By Carron Lake

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After understanding the introduction to the gospel, we can see the importance of having faith that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. But Christians are said to be people who believe in and follow a God they cannot see. Yet when given the choice to give up their faith in exchange for their lives, they choose rather to follow Christ by giving up their lives for the sake of keeping their faith.

What is "It?" Why would anyone choose his or her faith over losing his or her life? Why is faith so important?

According to the definition given to us by the Word of God, "...Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

We have often heard or read this definition given on faith, but do we comprehend its meaning?
The definition of the word "Substance" has this meaning, as found in the Strong's concordance of the Bible. Greek 5287 - a setting under (support), i.e., (figurative) concrete essence, or abstract assurance (objective or subjective): - confidence, confident, person, substance.

In the Dictionary, -1. It is the real or essential part of anything, the essence. 2. The physical matter of which a thing consists, the material. 3. (a) The solid or substantial quality (b) The consistency, the body. 4. The real meaning or the gist. 5.The Wealth.

The definition of the word "Evidence" has this meaning. Greek 1650 - 1651 - proof, conviction - evidence, reproof, - to confute, admonish - convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke and reprove.
In the Dictionary - 1. (a) It is an outward sign: INDICATION, (b) something that furnishes proof, TESTIMONY, specifically something legally to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter. 2. Someone who bears as a witness.

Based on the definition of these words, "Substance" and "Evidence," we can say that Faith is the substance of things. But the question can then asked: What things? These things were revealed in the previous study on The Light on the Solution to the Problem, on why the world is in darkness to the Gospel of Christ. The things are like a collection of evidence, which forms a foundation to support our hope of the things not seen. In other words, the substance that is seen by faith in the Word of God provides supporting evidence, as a foundation by which we might have hope in the things of God, which no human eyes have seen.

seeing something of - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Faith is seeing the things of substance in the Evidence that forms a foundation
that supports our Hope of things not seen.

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In order to believe in that which we hope for, and comprehend the things that our eyes have not seen, we need to look carefully at the substance in the evidence that God has provided. This evidence forms a foundation that supports our hope.

Paul testified of the Grace of God that was given to him and said, "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:2-8).

If it is our hope to receive Eternal Life and be fellow heirs and partakers of the same Body through the gospel, we must have faith to receive this Gift of Life that will enable us to understand the unsearchable riches and the mysteries of Christ. One person cannot believe or have faith for another, for the Word says, "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 11:6).

Our faith in God is based not on blind faith, but upon the evidence which He has provided. This evidence is given to us from God through HIS Son Jesus Christ (The Word).   "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16,17)

Peter, a disciple of Christ, testified to the people in Israel and said, "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.   This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12).

Within Peter's testimony, we find substance, which provides evidence in our search for Truth. This substance is given by God to help build our faith in The Corner Stone of the living church, which is Jesus Christ, the only name given among men whereby we must be saved. All Truth must be founded on this Rock.

For the Father says through the Word, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 55:1-13).

Many have read and will read the Scriptures and miss the substance in the evidence presented by the Word of God. In order for us to believe in that which our eyes have not seen, we must rely on the testimony of those who have seen with their eyes and heard with their ears. For example, the Father testified through the Word and said that He has given to us HIS Son for a Witness, a Leader and Commander to the people. We must seek Him while He may be found. We must forsake our ways and our thoughts and return to Him. For His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither is HIS Way the same as our ways. The Father said that HE shall send HIS Word as rain to accomplish in us HIS will. We shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace.

Many have read the Scriptures without understanding the Truth HE has stored in Him for us. In this world of darkness we may search and search to find the Truth about God. We may even seek out individuals of higher learning to gain an understanding. However, if these individuals base their understanding on human wisdom, they are sure to be in the dark just as we are.

Jesus said to the Jews and all who are yet in darkness who seek to know and follow Him, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:4,5).

It is clear that the word "Light" in the text above is being used to reveal the substance of things not seen. In other words, as you search the Scriptures to find the Truth, the Word Himself, who is the Truth will enlighten your mind and guide you into all knowledge of Himself by Himself. It is also clear that the word "darkness" is being used to reveal the substance that without the Word of God, which is the Light of men, the world would remain in darkness without understanding the Truth of God. It is through the Scriptures that God presents to us examples of the concept of faith which can be seen and understood. It is through these signs and symbols throughout the Scriptures that the Word uses to reveal Himself to us.

If our salvation depends on our faith in the Word of God, then our study of the Word must be based on a version of Scripture, which remains true to the Word of God. And because our faith depends on the Truth in the Word, the Word testified and said, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:17-19).

This testimony was placed in the last book and the last chapter of the Scriptures. And if the transcribers of the Scriptures were being truthful to the Word of God, then the Word will guide us into all truth using the version of Scripture that we own. However, if the person transcribing the Scripture did not have faith in the Word of Truth, he or she may interpret the Word of God with human understanding and therefore transcribe the signs and symbols, which points to Christ, to words that have the same meaning as the symbols but do not reveal anything about Christ.

