The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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About – The Substance of Faith

 sub·stance  [suhb’- stuhns] n. that of which a thing consists; the actual matter of a thing


The Substance of hosts the reflections, insights, and study of  Joel Snider, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Rome Georgia.

Are you searching for information on the “the substance of faith?”  More searches on that phrase bring readers to this site than any other search.  If that’s why you came, here is a simple summary:

The phrase comes from the King James Bible’s translation of Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”   J. B. Phillips translation clarifies the idea: “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for…”

Clarence Jordan has a famous sermon using the phrase.  When Jordan’s sermons were gathered and published, the editor took the title from that particular sermon.  Clarence always made this point: faith is a verb, not a noun (in the Greek New Testament, the verb is more common than the noun).  If you hope for something, you live for it, even if you can’t see the outcome.  Faith (living our convictions) makes our hope concrete.  Hope is ephemeral until we give it genuine substance through our actions.

I wrote my dissertation on the preaching of Clarence Jordan and his theology still has a major impact on what I believe.  Thus, I took The Substance of Faith as the name for this website.  I hope that you will find concrete expressions of faith in my posts.  My goal is to apply real faith for the real lives we live.

The menu headings above are:

Bucket Books are the 50 books that have had a significant impact on my life.  They include literature, fiction, business, theology and more.  What books have been most influential in your life?

Other Reads are any other book I’ve been reading.

Observations are comments on life, culture, and faith.

Prayers –  I’ve written some of these prayers.  I’ve found the prayers written by others helpful.

Meditation Texts are printed in our order of worship every Sunday.  They are printed to encourage engagement beyond the worship service.

Quotes – I’ve collected thousands over the years.  Here is a place for some of the best ones to see the light of day.

Elsewhere contains anything I’ve found on the internet that I want to highlight.

Life is my place for travel, hobbies, or anything that doesn’t fit the rest of the categories.

To continue the conversation for any post, click on the title of the post and a comment section will appear.


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Quotes for Easter – On the Resurrection


I hate to jump ahead of Holy Week, but for those preparing early for Easter, here are some quotations on the resurrection.  Check the Archives for quotes on the cross and atonementwhich may be helpful for Holy Week.

From N.T. Wright in Simply Christian:

Resurrection was something which, in Jewish s people at the very end, not to one person in the middle of history. p. 107

This is the launch pad for the specifically Christian way of life. That way of life isn’t simply a matter of getting in touch with your inner depths. It is certainly not about keeping the commands of the distant deity. Rather, it is the new way of being human, and the Jesus-shaped way of being human, the cross and resurrection way of life, the spirit led pathway. It is the way which anticipates, in the present, the full, rich, glad human existence, which will one day be ours when God makes all things new.  p. 222

Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith and Jewel Lake Goldsmith, in Speaking of Dying:

The gospel in its essence is surely the story of God’s goodness the creation of all that is the loving and redemptive action of God in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise that finally God will transform all that is into a final incomprehensibly wonderful new creation. p. 26

The popular cultural tendency is to believe in a kind of guaranteed and automatic immortality. That is not the Christian understanding. Christians take death very seriously and have since a time of Jesus., when any idea of the resurrection of the dead was a far off hope. The resurrection of Jesus was an astonishing event. It did not install a regime of immortality. The rather was only the first of the new creation, one in which God would raise the dead. There is nothing in humans that automatically survives death. There is only the power and grace of God that showed his love overcame death. The hope for in it in eight immortality can lead to a trivialization of death. Christians are aware of the seriousness and threat of physical death. Instead of hoping there is some seed of immortality within themselves that would guarantee a safe passage to a better place, the Christian throws all his or her hopes on to God, whose power created all there is in whose power can be trusted to raise again all that which dies. p. 126

 Luke Timothy Johnson in  The Creed,

A careful reading of the entire new Testament suggests that the resurrection experience involved both Jesus and his followers, took place not only on the single day later known as Easter but continuously, and consisted of the presence of the risen Jesus among his followers through the Holy Spirit. p. 12

The truth of the resurrection is not simply that Jesus is no longer among the dead, but that he now shares the life and power of God. p. 178

T. W. Manson in The Servant Messiah.  Cambridge: University Press, 1961:

The Resurrection means above all just this, that Christians do not inherit their task from Christ, they share it with him.  We are not the successors of Jesus, but his companions. (emphasis original),  p. 98

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with ever fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” p. 190 (Final paragraph in the book)



Quotes for Holy Week – On Atonement

Forgiveness costs. Whatever the theory of atonement, this is at the heart of it, that forgiveness costs.

–Richard John Neuhaus,  Death On A Friday Afternoon,  p. 15

The crucifixion of Jesus set men (sic) thinking more than anything else that has ever happened in the life of the human race. And the most remarkable fact in the whole history of religious thought is this: that when the early Christians looked back and pondered on the dreadful thing that had happened, it made them think of the redeeming love of God.

