Concerning motivation; we should keep in mind the difference between simply reading God’s Word and that of adequately studying God’s Word. We are all subject to the self-deception of our age where it becomes easy to indulge in things that entertain by virtue of us becoming spectators, as compared to the cost of deliberate and committed effort that is mandated in conducting a thorough and meticulous examination which is necessary to any study of God’s Word.
When it comes to the motivation that we as Born-Again Christian believers should feel concerning how we conduct not only our daily walk; but the study of God’s Word, which lays the foundation for that walk, we should keep in mind Jesus’ teaching on this subject.
In regard to the commitment that we should put into our spiritual life, that of our relationship to our Heavenly Father, Jesus’ reiterated the greatest law of all (Mark 12:30), referred to by the Jews as the (Hebrew:) Shema (Hebrew: Sh’ma Yisrael is Hebrew for “hear Israel“), found in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, which states:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
According to Jesus, we don’t have the excuse or rationality of approaching the Word of God superficially or in a simple manner; if God gives us the ability (normal or even reasonable cognitive resources) and tools (in our day and age, we have the greatest amount of resources in regard to handling God’s Word than any other time in history with free and easy access via the Internet to all kinds of resources such as Bible dictionaries, commentaries, word studies, lexicons, Biblical encyclopedias, and teaching presentations by almost every popular Christian speaker and leader; ad nauseam) to diligently study His Word; then to do otherwise is wrong.
If we are to love the Lord God with the totality of our being, this would necessitate a complete commitment to understanding God’s Word as His divinely inspired Book of instruction for us, as well as God’s complete revelation to man on who He is.
How can we dare say that we love Him with our whole being if we don’t seek to know everything about Him, if we don’t seek to understand everything He wants us to know, and if we don’t attempt to understand everything God would have us to do?
In light of this, seeing God’s desired level of commitment, how can we suggest that by simply reading God’s Word for an hour or two each week we would meet this mandate (or worse yet, meet the conditions of this verse by simply listening to a preacher talk about a few Bible verses for thirty minutes each week during Sunday service.)? It is incumbent upon us to not only read God’s Word, but to study it if we truly love God.
In Regards to Studying God’s Word
Probably one of the best examples of how a believer should approach God’s Word is David. Here is a man that was human enough to sin, even stealing another man’s wife and then arranging for the man’s murder to hide his sin because of her becoming pregnant. Yet, in spite of this God refers to him as, “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). David said as recorded in Psalms 119:11,
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”
The Hebrew word for “hid” (Hebrew: tsaphan [H6845]), is a verb that means: “to hide,” “treasure,” “store-up,” “protect,” or “esteem something of value.” It is a word that refers to the use of the mind. It does not mean to handle something casually, but to handle it intricately and carefully.
The idea of this Scripture is to treat God’s Word with the highest regard within your mind, to the extent that you regard it in carefully, considering the choices that you make so as not to sin against God. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit, in one of His capacities to remind us of God’s Word, which we consider our actions and choices in light of God’s Word, considering the value that it holds in our lives. This is just one Scripture which presents God’s Word concerning the value it should hold as we think upon it.
Beyond this aspect concerning the mind, is the consideration of how the mind is utilized as the prime tool of interpretation and understanding in regards to everything that we as individuals say or do.
At the most primeval level, the use of any Scripture mandates the use of the mind in figuring out what:
1) Individual words mean, then the use of our
2) memory in retaining them, and the
3) logic of rationality in understanding how the words fit together to bring a summation of what the verse truly entails.
Scripture Concerning Seeking Guidance
The Scripture directly expresses the wisdom of seeking the insight of those who have come before us (as has been wisely said: “we are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants”), as seen in Proverbs 1:5-6; 11:14; 12:15; 15:22; 19:20, David establishes the godly wisdom of seeking the counsel of others. How much more should we do concerning seeking understanding in what God has revealed to others concerning God’s Word.
This author has met many supposed believers that stand in their own pride and arrogance making statements such as, “all I need is the Bible to interpret the Bible; I don’t need any commentaries, dictionaries, or other man’s interpretation.”
What they display is a presumption that God must speak to them directly, and thus invalidating God using other men to reveal His Will through His Word. Every one of these individuals that stand in such arrogance have also displayed the same kind of pride and lack of love that no one takes them serious as valid representatives of God.
These type of individuals, due to the error of such an egomaniacal mindset are often marked as false teachers, and rightly so. It becomes evident to all, except for the simple that they are self-motivated, rather than Spirit led. The Bible refers to them as being: “stiff neck” (“But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction” ~ Jeremiah 17:23), due to their self will and pride.
Mindset of Humility
Repetitively in His Word, God has pronounced judgment upon the proud and arrogant (Luke 14:11; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5), those that stand in their own power and strength. There is a principle of humility that Jesus displayed, which exhibits a mindset that is an example for us to follow. 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.”
Another insight concerning Christ’s humbling Himself can be found in His use of the Greek Biblical word “meek” (as seen in Matt. 11:29 ~ “I am meek” [Greek: praos, G4235]; and when used by Moses in Num. 12:3 ~ “Moses was very meek” [Greek: Septuagint praus, G4239] or the Hebrew translation of the word [Hebrew: anaw, H6035]).
In both usages of the Greek word for “meek,” by Jesus and Moses, this word is somewhat different than our English understanding of the word. Many times in order to understand Biblical words it is best to examine their original meaning, the first time that they were utilized. This falls under the study of Etymology (the study of the origin of words), which is an uncommon pursuit even within many Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and not readily found.
It is in understanding that many times in the Hebrew (OT); the word “meek” is in reference to the downtrodden, however this is not the only way this word was used; nor is it what is meant in the passage concerning Moses as well. Due to the ability to utilize the Greek Septuagint translation (which is what Jesus used, and quoted from through most of the Gospels) of the Hebrew Old Testament, we gain a much more specific understanding of this word that was utilized concerning Moses.
And where this becomes important is that it is the same Greek word that is used of Jesus as well. Therefore, having the ability to understand the original intent and meaning of the Greek word, “meek,” which is used both concerning Moses and Jesus, helps us gain greater insight and understanding.
The first use of the word “meek” (Greek: praus) was in a Greek classic play about the training of a particular breed of horse. In the play, this breed of horse was known as the strongest runners, but also as the hardest to break because of their will power. It was common for the stallions to die rather than being broke. In the play, a very rich man fell in love with and purchased the strongest stallion out of a herd.
No matter what the rich man’s horse trainer did, he could not break the horse. He advised the owner to destroy the horse due to its lack of utility and the danger it presented due to its uncontrollability. The master decided to personally train the horse, which was very unusual because of his high station in life. The master decided to break the horse with love and patience as opposed to power and force.
