Faith isn’t something we only need to exercise at the point of salvation, but is something we require throughout our Christian lives. In fact everyone alive daily expressed faith in something. No one can live a single day without exercising faith So what does faith look like in the daily life of a believer? Firstly as we read at the beginning of this study faith is ‘substance’ in the life of the believer.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The word translated “substance” (hupostasis) in the Greek, means literally ‘to stand under or to support.’ Faith is the foundation that gives the believer the confidence to stand. The verse could be translated “faith is the confidence of things hoped for.”
Hupostasis, the word translated “substance,” means “that which underlies the apparent; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance, guarantee and confidence” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary). The English “substance” is built from a prefix and a root which together mean “that which stands under. Webster defines it as “the real or essential part or element of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter.” It is very similar in meaning to hupostasis.
Paul is saying that, for Christians, faith underlies what is seen externally in the conduct of their lives. Underlying a building is its foundation, and in most buildings, the foundation is rarely seen. If it is seen at all, usually only a small portion is visible, but it is there. If no foundation exists, the building soon becomes crooked and warped. In most cases, it will collapse and be completely unusable.
This faith of substance is illustrated in the life of the missionary Hudson Taylor. “When Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary, first went to China, it was in a sailing vessel. Very close to the shore of cannibal islands the ship was caught in a calm., and it was slowly drifting toward the shore …and the savages were eagerly anticipating a feast.
The captain came to Mr. Taylor and sought him to pray for the help of God. ‘I will,’ said Taylor, ‘provided you set your sails to catch the breeze.’ The Captain declined to make himself a laughing stock by unfurling the sails in a dead calm. Taylor said, ‘I will not undertake to pray for the vessel unless you will prepare the sails.’ And it was done.
While engaged in prayer, there was a knock at the door of his stateroom. “Who is there?” The captains voice responded, ‘Are your still praying for wind?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well,’ said the captain ‘you better stop praying for we have more wind than we can manage.’” [Paul Lee Tan. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979). # 1493]