Without the Spirit of God revealing His Truth to the heart, a person in darkness will only see the symbols that his eyes can see, but the person who follows after Christ will see the Way, the Truth and the Life and follow Him by His faith and not by his sight.

Part of the definition of faith says, "faith is the evidence of things not seen." And like Nicodemus, some may ask the question, How can these things be? Or, how can we see the invisible things of God? Is this possible?

To understand how this might be possible, the Word says, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

This statement by Paul may appear to be difficult to understand, however, it is important that we understand what is being said that we might comprehend the invisible things of God. We must focus our attention on the one key word in this text that would help us to clarify and understand its meaning. The key word is "While."

BY faith we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen.

From our human point of view, we can see only the temporal things, as with the illustration above. But the Word suggests that we are looking at two things simultaneously. That which is temporal reveals the things that are eternal. The temporal things are the signs and symbols that reveal the things that are eternal. In other words, as we see the signs and symbols, we focus our attention not on the signs and symbols, but on the eternal things they reveal. And the substance found in the things that are seen builds our hope in the things not seen.

To help you understand this concept, in the example above you would focus on the subject through the magnifying glass, rather than your focus on the magnifying glass. The magnifying glass helps you to see the subject better.

Using this example, I can say, "While I look not at the magnifying glass which is the first thing my eyes can see, but at the subject which is hard to be seen; for my focus is not on the magnifying glass, but on the subject I can see clearly through it.

In searching for the Way, the Truth and the Life, we rely not on human wisdom to guide us, because we do not know what we are to look for in the temporal things that can be seen. However, if we rely on the Spirit of God, He will reveal to us the mysterious things of God through the things God has made. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19,20).

Paul said, That which may be known of God has been revealed in us, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:6,7).

As we behold the face of Christ by faith through the vessels that can be seen,
we see the invisible treasures of Christ that gives us hope.

We are the earthen vessels of darkness, in which God has placed His treasure.   "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked" (2 Corinthians 5:1-3).

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:8-11).

The treasures of Christ have been manifested in our mortal flesh.   As an example of this concept, we see Saul, who journeyed to Damascus to bind men and women, who followed the Way. There suddenly shined round about him a light from heaven. And as he fell to the earth, he heard a voice saying unto him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

"And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do..." "And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:" (Acts 9:3-6, 10-15)

In essence, the followers of Christ are chosen vessels of God in this world of darkness through whom Christ can reveal His Light to the world. Through Paul, the Lord revealed that the things, which may be known of God, are manifested in us. For it has been revealed that the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so we are without excuse.

However, men who lack faith in the Word of God have made the revealing of God through HIS written Word difficult. With the hope of making the Word clear for others to understand, they have misrepresented the Word of God to men. Because they understood not the concepts being presented by the Word, many have translated the Scriptures and presented the concepts of the Word based on their understanding.

An example of this misrepresentation can be seen in the translation of the words of Paul when he made a statement saying, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." One translator translated this verse to a different concept by saying, "we have this treasure in jars of clay." It may not be apparent to you at this time, the difference between the words "earthen vessels" and "jars of clay," but by understanding the concept of faith, you will see the importance of seeing the invisible things of God through the visible, i.e., seeing the treasures of Christ through the things He has made.

Another example of man's endeavor to make the Word of God understandable to men is seen in the passage of Scripture that says, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good." (Genesis 1:11,12) This is the King James Version.

Another translation of this verse was translated to say, "And God said, Let the earth cause grass to spring up, herb producing seed, fruit-trees yielding fruit after their kind, the seed of which is in them, on the earth. And it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, herb producing seed after its kind, and trees yielding fruit, the seed of which is in them, after their kind. And God saw that it was good."

Both versions of Scripture appear to be presenting the same truth, but this is because our focus is on the things that can be seen and not on the invisible things that are seen through the things that are made.

In comparing these versions of Scripture, one version appears to be in error by stating that the earth was allowed to yield fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself. To fix what appears to be an error in the Word, the translator translated the verse to say, "let the earth cause grass to spring up, herb producing seed, fruit-trees yielding fruit after their kind, the seed of which is in them".

If by faith we understand the concept of the treasures of Christ being revealed through the earthen vessels, then we will see and understand the reason for the Word presenting to us the verse that says, let the earth bring forth the fruit tree after his kind instead of their kind.

To understand more clearly how Christ has revealed Himself to us through His earthen vessels, click on the words earthen vessels for a deeper study of the Word.

Notice: To fully understand the concept of faith, read each section in the order presented.

1. What is Faith?   2. Through Earthen Vessels   3. Through The Word   4. Discerning The Word
5. Receiving The Word   6. One with God   7. Working with God   8. Glorifying the Word

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