The master took over the feeding of the stallion. He had a giant pin built outside of his own tent, where the horse could readily observe him. Every morning and evening he would feed the horse personally by stepping out of his tent with a bucket of feed and slowly and methodically approach the pen, wherein he would place the bucket on the inside of the pin, and walk backwards to his tent slowly. After quite some time the master eventually stepped inside of the pen and proceed to step one step further each day then set down the bucket and step backwards, returning to his tent.
The animal was shrewd as well as powerful; he always stood in the middle of the pin where he could watch all the fence line for possible predators. The horse maintained his vigilance in the center of the pen whenever the master would step in to feed him, never moving as day by day the master stepped closer. Then, finally after a few months the master was close enough to touch the animal, and did so by petting his mane. The master continued to do this for another month, until one day he walked out into the pin without a bucket, holding a bridle as he approached the horse slowly.
The master walked up and placed the bridle on the horse, then gently slid upon the horses back and nudged him to move. The horse gently walk forward, and as the master pulled on one side of the bridle the horse’s head turned in that direction and accordingly the horse turned in that same direction. Within one day, never having to use force the master had broken the spirit of the horse to obey his own will.
Power Under Control
The horse would allow no one else to come near him, and was dominant over all the other horses. He was known far and wide as the fastest, most powerful steed in the region. He would jump any gorge or obstacle his master directed. He was courageous because of his trust (faith ~ do you see the connection between this master and our Heavenly Father) in his master. He was not weak, powerless, afraid, or beaten down; he was tamed by love, based upon faith; he was meek.
The word “meek” used here is not weak, not passive, not withdrawn; but is “power under control.” How often people like to point to the fact that Moses may have had a speech impediment because of his excuse when God finally called upon him. Yet, even the simplest of readings displays Moses’ power to lead over a million people, confront Pharaoh(which is Egyptian for “king”), perform (God’s) unbelievable miracles, and challenge God Himself (interceding for the people); all in witness of the power of his personality (Exodus 11:3).It is this same word that is used to describe Jesus. How many times has the unbeliever betrayed Jesus as a pacifist, a weakling, an introvert, or fragile.
They only see Jesus as either an vulnerable little baby at Christmas time that makes no demands of them, or the suffering servant who would not lift His hand in defense of those that would brutalize Him. Because of their lack of understanding concerning God’s Word, they don’t realize that Jesus dying for the sins of the world as a suffering servant was the role that He had to conform to in His First Coming, being obedient to the Will of the Father, to be tame as power under control.
The same individuals will be shocked to understand that Jesus’ Second Coming has Him in a different role, in which He is the avenging Warrior that destroys His enemies, and those that have waged war against His people, Israel. It took strength and self-control to hang on that tree, innocent of the charges against Him, when all along He had the power to destroy them all by His beck and call. This is our example of power under control; this is our example of humility.
This is why we are to humbly look to others for guidance and instruction in God’s Word, it is this principle of humbling ourselves in searching out and understanding all that we can concerning God’s Word that aids in our portrayal of the imageness of Christ within us.
Our Most Valuable Commodity ~ Time
It has been wisely said that “The value of any commodity depends on its scarcity.” Each week we have 168 hours at our disposal, subtracting 56 hours for sleep, and 40 hours for work still leaves us with 72 hours. Yet, few if any of us are willing to even invest a few hours in spiritual matters which have an eternal affect as compared to the temporal with which we are consumed (this author admits with great embarrassment that these words are very convicting to me as well). Studying takes time, and mandates a thorough examination.
We may “stand on the shoulders of great men” (those teachers and scholars who have went before us, led by the Spirit concerning insights into God’s Word which past generations have been unaware of) of God, and therefore are obliged to utilize their work, yet in the final analysis we are the ones to digest this Word for ourselves. How often we have someone else chew up the food of God’s Word and spit it in our own mouths for us to swallow (a pretty sick analogy, unfortunately far too many times it is fully appropriate), without ever doing the hard work of breaking down the language(grammar & semantics), understanding the culture and idioms (customs & Figures of Speech), or even using Bible dictionaries and commentaries to uncover some of the simplest insights of God’s Word.
In addressing the subject of faith1, we should consider the old expression, “familiarity breeds contempt,” because the subject of faith is something that we all think is pretty simple and therefore we believe we all have a competent grasp. Faith can be approached in the same way the subject of God’s Word is approached, in that it has wisely been said: “The Word of God is simple enough that the most unsophisticated and unlearned babe can understand enough of it to grasp salvation, and yet deep enough that the greatest scholar can never plumb its depths.” (Unknown author)
Therefore, in approaching a subject that we think is relatively simple, it is natural to bring our own presuppositions and thereby lose an opportunity to grasp greater insights into that subject which we think we have already mastered. It has also been wisely said:
“The only certain barrier to truth is the presumption that you already have it.” Therefore:”
All of us are subject to the limitations imposed by the presuppositions we bring to a topic,
and it may be essential to step back out from time to time and reestablish a fresh perspective.”2
Therefore, we would ask that you follow the example of the Bereans who listened and received what Paul said, but thoroughly verified his assertions immediately (daily), rather than simply accepting them; as recorded in Acts 17:11, which states:
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, and that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things be so.”
The point was that they listened to Paul, but checked what he said according to the Scriptures. Unfortunately, in our day and age it has become a common trait within the church to lack the application of discernment, especially concerning what is preached or taught, rather than validating it according to the Word of God.
A majority of the problems related to carnality within the church of Jesus Christ today is due to a lack of maintaining doctrinal purity, as well a deficit of personal separation from the world and sin. Both of these issues can only be maintained by the use of Biblical discernment, which is to be scripturally correct by the application of proper judgment according to God’s Word only. Hebrews 5:11-14, states:”
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
The Greek term (Greek: dia-hexis), “who by reason of use,” refers to “the habit and practice of an individual.” What this passage is stating in the Greek is that:
These individuals, which are unable to process spiritual meat (making them spiritually immature babies, living only on milk) have become habitual concerning their refusal to exercise proper judgment in discerning what was good and what was evil; and due to their refusal to apply sound doctrine concerning right behavior have become dull of hearing and unable to understand and utilize the Word of righteousness, God’s Holy Word.
This indicates a mandate between hearing and doing the Word of God (Matthew 7:21; James 1:22), that without proper judgment concerning sin; will overtake the individual, corrupting their right behavior and their application of sound doctrine. This Scripture indicates that those that refuse to use Biblical judgment to rightly discern between good and evil will become dull of hearing and unable to stand mature doctrine (that teaching that costs us something and demands sacrifice and obedience), which will affect their Christian walk (lacking maturity, staying an infant, indefinitely).
There must be proper Biblical judgment in order to apply sound doctrine (later in the book, the author of Hebrews again alludes to his intended readers tendency to refuse to discriminate, and therefore be carried about by strange doctrines ~ Hebrews 13:9), Biblical judgment cannot be separated from Biblical behavior (Please see the below Endnote 3 concerning “Discernment / Judgment” ~ it is a lengthy endnote, yet very important for each believer to consider, it also addresses “Judgment that is Commanded“4, “Church Discipline“5, and the correct application of “Turning the Other Cheek“6, all in regard to the subject of judgment).
