Faith ~ Its Functions
Key to the Text
Within these essays, grammatical terms,such as: verbs, nouns, verbal nouns, prepositions, conjunctions, participles; as well as: tense, mood, voice, person, number, case, gender, are identified by the use of non-italicized and non-bold light blue font. Foreign language words (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Latin) are shown in italicized and bold light blue fonts.
Endnote reference numbers are displayed in bold light blue small fonts, in superscript. The author’s writing style and teaching method indulges in run-on sentences, colored text for emphasis; and (mammoth parentheses, which are presented in gray font [the use of parentheses within parentheses are done in brackets identified in violet font]).
The first aspect concerning the function of faith that we will examine is that of focus. As has been stated elsewhere on this website, the enemy of the best many times is not the worst; but is actually the second best when it draws attention to itself and distracts us from what is primary to that which is secondary (this should not be glossed over, therefore to reiterate: “it is when the focus of attention is blurred concerning what is predominant and meant to be held in esteem as primary; that it becomes the enemy of the best, because it preoccupies attention away from the best unto itself and therefore becomes preeminent”).
False teachers wrongly direct the faith of their followers towards the wrong things. Attention is drawn to the getting from God, rather than the trusting of God; upon gaining gifts, as compared to concentrating on the Giver; and therefore centering upon the creature, rather than the Creator.
Jesus, in speaking about these false prophets used the allusion (an indirect reference to something or somebody by using symbolism) of them coming to the people as “wolves in sheep’s clothing”48in order to take advantage of them.
We understand that Jesus used the allusion of sheep in describing people, which we should look at first in gaining greater understanding of what Jesus was communicating.
First, we should examine Jesus’ allusion regarding sheep in describing God’s people (Israel) and Believers (the church), and goats symbolizing nonbelievers.
Sheep have no natural defenses within their environment, yet quite often they seem to be unaware of this; in the same way that believers have no natural defense against sin, the devil, or the world; without the protection of their shepherd, or the indwelling of His Spirit, yet many times they seem to forget this fact.
Sheep have a tendency to wander off (Luke 15:6) without ever thinking about it, most the time when they’re in danger, they have no idea of how dangerous it really is, with their focus stuck in what is right in front of them, having no concerns about the greater picture.
They are self-centered, yet are unaware of it. They are not very surefooted, subject to falling off the side of cliffs; they display very little discernment, very similar to many within the church.
Other animals display traits that humans can more easily identify with; such as the intelligence, ingenuity, and comic behavior of monkeys, the cunning and willfulness of cats, the friendliness of dolphins, or the loyalty of dogs.
Yet sheep are not animals that humans would like to more readily identify with. They are stupid, obnoxious, and noisy. Certain civilizations, such as the Old Egyptian Empire consider sheep to be unclean, defiled, or polluted in the same way that the world considers believers to be unnatural or polluted.
Sheep will over eat, gorge themselves and destroy the fields with no thought of tomorrow living only in the day. Sheep are prone to flocking behavior, which is behavior where during a time of danger the strongest animals fight their way to the center of the flock, which offers the greater protection from the predators, yet this type of self-centeredness ultimately leads to the destruction of the whole flock as the weakest are on the perimeter, and the strongest are where they could do the least good.
How often have we heard it said that the army of God is the only army that kills their wounded while befriending the enemy; therefore making themselves vulnerable at the institutional level which would ultimately lead to their destruction, if it was not for God.
The judgment of both sheep and believers is terrible; they will easily follow a goat that makes a lot of noise, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing because of their refusal to utilize proper Biblical judgment (Matthew 7:16, 20), as if discernment was somehow ungodly or unloving; all of which is completely un-Biblical and at the expense of a vibrant living Church that grows in quality as well as quantity.
However, they also have the capability of learning the voice of their master (John 10:27), the one who takes care of them.
When shepherds in the Middle East would go to watering holes, there might be two or three different flocks drinking at the same time. As a Shepherd determines to leave, he would start walking away from the watering hole singing, and the older sheep, who had come to know their master’s voice would follow him, and the little ones, as well as those that weren’t so discerning would follow the group.
The Lamb Carried by a Good Shepherd
I have stopped presenting this teaching because there is no direct biblical reference, nor any historical evidence that this practice ever occurred. The reason I have decided to go ahead and leave this teaching in this particular article is because of the following Scriptures, though they do not prove any validity to the story.
However it is up to the individual believer to determine for himself since so many teach people that teach this presentation as fact, when indeed it is not – they should present a warning as this. It is the Holy Spirit that is to guide us, especially when dealing with issues like this.
Isaiah 19:22 ~ “And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them”
Psalms 51:8 ~ “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”
Deuteronomy 32:39 ~ “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.”
Job 5:18 ~ “For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.”
Hosea 6:1 ~ “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”
Hebrews 12:11 ~ “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
“Some have said that the famous painting of Jesus carrying a lamb over his shoulders, with Him holding on to both the lamb’s legs, that it may not really do justice to what it is perhaps depicting.
It has been reported for the past few decades that in the area of Judea (I cannot find this anywhere), whenever a young sheep had a tendency to repeatedly wonder off, placing itself in peril; the shepherd would break one of the lamb’s legs, in order to correct this tendency of wandering off. After he would break its leg the shepherd would wrap the wound and care for the lamb day and night by carry the animal over his shoulders everywhere he went.
This procedure sounds mean hearted, yet, it was the only way of correcting the behavior in order to save the life of the animal. It was a procedure that was more costly to the shepherd than it was to the lamb. Because the lamb could no longer walk on its own feet, the shepherd was left with the responsibility of carrying for it, and whenever it had to relieve itself, it would do so at the expense of the shepherd.
The shepherd would have to listen to the lamb baa all day long just a few inches from his ear. The shepherd would have to set the sheep down and pick grass for it to eat, and carry water for it to drink. The whole ordeal was quite sacrificial on the part of the shepherd.
Most of us would have a tendency to just have lamb stew and be done with it, but not the good shepherd. How many of God’s children habitually and continually wander off into the sinful world as God finally has to break their leg. You see the reason that the shepherd does this is because of the result, with the lamb hanging around the neck of the shepherd, gets used to the voice of the shepherd as it resonates through his body. The lamb also gets used to the heartbeat of the shepherd which it feels with every beat.
The ultimate outcome is that the lamb learns to be completely dependent upon the shepherd, but also completely aware of this dependence which he was unaware of before. Because of this new found dependence, the relationship is bonded even closer, with the lamb becoming much more attuned to the shepherd’s voice. After 6 to 8 weeks, the leg heals, with the outcome that the lamb is always one of the closest to the shepherd, who he knows will always take care of him, listening for his voice.”
We in America have a hard time understanding Jesus’ analogy concerning sheep as a object lesson, because many times we raise sheep for their meat as compared to the shepherds of Judea which raise sheep mainly for their wool.
We have a tendency to use dogs that drive sheep from behind, biting at their limbs, using force and intimidation; yet this is unlike the shepherds in Israel, who walk in front of their sheep, leading them, setting the example before them to follow concerning where to go, constantly speaking to them. With the sheep following the shepherd because of his care and concern for them, which facilitates their faith and trust in him.
It was common for the Shepherd to sing as they led their sheep so that the sheep became accustomed to their voice, it was also common for the shepherds to sing the Psalms of Israel.
These shepherds would protect their sheep with their very own lives. At night they would cut a large hole in the middle of a briar bush for the sheep to enter into, with the shepherd sleeping in the entrance (with the shepherd becoming the door ~ John 10:7), in order to protect them.
This is the information we need to understand whenever Jesus speaks about Himself being the Good shepherd, and His people being the sheep, because it is a relationship of trust and faith, as opposed to domination and fear.
The Difference Between Sheep & Wolves
Getting back to Jesus’ object lesson concerning wolves. Wolves have very few common traits with sheep, though they both have four legs and a tail.
The tails on sheep serve very little purpose except in covering their anal and sexual organs. They can’t hold their tail’s up, except slightly to keep fecal matter off; they have no ability to actually raise their tail.
In America, we normally cut off (dock) their tails because without bone, only having ligament and cartilage, it is common for them to not raise their tails enough and therefore collect fecal matter which draws parasites, which will bring infection and eventually death .
What is interesting about the Lord speaking of false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) is one of the obvious characteristics of wolves is that they declare their pecking order, their power; by how they hold up their tail. The leader will hold his tail almost straight up, with his lieutenants, sergeants, and corporals progressively holding their tails lower.
The tail standing straight up displays complete dominance, power, authority and supremacy. The wolves’ leadership is according to this type of violent dominance, where intimidation and power establish their authority.
With the height of holding their tails as a means of identification of their authority, this is somewhat analogous to the stripes or bars on a soldier’s sleeve or collar which indemnify his rank or authority. Dogs determine who they will fight in order to establish their dominance according to where the tail is held, this is how they survive in their “dog eat dog world.”
Also, the display of submission is seen when they lower their tail and even wrap it under your belly, with the final act of submission being when a dog lays on its back, exposing its jugular and belly to a more dominant dog.
The reason this is the ultimate sign of submission is that if a dog is bitten, creating a tear in its belly, when it stands up its intestines fall out, as compared to being bitten on his back which might eventually heal, with other dogs licking it and cleaning it, unlike the wound of the belly.
Jesus’ Guidelines for Leaders
A week before Jesus was crucified, Matthew 20:25, records:
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [servant]; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”
The point that Jesus was making was that church leadership would not be as it is in the world, centered upon displays of dominance, power, authority and supremacy, but according to sacrificially serving the followers, which is completely antithetical to how the world leads, which is also analogous with how wolves lead their pack.
Therefore, if you ever look across a valley to a Hill where sheep are grazing, and you see a sheep with his tail sticking straight up, displaying his dominance, power, authority and supremacy; watch closely because you are witnessing a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The point is false teachers and prophets will lead by dominance, power, authority and supremacy. False teachers and prophets may use Biblical words, may exhibit false humility, may speak with lofty expressions concerning love and self-sacrifice; yet it is their dominance and power which will be seen in their pride and arrogance that will indemnify them every time.
Please do not misunderstand, each one of us deals with pride on a daily basis, many godly ministers and teachers have issues concerning control or pride.
An awful lot of us who aspire to the title of leader, minister, or pastor; constantly address the pride of life (1 John 2:16), yet, this is not to be confused with the type of manipulation that occurs with false prophets and teachers that must be in total control in order to maintain their income levels and their future profits at the expense of their followers.
The acid test is the pride that is exhibited when they are questioned, or threatened concerning an inability to use God’s Word to validate their assertion, how do they stand up according to God’s Word. Or do they twist God’s Word taking scriptures out of context in order to make their OWN point, demanding that they are anointed of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, if anyone that would dare question them. Do they seek to shackle their follower’s hands, or to wash their feet?
False Teachers & Manipulation
These false teachers are preoccupied with faith as a tool of manipulation, revealing a singular perspective which is self-centered as opposed to Christ-centered.
And instead of teaching believers to trust God for life’s necessities, and to trust God even when these necessities don’t seem to be met; these false teachers misleadingly teach that God’s acceptance of a person is seen in distinct proportion to their external condition.
They teach that prosperity and blessings are a sign of God’s glory, as it is a sign of God’s acceptance and pleasure in them.
They take advantage of people’s needs and wants in order to espouse a God that is enticing to the flesh rather than the spirit.
They errantly teach others to conclude that trials and tribulations are a sign of God’s disapproval, rather than according to the Scripture that teaches that in the life of the believer,trials (synonymous with temptations and tribulations) are a tool necessary for spiritual growth49.
It is this toddler type of spiritual discretion which motivates their every deed in order to hide the truth which is so obvious in God’s Word, which is that hard times and difficult situations are not a sign of God’s rejection, but are tools to aid in spiritual growth.
This is such a fundamental truth that God has built this into nature, where mature parenting is not giving a child everything they desire, and allowing them to undergo trials in order to build maturity in handling trials. This is axiomatic in God’s Word as well, from Job to Jesus.
Do these false teachers realize that this ideology subtly brings the accusation that Jesus, who lived a life of poverty and pain, according to their own perspective, would be guilty of sin Himself?
They teach that bad things happen to believers because of sin or disbelief (which validates the presupposition that bad things happen to bad people) therefore, what sin was Jesus guilty of to live a life of poverty and need, wherein according to them, poverty and disease are curses?
“What did Jesus do wrong?;” must be the underlying question concerning Jesus; according to their own premise and teaching.
Their retort to this type of underlying premise is that God rejected Jesus because He bore the sins of the world, yet Jesus did not bear the sins of the world until He was hung upon the cross (which according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, is when Christ was made “to be sin for us“), so what does this say about Jesus’ life prior to the cross.
Or as they say, “Jesus became poor so that we could become rich.” It is this type of human logic, that focuses upon the wants of the flesh, rather than needs of the spirit.
Jesus was born into poverty in fulfilling God’s typology of the “Suffering Servant” (Isaiah 53:1-12), displaying God’s power not according to human will or wisdom; but in spite of it.
Jesus was not born as a worldly King If the believer thoroughly examines the doctrine of these heretical supposed “Faith Preachers” (their egomaniacal perversion of this title displays the pride which so aptly resembles the Wolf which Jesus alludes to), it becomes apparent that they’ve robbed Jesus of His preeminence at the cost of their own elevation.
It is the righteousness of Jesus that they impugn with their heresies. It is these types of idolaters that demand that God prove Himself in the things that are seen, as opposed to trusting God for what is unseen.
They will be judged with the religious hypocrites that stood at the foot of Jesus, which Mark 15:31-32 states concerning:”
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
It is these same types of individuals that fail to understand the implication of Jesus’ rhetorically statement:
“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.“50
Yet, we know that Jesus was not posing an accusation or question to God, but that this statement was meant for those that stood at His feet with the Centurion (an infidel and pagan according to the High Priest and Pharisees; incapable of spiritual insight, damned for hell) who stated:
“certainly this was a righteous man.”51
This should have raised the question for those within earshot, “for what cause would a just God judge as guilty an innocent and righteous man?”
For any Orthodox Jew, this should’ve brought to mind the messianic Scriptures concerning the suffering servant (Isaiah 52 & 53), who while innocent (of any sin of His own) and righteous (as only God could be Righteous) would be judged guilty – for the sins of others placed upon Him.
Faith’s Focus Should Always Be upon God
It is in understanding that the focus of attention of faith is not on what we get from God, but in our complete reliance and trust in Him especially when the situation doesn’t make sense, which truly displays Biblical faith.
Faith’s focus should be upon God and not upon us, and it is when we reverse this priority that the enemy has an opportunity to utilize false prophets in order to sidetrack us from our mission on earth, which is to glorify our creator (Isaiah 43:7), and serve Him in faith and trust.
Jesus is our example not only in the faith that He displayed (which will be addressed later) as seen in His complete obedience, but in the priority of His life, which always kept God in focus, rather than Himself.
It is man’s selfishness that is seen when he exchanges to the peripheral, the primary (point of focus), and the primary (point of focus), becomes the peripheral.
