The Substance of Faith

“Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
— Matthew 17:20

Not too long ago I was in the grocery store standing in front of the spice rack. In my hand I held a small bottle of mustard seed. The bottle held an ounce and a half and inside there were hundreds of seeds. I kept thinking about the size of each individual seed. Just having the faith to believe that if I had that much faith seemed impossible.

There has been an abundance of words written on faith, but the word of God says that it never comes back void, so it won’t do any harm to do another Bible study on it. Since that day, I’ve been thinking a lot about faith. What is it? How do I get it? I want to move a mountain. I especially want to move this huge mountain of insecurity that I’ve been running around most of my life.

Is it hard to believe the promises of God? For the majority of us it is not hard to believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. That he lived a sinless life then died for our sins and was raised from the dead three days later. I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve got no problem with signs miracles and wonders. I believe that if I give one-tenth or more of my earnings back to God that he will bless my gifts and cause me to have more than enough, so I can give even more away.

One of my favorite things is to go around saying believe is a verb. A verb connotes action. You have to do something. You’ve got to move. In each instance of healing in the New Testament where someone was healed, you’ll notice he or she did something first. The man with the withered hand stretched out his hand. The woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. Check it out. There is action behind every act of faith. That’s why they call them acts of faith.

But how do we get faith? As with all of the questions we have in life, the answer can be found in the word of God. It is in Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Hebrews 12:2 says “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So we get our faith from hearing the word of God. Webster’s dictionary says an author is the originator or creator. So Jesus creates our faith. He creates it, and he is the origin of that faith. We get it by going to the creator and by hearing the word of God.

Let’s go back to the verse 2 in Hebrews 12 where it says Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. In verse 1 it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, is what it tells us. If we believe the Bible then we have to believe the things outlined in the Old Testament. Hebrews 11 tells us the results of those who were faithful.

Hebrews 11

1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age — and Sarah herself was barren — was enabled to become a father because he[considered him faithful who had made the promise.

12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.

15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

16 Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,

18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.

26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets,

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,

34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.

36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.

37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated —

38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

If we believe one part of the word of God is true then we need to believe it all. We must have faith. If we have less than a mustard seed then we need to go to the one who has created our faith and us. We need to turn to the word of God and study, study, study.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It’s a God thing, and we need to trust that God can deliver.