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 use of expansive Endnotes at the bottom of each essay is sometimes meant to be a lesson in itself. The author seeks to teach about many different subjects, while presenting information on a singular topic. This type of teaching is also subject to repetitious presentations, in order to foster remembrance (as per: Phil. 1:3; 2 Pet. 1:12-13, 3:1-2); all in an effort to display the congruence found in God’s Word as seen across the spectrum of sixty-six books which are a single volume (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:1-2; Acts 20:27), with a single author; God, concerning His Will for man (Heb. 4:12-13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17); all in the desire to aid in pointing out the Biblical reasons for having faith in the God of the Bible, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pragmatically speaking, Biblical faith has two facets in the life of the believer, first it is the vehicle that appropriates grace that is necessary for salvation, and secondly it is the continued behavior which is foundational to the lifestyle of the believer. Yet, it must be understood that in essence there is not a dichotomy, it is the same faith. It is first seen in salvation and then as a lifestyle, in that faith it is the bedrock for the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10–11; Romans 15:20), as the foundation of any religion must be built upon the presupposition of faith in that teaching.
A common question which many people may ask is, why faith? A simple reading of the third chapter of Genesis explains that man’s first sin was the sin of disbelief. It has been taught that it was man’s rebellion due to outright defiance against God in the same manner as Lucifer, seeking to usurp God, which is at the heart of the first sin. However, if we look at the account we see that this is not exactly the case. While Adam was away from Eve, she was tricked into disobedience by sinning (not believing what God had said about the tree and sin & disobedience).
It was Adam’s lack of faith in God’s ability to address the situation and still take care of him that is at the heart of his fall. Adam loved Eve so much, and understood that her act of sin would separate them, so Adam chose to do the same thing she did in order to stay with her. Adam did not believe that God could work it out, and that if he lost her that God would still take care of him and work it all out for Adam’s benefit.
The first sin was not rebellion in a direct fashion (rebellion is defined as: “resistance to established order and authority” ~ Therefore, disobedience is rebellion, and disobedience is based upon a lack of faith, so to this extent; Adam rebelled against God by not trusting Him), as is commonly seen, it was a lack of trust (a synonym for faith); and for thousands of years now it has been this same faith that God has mandated to be the condition which man would have to address as a requirement of reestablishing a relationship with God.
The violation established what was to be the cure; in the sense that faith was violated in the first place, therefore faith was mandated to be an aspect of the remedy. Ultimately, it was Adam’s lack of faith in God that was man’s first sin, as compared to outright resistance as seen by Lucifer.The Most Important Ingredient of any Relationship ~ FaithThe role of normal relationships within humanity witness the truth concerning the necessity of faith in every relationship. If we examine the most extreme relationship (concerning relationships of choice) involving humans, the most intimate is that of marriage between a man and woman.
It is this relationship that displays the necessity of trust more than any other ingredient. There are times spouses will not like each other, there are times when spouses will not even love each other, there are times when spouses will not be able to communicate with each other, there are times when every other positive function of the relationship are momentarily nonexistent. A temporary loss of any of these aspects may not create permanent damage in a relationship.
However, when the greatest violation of trust is committed, that of sexual infidelity, the lack of trust caused by the violation is so great that often the irreparably damage to the relationship is beyond repair. sexual infidelity occurs, the lack of trust cause by the violation of the most intimate aspect of the marriage relationship often irreparably damages the relationship.
It is because of God creating this requirement within man, displaying this aspect of His own personality (part of God’s Image-ness) that of the necessity of trust within any relationship, that of the most intimate acts within the most intimate of relationships, that of the sexual relations; if this most precious commitment is violated, rarely is the relationship ever restored to fullness.
However, we also understand that in Christ Jesus “… all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), yet even among Christians once infidelity occurs, the relationship very rarely have a chance of success.This same principle of trust is true for all relationships, if you cannot trust the other person; wisdom dictates you cannot be vulnerable to them.
Faith is the most important ingredient to any and all relationships because God has made it this way within humans, because faith is the most important thing to Him. Faith is the only commodity that is necessary, without exception in pleasing God(Hebrews 11:6); this can be said of no other virtue or function of humanity; and there is no other specific virtues that are mandated concerning salvation, not even love, that holds this type of preeminence among the virtues of man.
God & Faith
God, who needs nothing or no one, who is Self-sufficient in every aspect of His existence; has chosen to be concerned about the integrity of His Being becoming slandered by His creation, whenever He is deemed not to be trustworthy. When you think about it there is no greater insult to the God of the universe, than that He is not trustworthy (which is why God is so critical of murmuring ~ 1 Cor. 10:10 referring to Num. 11>1 & Jude 1:15-16). This is at the heart of the matter concerning our separation with our Creator, and yet is also seen in the first sin ever recorded which was perpetrated by Lucifer as well.
Pride & Faith
Lucifer’s sin was that of pride, because pride is simply a manifestation of “preoccupation with self” (which can be seen in either grandiosity on one side of the extreme, or self loathing on the other; yet the common denominator is the focus of attention which must be on self ~ pride is simply self-centeredness, selfishness, self-absorption, vanity, and conceit; which can be seen in narcissistic, histrionic, egocentric, egomaniacal behaviors, but it is always mandated by self-centeredness and is the first motivation behind every sin ever committed, even if it is the pride of humility [There is an old joke about a deacon that was so humble that the board of elders of his church gave him a pin which stated, “World’s Humblest Man,” which they had to later take away from him once he pinned it on], and most insidiously, pride hides itself in self-righteousness) wherein Lucifer became focused on himself, trusting his own abilities and powers and paid the price of mistrusting God – who God was and His power.
Lucifer was puffed up with pride which distorted his perspective, into him believing falsehoods (which is why those leaders that lead the blind must be blind themselves ~ Matthew 15:14 – Matthew 23:16, 17, 19, 24, 26 > Luke 6:39), yet before he could ever be filled with himself to this degree, he had to disbelieve who God is, and who he himself was in contrast. Because if he truly believed all that God said and did to be true, he could never have come to his incorrect conclusion concerning himself and his own abilities. The first sin started in disbelief (un-faith) and is based upon (and in) pride – pride is symbolic (enigmatically explained below) of all sin in that all sin is self-centeredness.
Faith & Sin ~ Leaven
This explains why on two occasions Jesus and Paul both alluded to sin (best seen in pride) as leaven. Jesus warned (Matthew 16:11-12; Mark 8:15 & Luke 12:1, 13:21) about the leaven(“sin”) of the Pharisees; and Paul referred to leaven as sin directly (1 Corinthians 5:6-9; Galatians 5:9).
According to these 6 passages which refer to 4 different events, both Jesus and Paul acknowledge the Hebrew symbolism of leaven as sin.