The correct focus of attention is seen in Jesus obeying the Father to the point that He lays down His life for His enemies.52
This is why these (wolves in sheep’s clothing) prosperity false prophets are so damnable in the “doctrines of devils“53 that they promote.
They use man’s selfish, fallen nature against him in order to make people dependent upon the false prophet, rather than dependent upon God. It is by confusing the point of focus that these false prophets become successful.
It is by examining how Jesus addressed the subject of faith that we gain a clear picture that the focus of faith is always upon God, and never upon faith itself. This is seen in the Beatitudes as recorded in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, especially 6:30-34, which states:”
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Desires Acquisition vs. Relationship Building
Such are the problems that arise because of misapplication, where faith becomes a tool for receiving, as compared to the basis of a relationship, with God as its focus. These “wolves in sheep’s clothing heretical prosperity false prophets” are inappropriately referred to as “Faith Preachers,” that actually teach unbelief (their own particular brand of “faith”), in the guise of presumption,54 wherein when what has been prayed for is not delivered, accusations of a “lack of faith” emerge, with disbelief being the final conclusion, rather in God or one’s self.
These “wolves in sheep’s clothing heretical prosperity false prophets,” are deceivers who are also deceived,55 who use the power of human senses(who look at only that which is seen,56 wherein the sense of seeing is the only proof, and the desired result, as opposed to trusting God in spite of what is not seen, and whose final desire is the glory of God, and the furtherance of His kingdom57) in pandering to what is seen58 as opposed to what is spiritual, who teach their followers to substitute their will for God’s Will, by focusing on gaining their desires and unfortunately fulfilling their lusts (Greek: hedone: “desires for pleasure or enjoyment,” “gratification,” “appetite,” A desire based upon a physical senses – including hunger, appearance, and comfort = “desire for happiness”) of the flesh.59
No Pain ~ No Gain
How easy it is to sidestep the issue that spiritual maturity, as in the case of all growth (as referred to before) comes by pain, and that the “trying of our faith” (Please see endnote 60 concerning “The Reasons for Trials in the Life of the Believer“) is much more important than achieving temporary petition of perceived needs (unfortunately, distinguishing between perceived needs and assumed wants becomes complicated by the sinful perspective that every human maintains61 ~ it is only by gaining our worldview through the lens of God’s Word62 that our perspective may be corrected according to the “Mind of Christ,”63 which is always an ongoing step-by-step process,64 as opposed to an achievable end unto itself), as seen in 2 Corinthians 4:18, which states:“
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal”
How easy and comfortable it is to sidestep such passages as James 1:2-4, which states:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing”
As well as, 1 Peter 1:6-7, states:
Therefore, a sense of humility is always necessary in understanding that exercising our God-enabled ability of faith in Him, is in reality not simply believing in Him for what we ask (there is always a place for petition before the Lord,65 but with maturity there is gained an understanding that seeking His Will for our lives is much wiser than our own, and that “no” in response to a prayer request is just as much an answer as “yes”, it is all contingent upon trusting in His discretions in our life ~ Matthew 6:31-34), but is actuality totally trusting Him for everything that happens in our lives.
The only place in the Bible where faith is theoretically and yet specifically defined is found in Hebrews 11:1.
However, before examining this passage we need a short vocabulary lesson concerning two words we frequently use in identifying and characterizing things, the words: define and describe.
The first verse in the 11th chapter of Hebrews defines specifically what faith is in its essence, what it is made of, its fundamental nature, “what it is.”
However, the rest of the chapter provides a description of faith by describing “what it looks like,” its attributes as it is seen in action in the lives of those that believed and trusted in God.
The reason this becomes important is because of the misconception many times of what faith is in its essence, when it is only examined in its behavior as seen in the lives of people, can be misunderstood with the wrong emphasis implied.
Many times according to the appearance of faith (description), it seems to be concerned with getting what is asked for, yet in its definition we understand that it is first specific unto salvation, bypassing the temporal with its eyes set on the permanent, the eternal.
Quite often if individuals simply examine how others display faith (Its description), they fall short in understanding that at its essence; faith is much more than getting what is received in the short term.
Faith defined is trusting God with our whole being, our whole life – everything, eternally.
Therefore, before continuing on to the examples, descriptions set before us in this 11th chapter, we need to fully comprehend what this first verse means in its definition what faith is specifically.
Hebrews 11:1, states:
Faith is defined as:”
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Concerning the phrase translated into the English, of things hoped for“, the English word “hope” in this passage comes from the Greek word elpizo (G1679), and means:
“to hope, in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy in full confidence,” 87.
When the word of “hope” is used with the definite article “THE”, such as: “the blessed hope;” it indicates the returning of our Savior Jesus Christ as noted in Titus 2:13.
However, when this Greek word for “hope” is used without the definite article “THE”, the general consensus that it refers to eternity concerning salvation is in view.
And by noting the next verse, which refers to “of things hoped for,” verse 2 which states:
“For by it the elders obtained a good report“
As well as the concluding the stanza of the chapter, verse 39, which states:
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: “
We understand that the promise here as seen in the lives of these believers more than a temporal deliverance, as verse 39 states, having not received promise, but having “obtained a good report” in the process.
It becomes abundantly clear that from the definition of verse one (Along with all of the examples given through verse 32), that faith unto salvation is what its definition focus’ attention on.
It is an eternal view, that of trusting God even when desires and promises are not obtained in the here in now.
Many times due to the chapter and verse separation of the Bible, we have a tendency to forgo the preceding verses which appear to be the end of the previous chapters, and therefore, may not be aware that these previous verses are really part of the next chapter.
It is common in the Bible to find that chapter divisions actually come too late, with the chapter in reality starting a few verses earlier.
The divisions of chapters and of verses are not in the original books of the Bible, nor for the first 1100 years. The chapter divisions occurred in the twelfth century, with the verse divisions occurring in the fifteenth century.
Therefore, it is always important to see what the preceding verses stated concerning any subject in order to avoid drawing it out of context.
The last 2 verses of the prior chapter are very insightful in understanding the definition in this 1st verse of chapter 11.
Hebrews 10:38-39, states:
“Now [#1] the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. [#2] But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; [#3] but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
1st – Faith ~ A Lifestyle
First of all, we see that faith is not a singular event, a one-time commitment to trust, but a lifestyle by which the believer lives.
The phrase: “that just shall live by faith” is first quoted in the Old Testament in Habakkuk 2:4 (and is the verse that lead Martin Luther to rediscover “salvation by faith alone” and initiated the Reformation), and is also quoted three times in the New Testament, which creates a trilogy which describes what this expression truly means.
It is quoted in the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews; which seems to support the belief of many that Paul was the individual who wrote the book of Hebrews anonymously (the book of Hebrews was written in the same style as Paul, with many of the same expressions and grammatical similarities that Paul was known for. It is obvious that the writer of Hebrews meant for it to be anonymous, which bags to question, why? This would make perfect sense for the author to be Paul as he loved his Jewish brothers to the extent that he would be willing to trade his own salvation for theirs if it was possible [Romans 9:3], and even after being directed by God to go unto the Gentiles [Acts 9:15] he repetitively attempted to win over Jewish converts [Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1; 17:17; 18:4; 18:7-8; 18:19; 18:26; 19:8]. Yet, to the Orthodox Jew, Paul was an infidel, a heretical deceiver, who was a Pharisee who became a false teacher of other gods, who had left the true faith to join the cult of Christianity, which was referred to as the “the way.” Jews would not read any of his material based upon the admonition of their religious leaders, therefore it makes perfect sense that he would write anonymously. It is obvious that the individual who wrote the book of Hebrews thought and taught like a Pharisee and was well trained in the Levitical system, as well as Hebrew typology, yet often displayed an ability to think analytically in a Grecian manner).
The Habakkuk passage breaks down into three parts:
“The just ~ Romans 1:17 ~ The book of Romans describes “who the just are”
shall live ~ Galatians 3:11 ~ The book of Galatians describes “how the just are to live”
by faith” ~ Hebrews 10:38 ~ The book of Hebrews describes “what faith is”
2nd – Faith ~ Eternal Security
When verse 39, states: “but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” is not referring to an individual potentially losing their salvation once it is obtained by faith.
Because the next sentence states that those that the author was alluding to, whom he referred to it as brothers, which in context were Christians, were saved; and his axiomatic comment:
“but we are not of them who draw back unto perdition,”
Which referred to the fact that there may be some that intellectually comprehend the gospel and exercised mere belief (such as when James alludes to mere belief not being the same as faith, and uses Devils / Demons as examples ~ James 2:19), yet these are not in view because they are not brothers in Christ, they draw back unto perdition, as he says: “we are not of them.”
The Greek is very explicit in this statement, which is more readily translated (though in the English violates the rules of English grammar):
“of them we are not, that of shrinking back to destruction, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul”
“But we are not of them” … – We who are true Christians do not belong to such a class. In this the apostle expresses the fullest conviction that none of those to whom he wrote would apostatize. The case which he had been describing was only a supposable case, not one which he believed would occur. He had only been stating what “must” happen if a sincere Christian should [could] apostatize.
~ The writer quickly dissociates himself and his fellow believers from those who “draw back to perdition.” This separates apostates from genuine Christians. Apostates draw back and are lost. True believers believe and thus preserve their souls from the doom of the renegade.
With this mention of faith (“believe” and “faith” are the same root word in Greek), the groundwork is laid for a fuller discussion of the life that pleases God. The illustrious eleventh chapter follows quite naturally at this point.75
Adams Clark’s commentary on the Bible, states:
Heb 10:39 ~
“But we are not of them who draw back“ – (Greek) Ουκ εσμενuποστολης – , αλλα πιστεωςÎ “We are not the cowards, but the courageous.” I have no doubt of this being the meaning of the apostle, and the form of speech requires such a translation; it occurs more than once in the New Testament. So, Galatians 3:7: (Greek) εκ πιστεως, they who are of the faith, rather the faithful, the believers; Romans 3:26: (Greek) εκ πιστεως, the believer; Romans 2:8: (Greek) εξ εριθειας, the contentious; in all which places the learned reader will find that the form of speech is the same.
We are not cowards who slink away, and notwithstanding meet destruction; but we are faithful, and have our souls saved alive. The words (Greek) περιποιησις ψυχης signify the preservation of the life. See the note, Ephesians 1:14. He intimates that, notwithstanding the persecution was hot, yet they should escape with their lives.99
3rd – Faith ~ Unto Salvation
The last part of verse 39, states: “but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Which sets up the context for the next verse, Hebrews 11:1, which is the definition of what faith is in its essence.
Faith has its primary focus on salvation unto life eternal, as is further elaborated by the following references:
The word rendered “substance” – (Greek) υuποÌστασις hupostasis – occurs in the New Testament only in the following places. In 2 Cor. 9:4; 2 Cor. 11:17; Hebrews 3:14, where it is rendered “confident” and “confidence;” and in Hebrews 1:3, where it is rendered “person,” and in the passage before us (compare the notes on Hebrews 1:3. Prof). Stuart renders it here “confidence;” (Greek) Chrysostom, “Faith gives reality or substance to things hoped for.”
The word properly means “that which is placed under” (Germ. Unterstellen); then “ground, basis, foundation, support.” Then it means also “reality, substance, existence,” in contradistinction from what is unreal, imaginary, or deceptive (Greek: täuschung). “Passow.”
It seems to me, therefore, that the word here has reference to something which imparts reality in the view of the mind to those things which are not seen, and which serves to distinguish them from those things which are unreal and illusive. It is what enables us to feel and act as if they were real, or which causes them to exert an influence over us as if we saw them.
Of things hoped for – In heaven. Faith gives them reality in the view of the mind. The Christian hopes to be admitted into heaven; to be raised up in the last day from the slumbers of the tomb, to be made perfectly free from sin; to be everlastingly happy. Under the influence of faith he allows these things to control his mind as if they were a most affecting reality.74
Robertson’s Word Pictures in The New Testament, states:
“The proving of things not seen“(Greek: pragmatoun elegchos ou blepomenoun). The only N.T. example of (Greek) elegchos (except Textus Receptus in 2 Timothy 3:16 for elegmon). Old and common word from (Greek) elegchou (Matthew 18:15) for “proof” and then for “conviction.” Both uses occur in the papyri and either makes sense here, perhaps “conviction” suiting better though not in the older Greek.89
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, states:
Substance, etc. — It substantiates promises of God which we hope for, as future in fulfillment, making them present realities to us. However, the Greek is translated in Hebrews 3:14, “confidence”; and it also here may mean “sure confidence.” So Alford translates. Thomas Magister supports English Version, “The whole thing that follows is virtually contained in the first principle; now the first commencement of the things hoped for is in us through the assent of faith, which virtually contains all the things hoped for.” [Compare Note, see on Hebrews 6:5, “tasted … powers of the world to come.”]
Through faith, the future object of Christian hope, in its beginning, is already present. True faith infers the reality of the objects believed in and honed for (Hebrews 11:6). Hugo De St. Victor distinguished faith from hope. By faith alone we are sure of eternal things that they ARE: but by hope we are confident that WE SHALL HAVE them. All hope presupposes faith (Romans 8:25).
Evidence — “demonstration”: convincing proof to the believer: the soul thereby seeing what the eye cannot see.
Things not seen — the whole invisible and spiritual world: not things future and things pleasant, as the “things hoped for,” but also the past and present, and those the reverse of pleasant.
“Eternal life is promised to us, but it is when we are dead: we are told of a blessed resurrection, but meanwhile we molder in the dust; we are declared to be justified, and sin dwells in us; we hear that we are blessed, meantime we are overwhelmed in endless miseries: we are promised abundance of all goods, but we still endure hunger and thirst; God declares He will immediately come to our help, but He seems deaf to our cries. What should we do if we had not faith and hope to lean on, and if our mind did not emerge amidst the darkness above the world by the shining of the Word and Spirit of God?” [John Calvin].
“Faith is an assent unto truths credible upon the testimony of God (not on the reasonableness of the thing revealed, though by this we may judge as to whether it be what it professes, a genuine revelation), delivered unto us in the writings of the apostles and prophets. Thus Christ’s ascension is the cause, and His absence the crown, of our faith: because He ascended, we the more believe, and because we believe in Him who hath ascended, our faith is the more accepted” [Bishop Pearson].
“Faith believes what it sees not; for if thou seest there is no faith; the Lord has gone away so as not to be seen: He is hidden that He may be believed; the yearning desire by faith after Him who is unseen is the preparation of a heavenly mansion for us; when He shall be seen it shall be given to us as the reward of faith” [Augustine].
