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Home » Opinion » The Evidence Of Faith’s Substance

The Evidence Of Faith’s Substance

 The Evidence Of Faith’s Substance

October 6, 2012

Defining The Substance Of Christian Faith

By Ed Croteau

I spend time with teenagers every week, getting the opportunity to have them explain to me and each other how they deal with many of the social and cultural issues going on today. I like to ask them how Jesus Christ is relevant in their lives, or what forms the real substance behind your faith in Him?

I usually use the following illustration to get them thinking: “Have you ever seen someone you didn’t know, who you thought was very attractive, and you wanted to go on a date with that person? But once you spent some time with them, you found there was no substance to them?”

Everyone knows what “substance” I’m talking about – it’s what lies beneath the veneer, and it’s what matters. Is there substance behind your faith in Christ, or is it because, in our church culture, we are comfortable just “having faith”? What is it about Jesus Christ that makes Him attractive enough to you to follow Him?
The Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 - “Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The word for faith means a firm conviction in, not just believing; and the object of faith is a Person. It’s not faith in God’s promises, which are the occasions to exercise my faith, but rather in God Himself. 

The word for substance is really awesome – it’s the Greek word “hupostasis” that is broken down into two parts: “hupo” means “under”, and “stasis” means “to stand upon”. So the Bible says faith is what I “stand upon, under me”, or “understanding”! Jesus doesn’t want my faith to be how many critics of Christian faith in America would say, “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable”. That’s not faith – that’s being gullible or naïve – that’s a lack of thinking.

Faith is a reasoning trust. Scripture’s argument is that since people are different than animals, people should behave differently (Psalm 32:9 “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding…”). God expects us to use our minds to understand His character and the promises He makes to us. As Hebrews 11:1 says, it is this reasoning conviction in my mind and my heart that defines my future hope and assurance that He will keep His promises

So what exactly is the substance behind Jesus Christ? He tells us there’s a lot more to Him that His physical appearance – listen to the evidence, in His own words, where He:

1) claims to be the only way for you or me to go to heaven: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6)

2) claims to be God: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), and

3) claims to have come to serve you and me, by paying with His life for the sins you and I have committed that separate us from Him: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

When you look beyond what people say about Jesus, and check out the evidence for yourself, there is unparalleled substance to Him, that make Him worthy of your trust. He asks you four questions in the Bible for your benefit, not His, so you can gage very easily where He stands with you:

1) “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

2) “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

3) “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17)

4) “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38)

Next week, we’ll begin looking at the overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Bible, so you can have confidence that what Jesus says has been accurately transmitted to you and I.

Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence”.

He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at  Editor@lstribune.net.

