“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:1,6).
How many of us have promises, hopes, or dreams that are yet unfulfilled?
It is easy to have a hope or a dream. When I was a boy my hope and goal in life was to be the centerfielder for the New York Yankees, but a serious knee problem when I was 12 put that dream to rest! Obviously, that was a man-centered hope and not one that came from God! (For example, many who audition for American Idol have man-centered hope because they do not have the talent to sing!)
The key as a Christian is to discern the difference between human-centered hopes that come from our own carnal desires and God-induced hopes that emanate out of the deepest part of our spirit that is united with God! Only God-induced hope will have God-induced faith to make it come to pass!
In premodern philosophical circles substances are the permanent, underlying reality as contrasted with changing and perceptible accidents. In modern times, Rene Descartes defined substance as that which needed nothing else for its existence. There were two kinds of substances: absolute substance, e.g. God, and created substances (unextended mind and extended matter). For Baruch Spinoza substance was whatever needed nothing else for its conception.
Thus as we understand this in biblical terms, this (faith) substance is when God puts something of His essence (substance of faith) in our spirits that enables us to believe for His will to be done. Thus, fulfilling His will on earth is not dependent upon our changing circumstances! (This is why God will often allow us to be in very challenging circumstances: to develop our faith and demonstrate His faithfulness to us!) Consequently, we cannot separate faith from God Himself who is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Many have mistakenly separated God from faith and have even taught to have “faith in your faith” or espouse the “law of faith.” Even though God gives each person a measure of faith and there are certain principles God uses to increase and activate faith, these kinds of teachings could give the immature believer the impression that faith can be separated from God Himself and used for ourselves apart from being in communion with God. Our faith should not even be in the promises of God but in Jesus who is the guarantor of the covenant to fulfill the promises of God.
Faith involves things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This shows us that God uses things and circumstances because faith is based on tangible things we need in this life to fulfill the will of God. Thus, it is not just a vertical relationship with God but a horizontal reality that proves your vertical walk with God. Hence, faith cannot be separated from God Himself but it also cannot be separated from our circumstances in this life.
The American Dream has penetrated the church and twisted biblical faith to mean that we should use our faith to get rid of every inconvenience in life so the goal of faith becomes living in comfort, security, and prosperity so that, in essence, we will not need God to live our lives anymore!
Bill Click has said regarding this twisting of biblical faith: “The goal becomes eliminating every need to believe God for any part of life except that which we cannot accomplish ourselves. Don’t wonder why so many are on antidepressants and anti-psychotic medications in the church!”
This American view of Christianity uses faith for self-accomplishments and worldly success instead of connecting faith to every area of our lives including the motivations of our hearts. Because independence from God is the root cause of sin (Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to be independent from God) it is folly to believe God wants us to use our faith merely so we won’t need to depend upon Him anymore because of our wealth! Mature, prosperous believers realize they should use their wealth for His glory and purposes!
What is the essence and goal of faith?
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of him who diligently seeks Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
In this passage the goal of faith is to believe and demonstrate He exists so that others will know God rewards those who seek Him! Thus, faith involves a life of continually seeking and depending upon Him. God is more interested in our growing trust in Him than in giving us comforts. He is most interested in our being conformed to His image than our happiness and autonomy!
This means when trouble comes our way that causes discomfort, inconvenience, and even confusion, we should not be so quick to come against the devil! Perhaps it is God shaking the tree out of His love for us, so that we find ourselves in a deeper walk of relying upon Him!
Bill Click has said: “Trouble is a word most Christians wish to avoid. In the natural, trouble is the enemy of all existence, rather than a catalyst of God’s work to restore us.”
Five Signs You Are Ready For a Divine Shakeup:
1. Whenever we attempt to use faith to live comfortably as the goal, instead of putting first His kingdom.
2. When we stop seeking Him earnestly.
3. When we live a fear-based lifestyle that attempts to eliminate all possible interferences with our security.
4. When we are satisfied with our lives and are no longer hungry for God.
5. When we interpret all trouble as attacks from the devil instead of seeing God’s hand in it. (God loves shaking man-centered theologies!)
Six Conclusions Regarding Faith and God
1. When trouble comes it does not always mean I am a bad Christian.
2. True prosperity is more than having material possessions; it is a life of continual growth in the (experiential) knowledge of God.
3. God does want to prosper us financially and give us health as long as we use our gifts to put first His Kingdom. (Matthew 6:33 and 3 John 2 connect walking in the truth and putting first His Kingdom with health and wealth; Deuteronomy 8:18 connects wealth with spreading His covenant.)
4. Tough circumstances are not our enemy but are sent by a loving God who yearns to have a close friendship with us.
5. Transitions will continually come into our lives so we must rely upon God.
Everyone loves to have predictability so we can plan ahead and control and manage our lives. But this is not always God’s way with us.
“God will use transitions that are impossible to avoid, pushing a deep ‘button’ which reveals unredeemed areas of character that have had no opportunity to manifest.”
6. God wants us to go past the superficial Christianity of American culture, which equates biblical faith with the American definition of success.
Finally, even though God wants the church to change society for the good—which means a better quality of life for all—after we have received the blessing of prosperity we need to keep depending upon God or else a cycle of chastisement and judgment will continually come that challenges who we are and everything we own, both as individuals and as a nation.
To subscribe for a free weekly teaching click here.