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Overcoming: The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…”
Revelation 12:11

The true Christian experience is best defined as a journey; one of growth and development. It is not a one-time confession or a life of ease but in reality, a continual discovery of the life and the power available to us IN His covenant of Grace.

In this Overcoming series we will be focusing on this passage in the Book of Revelation:

“they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life—to death”
Revelation 12:11n (LSV)

This scripture presents the threefold aspect of those who reveal the fulness of an overcoming life. Before we move on to the richness and the progressive unfolding of His Life becoming ours, we must consider the touchstone of all these things: the God-given, God-inspired wonder of faith. Without faith “it is impossible to please God”. Without faith, we are bereft of the vibrancy and power of the living Christ. Apart from faith, all the truths of the New Covenant are mere words in terms of their efficacy upon the human heart.

“Now faith is [the] substance of things hoped for,
[the] proof of matters not being seen”
Hebrews 11:1 (LSV)

The eternal realities buried within this one scripture are endless but we will focus here on two phrases in relation to overcoming life:

1. “Substance of things hoped for”
2. “Proof (or evidence KJV) of matters (things KJV) not seen”

Substance

To understand what is implied here by the Greek word translated “substance”, we find it best illustrated in Hebrews 1:3. This use of the word is found in the same book and, by design, given to us by the same author under the inspiration and breath of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16)

“who being the shining splendor of His glory,
and the express image of His essence…”
Hebrews 1:3 (LSV)

The KJV translates this word as “person”.

“Who being the brightness of his glory,
and the express image of his person…”
Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)

Our modern gospel has diminished our understanding of what faith is! We see that the word “substance” used here refers to the partaking of something, the transference of Christ into our very being! It is not simply a mental assent, some belief in a teaching or doctrine. It is by its very nature the “substance”, the earnest, the down payment of all that we hope for. May God illuminate to our hearts the nature of the precious faith that has been imparted unto us.

Listen to Peter’s description.

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”
2 Peter 1:1

This precious faith (substance) is obtained “through” the ministration of the “righteousness of God” by the person of Jesus Christ. It is not something we produce or make ourselves believe; it is the gift and impartation of God Himself. There are multitudes who adhere to the teachings of scriptures and declare that they believe, yet there is something amiss in the way in which they conduct their lives.

Years ago I was brought up short by the Holy Spirit (a common personal experience and a blessed one) which brought to my attention that one who holds the substance of faith will live a life that substantiates its reality. There is an evidential witness to its power. It is no longer a persuasion of mind but a manifestation of Him who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

Let us revisit Hebrews 11:1.

“Now faith is [the] substance of things hoped for,
[the] proof of matters not being seen”
Hebrews 11:1 (LSV)

In a careful and prayerful reading of this precious scripture, we touch the hem of the garment of His life. Faith produces the proof of its reality in those who are held in its power!

James expresses this succinctly.

“But are you willing to know, O vain man,
that faith apart from works is dead?
James 2:20 (LITV)

Such is the power of the Holy Spirit’s penetrating question to the religious man. The depth of this question has eternal ramifications for those who rest in a faith apart from the inspiration of works and deeds.

“But are you willing to know…”

Is there enough hunger and desire for truth to expose the vanity of a faith without the works? James characterizes one who declares a faith apart from the works of faith as a “vain man”. The religious hide their true condition in a veil of words rather than receiving the living Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword. It brings us all to the piercing gaze of Him. Do we like Adam cover our nakedness in the vanity of the fig leaves or do we step into the truth which Christ Himself has come to impart?

The belief often spoken of today is not the same as that which Christ meant when He declared:

“This is the work of God,
that ye believe on him whom he hath sent”
John 6:29

I have heard people justify an empty faith by quoting the above scripture, failing to grasp the importance of the context.

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
John 6:29-30

Let us read this verse carefully, It “is the work of God that ye believe”! Faith is the beginning of His Work within His own. It grows as in the Parable of the Mustard Seed but its inception in the human heart is the result of the work of God!

Without faith, there is no ability to “work the works of God”. The answer to the question is the truth and verity of our belief in Christ. In our believing into Him (the true Greek rendering) we are enabled and empowered to “work the works of God”. A belief that produces no works is the impotency and poverty of intellectual faith.

James declares such a “belief” is even held by demons.

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
James 2:19-20

May the truth of God penetrate our hearts so that we may comprehend His judgment upon a belief that is bereft of the evidential manifestation of Christ. It is a vain and empty thing.

The works of which we speak are the fruit of His faith within, working the works of God.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works
Ephesians 2:8-10

We are not saved BY works but if our lives are the recipient of His creative workmanship there will be evidence of it by the works of His Spirit through us.

As faith without works is dead
so works apart from faith are dead.

Excerpt from the new book: The Overcoming Life

Overcoming: The Nature of Faith

Please also read the associated article: The Place of Feasting Psalm 23

To be continued…

Brian Troxel

 

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