongs to me. If I decide to sell the car or give it away to somebody, I will have to sign the title-deed over to them, because that will be their proof of ownership

If I have the title-deed to a piece of property, I do not even have to see the property to know that it belongs to me. I know it is mine by reason of the title-deed. As long as I possess that title-deed, there is no question that I am the owner.

Let’s talk a little bit about hope. Today we often use the word “hope” in a wavering, doubtful sort of way: “Gee, I certainly hope such and such will happen, but maybe it won’t.” Not so in the Bible. The Greek word for “hope” in the New Testament is elpis. It refers to an anticipation, a positive expectation. The same is true of the Hebrew word for “hope” in the Old Testament. In the Bible, “hope” is not a word of doubt, but of confidence, and that is how it is used in Hebrews 11:1.

Now, let’s put it all together: Faith is the substance, the underlying reality, the title-deed of things we are expecting.

Remember that we are talking about Biblical faith, that is, the kind of faith the Bible talks about. It is the faith that comes by hearing the Word of God, the faith that believes the promises of God.

When we believe what God has promised in His Word, we possess the title-deed to whatever it is that He has promised. That thing is ours, it belongs to us. Because we have believed God’s promise, we have every right and expectation to see it come to pass. It makes no difference whether or not we have seen it yet, it belongs to us anyway.

Do you have faith that what God says is true? What promises of God are you specifically believing Him for? Do you expect to see them happen, or are you still uncertain? Remember that faith (believing the Word of God) is your title-deed to what God has promised, then your hope will be sure.