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  1. Kevin Hubbard says:
    October 7th, 2012 at 17:17
    The book "George Washington's Sacred Fire" by Jerry Newcombe and Peter Lillback is a thoroughly researched evaluation of Washington's faith and how it guided his motives and principles. In a speech to the Delaware chiefs (local native American Indians) on May 12, 1779, Washington said, "This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One People with your brethren of the United States. My ears hear with pleasure the other matters you mention. Congress will be glad to hear them too. You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a stronger and happier people than you are."
    Thomas Jefferson stated, "God, who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed our only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?" In fact, the concept of a natural law, that God had set apart special liberties for man, was so prevalent in the minds of the Founders and of the people, that Jefferson felt wholly understood when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
    John Adams pointed out that our form of government, known as Federalism (a representative republic with a small central government), was intended "for a just and religious people." He added that "it is wholly inadequate for any other." Thus, the architects of our nation were counting on the Christian faith as the moral glue that keeps us together. The form of government they created would not long last in any other society.
    These are three examples out of thousands demonstrating that our nation was founded by Christians and on Christian principles. The evidence is overwhelming. I encourage you to study the true history of the founding of our nation…it is indeed a remarkable story!
    Recommended reading…
    George Washington's Sacred Fire, authors as above
    The Real Thomas Jefferson by Andrew Allison
    The Jefferson Lies by David Barton
    A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen
    The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart
    The Great Awakening; The Roots of Evangelical Christianity by Thomas Kidd
    Indivisible by James Robison and Jay Richards
  2. Jacob Cumberford says:
    October 7th, 2012 at 21:23
    I will attest to what Ed is saying. When you experience the substance of who Christ is and how he has a relationship with me and you, you will never understand how you lived life without him. The evidence for everything about Christianity is overwhelming and when take that step to see if his substance actually has substance the journey is truly amazing.
  3. Gary Lon Brown says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 11:39
    Ed, well said. I agree so far. We are challenged a number of times in the Bible to use our minds in relation to God and faith matters.
    Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
  4. Rob says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 20:10
    You can't use the Bible to prove the Bible. That's a circular argument. There is no evidence that any of the supernatural events in the Bible are true. The earliest OT documents we have date to 250 BCE. That leaves plenty of room for embellishment, forgery and editing. If we can't trust the OT, how can we take anything in the NT seriously?
    I find the whole "substance" thing funny coming from Ed. None of his arguments for his faith have any substance. Spend 10 minutes on the internet and you can refute all his claims.
    The man is an intellectual coward. When provided against that refute his claims, he plays the victim card and shut off contact.
  5. Joseph Goedecke says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 20:21
    I completely agree, once you piece together what Christ has actually done for you and me and put it into perspective of our daily lives. It has made a huge impact on my life. If you allow Him to, it can completely change your perspective on how you treat others and just how you view the world in general. Knowing that you have what you have only because someone gave their life for you! It's like looking through an entire new lens! Then once you begin to piece all the facts together it becomes surreal. Being able to look through history or science and see evidences of Christ; always blows my mind.
  6. rob says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 20:23
    Kevin: What X-tian ideals specifically? The Constitution mentions no specifics religion. Don't most religions believe in a creator being?
    The founding fathers believed in seperation of church and state. The ideals we hold in such high regard are not unique to X-tianity. Most of them came from the Enlightenment in Europe. Compare the 10 Commandments to our Constitution and they're largely different. Look at other cultures and religions from before or the same time as X-tianity and many hold similiar principles. The US being a X-tian nation is a myth.
  7. rob says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 20:45
    Heres some basic history for you guys courtesy of wikipedia:
    "The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century (1715–1789), especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other. Influenced by the scientific revolution of the 17th century and the humanist period during the Renaissance, the Enlightenment took scientific reasoning and applied it to human nature, society, and religion.
    Politically, the age is distinguished by an emphasis upon liberty, democracy, republicanism and religious tolerance – culminating in the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Attempts to reconcile science and religion resulted in a rejection of prophecy, miracle and revealed religion, often in preference for Deism. Historians have considered how the ideas of John Locke and republicanism merged to form republicanism in the United States. The most important leaders of the American Enlightenment include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Wilson."
  8. Rob says:
    October 9th, 2012 at 20:56
    Here's the kicker:
    "Both the Moderate Enlightenment and a Radical or Revolutionary Enlightenment were reactions against the authoritarianism, irrationality and obscurantism of the established churches. Philosophes such as Voltaire depicted organized Christianity as a tool of tyrants and oppressors and as being used to defend monarchism, it was seen as hostile to the development of reason and the progress of science and incapable of verification.
