If essence means "substance conceived of as an object of understanding and of definition," and substance means, "the structural constitution of a concrete thing," what does it mean when we say faith IS substance?
Thoughts from Umberto Eco on the Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas paired with my Sunday school lesson on "Faith." (January 16, 2016)
Webster's Dictionary's full definition of substance is:
- 1a : essential nature : essence ; b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality; c: Christian Science : god 1b
- 2a : ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change; b : practical importance : meaning, usefulness <the…bill—which will be without substance in the sense that it will authorize nothing more than a set of ideas — Richard Reeves>
- 3a : physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence ; b : matter of particular or definite chemical constitution ; c : something (as drugs or alcoholic beverages) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction <possession of a controlled substance> <substance abuse>
- 4 : material possessions : property <a family of substance>
This word, substance, carries deep meaning when I really investigate its true definition. How often do we use words in a very shallow way or remove them from their original meaning all together?
Having said that, what is the substance, the purest essence, of my home? The land. Dirt. Or as my friend, Brandon would say, soil. It has been there since the beginning of time. It is the land that my great great great grandfather, James Elijah Archer trotted across when he settled in Frog Jump, TN in the late 1800s. It is where he resided until his death in 1938. It is were an entire community was born. It is the land that my entire family has worked on. The dirt that was plowed and gave birth to crops that fed them. Those people are gone. I never knew them. Yet, their legacy lives on in the soil where their earthly bodies now lay. Their spirits have gone on, but their work has not. It lives on in me and in the dirt. The dirt of Frog Jump is the substance and essence of my home.
With that, what if I say that faith in Christ is substance? That is what I believe.
I am currently working towards using the substance dirt which is the essence of my home to represent the substance of my faith in Christ.
Just the same, the land that was promised to Abraham was a token of his faith. In my study on Faith by Ron Dunn, the author writes, "When at long last he finally reached the land of promise, the land God had given him for an everlasting possession, Abraham lived as an alien." He lived as an alien in his own promised land? But see, that land was only a representation of the promise that God made to Abraham which was to have eternal life and dwell with him through faith.
It is only through faith that I can believe in eternal security through Christ. The author writes, "That is where faith finds its rest, its promised land; not in the transient blessings of this age, but in the very presence of God. The faith that pleases God lives as an alien in the land of promise."
The physical and earthly security that land represents for us is parallel to the promise that I have from Christ through my faith in Him.