–D. M. Baillie in God Was in Christ: An Essay on Incarnation and Atonement  p. 184

The first things to say about theories of atonement are all, in themselves, abstractions from the real events. The events-the flesh and blood, time and space happenings-are the reality which the theories are trying to understand but cannot replace. p. 94

All theories of atonement adequate to the task must include both a backward look (seeing the guilt, sin and shame of all previous generations heaped up on the cross) and a forward dimension, the promise that what God accomplished on Calvary will be fully and finally implemented. p. 96

NT Wright in  Evil and the Justice of God

 Also, See Holy Week Quotes on the Cross



Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer….Our Father


  • We do not call God “Father” because we have had certain positive experiences with our biological fathers and therefore project those experiences upon God.  Rather, all human fathers are measured, judged, and fall short on the basis of our experience of God as Father.  God the Father stands as judgment against all human fatherhood.  — William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas in Lord, Teach Us, p. 31


  • This God who is unveiled in Christ is the God our world needs today.   — Rufus Jones in  The World Within, p. 5


  • In a study group, I heard author John Killinger claim that “Jesus was God’s answer to the problem of a bad reputation.”  Killinger believes that reconciliation finally occurs when we let Jesus “show us the Father” and disproves forever the serpent’s distortion.    — John Claypool, in StorieJesus Still Tells,  p. 49


  • The more mature and knowing men [sic] became, they more they learned to know life, the more they realized how graceless, how fatherless, how terribly orphaned the world is.  –Helmut Thielicke in Our Heavenly Father, p. 20

See Also:

Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer -  Thy Kingdom Come

Quotes on the Lord’s Prays – Forgive us…




April’s Dose of Culture

Here’s a monthly supply of technology changes, culture shifts, and things that are happening around us.

Are you concerned about the way our culture communicates via mobile?  Are today’s apps turning us into sociopaths?

Orwell had it wrong.  Little Brother is watching.  How everything we do is recorded by someone.

What comes after “selfies?”  Newest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Wondering what all those texting and internet abbreviations mean but were afraid to ask?  Try this Acronym Finder  

How talking to your kids about sex has changed.  The new conversation.

Only in America: one of my favorite features of The Week.


Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer – Forgive us as…

  • No man [sic] who will not forgive his neighbor, can believe that God is willing, yea wanting, to forgive him . . . . If God said, “I forgive you” to a man who hated his brother, and if (as impossible) that voice of forgiveness should reach the man, what would it mean to him?  How much would the man interpret it?  Would it not mean to him “You may go on hating.  I do not mind it.  You have had great provocation and are justified in your hate?”  No doubt God takes what wrong there is, and what provocation there is, into the account:  but the more provocation, the more excuse that can be urged for the hate, the more reason, if possible, that the hater should be delivered from the hell of his hate . . . .   God loved the sinner so much that He cannot forgive him in any other way than by banishing from his bosom the demon that possesses him.    George MacDonald: An Anthology – 365 Readings,  edited by C.S. Lewis,   P. 7 ff.


  • Nothing will make us so generous and merciful to the faults of others as seeing your own.        Francois Fenelon in  Talking with God, p.21


  •  It is impossible to have at one and the same time a relationship with God based on grace and a relationship with man [sic] based on law.  Emil Brunner, in Sowing and Reaping, p. 64

Check back, I plan to update this post with more quotes on forgiveness

See Also:

Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father

Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer – Thy Kingdom Come


Quotes on the Lord’s Prayer – Thy Kingdom come…

  • “Prayer is uniting our will with the will of God.  It is not an attempt to get God to do our will.  It is desiring to do what delights God.  It is discovering that what pleases God will ultimately bring us joy as well.  It is following in his footsteps even when he leads where we fear to go.”  James Mulholland, in Praying Like Jesus,  p. 63


  • “The third clause of the Lord’s Prayer is repeated daily by millions who have not the slightest intentions of letting any will be done except their own.”  Aldous Huxley in The Perennial Philosophy, p.221


  • “It is because of you,” says God, “that my kingdom cannot come.”   Helmut Thielicke, in Our Heavenly Father, p. 45


  • “For after all, we should not have to pray at all that God’s will be done,  if it were really being done among us, and if we ourselves and the whole world were not living our life in constant boycott of his will.”   Helmut Thielicke, in Our Heavenly Father, p. 70


  • Too often, we are conditioned to think of prayer as asking God for what we want—dear God, give me this, give me that.  But now, in praying that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are attempting to school ourselves to want what God wants.  We receive, not what our hearts desire, but rather we become so enthralled with a vision of what God is doing on earth and in heaven, that we forget the story that the world has told us—that we have nothing better to do than to satisfy our desires.          William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas in Lord, Teach Us. p. 66


  • But once we learn to pray for God’s will to become embodied in our lives, we discover how to make decisions, even when the alternatives are ambiguous.  We become proactive rather than reactive, willing to seize the initiative rather than being overwhelmed by circumstances. We decide in the confidence the choices can make a difference, actively shaping the future rather than passively letting the future shape us. William E. Hull, in The Lord’s Prayer, p. 79



Quotes on Repentence

Perhaps these quotations will be helpful to others who are preaching and teaching during this Lenten Season.


