FAITH and the WORD are more than enough

In Hebrews 11:1 we read “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”.  This inspired definition is the one element we need in order to satisfy God‘s mark for relationship with Him (Hebrews 11:6).  We should have little difficulty in understanding this this truth, as the Bible declares in both New and Old Testaments that “The Just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).  Let’s examine the definition a bit further.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”  The substance of things hoped for is not difficult to unmask, although some would conjecture over the simplicity.  The answer is found in Romans 10:17, where we discover “Faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of God”.  Throughout the ages, God has reminded His people that His word is their most necessary nourishment, even more than food, water, shelter, human comfort, or protection (Matthew 6:25-33).  Our faith will rise or fall with our pursuit of this most precious resource and how we receive it by faith.

Faith is “…the evidence of things not seen”.  This is probably where we struggle most, for when we think of evidence, we think of empirical, objective and quantifiable elements.  For us lay men, that simply means, things that can be seen, touched, studied or measured. This is the difficulty with living by faith.  Think of the three young Hebrew men standing before King Nebuchadnezzar.  They refused his command because God’s Law commanded they bow to no graven image and have no god before God.  Their response was “our God we serve is able to deliver us from the burning and fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your god’s, nor worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

In the first place let’s understand that they were not confused, but confident that God had decreed their supernatural deliverance.  Their second statement was not one of “we’re are not sure”, but more like “Even if God had told us He would not deliver us, we would still go to death trusting His word, about the resurrection of the just”.  Let’s be clear their “He will deliver us” came from faith in His word.  They, being Israelite’s had hundred of verses of the word of God to make the substance of what they hoped for…

Psalm 23:1-4 (NKJV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 91:1-6 (NKJV) He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.  He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)  No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD. 

So faith activates from the Holy Spirit bringing the word of God to our mind and heart, while also testifying of God’s faithfulness in the past as evidence.  The difficult part is in our walking by faith, once we believe the promise.  The three men still needed to walk into the fiery furnace, most likely defined as fools by everyone else around them. Interestingly, these men never did a study of the science of being protected in a blast furnace.  They never tested the actual temperature, or even recounted the ways God could deliver them, nor did they actually say how it would happen.  They merely submitted to it and were thrown in.  In our day we need more of that kind of faith, and less of what we have which is only half faith or not faith at all.

In the western world we can hear the above explanation and all say Amen and Amen, without seeing, we say we believe the word of God, but are looking for empirical, objective and quantifiable evidence to support our faith claim.  Again in laymen terms we are looking for material evidence.  Let’s take the issue of creationism and the battle we western Christian’s have taken up to prove our perspective.  I believe the Lord God Almighty created everything we see, in six days, resting on the seventh.  I am more inclined to hold to six literal days, but will not fault any believer who says, each day was 1000 years.  This thinking is rationalized from Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8.  Though I am not in that camp, as long as they keep evolutionary principals out of the mix, we can still find common ground in God as Creator.

The problem with creationism though, is it’s not a  pursuit of faith, but of empirical evidence to prove the age of the earth and the truth that there is a Creator.  For the believer no quantitative measurable data is needed for faith in this truth.  We in Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the world were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  The question is how is that which is seen made by things which are invisible?  I don’t know how empirical, objective and quantifiable measurements can ever reveal how He did it.  I only have to believe it is by the word of God… “In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God.  And the same was in the beginning with God and all things were made by Him (the Word) and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).  

Please understand that I believe creationists believe what I just wrote, yet they are trying to prove this by empirical, objective and quantifiable data.  The point is that will never work and it was never to be the focus of our debate and pleading with the lost world.  We are to preach Christ. How many millions of dollars have been poured out into research and buildings and promotion and debate to argue with atheists over whether God created the world.  It seems to me we believe now we have the technology to prove God did it. Funny, God Himself does not seek to explain himself to those who will never exercise faith. As a matter of biblical fact from the beginning men have denied the open and plain observable fact of His creation to their own detriment (Romans 1:18-32). God turns them over to a debased mind set, giving them what they want: life with no accountability and an eternity devoid of Him.

I mean not to pick on creationism, for we do this with all kinds of things, like textual scholarship to prove the inspiration of the Bible, or studies to prove that our way of heterosexual marriage is better than homosexuality. Oh wait, I mean God’s commanded way of marriage is better than the abhorrent sinful mess of sexually immoral marriage.  Did you catch what I just did?  Let me explain.

We don’t pursue empirical, objective, and quantifiable proof, for God’s sake, but to preserve our way of life and that which is most amenable to how we desire to live.  Let me be clear, I believe we want to live God’s way, for sure, yet we have to understand, we are called to do that if He takes us out of the fire, delivers us in the fire or allows the fire to consume us for His glory.  We need to stop trying to convince the tyrant that burning people who disagree with him is bad.  That is impossible to do while burning him with our data.  We ought to try faith in proclaiming Jesus and Jesus only as the only means for convincing those opposed to us, how to avoid the fire they are about to enter, whether they be tyrant or neighbor or those who are in my own family.

In some cases our scouring for empirical, objective and quantitative measures is about bolstering our own weakened faith.  Take an encouragement… no amount of material proof will deepen your faith, but God’s Word will, as will the miracles He does through us when we walk in faith.  And Hebrews 11 provides a boat load of them. Below is a list of them from Hebrews chapter 11 in  PDF format, simply click the link. When reading through the list meditate on what empirical, objective and quantifiable data they had to have faith in what God would do.  Then focus all your attention on Jesus, who went into the grave by faith. Then preach Jesus… reproving, rebuking, and exhorting anyone who will listen with patience and instruction at all times.  Remember FAITH and the WORD is more than enough!!!

Click here for the Hebrews 11 “By Faith We”… Handout

About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
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2 Responses to FAITH and the WORD are more than enough

  1. Anonymous says:

    I will really have to keep this in mind when someone at work brings up that creation isnt real. Or that it didnt even happen.the peiple that say that God will take of.

  2. Judy Oliver says:

    The visual that I get when I think on “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” is that of a courtroom where evidence is put forth by both prosecutor and defense attorney to prove guilt or innocence. The evidence in a courtroom is like the trump card in that it is empirical, objective and quantifiable. Once presented, the evidence quenches reasonable doubts in the case. For Christians, our faith is the evidence for believing the unseen Word of God with no doubts. What faith does is take God at His Word and gives the invisible visibility or substance. Another example is if a person gives you his or her word on an issue or promise and if you believe (have faith in) that person’s credibility, you believe that person prior to any action or “substance of the things hoped for or promised”. Faith is our substance of things God has caused us to hope, and His word, where our faith comes from, is all the proof or evidence we need. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and acts as a prosecutor in our courtroom. Christians by faith in God use the Word of God (sword of the Spirit) as evidence to shield (shield of faith) us from Satan’s attacks and any doubts that can come up. Praise God for His assurance that He gives us through faith that comes from Him and through His Word.