This Hebrew symbolism is also seen in the Feasts of Israel; whereas leaven, as a type of sin was not allowed (except for the middle feast, the Feast of Pentecost; which was done as a foreshadowing of sin in the Church ~ see our essay on “The Feasts of Israel” to gain greater perspective) as it was symbolic of sin as well (any symbolism used by God is consistent through both the Old and New Testaments, which is commonly known as “Expositional Consistency”), which is why during Passover they were not allowed to bake with it, in fact they had to go through their complete house to make sure there was no leaven in the house (the point was that sin is never ever accepted by God, to the point that a perfect sacrifice [Christ, the “Lamb of God”] had to take every bit of it away from those that were atoned).
Why use leaven as a typological symbol for sin? What are the common denominators between sin and leaven, that aids in creating a pictorial that it is easy to understand (God commonly uses these type of pictorial symbolisms in teaching, which are referred to as typology, shadows [when concerning the future], symbolism, or theologically speaking “Expositional Consistency“)?
Leaven always corrodes (brings decay and death), starting on the inside of whatever it possesses (it works from the inside, out; hidden – only seen in a change displayed by the object, yet always from the inside out), forever – permanently (once introduced, it cannot be withdrawn or taken out), and completely changing it (100% thoroughly contamination, completely changing what it affects), and filling it with air (“vanity” ~ simply means void of substance – filled with air, we get our expression “filled with hot air,” from this as leaven creates heat as it generates a void in the substance, producing defilement), making it void, or vain.
It makes whatever it possesses fill up and appear to be much bigger (thereby creating yet further illusion, falsehood in appearance, deceit upon deceit, sin upon sin, and evil upon evil) than it is in reality – it is an illusion of deceit. And to reiterate ad nauseam, it does so by corrupting, utilizing the process of dying to do so, taking very little to affect a much larger substance – completely; and it cannot be taken out once it has infected its host.
For these reasons leaven was understood by the Hebrews to be symbolic of sin and you will notice that it symbolizes pride better than any other idiom. To the Hebrew, pride was synonymous with sin. Pride is at the heart of every sin – because self is what is being magnified and served. Therefore, you will always find two common denominators within every sin, 1) pride (serving self), and a 2) lack of faith; you cannot have sin without these two ingredients.
What is the connection between these two? As was said, the greatest violation to man’s relationship with God is a lack of faith, which at its heart is based in pride(“preoccupation with self”), it is this refusal to trust God is at the heart of man’s fall, wherein man serves himself(pride) rather than God and attempts to fill the void created by sin, with even more sin in an effort to self medicate (a repetitive vicious circle).
The Law, Sin & Faith
Every violation of the Torah (all 613 laws), including the 10 Commandments is due to a lack of faith. If you steal, even if it is to feed yourself when you’re hungry you display that you do not trust God will take care of you, and if His choice is for you to be hungry, that God’s wisdom is not greater than yours in using the hunger for your betterment.
If you covet what another man has, you do not believe that God has given you what you need. If you commit murder (The Hebrew does not state, “thou shall not kill,” the original is “thou shall not murder,” killing to protect self or another does not violate the commandment, premeditated killing done not for the purpose of protecting life is murder), even to avenge the sin of murder (where civil government is set-up to dispense justice, as opposed to the Old Testament model prior to centralized governmental systems which God now utilizes for protection of society. The point is we do not have the right to dispense judgment simply because we disagree with the court system.); you display that you do not believe that God is just and will avenge in righteousness.
Testing & Faith
Faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations(which are: problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials – temptations –testing; they’re all synonymous concerning the “trying of our faith” ~ James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7). Faith can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it. This is because faith is a process contingent upon experience, 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).
Therefore, we must always realize and therefore understand that testing is not done simply as a process whereby God attempts to validate the existence of our faith, or assessing its degree, which might appear cruel on the surface (by tempting us?); but these trials are necessary for faith to grow, and that without these trials, it is impossible for faith to mature.
Two Types of Applications According to Grammar
In approaching the subject of faith we must understand that there are two separate applications of the word faith found in the grammar used in the New Testament; there is a difference between “THE (definite article) faith” (a noun), and “faith” (a verb), which we shall examine in reverse order.
First, Action Faith is faith that is a behavior that each believer must exercise(first in obtaining salvation; secondly in exercising our Christian walk, by: “taking our stand“8), and which is always reminiscent of the behavior of a verb (even when it is in a noun, verbal noun, or adjective form of the word).
Secondly, there is faith that is a particular type of noun because it utilizes the definite article “THE,” thus distinguishing it as a specific entity, “the faith,” referring to either Christianity as a religious system, or in referring to it as a collection of teachings(the fundamental doctrines of Christianity).
The Importance of the Grammar
The reason the grammar is important is because the difference between verbs and nouns is important. As we remember from our school days a noun is basically a person, place, or thing (a thing can be a procedure or activity, and is addressed below in the section entitled: “Faith’s Grammar,” under the heading: “English Exceptions“), whereas a verb is an action.
The first act of faith wherein a person becomes a believer is cognitive, and therefore starts as a mental process, yet if it never transcends mere belief into action it is not Biblical faith. James discusses this in James 2:9, where he points out that Devils (“evil spirits”) believe (Greek: pisteuo, the verb form of the word faith, meaning: “to have faith,” yet without the accompanying of confidence in God. The Evil Spirit’s faith did not lead to action concerning a change in their behavior, therefore it maintains mere mental functioning only) that the Lord God is the only Divinity in existence, and that neither Satan, or any other Idol, or anything in existence is divine.
Through their experience they have a mental knowledge due to what they have seen and witnessed firsthand through tangible experience that the Lord God, is God; yet this knowledge, this belief does not transcend into causing them to change their mind (they’re “Belief System,” commonly referred to as there: “Worldview”), or to recant concerning they’re disbelief of God’s appropriateness as they’re Lord and Master.
Their belief is based upon what they’ve seen, yet it never changes their actions to conceding to God’s Divinity, Majesty, or rule in their existence. In this expression of James 2:19, this type of verb refers to an ongoing cognitive belief concerning what is seen with the eyes, yet is opposed to a belief that is relegated to complete conviction fact that God is worthy of trust and submission.
The difference between these two types of faith is that for the believer they trust in God not having seen Him, whereas the Evil Spirits do not trust God in spite of the fact that they have seen Him. Thus, the real distinction is trust; trust that will affect life’s decisions and is seen in actions of repeatedly moving in God’s direction (this is commonly referred to as repentance, that of changing one’s mind and therefore direction in life. Repentance is an ongoing process where the believer, who is still a fallen creature, and therefore subject to the pollution of sin must habitually turn from their own sinful desires and direction to God’s and serving Him. See Philippians 2:13, which talks about the fact that God “…worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” the word: “worketh” here is in the present tense, meaning it is a continuous action, which never stops).
