“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
The evidence of our senses.
“I saw it with my own eyes.“ This is the statement a person who knows that something is real. An eyewitness to an accident or to a crime testifies the truth of the event by declaring the evidence what he or she has seen. In a court a witness will swear for the truth of the events that he described as the evidence of his own eyes and it is taken as truth. What we see with own eyes is the evidence of its reality. The same is true about other senses: we know something is real if we smell it, hear it tasted or touch it. The chief quest of history is to point to the evidence of events in the past to prove the veracity of historical accounts. Primary evidence is the holy grail of the historian. The scientist cannot state that the theory is true without showing the evidence that support his claims. The evidence of our senses gives us a consistent and true account of the world our bodies inhabit. We can reasonably expect that the Sun will rise tomorrow and that grass will still be green next week, and not red or purple, because the evidence of our experience tells us that this is the truth.
The domain of the spirit
However here is another world, an enduring eternal world which the body of man rejected at the Fall; where God dwells, which our human senses do not naturally perceive and which scientific evidence can no more grasp than a hand made of fog could can clutch a stone, and which even the measurement of time cannot encompass: the world of the spirit. The truths of this world cannot be grasped by the senses with which we engage with the natural world. And yet if our spirits have been born again and we’ve been raised up into the eternal domain of the spirit, I think it is possible to say that our spirits also have a sense of their own, and that sense is faith. If spiritual things are spiritually discerned, faith is the sense that does the discerning.
Without faith we cannot please God. Righteousness dwells in Heaven, and without faith we cannot see Heaven, neither can we perceive the truth of righteousness. When we are born again of the Spirit our spirit is born with its sense of faith, which is why even faith is a gift of God (Eph 2:8): our natural bodies do not possess it. And just as a human baby is born with senses that function, so the spiritual baby is born with faith in its heart. In the new birth, the battery is included.
Our Living Hope
Peter writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pe 1:3). Through the perception of faith our living hope comes alive in the person of Jesus: hope for the present manifestation of supernatural realities, and hope for the future realisation of our incorruptible Kingdom inheritance. And so (we are) “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last Time. In this you greatly rejoice.“ (1 Pe 1:5)
Faith is not a belief system: it is substance; it is evidence. Because Jesus had the faith of God so he could see what the Father was doing even though it was still unseen in the material realm. (John 5:19). Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for. This hope is not the “maybe, someday” hope of the English language, but a certainty of something yet to happen- more like the destination of a journey being travelled than the possibility of one not yet embarked on. All of Jesus’s miracles were hoped for as certainties before they were manifested: since He had this faith as evidence of what the Father was doing, he was able to “do also in like manner.”
Seeds of faith
So faith is not generated by how we think: it informs and shapes how we think. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14): our flesh cannot have faith, although it can be changed by it. Faith is not an extension of the imagination, but when faith is operating our imaginations can be the screen upon which the Father can project impressions of what He is doing, just as He did for Jesus. We cannot grow our own grains of mustard seed: they have to be received in the Spirit realm. We don’t need extra or bigger grains for bigger miracles: if we have faith we can see what the Father is doing and we can do likewise, whether He is moving mountains, mending hearts, healing bodies or releasing resources; and when we see with our faith what He is doing, we can receive the substance of faith as a seed that we plant in the material realm. We know that we will see on Earth what we have seen in Heaven.
In Jesus all the promises of God are Yes and Amen, but if we want to live in the victorious Christian life that all those promises lay before us, I think we need to perceive each one as a spiritual reality grasped with our own personal faith-sense as “evidence of things hoped for”, and plant our feet on their substance, step by step, knowing that they have been “set in a broad place.” (Psalm 31:8) We cannot walk in the truths of the word just because we know them or can read them: they have to be revealed to us in the Spirit, by faith.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). In these days of uncertainty there is nothing more important than staying in the presence of God so that we can hear Him speak seeds of faith into our hearts. Because when we can see what the Father is doing, we have the evidence of His light shining on the path that He is calling us to walk, however dark or confusing the world around us may seem.