As Revelation deals with spiritual and invisible things exclusively, faith is the faculty needed by us, since it is the evidence of things not seen. By faith we venture our eternal interests on the bare word of God, and this is altogether reasonable.98
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,….” The “faith” here spoken of is not a mere moral virtue, which is a branch of the law; nor a bare assent to anything revealed, declared, and affirmed in the Gospel; nor a faith of doing miracles; nor an implicit one; nor a mere profession of faith, which sometimes is but temporary; nor the word or doctrine of faith; but that which is made mention of in the preceding chapter, by which the just man lives, and which has the salvation of the soul annexed to it: and it does not so much design any particular branch, or act of faith, but as that in general respects the various promises, and blessings of grace; and it chiefly regards the faith of Old Testament saints, though that, as to its nature, object, and acts, is the same with the faith of New Testament ones; and is a firm persuasion of the power, faithfulness, and love of God in Christ, and of interest therein, and in all special blessings: it is described as “the substance of things hoped for”; and which, in general, are things unseen, and as yet not enjoyed; future, and yet to come; difficult to be obtained, though possible, otherwise there would be no hope of them; and which are promised and laid up; and in particular, the things hoped for by Old Testament saints were Christ, and eternal glory and happiness; and by New Testament ones, more grace, perseverance in it, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life.
Now faith is the “substance” of these things; it is the ground and foundation of them, in which there is some standing hope; in which sense the word (Greek) υποστασις is used by Septuagint in Psalms 69:2. The word of promise is principal ground and foundation of hope; and faith, as leaning on the word, is a less principal ground; it is a confident persuasion, expectation, and assurance of them.
The Syriac version renders it, the “certainty” of them; it is the subsistence of them, and what gives them an existence, at least a mental one; so with respect to the faith and hope of the Old Testament saints, the incarnation, sufferings, and death of Christ, his resurrection, ascension, and session at God’s right hand, are spoken of, as if they then were; and so are heaven, and glory, and everlasting salvation, with regard to the faith and hope of New Testament saints: yea, faith gives a kind of possession of those things before hand, John 6:47. Philo the Jew (e) says much the same thing of faith;
“the only infallible and certain good thing (says he) is, that faith which is faith towards God; it is the solace of life, (Greek) πληρωμα χρηστων ελπιδων, “the fullness of good hopes”, &c.’
It follows here,
“The evidence of things not seen“; of things past, of what was done in eternity, in the council and covenant of grace and peace; of what has been in time, in creation, and providence; of the birth, miracles, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; of things present, the being, perfections, love, &c. of God; of the session of Christ at God’s right hand, and his continual intercession; and of the various blessings of grace revealed in the Gospel; and of future ones, as the invisible realities of another world: faith has both certainty and evidence in it.100
The End of the Chapter
There is no doubt that faith is utilized for obtaining earthly needs, yet what this 11th chapter of Hebrews brings into clear focus is the fact that faith is meant to have an eternal function; as opposed to the temporal focus (which is seen in verse 39, which states: “received not the promise“) that preoccupies much of the current teaching concerning faith. If we look at the concluding verses, verses 33 through 38, which state:
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
We see from verse 35b to 39, is that if faith was NOT concerning the temporal. It talks about trials without end, torture, imprisonment, death in terrible manners. How can this be speaking about faith wherein the conclusion is the temporal when death is involved. The point is it cannot. It is in understanding that faith has eternity as its main focus as compared to the temporal that we need to understand.
Hebrews Chapter 11 ~ The Word “Faith”
Building upon what was stated in “Faith… Part 1” concerning Greek nouns; and by way of example, if we take the word faith that is utilized in Hebrews chapter 11:1, of the 24 times that the word faith is used (Please see endnote #76 which lists all the usages of the word “faith” in the 11th chapter of Hebrews according to their noun case type), 18 times it is in the dative case, describing how these individuals acted, they acted in faith, by way of an action.
And of the remaining 6 times that the noun usage is found in this chapter that is diverse from dative, it is not in deference to an action, but necessary for the grammar.
Such as, Hebrews 11:1, which says:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
This usage of the word faith (Greek: pístis) is in the noun nominative case, meaning that the focus of attention is on the word faith (which basely explains what faith is in its essence, not its functioning).
Understanding the Greek Nouns
All four classifications of a noun cases can be attributed to an action or behavior, as displayed here:
Nominative Case ~ concerning the subject, “the most common reason for the nominative is to indicate the subject of a sentence.”
Genitive Case ~ concerning a subjective, “the genitive is used for the subject, or doer of action implied by a noun of action.”
Dative Case ~ concerning means, “a noun in the dative may show the means of accomplishing some action.”
Accusative Case ~ concerning general reference, “the subject of an infinitive, or the person to whom the action refers, is put in the accusative – unless it is the same as the subject of the verb.73
Faith is a mindset of diligently seeking God and believing that God rewards those that “diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:16, states:
What is less clear in the English translation of this verse is its full meaning. What is not being said here is that those that diligently seek God to receive a reward for doing so in return for the effort, receive a temporal reward. Seeking a reward, for the sake of the reward is the mindset of (the “name it and claim it” abusers) of the world, and antithetical to God’s teaching on the subject.
Any parent that reinforces a motivation of this type with their child, that the child should seek the parent only for what the parent can give them (rewards) is teaching materialism, as well as manipulation to the child.
This is not the same as seeking God for eternal salvation: one is physical and the other is spiritual; one is temporal and of the flesh, where the other is eternal and of the Spirit; one is Spiritual survival, where the other is physical bartering.
A good parent desires the love of the child; understanding that the child loves the parent because of the parent loved the child first (“We love him, because he first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19), and it is the love that the parent shows the child, that the child responds to, as opposed to any gifts that the parent may give.
We seek God, because God loves first (as well as the influence of the Holy Spirit), which is completely different than seeking God for anything He can give us on the Earth.
The idea of Hebrews 11:16, is that the individual understands that seeking God diligently, means to seek God’s Will, and not merely seeking to know about God. There are many in the world that seek through knowledge to understand a god, attempting to find him in Eastern religion and many cults.
However, it is a different matter to seek to not just know who God is, but to serve Him, fulfilling His Will above our own.; this is what “diligently seek him” means, it is this kind is seeking of God, that of seeking to do His Will that is the kind of behavior that creates a relationship with God that is beneficial and rewarding in itself; as opposed to manipulative in attempting to garner a gift.
Many people read this passage, and what they focus in on is the idea of “reward,” (of getting…) with the reward being primary, and God secondary. What they mistakenly see is the idea of an exchange, they see themselves as exchanging faith with God, so that He will give them what they ask for, the things they desire. Therefore, faith becomes something to barter with, rather than an issue of trust. Yet, this is not what Biblical faith is.
Faith is believing and trusting in God to the point that if God takes everything away, the believer trusts that God has done so, for the ultimate good of the believer, because God has something better in mind for the person.
Romans 8:28, says:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
What we do not see here is when the “things work together for good,” sometimes there is a great divide between a tragedy and when it produces spiritual fruit which is the “for good.” Job spent a year going through his trial, having lost everything he owned, including seven children.
Yet, because of his trust in God, eventually everything was replaced with twice as much physical things as before, and seven more children (why not twice as much children, perhaps because he did not lose them, they just went to Abraham’s bosom, a synonym for paradise ~ Luke 16:19-31, v. 22).
However, this was not the profit that came out of such a tragedy. The profit that came out of what Job went through was, an increased trust and faith in God that can only come by having been through a tragedy and having God shown Himself Trustworthy, in spite of it all.
The Spiritual blessing that became “the good” for Job was a maturing faith; not simply replacing temporal substances or even people. The phrase, “work together,” is in the perfect tense, meaning it is a “Continuous Action,” never ending; which means that it does not indicate “immediacy,” but is an ongoing process – which supports the idea that “the good” will be eventual, as compared to immediate. It is in the active voice, meaning God is the One that does the working of the “things [that] work together,” it is not up to us.
However, what we need to see is that undergirding this verse in the last stanza which states, “according to his purpose,” which is not just concerning those that “are the called,” but concerning the whole verse which is the working together(not seen in the English, but clear in the Greek ~ Everything that God does is always according to His own purpose, this shouldn’t be a point that needs to be argued) for good. We should always keep this in mind.
All things work out ultimately for God’s purpose, yet we are blessed also “for the good,” because we are His children. We are not the main focus of attention here, but that everything works together according to God’s Will is, we simply benefit from it.
We see that faith isn’t about the immediate reward, that faith is about trusting God in everything that He does in our lives, and that it is also meant “for good to them,” ( We need to also note the condition of this verse, Who it is concerning, which is to those that love God, and to them who are the called according to his purpose) even if that good is received on the other side of death’s door, even when God has taken the very last thing that any man owns, even his own life.
This becomes clear if we look at Job’s “faith statement,” as recorded in Job 15:13:
“Though he slay me, yet will I put my trust in Him…”
This is what faith is, accepting God’s sovereign Will, no matter how painful it may be at the time, yet trusting Him for the future (this is why hope is such an interval part of Biblical faith).
Many believers have lived very agonizing lives, never receiving the things they sought on Earth; yet were rewarded in heaven with eternal life, and an inheritance based upon the diligence of their faith in God, in spite of the circumstances they went through here on earth. How much greater is their faith, not having received the results of it here on Earth, as is stated in Hebrews 11:39:
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise”
This counters the claim of the “name it and claim it” heretics. It is in the unseen nature of the thing desired, that faith exists. And whereas we have petition before God, and may exercise faith that God will grant our request, however, our faith ultimately is in God’s choice, rather than getting what we ask for.
How often those that abuse faith forget the last few verses of Hebrews 11, which state:
“Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”
So what is our conclusion?
Not that unanswered prayer is a display of a lack of faith (Lord forbid), as this flies in the face of Scripture, but that whether we receive our answer to our petition on this side of death’s door or the other side, it is the act of faith that get us through that door to God’s presence, which is far greater than anything we can receive on this side of eternity.
Faith is the act of trusting God and His promised presence to be with us through these situations. He has not promised to take us out of every situation, or out of “the valley of the shadow of death,“77 but to be with us when we walk through them, even if walking out of those valleys is by walking through the doorway of death into eternity.
An individual’s attitude is more revealing about them than anything else. It shows their character, or the lack of it. It demonstrates their self-discipline, or the need of it. It indicates the strength of their personality or the weakness of their convictions. It will whisper of their humility or broadcast their pride. It will display their faith or unmask their self-reliance.
A person’s attitude can be obscure to them by choice, which leads to folly; or uncovered by a family member, teacher or friend in order to address it, to their benefit. Our attitude dictates if we learn from our mistakes or repeat them. It says volumes to the world around who we really are, and even more to God in heaven.
For it is our attitude that God watches and evaluates, not the troubles that tests it. When all is said and done it will be our attitude that signifies if we truly trusted God in spite of life’s wrongs, or held Him responsible for them because we learned to “lean upon our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). It is our attitude that proves we have faith in Jesus Christ: His Lordship and Divinity, His death in our place, His resurrection in power, His wisdom in leading, and control of every aspect of our lives.
Faith in God and His Christ is a lifetime choice in response to the Holy Spirit. A positive attitude of trust and faith in God is a daily choice of obedience.
Faith ~ The Ultimate Example
The Greek word used here for “please” is the verb: (Greek) euaresteo (G2100) and is used in only three places in the Scriptures (the two remaining being Hebrews 11:5 and Hebrews 13:16; however, in completely different tense, and somewhat diverse voice and mood), however, in this particular usage it is in the aorist tense, meaning the “Action Occurred in the Past” (“Once & for all”), it is used to make the point that the things spoke about must be a “complete certainty,” “no exceptions.”
In the Greek it is used less concerning past incidents, but rather as a current complete certainty (in the Greek mind if you wanted to make the point that something was unchangeable and complete, the best way was to speak of it was in the past tense, as the present can always change, but the past never can – it is unchangeable and permanent).
The essence of what the Scripture is saying is that the only complete way, to fully and 100% please God is by faith; there is no other way, this is sure and unchangeable (just like the past). It is in the active voice, meaning that the (subject) “the person” causes the action. This is speaking about the faith that is exhibited by the person.
It should also be noted that it’s an Infinitive verb, meaning that this passage (“has no person”) is not speaking about an individual person (such as: Enoch from the prior verse, which refers to him separately having “pleased God,” which is not connected with this usage of the word please, and is in the perfect tense, meaning that Enoch had completed his faith in the past, which continues to be a blessing to him even in the present, and into the future) but to all people, it is singular indicating the ability to please God can only do be done by the specific person who acts in faith; not in any other way, but only by the person who exercises faith.
With this in mind, it is in understanding that our best example of pleasing God the Father is seen in the person of Jesus Christ, as stated in John 8:29, which states:
“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.”
Which is confirmed by God Himself in Luke 3:22 (as well as Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11), which states:
“And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove78 upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
What this means for believers that take the Bible literally, is that Jesus had to exercise faith in order to please God; and according to John 8:29, which states:
“… for I do always those things that please him”
With the word “always” in the Greek meaning: “at all times,” “everything, every time,” and without exception.
Jesus exercised faith in everything He did, without exception. Therefore, Jesus is the ultimate display of faith.
There is no way of escaping this conclusion, in spite of the fact that many sincere scholars and theologians, in order to maintain the deity of Jesus Christ (which Satan has attacked over the centuries, which is why scholars have fought against this issue, yet it is the deity of Jesus Christ that is the foundation of this essay and without such, all is vain) have demanded that Jesus maintained the attribute of Omnipotence (Latin: “All Powerful, Visible & Invisible”), during His incarnation.
Faith ~ Necessitates Need
Faith is only faith when there is need and necessity, hence David’s proclamation in the Psalms 56:3,
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
It is impossible to separate necessity and need 79 from faith, hence the problem that many scholars have in attributing the necessity of faith to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Yet, their error is in confusing attributes with essence. Attributes are the outward manifestation, yet the essence is the inward characteristics and makeup. Please see Endnote 80 “Essence & Attributes,” which covers this issue much more thoroughly!
Jesus ~ His Divine Attributes
If Jesus temporarily laid aside His divine attribute of being Omnipresent (Latin: “Existing Everywhere All at Once, Non-locality” ~ which became mandatory whenever He dwelt in the human body ~ in concerning John 1:48, when Jesus told Nathanael that He had saw him when he was under the fig tree, the word first “saw” in the Greek refers to having “known,” or “sensed,” or “perceived,” all of which would be capabilities given by the Holy Spirit), as well as Him being Omniscient (Latin: “All Knowing” – Mark 13:32, speaks about Jesus’ limited knowledge during the incarnation), then why would it be blasphemous to suggest that in order to fulfill His mission as the Kinsman-Redeemer for mankind (please see the article entitled: “Kinsman Redeemer,” ~ LINK; which makes the point of why Jesus had to become a man in order to atone for our sins), Jesus had to become not part-man, but all-man; and would have to lay down His attribute being Omnipotent (Latin: “All Powerful, Visible & Invisible.”).
Therefore, it does not change Jesus’ essence as God by temporarily pouring Himself out of His divine attributes, and in so doing making Himself vulnerable, necessitating faith in God the Father, concerning the Father fulfilling their plans (Psalms 2: 1-12; 1 ) for humanity, which was designed before the foundation of the earth (Psalms 2:1-12 ~ Acts 4:25-27; Peter 1:19-20; Mark 13:35; Hebrews 1:4; 4:3; 9:26; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4). Attributes are not the definition of the essence, God’s essence is not His attributes; attributes are behaviors, those observations that can be made, yet essence cannot be seen, only assumed based upon behavior.