The distinction in these two types of faith is also apparent in Jesus’ “parable of the sower,” comparing the seed that fell on good ground (believers); and with that seed which fell on the wayside, stony places, and among thorns (and nonbelievers). In the life of the believer, the good ground; faith is mixed with actions based upon a confidence that God is trustworthy, which eventually bears fruit (which is Jesus’ central point, and the final way to identify real Biblical faith. This is what James is addressing in James 2:21 in regards to Abraham’s major display of faith by being willing to sacrifice his son as God directed [in Genesis 22] yet this display was when he was over 125 years old, over 45 years after Abraham was declared righteous by God for his faith as recorded in Genesis 15:6, where Abram believed in God and displayed small acts of faith in regards to what God had said ~ faith is a process which starts small and demands more and more of the believer as he matures in age, and in growing in God’s Word ~ please see the below Endnote 71 for further concerning: “Faith vs. Works ~ Paul vs. James, Or Are They Both Right.”).
Yet, it must also be said that this is not a works generated type of faith, wherein faith is traded for salvation. Faith is based upon God’s grace, and is always a gift from Him, only made possible by Him, and for His glory.
By now the question might arise, what is the big deal about all this, and why go into such intricate detail. The reason is the believer is not to be passive in this process, believing mandates responsibility in response to God’s Word, and it is in obeying God’s Word that the believer’s faith is seen in action (there were many small acts of faith by Abraham before his final big quiz concerning his son. Faith is like a muscle, it must be stretched in order to grow. This is why testing is so necessary).
When faith is misunderstood, this allows the believer to become comfortable in mediocrity or complacency; they then do not live up to their potential, nor their calling. Therefore, it becomes necessary for the believer to understand the responsibility that accompanies faith; that of applying God’s Word to their life on a daily basis.
To reiterate, 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, 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.).
1) “Faith” that is an action,9 which is a continuous action,10 that is necessary first for salvation,11 then as a necessary repetitive exercise in maintaining the Christian walk,12 and in so doing pleasing God13.
Over 400 times in the Bible the root word for “faith;” and other synonyms’ refers to this type of action faith. Faith controls the direction and flow of our lives, but the behavior of faith is not as obvious as we might think and may not always be seen in a direct behavior, but is working in determining attitudes and decisions, and sometimes the action can be seen in words, such as the thief on the cross.14
Faith is first, a belief (a mental process, not an emotional response ~ please see the below Endnote number15) and trust in God,16 based upon what is absent,17 and in need18(even causing fear19), with this belief held in confidence,20 which secondly always produces reliance upon God as opposed to human rationality,21 as seen in actions or behaviors9. But faith is solely based upon what God has said in His Word22 and due to the intimacy that is created (this is where we get the idea of having “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and God the Father, trusting in someone demandsintimacy23) develops a relationship with God24 based upon trusting who He is,25 what He has said,26 and what He will do in the life of the believer,27 as opposed to God giving us what we want. God is not a genie or a Santa Claus, He has not promised to deliver us from trials, in fact trials are necessary for growth,28yet He will always be with us through times of tribulation,29 which are engineered to bring about the best for us,30 according to his purpose,31 yet always specific to who we are, and what we need.32
Faith is an attitude and a mindset33 based upon trusting God, rather than a tool of achieving individual desires. Many people see faith as a necessary tool to achieve what they wish. Yet faith is much more than this elementary abuse that has been taught by the supposed faith teachers. There is always petition before the throne of God,34 yet this is not without restraint and conditions35. However, this aspect of faith is a base component compared to the essence of what faith is meant to be in the life of the believer36.
Faith has less to do with asking God for what we desire,37 and more to do with accepting what God has given us,38 and will supply for us39.
Faith necessitates reliance upon God which defies human logic,40 it is not based on superstition, but on God’s Word22, which displays God’s dealing with man, and His ability to do what He says26. We must always understand that if reading (reading in unbelief, or believing that the Bible was produced by man, not God) God’s Word does not produce faith that God is the One and only God, that He reveals Himself to us through His Word, and that understanding His Word is absolutely vital to our very lives,41 then it is being read (there is a vast difference between reading and studying God’s Word) in vain. God values His Word as greater than His Name,42 because if we cannot trust what He says, it doesn’t matter what His Name or even His Title is (Jehovah, Allah, or Krishna).
Faith based upon God’s Word produces obedience,43 because believing that what God has said is true, right, and best, should logically produce behaviors in alignment with that44.
Faith is sustained by confidence. Confidence is created because of the repetitious behavior of the one trusted, and the consistency which is produced. It is this confidence based on God’s track record as set forth in His Word that should create obedience that He is trustworthy, wherein obedience is the natural fruit of faith.45
System or Doctrine Faith
2) “The Faith” refers to a belief system or teaching, of the 481 times that “the faith” is found in Scripture where it is translated into the English words which are synonyms for faith (believe, belief, faithful, faithfully, faithfulness, persuade, trust, trustworthy) in the New Testament, 42 times (please see the below Endnote 46 which lists all the New Testament references to, “The Faith“) it is in reference to Christianity as a system, or the Christian beliefs or doctrines.
The point is that the English word “Faith,” is based upon the Greek root for the word (the grammar will be discussed later) and can be used in different ways, yet never contradictory to itself, never at odds with itself, always according to the application of the word and its grammar, and always defined by the context. The application of faith that this essay addresses is solely that of action faith, behavior faith; faith that is believed, but believed to the point that behavior is changed.
Defining faith is not as simple as some say (those that seek to convolute it into a tool to get what we want), yet conversely, that does not mean that it is complicated either; it means that faith is dynamic (alive and fluid) contingent upon the situation. The Biblical word “faith” can be varied in it’ application, as seen above (“THE faith” [a system or teaching] vs. “faith” [a belief held in complete confidence which affects behavior], the application understood according to the grammar – the use of “THE”), faith can be multifunctional in its use(a person can pray in faith for themselves ~ Matt. 9:20-22; a person can pray in faith for another person ~ Matthew 8:6-13), faith can be flexible depending the need(faith can be as small as a mustard seed and move a tree ~ Luke 17:6; yet strong enough to move mountains ~ Matthew 17:20),depending upon the context, faith can be diverse in its context(faith is the successor to the law ~ Galatians 3:23-26; and it is also the only virtue which is necessary in pleasing God ~ Hebrews 11:6).
However, faith is always consistent in that it is to be placed in God (Rom. 4:4-5; 5:1-2; Gal. 3:22-26); that it is: trusting that God will take care of His children, and guide their lives (Matt. 6:31-34; Psa. 3:5-6; Jer. 10:23; Matt. 10:30; 1 Pet. 5:6-7); and is to be based upon the Word of God (Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23), and that faith is to be exercised, repetitively (“for we walk[live by daily] by faith, not by sight [or experience, which is based upon the 5 senses ]” ~ 2 Cor. 5:7; “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith[from faith action to faith action, repetitively]: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” ~ Romans 1:17).