Those of us who preach in mainline denominations know that we have a language problem in the church.  Some of our best words have decayed from long use and rough treatment.  Others have been kidnapped by strangers and yet others institutionalized by so-called friends.  Charity is more likely to mean a tax-deductible donation to us than anything having to do with the heart.  Mission is something every corporate business has, and stewardship is a dreary season in the fall.  Other words have been used as weapons for so long that no one will go near them anymore.  Repentance has come to mean “sorry” and sin to mean “wrong,” although both words possess far more promise than that.

Gail O’Day & Thomas G. Long, Editors, Listening to the Word. p. 207

 God does not wait for our repentance; he loves us anyway.

 Thomas Cahill, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, p. 207

 Repentance involves the receiving of a totally new disposition so that I never do the wrong thing again.

The repentant man[sic] experiences the humiliating conviction that he has broken the law of God and that he is willing to accept, on God’s terms, the gift of a new life that will prove sufficient in him to enable him to live a holy life—not hereafter, but here and now.

 Oswald Chambers, Conformed to His Image/The Servant As His Lord,  p. 29

 If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.

 Charles H. Spurgeon

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble.

C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

No sin is so light that it may be overlooked. No sin is so heavy that it may not be repented of.

 Moses Ibn Ezra

Repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven… It serves as an expression of gratitude rather than an effort to earn forgiveness. Thus the sequence of forgiveness and then repentance… is crucial for understanding the gospel of grace.

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 74


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A Prayer by W.E. Orchard

O God, too near to be found, too simple to be conceived, too good to be believed; help us to trust, not in our knowledge of Thee, but in Thy knowledge of us; to be certain of Thee, not because we feel our thoughts of Thee are true, but because we know how far Thou dost transcend them. May we not be anxious to discern Thy will, but content only with desire to do it; may we not strain our minds to understand Thy nature,  but yield ourselves and live our lives only to express Thee.

Show us how foolish it is to doubt Thee, since Thou thyself dost set questions which disturb us; reveal our unbelief to the faith, fretting at its outward form. Be gracious when we are tempted to cease from moral strife: reveal what it is that struggles in us. Before we tire of mental search enable us to see that it was not ourselves, but Thy call which stirred our souls.

Turn us back from our voyages of thoughts to that which sent us forth. Teach us to trust not in cleverness or learning, but to that inward faith which can never be denied. Lead us out of confusion to simplicity; call us back from wondering without to find Thee at home within. Amen.



Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy – A Review

Events today in Ukraine make Brendan Simms’ book on European history most relevant.  Simms, a Fellow at Cambridge, pours an incredible amount of information into 533 pages of text and nearly 100 pages of end notes. If you want a 600-year, historical perspective on what is happening in Europe today, it is worth the read.

Simms describes four, lasting and competing powers in Europe: England, France, Prussia/Germany, and Russia;  along with two historical powers: Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Turks.  Six hundred years of European wars and politics have been the result of these powers maneuvering each other for dominance.  Alliances and confrontations are the consequences of each power working to keep the most threatening competitor in check.  When Napoleon threatened much of Europe, Russia and England became allies.  In the colonial period, when England threatened to dominate Europe, France came to aid of the 13 colonies, not out of love for freedom, but to preoccupy England militarily away from the continent and to weaken England economically.

The book shows how Russia and Prussia/Germany have historically viewed each other warily and have competed multiple times for geographic buffers for their respective homelands.  Neither wants the other within reach of their native territory; thus, Eastern Europe has been their battle ground.  Hitler’s offer to split the traditional buffer of Poland pleased Stalin because it kept Hitler at arm’s length without a war.  Until Hitler reneged.  Of course, at that point Hitler was much closer to Moscow because Stalin had misread his strategy and allowed Hitler access to half of Poland.

The Crimean war of the 1850′s pitted England and France – enemies during the Napoleonic years – along with Ottomans, against a threatening Russia who was encroaching on all of them geographically or economically.  The Crimea was the buffer none could afford to lose.

Thus Ukraine and the Crimea are back in their historic roles as an economic resource for the dominating power, and a geographical buffer against military aggression, no matter how unlikely that may seem to Americans.  The loss of Ukraine from their sphere of influence (following the fall of the Soviet Union) is not something the Russians will allow to continue without resistance.

If I could subtitle this book, it would be “Why Germany is the Center of All History.”  Simms clearly sees the Germans (or their Prussian predecessors)  as the pivotal power in Europe and, consequently, the world.  He outlines in many places why he believes German interests influenced events on the continent and many other places, including the American continents and Africa.  I am not a capable enough historian to confirm or deny some of those assertions, but his conviction is interesting and informative.  I had never seen some of the connections he makes.

Europe is not an easy book to read.  At many points I bogged down in reading intricate details that came in rapid-fire succession.   It did provide me with a perspective on World War I and World War II that I did not have before.  Of particular interest to me was the history behind the Central Powers alliance of Word War I (Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks).  It also showed me how, if history is any indication, neither Russia nor NATO (representing the alliances on the other side of the first Crimean war)  will easily back down in today’s  tensions in Ukraine.


Sisters see each other for the first time

Josie Meets Lucy