The Traditions of Man
It is commonly taught that Jesus had some magical power in which He could touch a rock and have it turn to bread (prior to the anointing of the Holy Spirit – which is why he was not tempted until after He was anointed, Luke 4:1), that He took the form of a man’s body yet maintain His God-like abilities, with the ability to change a rock into bread, which is exactly what Satan tempted him with, that of Jesus abusing the Holy Spirit to meet His own needs, as opposed to trusting God to meet his needs.
And for those that would say that Jesus being sinless would not make Him fully man, ignore the fact that Adam was fully man and he was created sinless until his fall. So Jesus could be fully man, and yet sinless at the same time, and exactly fulfill this passage.
A Key Passage ~ Philippians 2: 5-8
We are told that Jesus emptied himself (which is more than simple humility), as Philippians 2:5-8, states:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Concerning the Greek in regards to this passage in Philippians 2:7-8, we first find the expression:
“and was made (Greek: ginomai [G1096], which means: “to become,” “or “to be made…”) in the likeness (Greek: homoioma [G3667], meaning: “a figure,” “image,” “likeness,” “representation,” i.e. resemblance amounts to a “quality” or “identity” ~ again this addresses the human attributes of Jesus, not His essence, that of being God) of men (Greek: anthropos G444, which means: “a human being, either male or female; plural in number since it expresses the idea of humanity, “with the added notion of weakness” ~ emphasizing the fact that Christ had human limitations, which directly opposes Him maintaining His divine attribute of Omnipotence. It is interesting that the Holy Spirit uses the term “men” as opposed to man, stating that Jesus “was made in the likeness of men,” which focuses in on Jesus being made like all of humanity, all of mankind, rather than in the image of a single human being, such as Adam. It is evident that the Holy Spirit wishes to corner us concerning the conclusion that Jesus became a 100% man, yet at the same time, in His essence was fully Divine; what a mystery that is beyond human comprehension!): And being found in fashion (Greek: schema [G4976], which means: “The habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, and manner of life etc.” ~ these were His attributes – and proves the fact that He did not have Omnipotent power87) as a man“, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (there is no greater proof that Jesus Christ became a man than the fact that His body had life taken from it by His death on the cross, in the normal human sense that His body stopped to function on the physical plane for which it was created to dwell in. Yet, in the same way that human beings do not stop existing once there takes body dies, even more so concerning Jesus in that His essence was divine and was unhampered by it’s extraction from the body. It was at this point that Jesus Christ was given a resurrected body94, the same type of body that we will receive [Romans 6:5], and that now Jesus Christ, who still maintains the resurrected body of a man sits on God’s throne. What should be the most shocking aspect of this to you and I is that it appears that Jesus now has a resurrected body as He is in heaven, He was not just changed temporarily, but for eternity? ~ please see Endnote 96).
The Scripture says that “God is not a man, that he should lie,”81 yet those that would espouse that Jesus maintained His divine attribute of Omnipotence (Latin: “All Powerful, Visible & Invisible.”), naïvely accuse God of breaking His Word, because here in Philippians 2:8, it unequivocally states concerning Jesus: “being found in the fashion as a man,” became as a man in every sense of the word, yet a sinless man. The Greek word here for “fashion” means: “figure, mien, deportment. Here it is the same as “state,” or “condition.” The sense is, that when He was reduced to this condition, in responded by humbling Himself.74
The Form of a Servant
When it says that Jesus “took upon him the form (Greek: mophe, it means: “the form by which he person or thing strikes the vision” or “external appearance” ~ this term refers to a being’s attributes, not their outward attributes, such as power) of a servant,” what does that mean? A King is a King, and a servant is a servant; and a servant never exercises the powers of a King.
What about the analogy of the “The Prince and the pauper,”(Mark Twain’s fictional story concerning Edward VI, 1881) as a rationality that Jesus looked like a man, yet maintained His power? This would overlook the fact that when the Prince traded places with the pauper, he did not have the power of a Prince. In fact, it was not until he traded places again that he would regain the power of a Prince.
Do we really want to go there, to make Jesus Christ into an actor? The reality is acting is lying. The English word hypocrite (Greek: hupokrisis) is based upon one of its derivatives combined with the Greek word “to cover,” meaning a person that judges from behind a mask by covering who he truly is, this word was used of actors (please see Endnote 82 concerning “Hypocrisy“).
The Greek plays, which were symbolized by two masks, one laughing and the other crying (this icon has been used ever since movies originated), goes back to this idea.
Hypocrites are not only those that say one thing, and do another, they are individuals that hide behind a mask and judge and mock those in front of them, the idea of condescension is prevalent to this word. This is what the actors had the ability to do because of the cover of the mask while they were wearing them (these masks were not worn on the face, but held in front of the face, and were attached to a stick that the actor held up in front of Him) on stage. If we say that Jesus was simply acting human (then was He also mocking us, acting like He was vulnerable, like He trusted God when all along He had power to do whatever He wanted), when He had divine power beyond human attributes, if so, then He would be a faker?
Do we really want to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit which was necessary for His ministry and the miracles that preceded, was a charade, a farce, and unnecessary? If during His earthly incarnate existence, Jesus maintained the attribute of Omnipotence, and acted like He experienced vulnerabilities (Matthew 4:2,11; John 4:6-7; 2 Cor. 13:4; Phil. 2:7-8; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Romans 8:3), then He was a deceiver and a manipulator and a hypocrite in that He would demand of others what He did not give Himself – faith.83 This would not be the Jesus of the Bible!
Jesus ~ Our Ultimate Example
So, if this is such a fundamental doctrine that has been overlooked, downplayed or misunderstood for centuries, what are the key texts. The 11th chapter of Hebrews has been referred to as the “Hall of Faith” of the Old Testament believers. We will examine this chapter in detail a little bit further along, but for now our attention should be drawn to the conclusion of this chapter of “faith warriors” with the greatest faith warrior of all, that of Jesus Christ as seen in Chapter 12.
How fitting it is that the crowning example of faith does not end with men, but with our King and Savior, He who left the powers and glory in heaven to become a limited man, to become our Kinsmen-Redeemer, as seen most prominently in the book of Ruth.
God established the role of the Kinsman-Redeemer (which has two components), in order to set a symbol or typology concerning Jesus Christ and His two missions on Earth, in order that He would be recognizable in either mission (commonly referred to as Jesus’ 1st & 2nd Coming). Christ’s first role seen in His first coming was as the (Hebrew) “Goel,” a family redeemer (Deuteronomy 20 5:5-10; Ruth 3:9-12; Genesis 38:8); with His second role being seen in His second coming as the “Avenger of Blood,” who carried out family Justice (Numbers 35:12; Deuteronomy 19:6, 12; Joshua 20:3, 5, 9).
The Messiah would be identifiable as the (Hebrew) “Goel” (“The Redeemer” ~ Isaiah 41:14; 48:17; 54:8; Luke 1:68; 24:21; Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Titus 2:14) – “the lamb slain before [“from”] the foundations of the world” (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8) for the sin of humanity (1 John 2:2), as seen in His 1st coming. And then in Christ’s 2nd coming, He comes as the “Faithful & True Judge” (Psalms 98:9; 110:6; Revelation 19:11) dispensing vengeance (“The Avenger of Blood” ~ Deuteronomy 19:6, 12; Joshua 20:3, 5, 9) upon unbelieving world and to rid the earth of the “Earth dwellers,“84, to take possession of that which He paid for with His own blood (Romans 8:21-22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), and to judge His enemies (Acts 10:42; Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1); all of which is seen at His 2nd coming (further information can be found in the HOLMAN BIBLE DICTIONARY, page 848, please see Endnote 70).
A Key Passage ~ Hebrews 12:2-3
We are told that Jesus is our example having gone before us as recorded in Hebrews 12:2-3, which states:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our [“our” is not in the Greek text, which is why the King James always has “our” in italics. It was added by the assumption of the translators, because they couldn’t believe that Jesus had to actually exercise faith Himself] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
This passage states indisputably that we are to look unto Jesus as our example (this is the context that this set-up according to the prior verse, v. 1), as Jesus is the author and finisher of faith, not our faith, but of faith! This is not speaking of faith in the sense of: “the faith,” concerning Christianity as an institution or of Christian doctrine (please review the above section: “Faith Applications,” emphatically proves that this is not speaking about the faith in the generic sense, but in a denotatively sense); because the article (“THE”) is missing.
Concerning the subject of faith; the word for “author” (Greek: archegon) more specifically is translated “the originator and first to utilize;” and the word “finisher“ (Greek: teleioten) more specifically means “to completely have done (in the past) and finished what was started and works in unison with“ (Greek: archegon), both describing Jesus being the originator and best example to have thoroughly demonstrated faith (more passages citing “the faith of Christ” will be cited later).
The scholar Moffatt says of the word “author” (Greek: archegon), it should be understood to say: “The pioneer of personal faith,” see: Hebrews 2:10. Vincent states the word “finisher“ (Greek: teleioten) more expressly means “perfecter” of faith, having done it wholly, without exception.
Vincent went on to say that:
Christ is the leader or captain of faith, in that he is the perfecter of faith. In himself he furnished the perfect development, the supreme example of faith, and in virtue of this he is the leader of the whole believing host in all time.
Albert Barnes states:
“The author and finisher of our faith”
– The word “our” is not in the original here, and obscures the sense. The meaning is he [Jesus] is the first and the last as an example of faith of confidence in God – occupying in this, as in all other things, the pre-eminence, and being the most complete model that can be placed before us. The apostle had not enumerated him among those who had been distinguished for their faith [Chapter 11], but he now refers to him as above them all; as a case that deserved to stand by itself. It is probable that there is a continuance here of the allusion to the Grecian games which the apostle had commenced in the previous verse. The word “author” (Greek: archegon) means properly the source, or cause of anything; or one who makes a beginning. It is rendered in Act 3:15; Act 5:31, “Prince”; in Heb 2:10, “Captain”; and in the place before us, “Author.”
It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The phrase “the beginner of faith,” or the leader on of faith, would express the idea. He is at the head of all those who have furnished an example of confidence in God, for he was himself the most illustrious instance of it. The expression, then, does not mean properly that he produces faith in us, or that we believe because he causes us to believe – whatever may be the truth about that – but that he stands at the head as the most eminent example that can be referred to on the subject of faith.
We are exhorted to look to him, as if at the Grecian games there was one who stood before the racer who had previously carried away every palm of victory; who had always been triumphant, and with whom there was no one who could be compared. The word (Greek) arch corresponds in meaning with the word “author.” It means that he is the completer as well as the beginner; the last as well as the first [the Alpha & Omega ~ Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13].
As there has been no one hitherto who could be compared with him, so there will be no one hereafter; compare Rev 1:8, Rev 1:11. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last.” The word does not mean that he was the “finisher” of faith in the sense that he makes our faith complete or perfects it – whatever may be true about that – but that he occupies this elevated position of being beyond comparison above all others. Alike in the commencement and the close, in the beginning of faith, and in its ending, he stands pre-eminent.
To this illustrious model we should look – as a racer would on one who had been always so successful that he surpassed all competitors and rivals. If this be the meaning, then it is not properly explained, as it is commonly (see Bloomfield and Stuart in loc.), by saying that the word here is synonymous with “rewarder,” and refers to the (Greek) brabeutes – or the distributor of the prize; compare notes on Col 3:15. There is no instance where the word is used in this sense in the New Testament (compare ~ Greek: Passow), nor would such an interpretation present so beautiful and appropriate a thought as the one suggested above.74
Jesus repetitively stated that He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19; 5:30; 8:28), outside of the power of the Holy Spirit or the Father. Plus, if He had all this power in hand, why was there a necessity for the Holy Spirit to indwell Him (Luke 3:22), empowering Him for His ministry. While some have said this was for display purposes only; this is ridiculous concerning God.
Which in the Greek seems to imply that believers could not be indwelt by the Holy Spirit until the Holy Spirit was no longer functional in the life of Jesus during His incarnation, with John 16:7, repeating this same idea when it says:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Some scholars have wondered if this was because Jesus contained all of the Holy Spirit, having the ability to maintain (house) all of the Holy Spirit because He was absolutely sinless and divine in His essence.
There are those that would consider this teaching heretical, yet for man to attempt to understand God beyond what the Scripture has told us, is in reality what is really heretical. We know that Jesus was all man, and yet there were men that did miracles, but there was never a man that had the Holy Spirit to the degree that anything and everything they did was completed at their command.
Jesus could see things that no one else saw, Jesus could read the minds of everyone around him, Jesus understood the intention of the heart’s of people, Jesus could know of things happening outside of His locality, Jesus understood the Spirit world and it recognized Him, Jesus without exception could raise the dead, heal; yet He could also go hungry and thirsty, suffer and die.
This is because all the things Jesus did were made possible by the complete indwelling of the Holy Spirit within Him, it was the Spirit that empowered Him to do all these things, and yet still be fully man; man enough so that He had human limitations in order for Him to be hungry, thirsty, to suffer and die.
To say that Jesus was not fully limited within His incarnation, is blasphemy concerning the atonement and the concept of the Kinsman-Redeemer concerning the propitiation of sin, where one man died for another man’s sin. How often have we heard the unbelievers say that according to Christianity, it’s not fair that all of humanity would be cursed to hell because of one man, Adams behavior*. Yet, the other side of that coin is how marvelous it is that by one man, Jesus (“The Lord God”), all of humanity may be saved (*1 Corinthians 15:45-58).
It is vanity to attempt to understand the essence of God, or to define it; we simply must accept what God’s Word has said – Jesus became a man (yet still with the essence of divinity), period.
How Could This Be
The old question is, “could God make a rock so big that He could not pick it up,” the answer is, yes He could, but He is not stupid enough to do so.
The point is, if God chose to make a part of Himself, His Son incarnate (human); could He not divest Him of His Omnipotence, because apparently Jesus was divested of being Omniscient (“Knows All”) as seen in Mark 13:32, which states:
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”
The same as Jesus was also divested of being Omnipresent (“Everywhere All at Once, Non-locality”), having the limitation of locality; Jesus could only be at one place at a time, never everywhere at once.
Two of these three attributes which are solely attributes of God, were not seen in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. It is funny that some people think this line of reasoning is demeaning to God; yet others might argue who is the clay to define in the Potter beyond God’s Word in the first place.
Going by God’s Word solely, without presupposition, Jesus apparently emptied Himself and became a man, and as a man He had frailties which necessitated faith. Because deity, as we normally consider it has all power and has no need of faith, therefore becoming man would necessitate this frailty.
Truly God could create a way so that Jesus while incarnate was divine, but also subject to the limitations of being fully man, not simply divinity acting like a man. If Jesus fully maintained His attributes as God, how could He have been killed (because another attribute of deity is the inability to be killed). Yet, we are told that he was in every aspect a man:
Hebrews 2:8-10, states:
“Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
If it is true that Jesus made himself void of His divine power in order to become just like us, and live by faith so that God would fulfill all They had planned together, how much more should we appreciate His sacrifice and admire Him as being the greatest example of faith, as well as righteousness. And if this is true, then we have no ability to understand what Jesus went through to become a man, having been deity all of eternity, to become limited, taking on limitations.
