Tag Archives: Trust

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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A call for calm…

One of the central teachings of the Bible, and especially of Jesus is a call for calm, or a call for peace.  When we live in a world such as ours it is far easier to worry and to fret than to be content in whatever position we find ourselves in.  I also firmly believe that we will never reach that state of peace 24/7/365, but it is always good to be reminded of it.

One of the things I love about Christ is His teaching methods, and His manner with His friends, the apostles.  The writers of the Bible give us such great visuals, it is easy to put “flesh and blood” on a lot of the stories shared.  One of them is in Mark Chapter 4:

Mark 4:37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

So, a storm brewed up and hammered the ship…everyone else is apparently awake, afraid, watching the waves, what is our Lord doing?  Sleeping peacefully.  Notice that the people with Him, didn’t just wake Him up, they didn’t just ask Him to help…what did they do?  “Carest thou not that we perish?”  Don’t you care what’s happening to us?  They attempted to put the ol’ guilt trip on Him.

The Lord gets up and does two distinct things; rebukes the wind, and calmed the waves.  The wind was what was actually stirring up trouble, it gets rebuked (perhaps this has to do with the prince of the power of the air…).  The waves were at the “mercy” of the winds, and they get calmed.  The Lord then asks two questions and they are definitely connected, and yet they cover separate issues.

The first question: “Why are ye so fearful?”  Why are they so afraid?  They’ve been with Christ, they’ve seen God’s power, they know that He is in total and absolute control, yet they fear.  The second question; “How is it that ye have no faith?”  Why don’t they have trust and confidence?  The Lord Himself is onboard, He loves them as friends, He’s been teaching non-stop about faith, yet they have none in Him, or in the Father.  Then, what did they do; they feared exceedingly…not because of His questioning of them, but because of His power over the very elements.

He had to get exasperated.  As far as I know warranted exasperation isn’t a sin, and I can imagine the look on the Lord’s face, can’t you?  Anyway, the point here is that our faith is tied up in our fear or the absence of fear.  We as Christians know that the Lord is in control, we know that God has us in sight, that we can go to Him without guilt trips and ask whatever we need.  We, most of us, recognize that it rains on the just and the unjust alike.  Contrary to what a lot of the cream puff preachers are preaching now-a-days, we were told we would have tribulation in this life; especially if we are Christians.

Peace, be still…we are to be as the waves buffeted by the wind; calmed by His command. Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. This is a hard thing to get to, it is hard to really carry out, and I’ve failed at it many a time.  But it is something to think on, and with the help of the Holy Spirit to aim for.  Look at the Apostles; before the resurrection and before the Holy Spirit indwelt them, they often had trouble controlling their fear, Peter even denied Christ three times.  But, after He arose, and after the Holy Spirit came, these men were transformed.  They were calm and content even in the face of torture and death.  Keep in mind, the Lord has the power both to rebuke whatever is causing the problems, and to calm the effect of those problems.

We can really be at peace no matter what rages around us…and as Doc Scott used to say, “Cheer up saints, it’s gonna get worse!”

Again, notice that their fear was connected to their lack of faith.  Grow your faith, and the fear will become less…not what we have to face, but the fear that comes with it will diminish.  I know that there have been times when my fear came out, when there was no good reason that it should, and we definitely shouldn’t try to put a guilt trip on the Almighty.  But our old man and the new do war within us.  Our aim, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is to grow that faith, to live from faith to faith, and try to remember that call for calm…

When we are out and about in the world, we Christians can also model that calm for others, and in situations where and when a group of people are scared, if we can remember Christ’s power, and God’s watchful eye, we Christians should be the calmest ones out of the lot.  Again, we will all slip, but it is something to aim for and think about with the help of the Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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Filed under Theology