“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
I am starting a series on Faith today out of a concern generated by reactions when I posted a picture of myself being vaccinated recently. The backlash from a few people was unbelievable for me. From outright disapproval of my scriptural perspective to direct insults, I could not believe the reactions of a few young people. The insults bothered me because it came from young people who profess Christ and I could not believe their comfort with the use of abusive words but I will address that another day. More disturbing for me, however, is the misunderstanding of the subject of Faith by some. I, therefore, want to enlighten young people within my circle of influence about the subject. This is the more necessary to avoid several disastrous outcomes I have observed in the body of Christ when people have been presumptuous about faith or even outrightly foolish.
The late Frederick KC price taught a series of teachings under the above title and wrote a book about it in the last century which blessed me. The memory of it inspired this title and my response here. While I read portions of it over 30 years ago I will recommend that my dear reader that you buy a copy as I also intend to do. For many years Dr. Price was a spiritual son to the Late Kenneth E Hagin and taught Faith on his platform alongside Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Norvel Hayes, Charles Capps, and a few others. I followed their ministries over the years, read scores of their books, tracked their personal stories and even the gradual evolution of some of their theologies. My experience with all the knowledge I acquired from them and others in the body of Christ also has shaped my own theology. As I attempt to lay a foundation today and next week, I will ask for patience. The limited time and space here will not allow me to do justice to the subject in one or two articles. Biblical responses are welcome, differences of opinions will be answered in the spirit of meekness but insults will not be tolerated. They will either be deleted and the writers blocked from my platforms so that only those willing to engage in doctrinal discussions in the Spirit of Christ will be allowed. The church does not have to follow the world’s way of doing things on social media. We are to shine the light of God’s love in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
From Hebrews 11:1, Faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for. The Greek word translated Faith itself means a ‘firm persuasion or strong conviction’ among other related meanings according to Greek dictionaries like WE VINES expository dictionary and STRONGS exhaustive concordance. Two things, therefore, stand out for me in the above definition. One, there is no faith without hope and there are no doubts in Faith. Hope is futuristic. Nobody hopes for what is already a present reality(Romans 8:25). At the time of this writing, I had some hopes as a child that have become a reality. I hoped as a 21-year-old young man 30 years ago, pastoring my first church that someday I would be married, then become a father, and then a grandfather. All those have become a reality today. While I am hoping to become a great grandfather someday, I no longer hope to be called a husband, father, and grandfather, because I am already all three to the glory of God. However, if God gives me a revelation today of preserving my life for another 30 years and of becoming a great grandfather in the process, that spiritual insight will give me an assurance that it will become a reality, and my hope will receive the substance of faith. So was it for a man named Simeon, to whom it was revealed that he would not die until the manifestation of Jesus Christ(Luke 2:25-27). Until Jesus was taken to the temple, Simeon had an assurance beyond doubts that he would stay alive. Hope looks forward with expectation but faith accepts the future as a present reality even if not yet manifested. Faith sees it as done.
Faith is founded on the truth of scripture. The truth as revealed to a heart in a personal encounter with the Word of God takes the heart beyond doubts. This truth is based on the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary. All those who operated in faith in the Old Testament, did so in types, shadows, and figures of Christ, looking forward to His revelation while those of us in the New Testament look back to Calvary where Christ finished the work in the natural and also all he did in the realm of the spirit too. As aspects of the whole picture of this truth is revealed to us and our part in God’s eternal Kingdom purpose is revealed, hope and faith are birthed in our hearts from season to season and at one level to another. We first hope the things we see by revelation become reality and eventually we are assured of them and finally they become visible.
My wife and I founded Global Harvest Church as very young people in Ibadan, Nigeria 26 years ago. 3 years later, we dedicated our first worship place, a 1,000 seater auditorium that I christened Alpha auditorium, Alpha being the first alphabet of the Greek lexicon and meaning beginning. I did so in the hope that someday, a 3,000 seater auditorium will be built on the same church property. 20 years later, we dedicated that auditorium I had hoped for. The hope became an assurance that the current Lead Pastor of the church shared with me and we embarked on the project practically and today it is a reality.
I have been sick many times in my life. In the modern word of faith parlance, I should say ‘I have had many opportunities to be sick’. While symptoms persisted in my body, I would hope to get well but many times, I would out of my conviction that I am healed by the stripes of Jesus be assured of my healing on the integrity of the Word of God and God has always shown Himself faithful.
As a believer for almost 40 years and a Pastor of 30 years, I have seen many people expect miracles in the realm of hope and while God in His mercy has granted some miracles to young Christians, especially on that level, many have been disappointed that God did not answer their hopes. It is Faith that receives from God, not just hope. The transition between faith and hope is made by the hearing of faith(Romans 10.17). I made that transition when I had symptoms of covid 19 March 2020. As the symptoms ravaged my body and all I could see on television were dying bodies, I hoped for a favorable outcome but was also threatened by fear due to the images that filled the television and the internet. I cut down on TV time and focused on the ‘Hearing of Faith’ by listening to ‘Healing School’ messages by Kenneth Hagin, Gloria Copeland, and Andrew Womack among others. The result was that my hopes transited to assurance that I was healed while the symptoms persisted. Gradually, the symptoms left and my assurance became a material reality.
Faith, however, goes beyond a medium for which we receive miracles. We love and forgive by faith. When Jesus told his disciples they would have to forgive infinitely by using 70X7 as how many times they have to forgive daily, they prayed, ‘Lord, increase our Faith’(Luke 17:5). We refuse blessings that do not glorify God by faith, endure persecutions, go through tribulations, conquer territories and accomplish the purpose of God for our lives by it. We live by faith and in so doing, allow the Word of God to rule our lives. Next week, we will examine circumstances where we can be presumptuous, thinking we are in faith.