We must remember that God is God not because He fits into our box, many times made up of morality rules and “common sense” (1 Corinthians 3:19). We forget the lesson of Romans 9:21, which illustrates that He is the Potter and we are the clay, God is God because He is the Boss; it is to our great fortune that He is righteous and just, as well as merciful and good.
God is Not a Hypocrite
Can you honestly picture the Son of God demanding something of you and I that He Himself neither had to do or experience? What was the whole reason of His incarnation if it was not to be tested as you and I, in all ways, not some. And if all along He had that power to end His pain and suffering, then not doing so was a display of a charade of pretending to be human and in actuality he was not (this point is made ad nausea for a purpose).
If Jesus actually had no real wants, no needs, no frailty; then when all is said and done what would that say about God’s character. Therefore, Jesus Christ being the greatest example (please see Endnote 85 for further reference websites on “The Faith of Christ“) to ever exercise faith makes more sense than anything else.
Virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love; are important, but none of them will save you, and none of those are a necessity for pleasing God – only faith is!
Before addressing the following verses, a brief lesson on Greek nouns would be helpful, because it is in understanding how the Greek word for faith functions in these verses that gives insight into their meaning and application.
Greek is a highly inflected language (i.e. the form of words change to indicate the role each word plays in the sentence), a noun changes forms based upon its relationship to other words and how it functions in the sentence. The stem of the noun contains the basic meaning of the noun, but a suffix is added to indicate the noun’s role in the sentence. The endings are changed according to certain patterns, or ‘declensions,’ that indicate what are the number, case, and gender of the noun form. To “decline” a noun means to analyze it and break it down into its basic parts according to number, gender, and case.86
Of these basic parts, the case provides perhaps more information than anything else. There are four different case forms in Greek; they are nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. Concerning the present study we are only going to narrowly look at three of these cases, the genitive case, accusative case, and dative case.
The following 9 Scriptures utilize the Greek word pístis (G4102), which is translated into the English word faith in each of the following Scriptures.
Pístis is a noun, and in the cited examples below it is in the genitive case (subjective genitive, not objective ~ which is the subject of another essay dealing with Greek translations of the Bible) which displays possession. What this means is that in the following Scriptures is that the faith that is being spoken about is possessed by Jesus himself, without equivocation.
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith [G] of Jesus Christ…” ~ Romans 3:22
“…by the faith [G] of Jesus Christ … justified by the faith [G] of Christ…” ~ Galatians 2:16
“… the promise by faith [G] of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” ~ Galatians 3:22
“…we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith [G] of him.” ~ Ephesians 3:12
“… which is through the faith [G] of Christ, the righteousness…” ~ Philippians 3:9
In the next Scriptures, the Greek noun pístis is in the accusative case, which displays the direct object of the sentence, and Jesus is in the genitive case; meaning that Jesus possesses the faith which is the direct object of the sentence.
“…not the faith [A] of our Lord Jesus Christ [G] … with respect of persons.” ~ James 2:1
“… and the faith [A] of Jesus [G].” ~ Revelation 14:12
In the following verse, the Greek noun pístis is in the dative case, which displays the means by which an action is accomplished; meaning that faith is the action which is possessed (genitive case) by Jesus Christ.
“…the life which I now live… I live by the faith [D] of the Son of God [G] …” ~ Galatians 2:20
Below is an example of Parsing. Parsing is the process of analyzing / diagramming text to determine its grammatical structure with respect to a given inflected formal grammar. The parsing of Galatians 2:16 is as follows: the green numbers are Strong’s numbering system, the red letters are grammatical keys in which the 1st singular letter represents the type (verbs, nouns, verbal nouns, prepositions, conjunctions, participles, etc.), followed by underlying space then the remaining part of the cluster is the subtype of the grammatical code, regarding inflections (such as: tense, mood, voice, person, gender, number, case, etc.) ~ please see Endnote 73 for further reference material concerning grammatical codes).
“the faith” (Greek: pístis – G4102) ~ Is used twice concerning the faith of Jesus Christ in the genitive case , indicating His possession of faith that created the justification of those that would believe in Jesus (Greek: pisteuo Strong # 4100, which is a verb, and in the aorist tense, indicating the subject – the person that “has believed” receives the action, that of being “justified”) – being justified because of the faith of Jesus Christ in God the Father.
Both times that “the faith” is referred to above, address the fact that it is the faith of Jesus Christ in the Father that produced the implied justification to “even we have believed in Jesus Christ…” and not the works of the law. The focus of this verse is Jesus Christ and His faith which brought justification unto man, not man and his faith, which he received from God as a gift to begin with according to Ephesians 2:8.
It is a misconception to believe that salvation is earned in trade for faith, which is a gift from God; faith is not the basis of salvation, but the result of it. There is a delicate tension in understanding that belief in God and trust in Him is necessary for a person to become a believer, yet at the same time even this faith is a gift of God. The point of view that people are convinced on a human level into exercising saving faith is incorrect in that it would mandate salvation based upon man’s action, as opposed to God’s grace (please see Endnote 72).
Due to the Biblical doctrine of “faith,” Scriptures can relate (either due to the translation found in the newer versions of the Bible which are based upon the Alexandrian Codices, or by the replacement of the word “of,” with the word “in,” which is even noted in many of the newer translations lexicons) to the believer’s faith placed in Christ, yet, there are also passages which relate to the “faith of Christ,” which should be noted as distinctive and therefore garner our attention.
It is because Christ trusted and believed in God the Father, that upon His death, God the Father(who is the Head of Jesus ~ 1 Corinthians 11:13) would resurrect him and reestablish His divinity and position in the Trinity. These issues are hard to understand because how can God lay down those attributes, yet maintain divinity in His essence, and still be divine. Part of the problem is that finite man is attempting to understand the infinite God.
Our faith is built upon an examination of God’s Word, because “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), therefore it is because God presents a track record which is worthy of our trust that we gain faith in Him. He has displayed a pattern in the Bible which if we believe enough to search it out; will affirm yet greater faith and establishes yet a firmer confidence of who God is and what He can do, in light of what He has said in His Word.
Jesus had to exercise faith and trust in the Father, not only as our example in every way, but as a declaration of God’s complete and utter reliability. Yet, if Christ failed in His faith, if He chose to take up Satan’s proposition, or do anything to disrupt His upcoming execution; Jesus would display a lack of faith in God the Father, and not fulfill the ability of our salvation by His atoning death.
Therefore, it is much more important that Christ exercised complete and utter faith in God the Father, in securing our salvation, then for us to remain faithful to Him. Because the Scripture tells us that when we are unfaithful to God, He is still faithful to us, and faithful in our place (2 Timothy 2:13). God knows that each and every one of us will act unfaithfully at different times, and if the fear is that we would do so at the jeopardy of our salvation, we are the sorriest of creatures. Because we could never do it, thoroughly, completely, and all the way.
Yet, concerning the passages above what is prominent is the fact that without exception faith was mandated, and if it was mandated of us; just one act of disbelief would be detrimental to our spiritual life. However, the fact that Christ never lacked in faith to God the Father, has granted unto us eternal life, not hindered by our own failures; but guaranteed by Jesus’ victory at the cross, the greatest display of faith ever committed.
Humility is the Only Correct Supposition. It goes without saying that faith is necessity for salvation, yet faith does not create salvation. Faith is how we obtain grace unto salvation, yet it is a gift of God.11 However, we must constantly remember that everything we have access to in life is a gift of God, from the air that we breathe moment by moment, to the food that sustains life for our body, to the clothes we wear, to the houses we live in, to the enjoyment that takes up so much of our time; everything is a gift from God. Ecclesiastics 3:13, states:
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”
And James 1:17, states:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Gratitude is the Right Frame of Mind
It is with this in mind that we approach God in an attitude of gratitude concerning all the gifts given to us in our lives. Paul instructs us in Colossians 3:15 that due to trusting in God (living in faith) we can allow peace to rule our hearts (in unity) and be thankful.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Gratitude based on thankfulness produces humility, and humility is the only correct mindset for the child of God, in respect to how God chooses to supervise the affairs of men, and therefore orchestrate our lives.
How easily we forget the lesson of the potter which Paul spoke about in Romans 9:21, in which the illustration is meant to solidify the realization that God is supreme; He is the one in absolute authority, He is sovereign; we are His creation and subject to His Will in every way. Plainly stated, He is the boss. He owns everything, because He made everything; including you and I.
The Wise Surveyor
The lesson of the railroad track surveyor must be kept in mind when it comes to dealing with something so important as God and His Word, our Christian walk, and eternity. How easy it becomes to treat the issues and events of this physical world as what is relative and immediate, rather than understanding that priority and preeminence that spiritual matters should take in our lives as believers.
Therefore, it is beneficial to remember the lesson of the wise surveyor, who constantly takes readings of where he is, and where he wants to go; while maintaining the accuracy and consistency of his equipment, guaranteeing that his line of sight (perspective) is correct according to the design of the equipment in order to lay the rails correctly, perfectly parallel. Because it only takes an error of one degree to eventually inhibit his ability to go forward, and efficiently and effectively design the course of the tracks.
It is our responsibility as believers, to periodically scrutinize our perception, especially concerning the issue of faith and affirm that it is in accordance with God’s Word, and therefore determine that we see according to God’s perspective, and therein assure that we utilize His tool (The Word of God) according to His design, laying our assumptions aside, and validating the lessons of our teachers according to His Word.
Concerning our Spiritual life, what we undertake is so important that we must do it thoroughly, exclusively, exactly and precisely; if not slowly. When it comes to spiritual matters it is always quality over quantity; and specificity over generalities. Our spiritual life is more important than anything else, and should never be approached haphazardly, any more than we would want a surgeon to haphazardly do surgery on us.
Need, Fear & Promises found in God’s Word
We don’t need faith to pay our bills if we are a millionaire, we don’t need faith for healing if we are healthy. Yet, to further clarify this issue, we only need look at what David said in Psalm 56:3:
“What time I am afraid I will trust in the Lord“
What we see here is urgency, not just need, but extreme need. In spite of the heresy of the “name it and claim it” abusers, we don’t need Cadillacs, or bigger houses. This displays how easy it is to get off track when we leave the elementary understanding of what faith is. And it is when we are in real need as opposed to simple want that faith becomes not just an option, but a necessity. It is during this time when fear has its opportunity to overtake us, that in spite of the fear we lay hold of God’s Word, according to the facility of our mind, as opposed to the feelings of our emotions.
And Fear is not the opposite of faith; faith is what you do when you have fear.
2 Timothy 1:7, states:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind“
Fear is the opportunity to express faith – what you can focus on during a time of extreme fear, is fear’s opposite, which is love. Therefore, when we are in our greatest fear we should dwell upon the love of God for us as His children, which will produce faith. (This is why the Biblical perspective concerning eternal security is so important to the believer.)
Faith is not a tool to get what we want, it is trusting God for what He has already given us, and will give us. Faith necessitates a need, and usually an urgent one. And in spite of what others have unbiblically stated, faith is not the opposite of fear.
Fear is not a sin; in fact fear is the perfect atmosphere to indulge in faith. However, this does not mean that we allow fear to destroy our faith, or our witness, or to become controlling. We go on in spite of the fear; we maintain faith in response to fear.
Murmuring is a Sign of a Lack of Faith
We must remember that when the Israelites left Egypt, they sinned when they allowed fear to control them, and a lack of faith to grow; the behavior that they did as a result of their distrust of God was to murmur (Exodus 15:24; 16:2, 7, 8, 9, 12; 17:3), which why God sent the “fiery serpents” upon them (Numbers 21:5-9), and destroyed so many of them (Psalms 106:24-26). We see murmuring (complaining) as such a small sin, yet to God it is such a great sin (1 Corinthians 10:9-10).
When fear is in control, faith fails, complaining begins, and God is slandered. By it is not fear that is the sin, but allowing it to control us. We go “through the valleys…”, understanding that evil cannot hurt us, it is God that is in control, and if He allows anything negative to happen to us, He limits it, and is using it to helps us grow, not to hurt us. This is why we are not to be paralyzed by fear, why we should “fear no evil“ (Hebrew: yare, “fear, as in awe, reverent respect,” which is used concerning the fear we are to have of God [Genesis 22:12; Proverbs 1:7], we are not to have the same reaction [Hebrew: “awe“] to fear as we should have to God, they are not equal.). Psalms 23:4, states:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear [anxiety that controls] no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
And you we notice we are to go through the valleys (pity parties), we don’t camp out in the valleys (give up, by feeling sorry for our salve, and not try to improve the situation); but we go through them. Psalms 84:5-7, says:
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee [his trust is in God]; in whose heart are the ways of them [he diligently seeks God because he trust God]. Who passing through [we don’t camp out in tragedy] the valley of Baca [Hebrew: baca = “weeping”] make it a well [they turn the trial into a blessing by trusting God in faith]; the rain also filleth the pools [which allows God the ability to add blessings to their situation, with their faith maturing in the process]. They go from strength to strength [they live by faith, “from faith to faith” ~ Rom. 1:17] every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”
A Final Thought Worth Remembering
We must always remember that faith (without the definite article , “THE”) is an exercise of the believer, even when in what appears to be a noun form – it must be more readily understood as an action, always reminiscent of a verb. Also, in Greek there are verbal nouns, which are nouns formed directly as an inflexion of a verb or a verb stem, sharing at least in part its constructions (i.e. Greek: pistis Christou, in the subjective genitive ~ “faith of Christ“).
Biblical faith; both in obtaining salvation and in exercising the Christian walk, are life changing choices seen as actions and behaviors, more than mere mental assent (Jam. 2:19) which is NEVER in view in God’s Word
(though it is commonly understood that faith starts as a mental belief that leads to an action, yet when isolated from activity, mental assent is not enough to stand as Biblical faith. It is God, and God alone who delegates the type of action that is Biblical faith. The thief on the cross displayed Biblical faith in words alone, and there are times that the action is an internal process that men may not be able to observe, yet God who examines the heart can see).
Therefore, when a believer enters tribulation (faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations [which are: problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials – temptations –testing; they’re all synonymous] because it can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it. This is because faith is a process contingent upon experience [Biblical faith is contingent upon experiencing God’s Word], as someone proves they are trustworthy, situation after situation, we learn to trust them more and more. In this way faith is analogous to a muscle which must be torn before growth can occur [when severe exercise tears a muscle, it heals by filling in with more muscle tissue, then it is torn again with more muscle filling in the tears – the process is tear, repair, tear, repair] so is Bible faith in that as we trust what God has said in His Word and we experience that He faithful to His World – the process grows, with greater trials following lesser trials – Christ’s greatest trail was His last, He trusted that the Father would resurrect Him – Jesus had become man, and it was God that He had faith in, as He had all of His human life – Rev. 5:3-8; 14:14), it is an opportunity to make faith choices of choosing God’s Will, according to His Word; rather than you’re own, wherein the trying of you’re faith is more precious than gold (the “trying of our faith” ~ James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7) and will earn eternal rewards far beyond this temporal existence in the flesh.
