Hebrews 11:1-2 from Watchman Nee


“Funny” how a room-full of us were talking about this EXACT same Principle last night, before anyone had read this excerpt below : ) “Funny” how that works, eh? : )

Extremely important stuff. SO few comprehend a Faith that WORKS—though “our bodies are as good as dead.” And yet, only those with “the Faith of Abraham” (Rom.4) will ever EXPERIENCE the Fullness of Life, and “Rivers of Alive Water gushing from the inner man.” Many “believe in Jesus” as Christians are supposed to—but few “EXPERIENCE” it. God never meant to have a bunch of people wear His Name that “believe” it, rather than LIVE it! And yet, the true Faith that embraces and acts upon what GOD has said, in spite of all previous “history” or “failures” or “experiences” or “feelings” or “peer pressure” or “observations” or “statistical probability”—even if it involves “without wavering, fully persuaded” for twenty-five YEARS if need be—as it did for “the Father of our Faith” Abraham (Rom.4) …is very rare. A “belief system” is very different from a LIFE. “The Kingdom of God consists not of mere words, but of POWER.”

“It’s your turn now.” : )

———Original Message———

Subject: Heb 11:1-2 From Watchman Nee

(Excerpt from The Normal Christian Life)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1), and “the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). I think we all know that Hebrews 11:1 is the only definition of faith in the New Testament, or indeed in the Scriptures. It is important that we should really understand that definition. You are familiar with the common English translation of these words, describing faith as “the substance of things hoped for” (A.V.). However, the word in the Greek has in it the sense of an action and not just of some thing, a ‘substance,’ and I confess I have personally spent a number of years trying to find a correct word to translate this. But the New Translation of J.N. Darby is especially good in regard to this word: “Faith is the substantiating of things hoped for.” That is much better. It implies the making of them real in experience.

How do we ‘substantiate’ something? We are doing so every day. We cannot live in the world without doing so. Do you know the difference between substance and ‘substantiating?’ A substance is an object, something before me. ‘Substantiating’ means that I have a certain power or faculty that makes that substance to be real to me. Let us take a simple illustration. By means of our senses we can take things of the world of nature and transfer them into our consciousness so that we can appreciate them. Sight and hearing, for example, are two of my faculties which substantiate to me the world of light and sound. We have colors: red, yellow, green, blue, violet; and these colors are real things. But if I shut my eyes, then to me the color is no longer real; it is simply nothing—to me. It is not only that the color is there, but I have the power to ‘substantiate’ it. I have the power to make that color real to me and to give it reality in my consciousness. That is the meaning of ‘substantiating.’

If I am blind I cannot distinguish color, or if I lack the faculty of hearing I cannot enjoy music. Yet music and color are in fact real things, and their reality is unaffected by whether or not I am able to appreciate them. Now we are considering here the things which, though they are not seen, are eternal and therefore real. Of course we cannot substantiate Divine things with any of our natural senses; but there is one faculty which can substantiate the “things hoped for,” the things of Christ, and that is faith. Faith makes the real things to become real in my experience. Faith ‘substantiates’ to me the things of Christ. Hundreds of thousands of people are reading Romans 6:6: “Our old man was crucified with him.” To faith, that is true, but to doubt, or to mere mental assent apart from spiritual illumination, it is not true.

Let us remember again that we are dealing here not with promises but with facts. The promises of God are revealed to us by His Spirit that we may lay hold of them; but facts are facts and they remain facts whether we believe them or not. If we do not believe the facts of the Cross they still remain as real as ever, but they are valueless to us. It does not need faith to make these things real in themselves, but faith can ‘substantiate’ them and make them real in our experience.

Even if something is a very real fact to our senses, if it contradicts the truth of God’s Word, we must regard it as the Devil’s lie, not because it is not a fact but because God has stated a greater fact before which the other must ultimately yield. A skillful liar lies not only in word but in gesture and deed; he can as easily pass a bad coin as tell an untruth. The Devil is a skillful liar, and we cannot expect him to stop at words in his lying. He will resort to lying signs and feelings and experiences in his attempts to shake us from our faith in God’s Word. Let me make it clear that I do not deny the reality of the ‘flesh.’ Indeed we shall have a good deal more to say about this further on. But I am speaking here of our being moved from a revealed position in Christ. As soon as we have accepted our death with Christ as a fact, Satan will do his best to demonstrate convincingly by the evidence of our day-to-day experience that we are not dead at all but very much alive. So we must choose. Will we believe Satan’s lie or God’s truth? Are we going to be governed by appearances or by what God says?

So, whether I feel it or not, I am dead with Christ. How can I be sure? Because Christ has died; and since “one died for all, therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14). Whether my experience proves it or seems to disprove it, the fact remains unchanged. While I stand upon that fact Satan cannot prevail against me. Remember that his attack is always upon our assurance. If he can get us to doubt God’s Word, then his object is secured and he has us in his power; but if we rest unshaken in the assurance of God’s stated fact, assured that He cannot do injustice to His work or His Word, then it does not matter what tactics Satan adopts. “We walk by faith, not by appearance” (2 Cor. 5:7, mg).

All temptation is primarily to look within; to take our eyes off the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is always meeting a mountain, a mountain of evidence that seems to contradict God’s Word, a mountain of apparent contradiction in the realm of tangible fact—of failures in deed, as well as in the realm of feeling and suggestion—and either faith or the mountain has to go. They cannot both stand. But the trouble is that many a time the mountain stays and faith goes. That must not be. If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan’s lies are often enough true to our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contradicts God’s Word and maintain an attitude of faith in Him alone, we shall find instead that Satan’s lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word.

It is our occupation with Christ that has this result, for it means that He becomes progressively real to us on concrete issues. In a given situation we see Him as real holiness, real resurrection life—for us. What we see in Him objectively now operates in us subjectively—but really—to manifest Him in us in that situation. That is the mark of maturity. That is what Paul means by his words to the Galatians: “I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (4:19). Faith is ‘substantiating’ God’s facts; and faith is always the ‘substantiating’ of eternal fact—of something eternally true.

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