    An alternative religion was Deism, the philosophical belief in a deity based on reason, rather than religious revelation or dogma. It was a popular perception among the philosophes, who adopted deistic attitudes to varying degrees. Deism greatly influenced the thought of intellectuals and Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, perhaps George Washington and, especially, Thomas Jefferson.[14] The most articulate exponent was Thomas Paine, whose The Age of Reason was written in France in the early 1790s, and soon reached America. Paine was highly controversial; when Jefferson was attacked for his Deism in the 1800 election, Republican politicians took pains to distance their candidate from Paine.[15]"
    A government based on Christian principles would be what government our founding fathers were getting away from. One where the ruler is divine and absolute. The Bible is barbaric. Based on secular reasoning our founding fathers created a government more humane, rational, and just than anything found in the Bible. Eternal punishment based on finite crimes? That's Jesus's judicial system right there. A big brother figure who judges you on your thoughts and not your actions, that's Yahveh right there.
    You X-tians have secular philosophy to thank for your country. Thank god for atheism.
  9. Kevin Hubbard says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 04:58
    Please submit your supporting documentation for your position. I've submitted my supporting documentation, direct from the Founders themselves.
    I wish you well.
  10. Randy Walker says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 15:47
    You make a pretty bold statement when you say, "Spend 10 minutes on the internet and you can refute all his claims." If it is that easy, you shouldn't have any problem presenting the evidence to refute what Ed has said. Just be aware that not everything on the internet is true. I hope we can continue to share information and have a disscussion of the facts. I am very interested in seeing your eveidence.
  11. David Lee says:
    October 13th, 2012 at 21:29
    "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
    ~In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813
    "In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity."
    ~John Quincy Adams in An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport at Their Request on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1837
    “I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace.”
    ~From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797
    Indeed they do sound like the type of people to found a Christian country. In fact, aside from the grand total of four that you offered up, most of the founding fathers were some denomination of Christianity. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were indeed Deist. However, they did believe in the principles of Jesus Christ.
    “I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.”
    ~Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush
    “I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.”
    ~James Madison to William Bradford
    “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.”
    ~Benjamin Franklin to Ezra Stiles
    So America was not only founded by Christians but also by non-Christians who agreed with the moral foundations of Christ. However saying this was founded as a Christian nation comes down to two things. Are we Christian by theocracy, demanding that everyone be Christian and strictly adhere to the laws of the bible; Or by ideology, everyone agreeing that Christ’s teachings are good moral principles? The latter is true of America. Separation of church and state is to keep the government out of the church not the church out of the government. We as a country, or at least our majority, agree with Christ’s moral teachings.
    My quotes are from http://www.wallbuilders...ticles.asp?id=8755#FN73 and from there you can get further sources.
  12. Rob says:
    October 14th, 2012 at 16:47
    The moderator or whoever didn't allow one of my posts to go through. It was about George Washington. I have it saved so I'll post it later.
    Anyways, in response to David:
    "WallBuilders is a Texas-based dominionist Christian book publisher which appears to mainly serve as the in-house publishing vehicle for the writings of evangelist David Barton. Barton is a Texas Republican, and holds a B.A. from Oral Roberts University, and an honorary Ph.D. from the unaccredited Pensacola Christian College. He has no credentials in history or law."
    "Barton's main thesis appears to be that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, the Founding Fathers being fundamentalist Christians, and not the historical assortment of Deists, liberal Protestants, Quakers, freethinkers, etc. Barton's writings extensively quote mine from the Founders to make his point, and he has gone so far as to even fabricate some quotes completely (this resulted in him pulling and then re-issuing his book The Myth of Separation under a different title, after his forgery of at least one James Madison quote was outed).[1]
    Barton's works, such as America's Godly Heritage, are widely sold by a variety of religious right groups. America's Godly Heritage is in audio and video formats as well as a small book, and features an illustration of George Washington on the front cover kneeling in prayer in a pose suggesting he is engaged in spiritual warfare. Other books include The Bulletproof George Washington ("[a] riveting account of God's providence and protection"), Original Intent (originally titled The Myth of Separation, asserting the principle of separation of church and state was not intended by the Founders), a biography of Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, reprintings of early Puritan educational texts for the homeschooling market such as the New England Primer, and dozens of others.
    Despite being considered a "pseudohistorian" by mainstream scholars, Barton is unsurprisingly very popular with the religious right, and his publications are frequently used by Christian private schools and homeschoolers (from which Barton has made quite a bit of cash, might we add). His name keeps popping up more and more frequently in the background of current religious right activities - most recently he has been "discovered" by Glenn Beck as a frequent guest "expert".
    Barton has also played a role in influencing the Texas Board of Education's decision to approve of public school textbooks which give a more favorable image to Christian conservatism."