Faith Gained and Grown
Biblical faith is found in God’s word because of the consistency of witnessing miracle after miracle exhibited in God’s word, with the end result being that truly this book could not have been authored by man, but must have been offered by He who can see the ending from the beginning – God Himself, wherein this book deserves our greatest attention as God’s revelation to man. Biblical faith is to be primarily based upon an interaction with God’s word, as is declared in Romans 10:17, which states:
“So then Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“
The Source of Biblical Faith
Biblical faith is created and grown wherein as a person reads the Bible, and the Holy Spirit opens their spiritual eyes to perceive that which is laid out, it is a logical reasonable process of coming to the conclusion that this book could not have been written by mortal man (2 Timothy 3:16), because:
1) There are prophecies given in Old Testament, that are fulfilled in the New Testament.
2) There are prophecies given within the Bible as a whole, which are fulfilled since it’s closing.
3) There are scientific and natural insights presented in the Bible, which were once considered completely false; in time, science has caught up with the Bible proving that it was correct in the first place, and that it is beyond human insight.
4) There is deep wisdom that is written between its pages, which are far beyond the capacity of a human being to create.
5) There are internal evidences found in the Bible when it is crossed-referenced within itself in such a way that it is obvious that 40 different men could not have utilized the exact same type of “Figures of Speech,” including: typology, such as seen in metaphor, similes, models; along with prophetic symbols as seen in even the use of numbers, colors, events, material and substances, dates, mathematics, names, roles, and even people’s personality and lives; all done to portray a shadow of things to come rather in heaven, or in the particular case of Jesus, the fulfillment of the Messiah; as witnessed in His First and Second coming – as well as Last Days events – all done in such a way that the only explanation is that God orchestrated the creation of this Book.
All leading to the conclusion that this book was not written by man, but by a God that is outside of our time domain, who can see the ending from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10); who is all-powerful, and in total control of His creation (Isaiah 45:5-7), and therefore worthy of our complete trust and faith in what He has said and what He will do (Isaiah 46; Jeremiah 29:11).
The ABC’s of Faith
As seen above in the “Action Faith” section, faith produces action (an attribute mixed with fruit – deeds), yet it is a belief that is held in great confidence (its essences). One aid that has been helpful in remembering exactly what faith is, can be found in the old acronym of the ABC’s of faith which is:
Action based upon Belief, sustained by Confidence.
As has been reiterated ad nauseam, Christianity cannot be separated from the Bible, anymore than faith can be separated from salvation and the Christian walk. As the anchor passage of this ministry, Romans 10:17 states:
“faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God“
This is also seen in 1 Peter 1:23, which states:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”
Therefore, perhaps the above acronym would be more Biblically correct if it was (B & C produce A):
“Faith is believing (B) what God has said in His Word, due to the confidence (C) He has earned through His Word, to the point that actions (A) are affected.
Faith ~ Its Grammar
In the New Testament, the Greek words which can be traced to the root form of faith; can be found 247 times in the noun form (Greek: pístis), and 334 times in the verb forms of (Greek: pisteuo), and (Greek: peítho); with over 80 (207 variants in both the OT & NT) other variants.
The first Greek word pístis (G4102), is a noun found 247 times in the Greek New Testament, normally translated to the English word “faith,” but also: “persuasion,” “credence,” “reliance,” and “trust;” as pertaining to behaviors that are exhibited by believers.72 This noun form is one of a few different usages. The less common usage (referred to in the above section: “Faith Applications”), of the word faith, which is coupled with the definite article (referring to the religious institution of Christianity, or the religious truths and teachings of Christianity); only occurs 42 times, with the bulk of its usages, 205 times being that of exercising faith as an action.
The second Greek word is pisteuo (G4100), is a verb that used a total of 246 times in the Greek New Testament. It always has the meaning “to believe,” except for nine times: once is it translated as “believers” (Acts 5:14); and 8 times it is translated as either “commit,” “committed” or “entrusted” (Luke 16:11; John 2:24; Romans 3:2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Titus 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:11), which too is translated into the English “to believe.“
The third Greek word peitho (G3982), is a verb which means, “to cause belief in a thing.” This word is used 55 times in the Greek New Testament, and is translated in 9 different ways. It is translated as “persuade” (22 times); as “trust“ (10 times); as “confidence“ (9 times); as “obey” (7 times); as “believed” (3 times); as “assure” (1 time); as “yield” (1 time); as “made free” (1 time); and as “access” (1 time). In spite of these 9 different translations, the root-meaning of the word remains the same: “to cause belief in a thing.”
The fourth Greek word pistos (G4103), an adjective which in the active sense means, “believing,” “trusting;” and in the passive sense, “trusting,” “faithful,” and “trustworthy.” It is translated “believer” in 2 Corinthians 6:15; “them that believe” in 1 Timothy 4:12; and similarly in: 1 Timothy 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:2; and 1 Peter 1:21. And is used concerning “believing,” or an active form of the verb “faith” as seen in John 20:27; Galatians 3:9; Acts 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15; Titus 1:6.
The above four words and their derivatives in the Greek clearly determine what the condition of salvation is in reference to faith. First, it means, “to believe.” Secondly, it means, “to be persuaded of.” Thirdly, it means, ” to place confidence in.” And forth, it means, “trust in the sense of relying upon.” These are the four facets of faith when one places faith in Jesus as Savior.
The Greek negative noun apistia, translated “unbelief,” occurs in Matthew 13:58, 17:20; Mark 6:6, 9:24, 16:14; Romans 3:3, 4:20, 11:20, 23; 1 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 3:12, 19. Also in the negative, the adjective apistos, is translated “unbelievers” in 1 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15; “unbeliever” in 1 Timothy 5:8; as well as “unbelieving” in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, 14:22-24; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Titus 1:15; and Revelation 21:8; and “that believe not” in 1 Corinthians 10:27.
In the gospels it is translated as “faithless” in Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; John 20:27; and in Luke 12:46 it is translated as “unbelievers.”93(One of the grammatical rules concerning Greek is that when the letter a is a prefix [placed at the front of a word], it means that the word is taken in the opposite direction, meaning the reverse of its normal meaning. Therefore, apistos is going in the reverse of faith and therefore is translated the “unbelievers” or “unbelieving.” This rule is seen in many English words which come from the Greek, such as: “agnostic” [which is agnoia or agnoeoí in the Greek ~ noieo means: “to perceive” or “understand” and comes from the Greek word” nous means: “knowledge” or “understanding;“] therefore agnostic means “against knowledge,” and is used to describe “a person that does not believe that man can have a knowledge of God in a personal way, not that God does not exist, but that he is beyond man’s comprehension.” Another example is the word “atheist” [in the Greek, theos means “god,” of “deity,” ] meaning against the belief of God. One last example is the English word, “asymptomatic,” meaning there are no symptoms seen.)What is very important is that concerning every use of faith in the negative, that of “non-faith” or “un-faith;” expresses what is described as faith in the vernacular of actions and behaviors; yet, they are individual’s actions and behaviors in reverse.
