Tony Evans — Concept of Faith
Faith is simply acting like God is telling the truth. Faint is acting like God-- it's not feeling that God is telling the truth. It's not saying that God is telling the truth. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth. That's why the Bible calls it walking by faith and not talking by faith or feeling by faith or even thinking by faith.
There are many people today who are living with a sense of hopelessness, a sense that it's not working, it's not worth it, it's not fair, I quit, I give in, I throw in the towel, I can't take it anymore, a sense of profound despair.
That was true of the folks that the author of Hebrews was writing. They were on the verge of quitting, quitting the faith, going back to the world. They didn't think this Christian thing was worth it. It just wasn't workin' out for 'em. What leads him to discuss this concept is summarized in chapter 10, beginning with verse 35.
In chapter 10 of Hebrews, verse 35, he says, "Therefore do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward, for you have need for endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised. For yet in a little while he who is coming will come and will not delay, but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul."
He says, "I am writing you so that you don't throw in the towel, for endurance." And then he throws the zinger, "For the righteous shall live by faith."
Okay, watch this. So you've gotta ask the question am I living by faith? Because if I'm not rolling by faith, then I'm not experiencing God in my circumstances 'cause that's how the righteous roll.
They live by faith. But that raises a question. What is faith, and how does it work? Verse 1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." In order for faith to be faith as God defines faith, it must have substance.
Faith involves things. It involves stuff. Faith is not a willy-nilly, amorphous concept in the never, never land. It is being sure of stuff, of the things, which are hoped for, and it has evidence of things you have not yet seen. He summarizes that concept in the word "hope."
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen."
Faith deals with things that are real that have not yet penetrated your five senses 'cause you haven't seen it yet. Hope is an expectation about the future. Hope is an expectation of which you are convinced of or convicted about.
In other words, you are confident of this thing even though the thing hasn't occurred yet. Faith then must have substance. It must have some stuff that you can rely on. Now what this means is faith is only as meaningful as the substance to which it is attached.
If you've got faith in bad substance, then your faith will be insufficient no matter how much of it you possess 'cause the substance you're placing it in isn't much or maybe not real at all.
Faith has to do with an expectation in a hope that must involve a substance, so the amount of your faith is not tied to how much faith you have. It's tied to how much substance you possess.
A little faith in significant substance produces great results. A lot of faith in insufficient substance will produce no results because what makes faith, faith, is the substance to which it is attached. Faith is the assurance of the things, the substance hoped for, and it is the evidence of something that your eyes have not yet laid eyes on but that you know is real.
If you want to grow your faith don't go faith-growth hunting. Get a better substance. The surer the substance, the more solid the faith. So to understand faith you have to look at the substance of things hoped for, that is, what the object is, and the evidence of things not seen.
let me clarify something then about what faith is not. Faith is not necessarily how you feel. You can feel faithless but be full of faith. You can feel full of faith and have no faith because faith is not first and foremost an emotion. Emotions do not have intellect. Emotions don't think. That's what emotions are. It's how you feel, and feelings shift based on the information received.
Faith is tied to substance that is not yet seen or experienced with the five senses but that you are convinced is real based on the integrity of the subject who is calling for the faith. Who is the subject calling for the faith? It's God. He says, "After you've done the will of God."
Now let me tell you why this sermon and this series, for many, may be the most important one you've ever heard because Hebrews 11, verse 6, says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
Don't miss this one. Faith is not one of the things you need. It is the key thing you need if you want to experience God because without it, it says you are displeasing to God.