Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.…
I. FAITH IS A SUBSTANCE. I know this is not generally received, for such are the vague, carnal, infidel notions that are abroad in the world, that not a grace of the Holy Spirit is owned; and instead of faith being admitted to be a principle of grace, it is spoken of as nature's actings, and is sometimes said to consist merely in the credence of a revealed fact. An opposite party, however, makes faith to consist in a crouching, a cringing, and a conformity to a crafty priesthood. Now I have no such faith as either of these. The one is the faith of the infidel; the other is the faith of heathenism. And they neither of them have any substance. I want a faith that will manifest itself as having substance. I have seen it printed that faith is nothing more than the credence of a revealed fact. But we know that infidels and devils have that sort of faith; for infidels credit thousands of revealed facts, and cannot deny them as matters of fact, yet they have no faith after all. Faith is a substance; and they who are taken up with shadows and vanities do not know the value of it. They cannot value it. They cannot possess it. Faith is a substance worth more than all the miser's stores, than all the monarch's revenue, than all the wealth of India. Faith is a substance that can never be frittered away. It overcomes all the world, repels all the devils in hell, and lays hold on eternal life. But, most probably, you will better understand what I mean by this substance of faith if I lead your attention to its origin and its object. Its origin: It grows not in nature's garden. It is not the produce of the schools. It is not hereditary from father to son. It is far above that. Like every good gift, and every perfect gift, it cometh down from the Father of Lights. It is of the operation of the Holy Ghost, and its object will prove its substance. Its object is Christ; the Person of Christ; the official character of Christ; the perfect work of Christ; the covenant headship of Christ. And the faith of God's elect fastens on all these. Further, the object of faith lies greatly in the enjoyment of Christ as well as in confidence in Him. And this will perhaps bring the nature of your faith to the test better than any other principle. I must have a Christ who will bring heaven to me on earth in the enjoyment of Him here. And this will prove whether your faith is a substance or not. The soul which possesses this living, saving faith, sighs, waits, and cannot be satisfied without the sensible enjoyment of the presence of Christ. That faith which is a substance hath a saving power communicated with it. Hence it is called, sometimes properly, sometimes improperly, a saving faith. Bring your faith up to this test again. It is spiritual faith — the substance of things hoped for, that discovers all that is in Christ; the wisdom, the righteousness, the sanctification, and the redemption that are in Him: the pardon, the peace, the justification, the joy, the security, the victories, the triumphs of all the Church of God in Christ, seen wholly in His Person.
II. This saving faith which so discovers and appropriates Is SURE TO GO AND PLEAD BEFORE THE THRONE IN EXERCISE; "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin," and cannot be acceptable before God; and there it pleads the merits, the name, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ for acceptance, relying upon the declaration of the precious Lord Himself, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, believing, ye shall receive." Now I pray you let us look closely into this substance, and raise the inquiry, Does it belong to me? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Then the first part of the interrogation here would be, What are the things that I hope for? I know if I were to ask the worldling this question, he would reply that he thinks upon worldly prospects, emoluments, and personal gratifications. But not. so the Christian; not so the household of faith. Well, now, if I might simplify this, and put it in the plainest possible manner, I should say that the believer hopes to know more and to enjoy more of Christ to-day than he did yesterday, or than ever he had done before. Faith is the substance of it. The believer in Jesus hopes to be more conformed to the image of Christ; "that as he has borne the image of the earthly, he shall also bear the image of the heavenly." Faith is the substance of that. The believer in Jesus — the real Christian — hopes to attain to more intimacy with heaven and to have a measure of heaven began in the soul on earth. Let us inquire as regards experimental participation. There is such a thing as the joy of faith. There is such a thing as the triumph of faith. There is such a thing as the race of faith, and it is always a winning race. There are joys experienced in this substance which none but the possessor can know. I hasten on to mark its sanctifying operations. The apostle says concerning this, in his account of the progress of the gospel, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, that God "put no difference" between Jews and Gentiles, "purifying" — mark the expression — "purifying their hearts by faith." That faith that will not purify the heart, is not the substance. It may illumine your head till you are giddy; it may enlighten your understanding till you are as proud as Lucifer; it may inflame your pride as a professor till you are as vain as the devil can wish you to be; but if it does not purify the heart, it is not of God — "purifying their hearts by faith."
III. I will now proceed to speak of THE WEALTH WHICH THIS FAITH REALISES. It is a substance. Now, most people are ready to travel a good many miles in order to learn how to acquire wealth. They forego much carnal ease to get riches. But, after all, they make a terrible mistake. This is not true wealth. Riches make to themselves wings, they fly away, and defy all control. But the wealth which faith realises is altogether of a different kind. It has no wings. It is not subject to thieves. It cannot be hoarded up and be useless to its possessor; for it is that good principle which works by love. And thus faith realises the inheritance both of grace and of glory, and by it the title deeds to both are clearly read and lodged in the bosom of Deity. Oh, happy man, who goes so far in the attainment of faith! The wealth which faith realises is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for all who are kept by the power of God through faith. I am not fond of relating anecdotes in the pulpit, but I cannot refrain on the present occasion from telling you one which I heard from my dear father's lips when I was a boy. It was of a godly man who possessed much wealth, and used it for the glory of God, but who lived to prove that he could not clip its wings. All flew away, and he was reduced to living in a furnished room, where he was supported entirely by the charity of his friends. One of his visitors who had been very kind to him, once asked him this question, "How is it that I find you to be as happy now as when you were in possession of all your wealth?" His immediate answer was, "When I possessed all this world's goods I enjoyed God in all; and now I possess none I enjoy all in God." Now that is faith; that is substance; a fine specimen, a fine witness of it.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.