Almost 50% of the time, the word faith found in the Bible is used as a noun, yet this does not mean that it is not a behavior. Remembering the simplified rule concerning nouns, they are “a person, place, or thing,” and a thing can be a process or behavior. Simply because a verb is an action, does not preclude a noun from being an type of action as well. In the English, there are words that can be used both as verbs and nouns, such as:
Ache, Act, Answer, Attack, Back, Blame, Bomb, Bother, Break, Burn, Call, Care, Cause, Challenge, Change, Check, Charge, Comb, Copy, Damage, Dress, Full, Guess, Heat, Last, Laugh, Look, Mistake, Number, Park, Pay, Play, Practice, Promise, Reason, Rent, Reply, Rule, Saw, Season, Shop, Show, Smell, Study, Talk, Taste, Wish; but to name of few.
Greek nouns have some of the same properties as English nouns, even in superficially addressing Greek nouns, just one aspect of these nouns will give us greater clarity in addressing the word faith, and how it can function as an action.Greek is an inflected language; nouns have about 8 forms to indicate relationships to other nouns in sentences, which consist of 4 singular and 4 plural.
Subject–object relationships are shown by case, not by word order as in the English.One type of Greek case is the dative case, which can display how something is done:”
A noun in the dative may show the means of a accomplishing some action“What this means is that a noun in the dative case can indicate how an action is being done. Yet, we are still talking about a noun where an action or behavior is described as compared to a verb. Therefore, when the word faith is in this type of case it can function in the same way that a verb does, as an action (this will come up in a few paragraphs).73
Faith ~ Is An Action
(TEXT KEY: To reiterate, within these essays, grammatical terms, words, and codes [such as: verbs, nouns, verbal nouns, prepositions, conjunctions, participles; as well as: tense, mood, voice, person, gender, number, case, etc.] are identified by non-italicized and non-bold light blue fonts. Foreign language words [Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Latin] are shown in italicized and bold light blue fonts).Concerning the word faith, as it is used in the Bible (without the definite article , “THE”); there are five ways it is utilized specifically:
First, faith is concerning a “conviction that something is true.”
Secondly, faith is used as “trust.”
Thirdly, faith is used as “persuade,” it is stronger than mere opinion, though it is weaker than knowledge.
Fourthly, faith is used as “belief based upon the facts of knowledge” (Romans 10:14).
Fifth, faith must have an object. The object of Biblical faith is God; while concerning salvation, the object of faith is Jesus Christ, whose death, burial, and resurrection qualifies Him as a person’s savior.
A difficulty that arises with the use of our English word “believe” in translating (Greek) peítho, the Greek verb form of the root word which we get faith from the New Testament is that the word “believe” in the English is cognitive only, meaning it is a mental process and never anything more. Yet, with only one or two exceptions, (Greek) peítho, the verb form of faith is always connected to an action.
Whereas, faith is started in belief, it always moves to action; it always becomes something that is done and never solidifies as mere thought, it never lives in the thought realm permanently. Belief becomes faith when behavior based upon confidence that is placed in the object. Again, faith must always have an object that it trust’s in; Biblically speaking it is always God and His son, Jesus Christ.
The English word, believe creates confusion when it is encountered in the Bible, because this word is used differently than we use it today, concerning things wherein there is not an action that is necessitated. Such as, most men believe that they will get married someday, yet, how many of them change their lifestyles in order to establish good healthy habits concerning positive relationship virtues. Or how many of them read books on being a good husband or a good father. How many people believe that a democracy is the best form of government, yet rarely if ever vote?
How many people believe it is wrong to steal, yet rationalize small thefts of whiteout, post-it notes, or other inexpensive supplies from their employer? How many people believe it is wrong to lie, yet, when their children answer the phone and it’s someone they don’t want to speak to, signal their children to state that their not there. There are many beliefs that we hold onto which are mere cognitive assertions to principles or morals; however, these “held beliefs” never rise to the level of a conviction wherein the person’s behavior displays being totally sold out to the belief.
Yet, when the word believe is used in the New Testament concerning salvation, or a believer’s faith; these individuals display that they orchestrate their daily lives according to this belief, even being willing to die for those beliefs.
The Verb (action) form of Faith
This begs the question, how did the misuse of the English “believe” (belief, along with other related synonyms) become utilized in the vernacular of the New Testament. What is common knowledge with many Etymologist (“a person who studies the origins of words or parts of words and how they have arrived at their current form and meaning”) , yet, rarely known among many Christians, is that prior to the translation of the King James Bible, late in the fifteenth hundreds, there was a verb form of the word faith, which was spelled “fayth,” that fell out of usage with the verb “believe” taking its place,70 and at the time there was little difference between the two words, faith and believe.
Yet, as time went on, believe changed in its meaning to a word which specifically described a thought process” (one reference is found in HOLMAN BIBLE DICTIONARY, under “Faith”).
This is why in the book of John, the word believe is solely used (because the Holy Spirit required that the use of the word faith was to be in the active verb form only; displaying truth in action, which aligns with the perspective of Jesus Christ in His Deity, symbolic of all truth and action, which is preeminent concerning this emphasis in this particular presentation of Jesus, in the Gospel of John. Each one of the four Gospels presents Jesus in a different perspective in order that His fulfillment as the Messiah is understood completely, and is therefore verifiable ~ please see the below Endnote number 70a concerning: “The Gospels ~ Four Perspectives of Christ“), never utilizing the word faith, yet always necessitating faith unto salvation (faith mixed with confidence, producing action) as opposed to a belief, which is mere thought.
This has created a problem within certain Christian circles, believing that mere mental assent (belief) is all that is necessary unto salvation, and whereas the mental assent is part of the process, the starting point, faith never stops there, it always is held in such confidence that the person is changed, with this change commonly referred to as repentance (remembering that the word repentance which means to “change one’s mind,” yet also in a majority of its usage, at lease concerning salvation, there is a change in lifestyle, in life’s direction. The point is repentance is synonymous with belief, which displays that the person fully comprehends what is believed, and which is so dramatic that it changes how they act, their motivations, and how they look at the world. This change, along with the spiritual aspect of being deemed righteous, with Christ’s righteousness imputed [Romans 4:3] unto the believer, is what is commonly referred to is being “Born Again,” adopted into God’s family, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. As you can see, belief is more than a passing thought, and not what is in view in the following verse) as noted in John 3:15, which states:
“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Believeth in Him
What is obvious is that the term, “believeth in him” has a particular meaning, which John knew that his readers understood. We cannot take this phrase out of its Biblical context and apply it outside of its specific meaning.