To return to the first half of this essay, go to: “Faith? Part 1” dropdown page ~ Link
All Scripture verse listed, unless otherwise noted, refer to the King James Version
49. James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 – “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
50. Matthew 27:46 – “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
52. Romans 5:10 – “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
53. 1 Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils“
54. Psalm 19:13 ~ “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”
Deuteronomy 18:20 ~ “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”
Deuteronomy 18:22 ~ “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him”
55. 2 Timothy 3:13 ~ “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
56. 2 Corinthians 5:7 ~ “for we walk by faith, not by sight”
57. Matthew 6:31-34 ~ “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
58. 2 Corinthians 4:18 ~ “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
59. James 4:3 ~ “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
60. The Reasons for Trials in the Life of Believers
Two possible errors concerning trials(synonymous with temptation and tribulation):
1) Not anticipating trials
2) Holding a morbid fear of trials
We Need a Divine Perspective, remember:
Job, & his 3 friends
Paul, & his “Thorn in the flesh” & how he measured “success” (2 Cor. 4:7-18; 11:21-28)
61. Romans 5:12 ~ “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Romans 7:14 ~ “…But I am carnal” (present tense – continuous action, never stopping) ~ Yet thank God for Romans 7:25.
Romans 5:21 ~ “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(However remember ~ Romans 6:14,16)
1 John 1:8 ~ “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
62. 1 Corinthians 3:19 ~ “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
1 Corinthians 1:20 ~ “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
1 Corinthians 2:6 ~ “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought”
63. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 ~ “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
II Peter 1:21 ~ “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13 ~ “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
64. Psalms 37:23-24 ~ “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”
Ephesians 2:10 ~ “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Romans 4:12 ~ “And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. “
65. Matthew 7:7-11 ~ “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him”
66. Genesis 50:20 ~ “but as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
67. Romans 12:1 ~ “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
68. Job 13:15 ~ “though he slay me yet will I trust in him…”
69. Isaiah 64:8 ~ “but now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are the work of thy hand.”
Jeremiah 18:3-6 ~ “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Romans 9:20-21 ~ “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour”
70. HOLMAN BIBLE DICTIONARY, General Editor: Trent C. Butler, PH. D., Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN 37234, USA, 1991-1998, Electronic Media, see “Faith.”
70a. The Gospels ~ Four Perspectives of Christ
Matthew presented “the Messiah the King, “symbolized by the Lion of the tribe of Judah (the King of Israel, the Lord God of mankind).
Matthew, being a Levite, emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Each of the subtleties of his design supports this primary theme. His genealogy begins with the “first Jew,” Abraham, and continues through David and the royal line to the legal father of Jesus, Joseph (according to Hebrews Law, in the same way that a step father was a legal guardian and father). Matthew’s emphasis is on the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Tanakh, the Old Testament.
As a customs official, Matthew was skilled in shorthand, an essential asset in a culture that did not have the advantages of printing, copiers, and the like. Matthew focuses on what Jesus said, and includes the extensive discourses, which he probably was able to take down verbatim. Matthew’s first miracle is the cleansing of a leper, a Jewish metaphor for sin itself. Matthew concludes with the resurrection, also a distinctive Jewish preoccupation.
Mark presented the “Suffering Servant,” symbolized by the ox (oxen were examples of extreme servitude, which exemplifies Jesus complete humility and servitude of the father as well as Him serving man by dying for him, though He was King. Thus fulfilling Isaiah 52 & 53 as the servant of God, who laid down His life, and became poor that we would become rich).
Each one of these for symbols (lion, ox [sometimes mistranslated “calf” ~ Revelation 4:7] man, and eagle) were the ensigns that the twelve tribes of Israel stationed themselves around the temple during the time of the Exodus. This same symbolization is seen concerning the “Living Creatures,” the Cherubim, and the Seraphim (Isaiah 6 [some believe that the Seraphim are the same thing as the cherubim]; Ezekiel 1; Revelation 4:7) of God which oversee God’s throne room. Each one of these symbols represents the mission and personage of Jesus Christ (we must remember that the central point of the Bible is the person and mission of Jesus Christ; the central theme of the Bible is not Man or his salvation, but the glory of God[Isaiah 43:7]), His preeminence in creation (see John 5:39, Hebrews 10:7 [quoting: Psalms 40:7]; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 5:18; Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44-47; John 1:45; John 12:16; John 15:25; Acts 1:16; Acts 8:35 [quoting: Isaiah 53:7]; Acts 10:43; John 1:1; John 1:14; John 1:29; John 5:46-47; John 14:6; John 17:7; Acts 2:16-36; Acts 3:18; Acts 13:27-37; Acts 26:22-23; Acts 28:23; Romans 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-8; Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:7, for but a few references), and has been hailed as pictorials of Jesus since His time until now, as is seen in many Orthodox churches (Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.), though not as widely taught as previously before.
Mark was the amanuensis (secretary) for Peter, and he emphasizes Jesus as the obedient Servant of YHWH. His is the only Gospel with no pedigree or genealogy; because slaves don’t have genealogies. Genealogies are meant to display pedigree concerning a royal line in order to continue the lineage of a King by establishing a record of his children and descendents. Slaves never had genealogies. Mark focuses on what Jesus did; it deals in graphic images, almost like a movie or video shooting script. Mark concludes with the final visual appearance, the Ascension.
Luke presented the “Son of Man,” the perfect man (a sinless man, the same as Adam, man as he was meant to be).
Luke was a Gentile and a doctor, and his Gospel reflects a very distinctive point of view, emphasizing Jesus as the Son of Man. His genealogy begins with Adam, the first man. From Abraham to David, his list is identical to that of Matthew. However, when he gets to David, he doesn’t track through Solomon (the first surviving son of Bathsheba) but through a different son, Nathan (the second surviving son of Bathsheba). He continues through to Heli, the father of Mary (Joseph is the son-in-law of Heli). The term used in Luke 3:23 concerning Jesus is: “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph,” which is nomizo in the Greek, which is literally translated: “reckoned as by law.” this indicates a legal adoption of Jesus by Joseph which is part of the rule of inheritance concerning the Hebrews.
In the Hebrew society the intended heir of the household received the household inheritance by the legal act of adoption which separated him from his siblings. The heir received the whole estate with his siblings receiving only what he might decide to hand down to them. This is what is being referred to here; Joseph legally adopted Jesus as his heir; which validated Jesus legal claim in this bloodline.
But what is glossed over is that this genealogy is not the genealogy of Joseph, but is the genealogy of Mary through her father, Heli to Jesus (Matthew is the genealogy of Joseph who had legally adopted Jesus concerning the royal bloodline of Judah through David) establishing Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam the first man, which is what this book emphasizes. Luke 3:38 states that Adam was the “son of God” (God established the pattern of using the expression, “son of…” in referring to anything that flows out of the original source, or that was created by the source, therefore the angels are referred to as “sons of God” [Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7] as God created them in the same way that Adam is referred to as a “son of God,” because God created him as well [Luke 3:38], and as Jesus had called the scribes and Pharisees “sons of the devil” [John 8:44] because they flowed from their father Satan and their actions betrayed this. Yet, this is different than Sonship according to essence, which is what Jesus Christ is, a literal “Son of God,” not figurative.) and in this genealogy concerning the humanity of Christ it confirms Jesus as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), the true son of God in every sense in Luke 3:23, in the original language, the definite article (Greek: tou), “THE”is in the genitive form and appears before every name in the genealogy except one, that one name is Joseph. This singular exception strongly suggests that Joseph was included only because of his marriage to Mary.
The Greek word for “son,” is uihos, [G5207] and was used primarily to signify the relationship of offspring to the parents in a literal sense, yet it was also used in a figurative sense concerning a full range of relationships or descriptions.
As a Gentile, Luke’s emphasis is different. His emphasis is Christ’s humanity; he focuses on what Jesus felt. His first miracle is the expulsion of a demon, a very human concern. Luke concludes with the promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit, which is a natural bridge to Luke’s subsequent volume, The Book of Acts.
John presented the “Son of God,” God incarnate, God indwelling flesh, Divine; in symbolized by the Eagle (the Eternal Son of God, the Logos, God’s Communication of Himself through His Son).
John had a very distinctive view, emphasizing Jesus as the Son of God. It focuses on who Jesus is. His “genealogy” is that of the Preexistent One, constituting John’s opening verses: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is a genealogy of the Divine Son of God, who has no beginning and no ending, who was never created yet created all things. John’s Gospel is organized around seven miracles, seven discourses, and seven “I AM” statements.
John’s first miracle involves the use of the water of purification being changed to wine at Cana (a pictorial of the church), a private demonstration to the disciples that Jesus was preeminent even over the Levitical priesthood. John concludes with the promise of Jesus’ return, and becomes the appropriate prequel to John’s final writing, The Revelation.
Matthew wrote to the Jew, God’s chosen people; Mark wrote to the Romans; representing the power of world government (from Rome), Luke wrote to the Greeks; representing the cultural masses, And John wrote to the church, those adopted into God’s kingdom.
Matthew was written by a Jewish tax collector, Mark was written by a Jewish companion of Peter, Luke was written by a Gentile physician, a companion of Paul, and John was written by a Jewish fisherman.
Matthew concentrated on what Jesus said, His teachings (“said” ~ 151 times), Mark concentrated on what Jesus did (with Jesus’ actions most prominent), Luke concentrated on what Jesus’ felt (88 times), and John concentrated on who Jesus was (247 times).
A key word in the book of Matthew is “fulfilled” (38 times ~ concerning the Messiah of Israel), a keyword in the book of Mark is “immediately” (42 times ~ concerning the actions of Jesus), a keyword word in the book of Luke is a “came to pass” (42 times ~ concerning the transition of God becoming man), and the key phrase in the book of John is “verily verily“. Meaning: “truly,” 25 times ~ concerning how God is Truth, nothing more encapsulates the identity of God than His inability to be false or a lie, God is either righteous, just and therefore Divine; or false, sinful, and a lie which mandates that he would be a concept of man.
NOTE: An interesting fact is that Jesus gave us clues in His terminology concerning the weight that He placed on that which he stated in the form of the preceding comment he made concerning any subject. When Jesus wanted His hearers to take note of what He was about to say, He would say: “I say unto you,” which is recorded over a 122 times in the Gospels. When He wished to add weight to His comment He would say: “verily,” this is recorded over 53 times in the Gospels. And when He wanted to place the greatest significance on His statement He would say: “verily, verily,” which is recorded 25 times, and only in the book of John, which again is the book that establishes Jesus as God, He who cannot lie ~ “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19.
Even the styles of each book are diverse, with Matthew utilizing elegant groupings, Mark providing simple snapshots, Luke presenting a logical narrative and John writing in a very mystical style (representing God’s mysterious Majesty).
It must be kept in mind that when dealing with the subject of the diversity between the Gospels, 3 of the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke) seem to present the last three years of Jesus life, chronologically, and in a similar order (yet not precise, with differing timelines and events) and are therefore referred to as the Synoptic (Greek: syn – meaning “together” ~ or technically: displaying conditions as they exist simultaneously over a broad area) Gospels. Many writers attempt to produce a “Harmony of the Gospels,” by fitting the three Gospels together into one chronological timeline.
However, doing so introduces more problems than can be answered, in that it is obvious that this was not the intent of the Holy Spirit. Because there may be two very similar events in two or more of the Gospels that vary in the details for a very good reason, they were totally different events that just appeared very similar (i.e. the feeding of the multitudes). Also, concerning the diversity between John and the other three Gospels, there is the issue of multiple events as seen in Jesus clearing of the Temple which is referred to as taking place at the first of His ministry on one account (John 2:13-16), and then at the end of this ministry at another (Matthew 21:12).
Each gospel needs to stand on its own, with us understanding that the Holy Spirit might choose sometimes to omit certain details in order that other aspects of an event are made clearer in order to create a certain emphasis. Yet, in other situations the Holy Spirit might bring out other details in order to create yet another emphasis in a separate account; or they may be completely different accounts.
The point is God engineered four different accounts of the last three years of Jesus life because He wanted us to have four different perspectives, diverse from each other and never to be mixed, and to twist the text so as to fit together a puzzle never met to be arranged this way is unwise at best, and unbiblical at worst (yet there is a benefit from fitting together timelines in a loose manner in order to cross reference situations and to glean different aspects of the same event, yet this must be done very carefully and loosely; never forcing any issues or changing any events in order to have them fit together in a particular chronological order).
One last consideration that needs to be addressed is that of the diversity of acceptable writing styles of the Hebrews (the Hebrews and Jews of two thousand years ago or more) as compared to modern English today. To us in America, we are very linear in the way that we think and process information. When we present events in someone’s life we start with a timeline from the left to the right, which is chronological concerning the events as they occur one after the other. According to Western train of thought this makes complete sense to you and I, yet, it is not the same concerning the Hebrews of thousands of years ago. To the Hebrew, the most important thing was the priority of what was being communicated, rather than the sequence of events.
What they focused in on was the important issues first, with the chronology of the timeline a servant to what was more important. This doesn’t become a problem as most of time the Old Testament follows a linear chronological order which does not do violence to the priority of what is being communicated. However, whenever we read John’s Gospel, the mysterious Gospel which presents “The Son of God,” Deity (perhaps the greatest mystery to man [“a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”] and far beyond his ability to comprehend is, God; and even within this yet further more unfathomable conception is God in man in the person of Jesus Christ); we need to understand it’s presented according to the mindset of the Hebrew. The Gospel of John presents groupings of situations according to the importance of what is trying to be communicated, as opposed to any chronological logical presentation. The outline of the book of John is not chronological, but is organized around seven miracles, which lead to seven discourses, and then seven “I AM” statements; all in order to establish the profound insight that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Divine, beyond human compare, Preeminent among all of creation.
For further teaching on this subject with much greater detail, please see our essay: “The Gospels ~ Four Different Perspectives of Christ,” ~ LINK.
In this passage, James is referring to Abraham’s offering of Isaac as proof of his faith which is referred to in Genesis chapter 22, when Abraham was over 125 years old, perhaps even 130 years old (making Isaac at least thirty years old, and as far as some topologists are concerned, Isaac would’ve had to been thirty-three years old to fit the typology of Christ’s crucifixion). Yet, we understand that Abraham’s saving faith in which God counted it “for righteousness” occurred over at least forty years prior to this as recorded in:
Genesis 15:6 ~ “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Therefore, it is impossible for James to be stating that Abraham was saved by faith when he offered up Isaac more than forty years after Genesis 15:6, which is when he displayed saving faith (in which God counted it as righteousness) by believing God’s promise concerning becoming a mighty nation, by first having a physical son of his own. What is easily understood especially in light of the Greek grammatical principle concerning Greek verbs ending in “oo”, is that James is stating that what was already on the inside of Abraham, saving faith in God, was fully displayed in the act of him being prepared to take the life of his son according to God’s direction.
