Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

The Greek word for "substance" is hupostasis. It is a scientific term, the opposite of hypothesis or theory. It is that which rests upon facts. In chemistry it would be the chemical which settles at the bottom of the test tube after you have made an experiment. Dr. A. T. Robertson translates substance as "title deed." What is the title deed? What is the substance? It is the Word of God, my friend. If your faith does not rest upon the Word of God, it is not biblical faith at all. It has to rest upon what God says. Actually, it means to believe God.

The question is whether you believe God or not. Don't come up with the "I've got intellectual problems" excuse, because that won't work. The thing that keeps men from the Word of God is sin. It is sin in your life that keeps you from coming to God. It is the heart that needs to believe — it is "the heart that believeth unto righteousness." When you are ready to give up your sin, the Holy Spirit will make real to you the Word of God.

Paul wrote to the Colossian believers, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9). To know the will of God is to know the Word of God. He prayed that they might know the Word of God. The Greek word for "knowledge" which Paul used is epignosis. There were Gnostics in that day who professed to have super knowledge. Paul told the Colossians that he wanted them to have super knowledge which was genuine by knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, and he believed that the Holy Spirit would make it real to them.

Therefore faith rests upon the Word of God. Our dogmatism comes from the Book. That is the reason the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:39, "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." There are only two ways to go. Either you are going backwards, or you are going to go forwards. Anything that is alive cannot stand still. Out yonder in the forest there is regression and deterioration taking place, but there is also growth and development. Nothing alive out there is standing still — it cannot.

"The evidence of things not seen." In the Greek the word is elegchos. It is a legal term meaning "evidence that is accepted for conviction." When I was studying classical Greek in college, I observed that this word is used about twenty-three times in Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. Evidence is something you take into court to prove your case.

Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a "hope so." Faith is substance and evidence — substance for a scientific mind, and evidence for a legal mind. If you really want to believe, you can believe. You can believe a whole lot of foolish things, but God doesn't want you to do that. He wants your faith to rest upon the Word of God.

—From Edited Messages on Hebrews by Dr. J. Vernon McGee