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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.