We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith." (NKJV) The Passion Translation says it this way: "We fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith's perfection." It is faith that enables us to endure life on earth because we believe God's Word for something more. The introduction of the book of Hebrews in The Passion Translation explains faith. "Biblical faith claims a confidence beyond our own because it rests in the character of God, the foundation of our faith. Part of practicing faith is persevering in it."
To truly understand what faith is we must look at the Biblical definition of it and to the language in which it was written—Greek. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the definition of faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (NKJV) Understanding the meaning of substance is our key to interpreting this passage correctly. Substance is the translation of the Greek word "hypostasis." Hypostasis is made up of two different Greek words: "Hupo" means under, and "histemi" means to stand. So, substance is not the object we hope for but that which stands under us and supports our faith. We may ask, "What is this foundation that stands and supports us and gives us assurance?" It is the Word of God. The Word of God is the evidence that we need to believe God.
If we look at chapter 11 of Hebrews, we find reminders of our fathers and mothers of faith who lived their lives in obedience to God because they believed His words. The words "By faith" are used in the verses that introduce us to the actions of everyone called out in Hebrews 11. Let us look at some of these verses and substitute the phrase "Believing God" where the words "By faith" are used.
Hebrews 11:4 - "By faith (Believing God) we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." In other words, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.
Hebrews 11:7 - "By faith (Believing God) Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family." Remember that Noah spent 120 years building an ark because he believed God.
Hebrews 11:8 - "By faith (Believing God) Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."
At times, God uses tests to develop our faith. This was the case when Peter walked on water. In Chapter 14 of John Wright Follette's book, Broken Bread, he explains how this happened in Peter's life. The disciples were in a boat on the sea of Galilee when a severe storm arose. At the fourth watch, Jesus came to them walking on the waves. Peter asked for a word confirming the presence of Jesus. "Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus responded, "Come." (Matthew 14: 28-29) Follette says that Peter "walked upon 'Come.'" This word was Peter's word that he could stand upon. As long as his focus was on the evidence, he could walk on water. When fear and unbelief came in Peter began to sink.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3) God has given us the foundation to stand on. He also makes it known that "Without faith (Believing God) it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6 - NKJV) Let us believe God for our promises. Persevere and be confident because faith rests on God, the foundation of our faith!
Joan E. Mathias