A Study on Faith,
John Wright Follette
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen." Heb 11:1.
Faith makes certain the unseen things for which we hope.
When our faith becomes mature, that for which we hope will
become more real to us than those things which are visible.
There are three things which must be established and settled
in any situation in which faith is to be exercised.
First, the object of our faith must be beyond our ability
to achieve. If it were not so, faith would be unnecessary
as human effort could accomplish the desired end. Natural
impossibility is the atmosphere in which faith works.
Second, the unseen object of our faith must be hoped for
through a yearning heart with a pure motive.
“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth
anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works
through love.” Gal 5:6.
And third, there must be a personal conviction that the object
believed for is as real as if it was already attained.
The word “substance” could be misleading because
we may think that it means the natural essence of an object.
The substance of this booklet is paper and ink, but this is
not the meaning of the Greek word, “hupostasis”
which is used for “substance” in our text.
This word consists of two words, “hupo” - under,
and “histemi” - stand. It is that which stands
under. It is not the object that is hoped for, but rather
that which stands under and supports the object, in order
to bring it into material manifestation.
"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen
is not hope: for what a man seeth, why does he
yet hope for?” Rom 8:24.
Faith is like my arm, which reaches out and stands under
the object that I am bringing down from the shelf. My arm
is not the substance nor the object, but is the “stand
under” which supports the object in order to bring it
Following is a definition of faith which gives the right
understanding of the word.
"Faith is that exercise of mind and soul, which has
object things not seen, but hoped for. And instead of sinking
under them due to their difficulty or uncertainty, it stands
firmly under them, and sustains their becoming reality.
The Lord does not ask us to say that we have the object hoped
for, when we do not have it. He does ask us to declare our
faith by saying that we have “hupostasis," or the
“stand under” which brings the object to materialization.
Faith is never a struggle, but a resting in hope.
Abraham gives us an example of this.
"He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief,
but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." Rom 4:20.
The word “stagger” is what unbelief and fear
make us do. But faith, "hupostasis," supports and
holds steady the conditions for us. Abraham had faith, although
that for which he believed was humanly impossible.
To "have it by faith" means that our faith is operative;
although the material manifestation is not yet seen, it is
moving toward its material accomplishment. Therefore, it is
as good as done, and we can "call those things which
are not, as though they were."
Faith is like a check that can be cashed at the bank where
the actual money is. The check is not the money, but it is
equal to it, and stands under, until we receive the money
in our hand. Then the check is no longer needed, as we have
that which it represented.
The word “evidence” relates to our being tested.
The very foundation upon which our faith rests is the Word
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by
the word of God.” Rom 10:17.
Faith is the result of our having a “word” from
the Lord, which becomes the substance and evidence of our
believing. We take God at His word and believe what He has
said to us. Faith then is not belief without evidence, but
rather, the result of the “word” that He has spoken
As an illustration of our having faith through His Word,
let us consider Peter walking upon the water.
"And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to
into a ship, and to go before Him." Matt 14:22a.
They are in Divine order and acting in obedience; however,
a storm comes upon them. Trouble or opposition may not indicate
that we are out of His will, or in disobedience. Very often
we find that a severe test may prove that we are in Divine
order; for the sake of our discipline, the development of
our faith, and our spiritual growth.
When the Lord finds His disciples in trouble, He came to
them, walking on the water, and gave them a word of comfort.
"And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be You,
bid me come to You on the water." Matt 14:28.
In the next verse, the needed evidence is given. The word
"come" spoken by Jesus is the key to the situation.
“And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out
ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” Matt 14:29.
Peter did not walk upon the water, rather he walked on “substance.”
He had a word - “come.” In faith, he stepped out
and walked on this word. He was safe so long as he looked
at the Lord, but as soon as he looked down at the water, he
began to sink.
Notice how Jesus dealt with this. “Immediately Jesus
stretched forth his hand." Help came first, the rebuke
later. As the Lord held Peter, He rebuked him. The safest
place for a rebuke is in the arms of the Lord. If it were
not so, some of us might run from Him in greater fear.
The evidence is His Word. But this does not mean that we
have a right to choose a “Word” that suits us,
and then attempt to bring it to pass. Note that Peter did
not venture until he had a word from the Lord - "Come."
In Matt 8:23 we have the story of another storm, with the
disciples in a boat. But there is a difference. "And
when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him."
At times we venture into realms for which we have no spiritual
capacity, and find the situation too great in its demands
for our limited faith and experience. We are to proceed carefully
on the “word” that we have, but never in presumption.
Many Christians are confused concerning their faith. This
is because they venture out upon a promise from the Bible,
thinking they have a right to risk all upon it, when in truth,
the promise may have no application to the situation at all.
Then, when the Lord does not answer, they are thrown into
confusion and doubt. One may be moved by personal desires,
and be so determined to have what He may call victory, that
he battles until exhausted.
We should never venture out upon the water until we have
the divine "come" under our feet. We must listen
for His voice, and once we have heard, we have substance upon
which we can walk into the impossible.
Now our faith will bring us to the Lord Himself.