    Barton's suspect approach to valid criticism of his work has apparently backfired in a truly epic fashion; not only did he get a massive dose of adverse publicity on NPR's All Things Considered,[18][19] but Thomas Nelson - the publisher of Barton's The Jefferson Lies - announced that they were pulling his book due to "historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported".[20] Word has it that Barton's little collection of historical lies has now been picked up by the publishing company owned by an even more publically prominent loon, namely Glenn Beck.[21]
    David, please check your sources.
  13. Rob says:
    October 14th, 2012 at 17:18
    David, I've already said that it doesn't matter what religion the founders were. I've gone through those quotes, and yes, some are valid, some are taken out of context, etc, but that doesn't prove anything. You have to look at their actions, not their thoughts. Please quote from the Constitution where it mentions Jesus, Yahveh, the Bible, God, Satan, sin, or any other prominent X-tian concepts. Please show me any ideals that were unique to X-tianity and were not found anywhere else in the ancient world.
    Didn't the greeks have democracy long before Christ came about? The whole concept of original sin goes against our judicial system. Being judged and sentenced for what-- being born a certain way? Our founding fathers were morally better than your Messiah, who damns people to hell for eternity for finite crimes.
    The ideals that your religion teaches is might makes right (don't question god), cruel and unusual punishment (hell), divisiveness (convert or go to hell, no other gods before yahveh), turning the other cheek (which we obviously don't follow, or we wouldn't have had a revolution or an army).
    The values that made America aren't in the Bible, they're from secular philosophy that existed long before Christ. They survived throughout the centuries IN SPITE of Christianity. Research the Enlightenment. The influence on the founders is obvious.
    This says it all:
    "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
    -Thomas Jefferson
  14. Kevin Hubbard says:
    October 15th, 2012 at 01:34
    Thank you for your responses. In them, you have detailed the existence of founding principles originating from a source whose existence you deny. This is quite the quandary for you it would seem!
    However, you are correct in pointing out that the founding of our nation on Christian principles has protected the rights of Christian and non-Christian alike. This is as the Founders intended. It allows the individual the right to pursue God in the way he or she chooses, and it protects the rights for those who choose not to pursue Him at all, and even those who choose not to accept His existence have a right to do so. Trying to live as an atheist in the Islamic world is likely to get one killed! Yet Christians have, and are still, tolerant in the rights of others to believe as they choose.
    David Barton is considered a "pseudohistorian" by modern historians for his refusal to alter history into something more politically correct and in line with the secular progressive viewpoint that modern historians hold. His articles deal with what the Founders actually said and did, and he demonstrates it with documents that are written by the Founders themselves. He has taken great pains to preserve that history at Wall Builders, where many original documents are archived. I would encourage you to view them if you have the opportunity. It seems that the only defense the modern historians have for his perspective is to lob insults in his direction. So much for intellectual discourse!
  15. Rob says:
    October 15th, 2012 at 06:37
    Oh, you mean the Greek pantheon? Or Ahura Mazda? I'm confused. They both predate Jesus by 500 years... Or maybe Buddha?
    It was Barton's own Christian publisher that pulled his book because it was so insane. Why would a Christian publisher bend to pressure to remove a Christian book unless it was actually untrue?
    Kev, you're right, unlike Muslims, Christians NEVER murdered nonbelievers, supposed witches, homosexuals, and even other Christians. That's absurd!
    You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB)
    "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)
    Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)
    They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)
    Oh, wait. Sorry, that's Old Testament.
    Medieval Inquistion: "Torture could be used after 1252. On May 15, Pope Innocent IV issued a papal bull entitled Ad exstirpanda, which authorized the use of torture by inquisitors. Torture was undoubtedly used in the trial of the Templars, but is in fact not much found in heresy trials until the later fourteenth century. Torture methods that resulted in bloodshed, births, mutilation or death were forbidden. Also, torture could be performed only once. However, it was common practice to consider a second torture session to be a "continuation" of the first. Torture methods included hanging by the wrists, with weights suspended from the ankles (a form of torture known as strappado), the rack, and waterboarding."
    Oh, sorry, that's only torture.
    Spanish Inquisition: "García Cárcel estimates that the total number processed by the Inquisition throughout its history was approximately 150,000; applying the percentages of executions that appeared in the trials of 1560–1700—about 2%—the approximate total would be about 3,000 put to death. Nevertheless, very probably this total should be raised keeping in mind the data provided by Dedieu and García Cárcel for the tribunals of Toledo and Valencia, respectively. It is likely that the total would be between 3,000 and 5,000 executed."
    Crusades: "Death toll ranges between 1,000,000 to 3,000,000.
    Witch trials: "The witch trials in the Early Modern period were a period of witch hunts between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries,[1] when across Early Modern Europe, and to some extent in the European colonies in North America, there was a widespread hysteria that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery, and orgies at meetings known as Witches' Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times."
    I've read that radical Islam was a response to the Crusades. I'll have to do some further research into that, though. Either way, it seems that the Islamic world is playing catch up to the atrocities committed by Christians.
    God bless!

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