“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
This great verse, evidently a definition of faith, appears to be somewhat obtuse, but it can be properly understood. The word “substance” carries the sense of reality, or assurance. The same author uses the word to explain that the Son of God took on human “substance,” consisting of “the express image of his person [or ‘substance’]” (Hebrews 1:3). The word “evidence” is more properly translated “proof.” The passage teaches, then, that faith provides the reality and proof of things that we can’t see directly. They are as sure to us, through faith, as are things we can see directly.
Faith enters into the picture whenever we attempt to understand something outside the realm of empirical observation. This surely includes creation. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Creationist faith is certainly reasonable faith, in stark contrast to evolutionist faith, which believes in ordered complexity from disorder without any ordering mechanism or outside intelligence.
Faith is extremely important in God’s economy: “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6) in any area of life. “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Likewise, we live by faith: “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). Furthermore, “by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24) steadfast as a Christian, and “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to “follow after . . . faith” and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
Since this list comprises only a sampling of things that must be done in, by, or through faith, it is no wonder that it “is the victory that overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). JDM