In the KJV and NKJV translations of Hebrews11:1 the verse is written “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for….”
The word substance can be very easily misunderstood and misapplied. When you look in a Webster’s dictionary you see they list the various meanings of any word from the most commonly used to lesser used meanings. So when we look in the dictionary for the definition of the word substance we see that the first and most common usage of the word is “material of certain kind”.
If we stop with that definition we imagine that faith is actually an invisible material of some kind. We can become frustrated and doubtful because we can’t understand an invisible material.
I do not believe this is the correct definition of the word substance in this particular scripture.I have come to understand that the word substance means: confidence, assurance, based on truth (fact) that is solid, firm, unchanging and not of human imagination. (See Strong’s Greek Concordance # 5287 )
In the natural realm we develop confidence (or trust) in a person over time when they demonstrate that they do what they say – they keep their word.
Basically it is the same with having faith in God. First we must “hear” something that He is saying. We must encounter His Word. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:17. And then we either act upon the word and see that it is in fact true, or we do not act and remain in our unbelief.
Incidentally, we never know when someone will actually “hear” what God is speaking even though He is speaking truth continually. God is continually speaking through the scriptures. He is speaking through messengers. He is speaking through creation (Romans 1:20). He is speaking by His Spirit.
The woman with the issue of blood had tried all manner of approaches to become well, but had become worse. When she “heard” that Jesus was healing ALL who came to Him (v. 27) she was willing to do whatever was necessary to get to Him. (Remember she was an outcast, forbidden to be around others, but she wanted to be complete whole so she pushed passed all the barriers.)
She was confident that touching Jesus would make her whole. That is what faith really is. It is confidence that what we have heard, He will do.
We can make up all kinds of imaginations about life, our future etc. There truly is a power in the realm of our imagination, but that does not necessarily translate over to real, substantial confidence in God. It may actually just be confidence in ourself, or in someone else. This kind of faith does NOT please God and it will bring great disappointment to us in the next life.
True faith in God is not complicated either. We do not have to jump through hoops or add anything to our faith. Jesus said for us to become like a little child.
In the early years of life, a child just believes what they are told by the parent. (Of course if the parent is very inconsistent in what is said and done, the child will become very insecure and unstable.) But, God does not operate that way. He is not “wishy washy”. And He cannot lie. In fact it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrew 6:18)
Of course, when He speaks a specific direction or instruction to us, or instructions from His Word that specifically tell us what to do (like forgiving, and praising, and giving, and fleeing temptation etc.) then we MUST ACT accordingly. But even in the compliance to His instruction we must do so only by relying upon His grace and power within us.
Please, examine how you live your life of faith. Are you adding things to your walk that you think will enhance, improve or make you more effective? Determine to let go go all effort and simply believe.
Study the following verses and let the Holy Spirit speak clearly to you regarding effort.
So, in conclusion, when the disciples requested Jesus to “increase our faith”, they were asking Him do what only they could do. They, and we, must place ALL our confidence in the One who keeps His Word, keeps His promises, and cannot lie.