This also clears up the misunderstanding that somehow presupposes that James teaching on faith is opposed to Paul’s teaching on faith. By example, Paul states in:
Romans 4:3-5 ~ “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth [Greek: dikaioo] the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Here, Paul is quoting from Genesis 15:6, when Abraham was around 80 years old, and is being justified according to his faith by God. Paul uses the same Greek verb for justifieth, indicating that he then was exercising that faith that had already dwelt on the inside concern in God and his promises. We must remember that it was God that ten years before had instructed Abram to leave his home and relatives to go to a new land that God would later show him. Abram delayed his departure until his father had died (according to Stephen ~ Acts 7:4), then disobeyed God by taking his nephew Lot with him. So though Abraham had faith in God, it had not matured to the place of confidence that would mandate obedience. Yet, the scripture is quick to tell us that it was his belief in God’s promise, not Abrams works wherein God saw his heart and imputed righteousness to him.
We understand that justification is God’s declaration that a person be treated as if he is innocent of the charges made against them. It is a declaration of immunity, being acquitted, not a pronouncement based upon evidence, but in spite of it. In reference to justification, Paul declares in:
Romans 4:1-8 ~ “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Therefore, what James says in James 2:21 & James 2:21; agrees with Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9; whereas James states that Abraham displayed (What was on the inside was exhibited on the outside) his saving faith by his work (deed), of trusting God when he was preparing to present his son as a sacrifice, this was 40-50 years after he was already saved by his faith in God as recorded in Genesis 15:6 (Paul states in Romans 4:3; 4:9; Galatians 3:6, that Abraham received his salvation when he first exercised faith back at Genesis 15:6).
Other Examples of this Type of Verb
Another example concerning Greek verbs ending in “oo“ (which indicate that what is already on the inside is then displayed on the outside) can be found concerning the Transfiguration of Christ as recorded in:
Matthew 17:2 ~ “And was transfigured [Greek: metamorphoo] before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”
The word transfigure means to change the appearance or form, it does not denote the change of the substance of that thing, but simply its appearance. And with the verb utilizing the “oo,” we further understand that the change referred to is to display what is already on the inside, on the outside.
Another example is seen in John 1:14 where the English word “dwelt“ (Greek: skennoo), which in actuality is the word “tabernacled,” meaning to “tent,” or temporarily lodge in a place, is used concerning Jesus’ earthly existence as a man (the incarnation). The verb used here concerns Jesus being made flesh, in regards to Him displaying on the outside, by transfiguration that which had already existed in His essence, His divinity and holiness as the only begotten Son of God, the “Word (Greek: Logos: “the literal communication”) of God personified.” Yet, all men live on this physical plane temporally, as we tabernacle on this earth (2 Cor. 5:1,4; 2 Peter 1:13 & 14).
The last example is seen in Ephesians 3:16 regarding the English word “strengthed“ (Greek: krataioo), concerning the believers being strengthed on the inside by the Holy Spirit which would be exhibited on the outside (yet the strength is according to the power of the Holy Spirit, and not the individual).
What we must also understand concerning this word is the Greek grammar, in which the word “strengthed” is in the passive voice, meaning that the person receives the power from another, not from themselves; and that it is in the aorist tense, meaning that the action occurred in the past (it occurred “Once & for all.” The action occurred or was made possible when Jesus died on the cross, giving the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to indwell the believers according to salvation as adopted sons of God) and it is in the indicative mood, meaning that it is a complete certainty (A Reality ~ it is a done deal, completed). Therefore, with this in mind what this verse indicates is that by becoming a believer and therefore having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there is power available to the believer which indwells on the inside and should be displayed on the outside. This is what true witnessing is all about; this is what 1 Peter 3:15 also alludes to.
Note ~ If you use a Greek Parallel Interlinear New Testament, you will notice that the spelling for the verbs referenced above (justification, transfigured, dwelt, and strengthened) in the Greek language do not display two “o,” just one. This is because in a Greek Parallel Interlinear New Testament, the Greek words are combined into cognates and not distinguished individually. However, if you utilize a Bible Dictionary on Greek (Such as: Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words; Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Larry Richards; Jamieson, Fausset, Brown; Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Kenneth S. Wuest; Word Meanings in the New Testament, Ralph Earl; Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible & Word Studies, Spiros Zodhiates), as well as any of the current computer dictionary programs; the spelling of the individual words will be with the double “0” ending. Thayer’s Greek Dictionary87 is used concerning the above translation.
Concerning grammatical reference to the utilization of “oo” in Greek verbs wherein its usage “indicates that what is already present on the inside is then displayed on the outside:” Dr. Wayne A. Barber’s book, “The Surrendered Walk,” page 28 gives reference, as well as other books and manuals which teach (Greek) Koiné Greek.
By way of example let us first consider the wise old expression: “we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.” This goes back to the idea that it is human nature that is sinful, and therefore it is acting human to be sinful, humans cannot be sinless. This is where our focus needs to be concerning the subject of sin, because if we focus on the individual acts we may think that we are sinning less on a particular day and therefore our attention is placated upon a false assumption that we can ever be less sinful and therefore more worthy of forgiveness.
The very act of trying to minimize our sinfulness is sinful (“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” ~ 1 John 1:8). This principle is also true concerning the flip side of the issue, that of salvation as well. We believe because we are believers, rather than we are believers because we believe. Ephesians 2:8 states:
“for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Even the very belief (cognitive) that we exercise, which is referred to as “faith” (faith as an action, is the application of belief), is a gift from God, and not something that merits (earns or is in exchange for … ~ Romans 4:4) salvation. God will be the debtor of no man (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11), it is God that chose us (John 6:44)before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6), man has never chosen God (Romans 3:10-18).
This is not to take from our responsibility of trusting in God, yet this goes back to the fact that we exercise faith because of God and not ourselves. It is His displayed faithfulness in the Word of God that we rely upon (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23), not the strength of our own belief (2 Timothy 2:13). The point is that the faith is the substance that is borne out in the life of the believer.
73. NEW TESTAMENT EXEGESIS, Benjamin Chapman, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI 49506,USA, 1977.
74. ALBERT BARNES’ NOTES ON THE BIBLE, Albert Barnes, (1798-1870), e-Sword.net.
75. BELIEVER’S BIBLE COMMENTARY, William McDonald, Thomas Nelson publishers, Nashville TN, 1995.
76. The 11th Chapter of Hebrews (the noun case is noted with the citation: Nominative Case, Genitive Case, Dative Case, Accusative Case)
Hebrews 11:1 – N – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:2 – “For by it [faith] the elders obtained a good report.”
Hebrews 11:3 – D – “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
Hebrews 11:4 – D – “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
Hebrews 11:5 – D – “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Hebrews 11:6 – G – “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Hebrews 11:7 – DA – *”By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith“*.
Hebrews 11:8 – D – “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Hebrews 11:9 – D – “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise”
Hebrews 11:10 – “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Hebrews 11:11 – D – “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”
Hebrews 11:12 – “Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.”
Hebrews 11:13 – A – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Hebrews 11:14 – “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.”
Hebrews 11:15 – “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.”
Hebrews 11:16 – “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
Hebrews 11:17 – D – “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son”
Hebrews 11:18 – “Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called”
Hebrews 11:19 – “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”
Hebrews 11:20 – D – “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
Hebrews 11:21 – D – “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”
Hebrews 11:22 – D – “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.”
Hebrews 11:23 – D – “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.”
Hebrews 11:24 – D – “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”
Hebrews 11:25 – “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”
Hebrews 11:26 – “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
Hebrews 11:27 –D – “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”
Hebrews 11:28 – D – “Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”
Hebrews 11:29 – D – “By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.”
Hebrews 11:30 – D – “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.”
Hebrews 11:31 – D – “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.”
Hebrews 11:32 – “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:”
Hebrews 11:33 – G – “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions”
Hebrews 11:34 – “Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
Hebrews 11:35 – “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection”
Hebrews 11:36 – “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:”
Hebrews 11:37 – “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;”
Hebrews 11:38 – “Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
Hebrews 11:39 – G – “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:”
Hebrews 11:40 – “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
79. Faith must be Contingent upon Need, Without Need there is No Necessity for faith
1 Samuel 1:18 ~ “And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.”
2 Kings 4:1-4 ~ “Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.”
Nehemiah 2:1-4 ~ “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? [It was a perpetual Royal order that to be sad in front of the King mandated death] this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.”
Esther 4:16 ~ “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
Daniel 3:16-18 ~ “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Luke 23:42-43 ~ “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Hebrews 4:1-3 ~ “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. “
See Hebrews Chapter 11.
A common problem that I see in the church today is confusing attributes and essence. The essence of something is what it is in its makeup, where as the attributes are behaviors (which can be seen and therefore identified, which is not true of essence), which are simply displays that radiate from, and are distinct from the essence that created them.
It is very common for people to mistake attributes for essence, and falling short in their understanding many times they misinterpret the essence of something because the attributes or behaviors may vary in diverse situations. Attributes may be generic, with different people sharing the same type of attribute, yet the essence of each individual is never the same as each individual is their own person and distinct.
From Medieval Latin essentia, from Latin: the being (of something), from esse “to be.”
The permanent as contrasted with the accidental element of being.The individual, real, or ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence.The most significant element, quality, or aspect of a thing or person. (Merriam-Webster)
The basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing or its significant individual feature or features.
A substance obtained from a plant, drug, or the like, by distillation, infusion, etc., and containing its
characteristic properties in concentrated form.
Philosophy. The inward nature, true substance, or constitution of anything, as opposed to what
is accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc.
Essentially; at bottom, often despite appearances.
Absolutely essential; critical; crucial. (Random House Dictionary)
To regard as resulting from a specified cause; consider as caused by something indicated.
To consider as a quality or characteristic of the person, thing, group, etc.
To consider as made by the one indicated, esp. with strong evidence but in the absence of conclusive proof.
To regard as produced by or originating in the time, period, place, etc. (Random House Dictionary)
To relate to a particular cause or source; ascribe: attributed their failure to a lack of preparation.
To regard as the work of a specified agent, place, or time.
A quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.
An object associated with and serving to identify a character, personage, or office.
Grammar A word or phrase syntactically subordinate to another word or phrase that it modifies. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
Roles (The rest of this Endnote is by Brent)
The following may seem like rationality for hypocrisy, however, different situations mandate different responses, this is more readily seen because different roles maintain different responsibilities and therefore mandate different responses. An example of this can be seen in human relationships. A man may be the King of his castle at home, yet a servant while at work. He may have ultimate authority as a father to his son, and therefore hold that prominent place of respect, yet when he is in the presence of his own father, he is to the one that displays submission and respect (Biblical “honor”).
He is the same person, yet functions differently in different roles. At home, a man may be a kind and loving father to his daughter, yet in his profession he may be a stringent judge in the courtroom. In his role as a husband, he may be the loving mate to his wife, yet the aggressive defender of his home taking the life of an intruder. The person is the same, the essence of him has not changed, yet his roles and responsibilities are diverse in different situations, and therefore he displays different attributes.
There is an old English euphemism which describes the diversity of roles that a single individual may maintain, when we say that: “he is a man that wears many different hats,” referring to the different roles and responsibilities that a single individual may be accountable concerning. This adage displays our understanding that while it may be the same individual who wears diverse hats, yet he functions differently according to those roles that he may undertake. His essence is always the same no matter which hat he may wear, yet each individual role or responsibility may display different attributes.
While true attributes flow out of essence, and some maintain that attributes are part of the essence, this definition breaks down when dealing with matters of the soul (Greek: psuche), and spirit (Greek: pneuma). Humans relate to our environment (which includes each other) solely and specifically regarding our five senses, which defines our perception of something or someone, and which is described in observational terms as the attributes of the essence that we encounter.
Therefore, these attributes are relatable concerning observable and definable behaviors and actions that are the outward manifestation (attributes), as compared to the essence which is unobservable and hidden from the five senses. As the philosophers have said, you do not see me (my essence), but the abode (my body which is defined by its attributes of behavior) I now dwell in. As Isaiah 53:2-3 says concerning the Messiah:
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
These Scriptures refer to Jesus’ physical presence and the attributes He displayed as a man, yet it was at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) that what was on the inside of Jesus, His essence was displayed on the outside (at least as much as fallen man could conceive).
Distinction between Attributes & Roles
In examining anyone we must always be aware of the role that the individual is playing at the time in order to evaluate the correctness of those attributes. It is in examining those attributes, or behaviors that discretion must be seen according to the mandates of the situation. It is rightly said that we should not judge one another as referred to in Matthew 7:1 (for the sake of this argument let us temporarily set aside the different Greek words for “judgment,” which can vary from unrighteous condemnation to righteous condemnation to evaluation for edification’s sake. Whereas certain judgment is demanded in certain situations, such as: I Corinthians 5:12, 13; 6:2-5; 11:31;14:29; I Thessalonians 5:21 as compared to that which is condemned in other situations, such as: Matthew 7:1; Colossians 2:16; James 2:4;4:11,12), yet only a few verses later, Christ commanded that we judge concerning false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20. What is the main difference in these two situations? It is the role of the one being evaluated, because they are a leader and therefore affect people in a different way than normal members of a group.
Wherein a false student may lead one or two astray, a good teacher will ferret them out; however, a false prophet (remember that the word “Prophet” means one who speaks for another, and may not have anything to do with telling the future, such as the case of John the Baptist), especially in the role as a teacher, can do an immense amount of damage to many individuals; therefore because of their roles, and the responsibility that it entails, we are to evaluate or judge teachers because of this. The role makes the difference, and as such, there should be different attributes that also follow. Roles many times define attributes, or behaviors.
The Roles of God
The reason this discussion is necessary is to distinguish those attributes that God displays during certain roles He performs at certain times in history, as compared to other roles at diverse times. This is why individuals have made the mistake of stating that the God of the Old Testament is a warring God that kills and judges; and the God of the New Testament is a loving and forgiving God, as seen in Jesus. God the Father is the same, and so is Jesus in both Testaments, yet it is in the roles that they play at certain times wherein the confusion lies.
It is when men do not take the whole counsel of God91 into consideration; by using the justification of the local context only, isolating it from the rest of Scripture in an attempt to make their own point. Scriptural context is more than its local application; it is in its application to the Bible as a whole that it must be utilized.
When God the Father instructed the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child of certain tribes and nations in the promised land, He did so as a father that is protecting His own child from those that would later seek out to destroy that child by either destruction or genetic contamination. God the Father’s role was that of a protecting father. Yet, how could one question the love of God the Father in that He would nail His own Son to the cross for His enemies, which He would then adopt.
It is in misunderstanding the roles of Jesus Christ that many liberals rationalize pacifism. They concentrate on Jesus in His First Coming and interpret Jesus’ essence according to those attributes of that particular role that He displayed on that occasion. This is why it is so helpful to understand that the four Gospels display four views of Jesus in His First Coming: that of Matthew as the Messiah, the lion of the tribe of Judah; that of Mark as the suffering servant; that of Luke as the perfect man; and that of John as the son of God.
