Penetrate the sky
By riverbanks fly
The mighty stallion
Wild and on the run
A soaring eagle
Flying near the sun
Gazing at the light
Stretching to full height
A new born baby
Crying at his birth
An old man dying
Lowered to the earth
Lighting up the night
And darling lovebirds
All decked out in white
Niagara the grand
Torrents of wet spray
The sun blazing red
At the end of the day
In all these matters
A query does enthrall
Amid such splendor
Why do angels fall?
~ Dave Carter
Christ In You, The Hope of Glory.
I’ve always held a fascination for Hebrews chapter eleven, the faith chapter as its been called. In particular the first verse has had a myriad of commentaries written in the attempt to analyze this thing called faith, substance, things, evidence, and hope.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1
Of course this verse creates quite an enigma and leaves us with many contrasting interpretations when read out of context. Personally, I’ve never heard any rendering I can confidently say I’m certain of. The verse always seems to be reduced to something on a personal level, something that we need or more often some desire to come into existence out of the blue. Something that God will make appear or arrange because we have faith in Him to make it happen.
It would be ridiculous to propose we don’t have needs in this life, but in a real sense it is equally absurd to suggest that God is unaware of our needs. I believe the outworking of our faith often comes up short because we ask amiss. In other words, we invite or seek God to meet our personal agendas and ask Him to help us make it happen, rather than endeavouring to embrace the Lord and find out what’s on His heart on a matter, and then ask Him to supply all that is needed for that purpose according to His riches in Glory.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matt 6:33
Our seeking must never be about things, to do so only demonstrates our ignorance of God’s kingdom and its principals. “….it is the Father’s desire to give you the kingdom…” (Luke 12:22-40), and indeed through Christ He has already given us all things. Therefore, it only makes sense that if all things have been given to us, that the only seeking left to do is for a person.
I might add that the things 5023 translated in Matt 6:33 and Luke 12:22-40 is the word, tauta, which literally means these things or the things concerning this physical world; what to eat, drink, and wear, whereas, the things 4229, mentioned in Hebrews 11 is translated, pra=gma.
The root word here is, pra/ssw (verb), which means to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on, to accomplish, perform, to manage public affairs, transact public business, to act…” which are more related to “relational matters” that would have to do with a person, rather than with “objects.”
In short, the things related to in Matt and Luke are obviously objects, but, what about the things referred to in Hebrews?
The definition of the word pra/ssw, sounds more like the business one would carry on with a person rather than an object. Perhaps the stumbling block in understanding Heb 11:1 is not so much with the word, things, but rather with the word, substance?
Substance, on a surface level, often refers to physical objects and matter, or in other words things we can touch…such as clothes, food, and drink. If our understanding of substance are objects, then plainly objects will be the things we ask for in faith. Our seeking turns from looking for a person, to looking for an object.
But, what if the word “substance” referred to in Hebrews has nothing to do with objects or things? If the “substance” is a person, then our seeking will no longer be an object. This train of thought definitely lines up much better with Matt 6:33, which tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added.
The word substance 5287,referred to in Hebrews is: u(po/stasiv,
Literal translation: Hupostasis
- a setting or placing under
- thing put under, substructure, foundation
- that which has foundation, is firm
- that which has actual existence
- a substance, real being
- the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
- the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution
- confidence, firm trust, assurance
- KJV (5) – confidence, 2; confident, 1; person, 1; substance, 1;
- that which has actual existence
In a word, this translation of “substance” leads me to believe that in Hebrews 11:1, we are talking about a person as the substance of our faith, not a thing. Even faith in this verse, I believe, is related to a person rather than a human action.
Faith in this verse derives from the word, piðstiv: (Strong’s number 4102), which in a nutshell, refers to the conviction or belief, respective of man’s relationship to God and divine things rather than some pie in the sky hope that the results of faith are somehow dependent on ourselves to make happen. Actually the opposite is true, we must have faith in the divinity, character, and nature of God to do the things He says He will do.
So then, if faith is the substance of things hope for, then the substance of faith is Jesus through whom all blessings flow. He is the author and finisher of our faith and all things have been given to Him, and if He dwells in us, then Col.1:27 gives us great hope beyond measure…Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Consequently, its not about what we do nor is it our ability to bring glory to God’s kingdom; it’s Christ in us and the Holy Spirit, giving us the ability to know and to do the the will of God, which will naturally bring about God’s kingdom and rightly gives all the glory to God.
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Ok, just when I thought I’ve heard everything (UPI) blows my boat out of the water with this press release:
BEACONSFIELD, Quebec, Sept. 29 (UPI) — An Anglican church near Montreal has become dog-friendly, offering a Paws and Pray service once a month. The communion service at Christ Church Beaurepaire in Beaconsfield will include treats for the dogs and bowls of water along with bread and wine for their humans, the Montreal Gazette reports. The Rev. Michael Johnson, vicar of the church 25 miles east of Montreal, plans to try Paws and Pray for four months to determine if there is enough interest to justify keeping it going. Many Anglican churches bless animals once a year, usually on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. A regular service is a little more unusual. “I hope the dogs will feel honored and welcomed,” Johnson said. The service was suggested by Johanne Tasse, a member of Christ Church and president of Companion Animals Adoption Centers of Quebec, the Gazette reported. “Animals deserve our care and respect,” she said. “If we can bring dogs to church, how can we turn around and abuse them?”
Beautiful…I mean what’s next. Perhaps Johnson has been nipping a little on the side? This raises so many questions I can hardly believe my eyes. Can a dog feel honoured? Treats and water along with the sacriments…isn’t that leaning toward if not out right sacriledge?
Perhaps Johanne Tasse has been nipping as well when she says and I quote, “If we can bring dogs to church, how can we turn around and abuse them?” I guess she hasn’t been reading the papers lately about all the child abuse cases leveled against the clergy of late. Maybe it’s different with dogs.
I have one more question, what if fido dumps a steamer on the carpet of the sancurary…who is going to pick it up?
No wonder the Anglican church continues to lose membership…who can take them seriously?
As a Canadian it has not escaped me that much of what I write on these pages may go well beyond the savvy of most; not that my topics are so atypical in any way, but as is common to man, and blogging at large, I write from my own perspective and phooey on the rest.
I try not to get myself into a knot over the news, politics, religion, or the stupid things people do to one another, but some things get my dander up…like the fleas on a dog, they’re an irritable itch I have no choice but to scratch!
I heard an interesting quote today, “A fanatic is someone who has lost sight of his goal and redoubles his effort.” Reminds me of some of the dolts I read about in the newspapers these days.
Religion seems at best a careless distraction. Fundamentalism appears to be at the root of many problems today. Although I profess to be a follower of Christ, I do not consider myself a fundamentalist. Sure I have core beliefs in the scriptures, but I do not think that “an ultimatum” is the necessary tool for sharing my beliefs. Surely the threat of taking a life (as is the practice of some) is a poor way of converting a pagan. Will he not say whatever you wish to save his life, and then when your back is turned…go his old way?
Perhaps if the goal is to share God’s love for mankind, then love is what should be shown, and then conceivably good old fashioned conviction might win the day.