Daily Archives: August 22, 2008

What is Faith?

We Christians are to live by faith, and we know that faith plays the staring role (from our end) in salvation…so what is it exactly?

The Greek word for faith is pistis.  When doing apologetics, you will find that many non-believers do not know that to really grasp some of the scripture, you need to return to the original language in which they were written.  This is one reason why the concept of faith is misunderstood amongst non-believers; they try to use a modern English definition for “faith.”

When we go to the Greek, the word takes on different meaning.  Pistis is a noun, it means to trust something/someone with great confidence.  One of the problems in our Bibles is that the translators used the word “believe” for a derivative of pistis; Pisteuo. Everyone should be able to see the same root there; Pistis is faith, and Pisteuo should be the verb form of faith; to faithe, faithes, faithing, etc…  Instead, the translators rightly chose a word in English that actually existed; however, in English “believe” does not get the point across as “faithe” would.  So, sometimes we can mentally “correct” the translations as we read.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe (Pisteuo; that ye faithe) on him whom he hath sent.

Notice, it isn’t “believe” as in head knowledge only, it is trust with confidence.  It also does not mean “blind” trust.  We humans do not truly trust something with great confidence without evidence.  We just don’t do it.  To have confidence in something we want evidence.

The Christian faith is not blind in the least.  We have logical and philosophical reasons for faith in Jesus, we have objective evidence that anyone can observe and study, we have “subjective” evidence that is personal to ourselves, but that we can indeed share with others, we have historical evidence, archaeological evidence, evidence that stems from nature, evidence that stems from ancient writings, etc… etc… etc…

The Greek word pistis does not, in any way, have the idea of “blind” faith within its meaning.  Now, my pastor, Dr. Gene Scott used to define faith in an easy to remember manner, “Faith is Action based upon Belief sustained by Confidence. ABC.  And I completely agree with him, but you would have to have studied his teachings from a while to not get confused here.

To a stranger’s eye, it may seem like Doc was teaching works-based salvation; this isn’t so.  The action he is talking about refers to pisteuo being a verb.  In logic we’d put it like this: All work is an action, but not all action is a work.  We have a verb in the English “to think.”  Thinking isn’t a “work” in the Jewish “law” POV, (you can still think on sabbath as it isn’t considered a work) but it is still an action.  It is the same with faith; it is a action on our part without being a work.

Now, the other misconception amongst non-believers is that some people have faith and some do not.  This is totally wrong.  Every human being has faith.  Every single one.  Faith is a gift of God; every human has the capacity for faith, and every human exercises faith.  The catch is; What do you have faith in?  Do you trust that when you get up of a morning that when you put your feet on the floor and stand up that gravity will do its job?  That’s faith.  Do you trust that the sun, baring a sci-fi movie type cataclysm, will rise in the East?  That’s faith.

Everyone has faith; it is the object of that faith that becomes important.  God knows that we have faith in other things, but what He wants is supreme faith in Himself over all other things.  I love my family; I have faith in them, but they are not God, and are not the number one recipients of my faith.  I know that they all have faith in me, but I also know that I am not the numero uno recipient of faith from their side of things; God is.

When doing apologetics it is very important to have an understanding of the word faith, its role in salvation, and what it means.  God wants faith, it is what He is looking for from us; utter confidence in Him, and the work of Jesus Christ.  Don’t ever let someone try to convince you that Christianity is a blind faith; they are completely wrong on that score.  Don’t ever let someone try to convince you that they don’t have faith; that’s wrong too.  We all have faith, and what it will boil down to is what/who do you place your faith in/on.


Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Theology