Without the benefit of this perspective many concentrate only on Jesus as the suffering servant, and therefore only see Him as demanding that everyone always turn the cheek. While Jesus instructed the 70 disciples to not take a sword with them on their first Ministry training outreach (Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:1), they forget that Jesus later speaking concerning His upcoming departure instructed them to carry a sword (Luke 22:36). When they speak about His kindness, they do so by isolating Him from the contempt He showed to the Pharisees, or the intolerance He displayed to the opportunists when He turned over their money tables in the Temple courtyard.
And most importantly they separate Him from the role He will play at His Second Coming, that of a warring conqueror claiming His prize. They allegorize fire coming from His mouth, and the fact that He will kill millions of people. His role at this time is defending Israel, and vanquishing the earth dwellers by killing millions of people.
They also seem to have a hard time with the Christophanies of the Old Testament, the fact that Joshua was confronted by Him at night wearing a soldier’s uniform, a sword drawn in His hand, and announcing that he is the captain of the Lord’s Host, meaning that He is the very highest ranking warrior leader of God’s armies.
The world either wants to keep Jesus as a baby at Christmas who has no power; or as a pacifist unwilling to display power; either way, they can avoid His sovereignty to their own demise.
Understanding that God displays different attributes according to the role He is fulfilling at that time, we must still understand the deficiency in defining God according to those, or any attributes; because attributes are not a definition of essence. And whenever we attempt to define God according to His attributes we in essence attempt to minimize and compartmentalize Him. We attempt to bring Him down to our capacity to understand. How can the finite define the infinite? It can’t, and any attempt to do so is condescending.
Yet at the same time, we are intellectual creatures, created with logic and rationality, and have a need to understand anything and everything. And by necessity, we must attempt to understand or define God, while at the same time; regarding the task with great reverence. We can never wrap our arms or minds around God, and to think we can to any large extent is blasphemous. Yet, how do we know which God is really God? God is a title and not a personal name or descriptor. So which deity is truly deity? This can only be accomplished by the mere act of attempting to understand, and therefore define that deity, but to do so in reverence and awe.
Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says, concerning the attributes of God:
God is an invisible, personal, and living Spirit, distinguished from all other spirits by several kinds of attributes: metaphysically God is self-existent, eternal, and unchanging; intellectually God is omniscient, faithful, and wise; ethically God is just, merciful, and loving; emotionally God detests evil, is long-suffering, and is compassionate; existentially God is free, authentic, and omnipotent; relationally God is transcendent in being immanent universally in providential activity, and immanent with his people in redemptive activity.92
Answer to the Question
Of those attributes which are observable concerning God, if I had to name one that was most appealing to me, it would be that attribute for which my whole existence hinges: that of God’s mercy. We know that mercy is not receiving that negative reward we deserve, and that grace is receiving that benefit we do not deserve. Therefore, it is difficult at best to separate grace from mercy.
What is most amazing is that God in His infinite wisdom could display both attributes of justice as well as mercy, because they are mutually exclusive. To display mercy mandates the restraint of justice; to display justice mandates lacking the ability to display mercy. Yet God, as only God could; devised a means to maintain both of these attributes; while also maintaining an attribute just as necessary, that of integrity.
In comparison, how unfortunate for those deceived by the false religion of Islam, their non-existent god lacks mercy as well as integrity, and is as inconsistent and capricious as he is cruel.
By contrast, we as Christians have a heavenly Father, who in His role as Father is invincible; we have a Savior, who in His role as Savior is the perfect propitiation for sin. Their mercy and grace unwavering and Their integrity unceasing.
83. Jesus Demands Faith of People
If Jesus maintained during his earthly incarnate existence, the attribute of Omnipotence, then He was a deceiver and a manipulator, and a hypocrite in that He would demand of others what He did not give Himself: faith.
Matthew 13:58 ~ “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
Matthew 17:20 ~ “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Mark 6:6 ~ “And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”
Mark 9:24 ~ “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Mark 16:14 ~ “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”
Matthew 6:30 ~ “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Matthew 8:26 ~ “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
Matthew 14:31 ~ “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Matthew 16:8 ~ “Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?”
Luke 12:28 ~ “If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
84. Believers are Referred to as Pilgrims in the Bible
Hebrews 11:13-16 states:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
God has from the very beginning, established this principle that the Earth is not the home of His children, that they are simply pilgrims passing through. This is because the Earth is not His home, and His children will live with Him in heaven. We see this first concerning Abraham. That though he owned all the land of Israel, yet he lived in a tent (Hebrews 11:9), as opposed to house.
The tabernacle was not just a pragmatic way of dealing with a “house of worship” that was to be mobile, it was an example of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11-15) who would tent / tabernacle among men (John 1:14 ~ “dwelt” = Greek: skennoo, which means that He “tabernacled,” among us – and see Revelation 21:11 as well); as all men temporarily tabernacle on this earthly plane (2 Cor. 5:1,4; 2 Peter 1:13 & 14).
We even see this among the “Feasts of Israel,” during the “Feast of Booths,”95 where the Israelites would set up a tent that they would stay in during the festival, which was symbolic of the Exodus (and on a much deeper mysterious level is Representative of them as pilgrims on the earth, never meant to permanently lodge here). Christ died to redeem mankind, but also to redeem all of creation (Romans 8:22; 2 Peter 3:13) which was corrupted by the fall.
Jesus second coming is centered around the fact that He comes to revenge Himself against His enemies, and take the possession of what He died for, not just mankind, but the Earth as well; from the usurpers, commonly referred to in the book of Revelation as “Earth dwellers.”
Believers are referred to as pilgrims (Eph. 2:19; 1 Pet. 2:11), passing through the Earth (Heb. 11:13), which is controlled by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) who offered to trade the Earth if Jesus would bow down and worship him (Matt. 4:8), without Jesus repudiating this (Matt. 4:10); hence “Earth dwellers” are unbelievers who are under the control of their leader, Satan (Rev. 13:8).
Revelation 3:10 ~ “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
Revelation 6:10 ~ “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
Revelation 8:13 ~ “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! “
Revelation 11:10 ~ “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”
Revelation 12:12 ~ “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
Revelation 13:8 ~ “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Revelation 13:12 ~ “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
Revelation 13:14 ~ “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”
Revelation 14:6 ~ “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,”
Revelation 16:14 ~ “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Revelation 17:2 ~ “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
Revelation 17:8 ~ “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
Revelation 17:18 ~ “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”
Revelation 18:3 ~ “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.””
Revelation 18:9 ~ “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,”
Revelation 18:11 ~ “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:”
Revelation 18:23 ~ “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.”
Revelation 19:19 ~ “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army”
THE FAITH OF CHRIST, Grace Bible Study; http://www.gracebiblestudy.net/TheFaithofChrist.html
THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST: THE NARRATIVE SUBSTRUCTURE OF GALATIANS 3:1-4:11, Richard B. Hays, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 2002
THE FAITH OF CHRIST, ENGAGING THE WRITINGS OF RICHARD B. HAYS, 19th Annual Symposium on Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary, January 20, 2004; http://www.ctsfw.edu/events/symposia/papers/sym2004just.pdf
IS THE FAITH OF JESUS FORMED IN US (GOD CENTERED) OR IS IT OUR FAITH IN HIM (MAN CENTERED), http://www.scionofzion.com/foc_fic.htm
BY THE FAITH OF CHRIST, OR THE FAITH IN CHRIST, Tony Warren; the mountain retreat; http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/faithof.html
THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST – ROMANS 3:21-22, Ian Potts, http://thegospelofgod.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/the-faith-of-jesus-christ-romans-321-22/
THE FAITH OF CHRIST IS LACKING IN THE NEW KING JAMES BIBLE, http://www.geocities.com/benwebb.geo/faithofChrist.html
87. THAYER’S GREEK DEFINITIONS, Parsons Technology Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA 52404,USA, 2008, Electronic Media.
88. ROBINSON’S MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS CODES for use with the Greek New Testaments containing parsing or declension codes. E-Sword, Ver. 8.0.6, Rick Myers; http://www.e-sword.net
89. ROBERTSON’S WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, Vol. IV, A. T. Robertson BroadmanPress Inc., Nashville, TN 37234, 1960, Electronic media.
90. Psalms 119:11 ~ “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee”
91. Acts 20:27 ~ “for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
92. ELWELL’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA, 1984, Electronic Media.
93. VINE’S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, W.E. Vine, Ellis Enterprises Inc., Oklahoma City, OK 73120, USA, 1988, Electronic Media.
94. Philippians 3:21 ~ “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
The following Scriptures concern “The Resurrection”:
Roman 8:23 ~ “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Philippians 3:21 ~ “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-43 ~ “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 ~ “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. “
When believers will be displayed at the, “Revelation of the sons of God.” > Romans 8:19 ~ “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
Which is referred to as, “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” > Romans 8:21 ~ “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Which is also referred to as, “the day of redemption.” > Ephesians 4:30 ~ “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Which we technically refer to as the Rapture, when believers will be transformed into their new glorious body. > 1 Corinthians 15:42-54; 2 Corinthians 5:2; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 John 3:2.
The word resurrection is taken from the Greek, anastasis, which means: “a raising up,” or “rising,” and literally is taken from two words, one which means, “up” and the other which means, “to cause to stand.” Concerning Christ’s resurrection: Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:33; Romans 1:4; 6:5; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:3, 21. Concerning the resurrection of believers: Luke 20:33, 35, 36; John 5:29. The Resurrection concerns both believers and unbelievers: Acts 24:15; John 5:29; Revelation 20:5 & 6.
When Jesus was resurrected and given a resurrection body; what does that really mean? What we know of the resurrection body of Jesus is that it can be material, such as when Jesus told Mary to, “touch me not,” (John 20:17), which is a poor translation of what Jesus said, which in reality was: “restrain me not.”
Yet, in His resurrected body, Jesus could penetrate walls and solid barriers either by changing dimensions or de-materialize (or whatever, both of these are just guesses at best. The point is we don’t know how He did what He did; just that He did do it). After the resurrection Jesus could eat, in fact it should be noted that almost every time He is seen after the resurrection, He eats food.
We also know that His resurrection body maintained the same appearance as His human body. The reason why some disciples did not recognize Him, was due to the fact that His beard was completely pulled out (Isaiah 50:6) and while He was being tortured he was disfigured according to Isaiah 52:14, which states; “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (according to this verse in the original language, Jesus was brutalized and disfigured even more than the movie, “The Passion” could portray).
And we know he maintained His scars, which is seen when He displayed His pierced side and hands to Thomas and the disciples. His voice appeared to be the same as it was recognized by Mary, though not at first for good reason. What we need to understand about this incident as recorded in John 20:16, where we have Jesus speaking to Mary and her not recognizing Him is that we know that He was speaking to her in Greek at first, which she seldom heard Him speak.
Yet, when Jesus called out her name, Mary, He spoke in Aramaic, which was His daily language, and at this point she recognized His voice saying her name. We understand from Jesus teaching that procreation is not necessary, and therefore marriage is not practiced in heaven. These are but a few of the things that we understand concerning the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. Yet, what is more unbelievable is that He may still have the same body now as He sits in God’s throne in heaven.
Notice how in Revelation 1:13, when Jesus is portrayed in heaven as He is now, that it states that Jesus appeared “like unto the Son of Man.” Which in the original language conveys the idea that Jesus appeared as Himself; that He looked like Himself as He was on Earth.
Then four chapters later, in Revelation 5:2-3 states:
“And I saw a Strong Angel proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in Earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon”
Notice that Jesus was not acknowledged as being present in these verses; and John’s reply in the next verse: “and I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereupon.”
According to these verses, God demands that the book had to be opened by a man (which is a reason why Jesus had to become a man in the first place, to become our Kinsman-Redeemer, as seen in the book of Ruth ~ please see the “Resource Center” dropdown page, under “Essay Archive,” the essay entitled: “Kinsman-Redeemer”), not by Deity, not my angels, but by a man.
Then in response to this, one of the elders states to John, “behold,” which is interpreted to mean: “see,” “behold,” “lo,” and is a participle that indicates where previously Jesus was not in view, now Jesus is apparent, as seen in Revelation 5:5-8, states:
“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”
And as Jesus was seen in Revelation 1:14-15, the description was: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” This appears to be His essence, the same as Christ’s essence was seen during the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2), which showed Him in His glory, the Deity that was hit under His flash. Which is described in Matthew 17:2, which states:
“And was transfigured [Greek: metamorphoo] before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”
The Greek word translated “transfigure,” is: metamorphoo, and means to change the appearance or form, it does not denote the change of the substance of that thing, but simply its appearance. And with the verb ending in the suffix: “oo,” we further understand that the change referred to: is to display what is already on the inside, on the outside (please see the above Endnote number71 concerning: “Faith vs. Works ~ Paul vs. James, Or Are They Both Right” which address the use of this type of verb).
From an examination of all the Scriptures which address the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ, Scripture appears to maintain that Jesus retains His resurrection body.
In thirty years of being a Christian I have always presupposed that Jesus simply donned a human body temporarily while He was on Earth, and then went back to being His spirit entity as before, yet there is nothing in scripture to indicate this.
We understand according to God’s example of the Kinsman-Redeemer, which mandated that the Redeemer had to become a Kinsman (family member, from where we get the word, “kind,” the idea is we are always more kind to family members than others) to the one under penalty, that Christ was mandated to become a human in order to save us; how do we get to a place of Him simply temporarily being one of us, as opposed to being changed in some manner forever.
Believe it or not, I tremble at this presentation; I take very seriously handling a definition of Christ or anything that seems to be somewhat controversial concerning Him, and usually only come to a conclusion if there is enough Scripture to support it. This issue I hold onto loosely and present for your own evaluation.
And it, as everything I present; I present only because it has reinforced my own faith, and changed me for the positive, trusting God yet more and more as I see the Divine signature of God that He has designed into His precious Word, the Bible. And if His Word is completely true (which it is), then God is completely true, and those things that He speaks about I can take completely refuge in and trust.
And the only reason I even venture to bring this particular teaching forward is that it shook me to my bones, the day I understood how great was Jesus’ sacrifice, and love for you when I, that Jesus would change Himself forever in order to redeem us. There is no way that eternity has enough time for us to express our love and dedication to Jesus Christ who would do so much for us, that He would become one of us, to save us, for eternity.
This is more than my mind can comprehend without emotions taking hold. Please prayerfully consider this short presentation, and much more importantly dig deep into God’s Word, and see what the Holy Spirit says to you concerning this presentation.
98. JAMIESON, FAUSSET AND BROWN COMMENTARY ON THE OLD AND TEN TESTAMENTS,Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, & David Brown, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, MA 01961, 1948.
99. ADAM CLARKE’S COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT, Parsons Technology, Inc.,Cedar Rapids, IA 52404, USA, 1999, Electronic Media.
100. JOHN GILL’S EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, E-Sword, Rick Myers; http://www.e-sword.net