Tag Archives: Doc Scott

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.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Theology

Don’t leave your brain at the church door!

My main pastor in life was Dr. Gene Scott (who I look forward to posting about at a later date).  One of his lines was always, “You don’t have to leave your brain at the church door.”  It was a theme I was raised with from early childhood.  I believe this idea applies equally to atheists/non-believers of every type, and to my fellow Christians as well.

As my verse of the day says today, “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” Luke 10:27  It very clearly includes your mind.  Now, I believe that different people come to a belief in Christ Jesus through any of those various means; for example, an emotional experience or appeal, a spiritual experience or realization, a logical argument or a logical internal conclusion, etc…  Any and every avenue is open and Christianity affirms each and also withstands scrutiny from any angle.

When one becomes a believer, meaning they have indeed placed their trust and faith on Christ, I have found that it comes to include all of the above.  Now, don’t misunderstand me in this post; I don’t believe every Christian has to be a stuffy intellectual, far from it, but the Lord gave us brains to think with, and we honor Him by using our brains.  For example, don’t just accept what your pastor, or another teacher is dishing out…dig into it on your own (with the help of the Holy Spirit), look up the verses and contexts, compare your KJV to your NASB, use a Strong’s and look up the Hebrew and Greek, kick it around, digest it.  Doc used to tell everyone that listened to him to check out what he was saying, not just nod along.  Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Thinking things through, asking respectful questions, digging into apologetics and scripture, learning a bit about logic and philosophy, are not bad things in the least, and helps us get into the “meat” of the Christian message.

Another point Doc always made, is if you are called to be a Christian Apologist, this doesn’t do your debate partner, or audience much good, “You ask me how I know He lives…He lives within my heart.”  You probably need to take it a step further and fill in the gaps, and answer some questions; How do you know He lives within your heart?  What does that mean, precisely?  Why should I want Him to live in my heart? Etc…. (For those of you who don’t recognize it, those words come from the wonderful hymn, He Lives.  It works very very well in a song, and to express what a lot of us feel, but for apologetics purposes, it needs a little detail added, and the metaphors made clear…)  Personal evidence is usually what has impacted us most on a very personal level, and can indeed impact others, but other evidence, or even just objective explanations are helpful too.  But, as always, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and how you feel compelled to either discuss, or not discuss issues with others, always trumps any general advice I’m talking about here, and no two Christians are going to present their thoughts in exactly the same way.

This idea also has implications for the non-believer; it isn’t a Christian’s responsibility to do the research on your behalf.  Not every Christian is interested in arguing over ever single point that people obsess over; not all of us are called to do that.  In fact, the main thing we are called to share is the gospel message.  When we are asked to give a reason for our hope, we are to give one (1 Peter 3:15); but you, as a non-believer, do not get to dictate what kind of reason it is.  An emotional reason can be just as valid as a logical reason, because we are not all expected or commanded to play formal logic games all day, nor is it our job to “convince” someone of the Truth of the gospel.  Also, non-believers, don’t leave your brains at the church door either.  I’ve seen evidence that there are indeed atheists, just for example, that do not believe, based upon emotion; they are mad at the way a hypocritical Christian (yes, they do exist) treated them, they are angry at something some church or another did, they are mad or scared because God isn’t the way they want Him to be, they are content with the way they currently are, etc… Don’t let emotion rule you either; Christianity can, and indeed should, be looked at through the lens of logic, and that’s why I say to everyone reading this, “don’t leave your brain at the church door!”

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Filed under Apologetics, Logic