We need to understand that for over three years of Jesus walked around teaching people about faith in God, about who He was and what that meant (in object lessons, illustrations, and Old Testament allusions; that He was the lamb of God, the Messiah that came to die for the sins of the world), which encapsulated what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. The word Gospel simply means, “Good News,” but it has a particular meaning for it to hold the power of life and death.
Probably the most denotative presentation concerning the definition of the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” is given to us by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, which states:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
What we should perceive from this verse is that Paul always started with, and delivered first the gospel of Jesus Christ before anything else that he taught his audience, that it was the most important thing that he received by divine revelation (which is clearly seen in the Greek concerning the phrase,”…first of all which I also received“).
Next we see that there are three indispensable parts that are necessary for the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
2. That Christ was buried ~ with according to Hebrew tradition could never have been done unless He was indeed truly dead.
3. That Christ rose from the dead on the third day ~ an act that has never been repeated before or since, displaying God’s seal of approval.
That all of this was done according to the OT Scripture ~ this requirement is stated after the first point, and the third point, showing the completeness of this requirement.
That Jesus was referred to as the “Christ,” which is a particular OT definition, which demanded complete and full acceptance of everything that the OT stated concerning the Christ ~ that He be accepted as the “Anointed” deliverer, Messiah of God, and Lord according to everything that the OT Scriptures said about Him.
Simply believing that Jesus existed, or even that He lived in Judea two thousand years ago will not save a person. Nor even believing that this is the same Jesus was the Jesus of the New Testament will save a person. There are many people that interpret the Jesus of the New Testament according to their own beliefs, such as those propagating the so-called Homosexual Church (an unbiblical cult), Scientology, and many other cult’s that seek Christian recognition.
They don’t present Jesus accurately or Biblically, nor is He presented as the “Messiah of Israel,” “Savior of the World,” “Lord of all Mankind,” “Son of God,” Divine, worthy of our worship and to be praised as God; as well as everything else spoke about Him in the Old Testament, including the over 300 prophecies He fulfilled in His first Coming, and more than twice that amount that He will fulfill and His Second Coming.
What we must keep in mind it is not merely believing that is most important, but what is believed, that is of prime importance as exemplified by Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:2-4 (which refers to his hearers believing what he, Paul preached in particular concerning Jesus Christ, that was the true gospel of Jesus Christ); when he stated:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
Getting back to the subject at hand concerning belief, it is keeping Biblical context when utilizing any Scripture concerning faith in God and belief that we must strive to continue. Pulling Scriptures out of context to appropriate any Biblical promise must not be done; it is in remembering that when it comes to prayer, that everything must be: “according to God’s Will” (1 John 5:14); and that claiming any Scriptures, even meeting conditions presented does not guarantee the solution desired, God is God because He is sovereign, and His Will cannot be circumvented, nor will He be manipulated according to someone misusing His Word.
Biblical faith is always accompanied by (after conversion, and by the power of the Holy Spirit) life changing behavior. This is the essence of James’ argument concerning the separation of a mental thought which is not coupled with faith based deeds as seen in James 2:19, which states:
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils [evil spirits] also believe, and tremble.”
We understand that these spirit beings have visibly seen God and have experienced Him in a tangible way; therefore they have knowledge which is seated in a complete affirmation that is beyond simple hope and based upon real experience. They don’t just think there is a God, they know there is a God, yet they hold this belief without the confidence or commitment that necessitates faith, and therefore provides no escape from hell. Their experiential knowledge that God exists, which is the foundation of their belief; is yet opposed to God, as seen in their lack of faith and trust in Him.
And these creatures having turned against God do not have the luxury of redemption, as man does. Man was created sinless. When Adam sinned and turned against God’s Will, mankind was lost. Yet, man is afforded the opportunity of redemption because Jesus provided salvation by becoming a man Himself, and having provided propitiation (fulfilled the righteous demand of justice when unrighteousness / sin had occurred. A price must be paid for a violation performed; this is righteous justice) to God the Father, taking our sins upon himself.
It must be understood that Biblical faith is far more than mental assent, and involves a confidence based upon God’s Word, mandating a complete and utter trust in Him, and His Son; Jesus Christ.
Faith Mandates Action
Faith is always exhibited in behavior. If we look at the father of faith, Abram (meaning: “exalted” or “high father”) who God renamed Abraham (meaning: “father of a multitude”), we see that according to Genesis 15:6:
“he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
(NOTE: Concerning those that may misunderstand faith in regards to legalism, and concerning the differences between James teaching on faith, and Paul’s teaching on faith ~ please see the below Endnote 71, concerning: “Faith vs. Works ~ Paul vs. James, Or are They Both Right” ~ also please see the “Resource Center” dropdown page, under “Essay Archive,” the article entitled: “Legalism.” ~ Link.)
Faith & Abram
God’s directions in dealings with Abram started years prior to chapter 15, in chapter 12 (Genesis 12:1-3), where God promised to make him a mighty nation, but God also told him to get away from his family which would have included his father and his nephew Lot. Although Abram went to the correct area, eventually (having waited for his father to die before entering the land ~ Acts 7:4, Genesis 12:4); Abram didn’t fully follow what God had told him to do, by taking his nephew Lot with him.
It is not until the next chapter (Genesis 13:11) that Abram is finally separated from Lot. This separation from Lot was not according to Abraham following God’s instructions either, but was orchestrated by God because of grazing problems the two were having watering their individual herbs (Genesis 13:5-9).
After the separation from Lot, God appears to Abram again and gives him something to do. God told him to go out and walk the length and breadth of the land, and everywhere that he walked, would be his possession for him and his posterity forever (Genesis 13:15). God mandated that Abram exercise his faith in God by doing an action. Genesis 13:17:
“Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.”
We really need to see this for what it was. Here was an old man, that was told by God to look North, South, East, and West; and that God would give him all the land that he could see, he simply needed to get up and walk and where his feet touched would become his possession. This had to take quite a few days to complete, according to the geography he traveled, and involved quite a commitment; and at the same time you really make any sense.
If God was going to give Abram the land, why did he need to walk, this was not very pragmatic or logical, yet God’s demand had to be met in order for Abram to receive the blessing. God required seeing Abram’s faith.
It is so easy for us to gloss over this without understanding the commitment that was necessary to receive the blessing that God had told him was his to receive according to his obedience. This was faith. This is the type of behavior that two chapters later (Genesis 15:6) had the conclusion that Abram’s relationship to God was based upon faith, and faith that God counted as righteousness.
Faith & God’s Promises
Believers today may not be told to walk in order to claim God’s promises, yet we have in the Holy Scriptures more directions and guidelines about how we are to exercise our faith than any other persons who have been held up in the Bible as examples of those who exercised faith in God. We, believers in 21st-century America hold more understanding concerning God’s Word and therefore greater knowledge concerning those promises in God’s Word than any other people that have ever existed.
However, we cannot simply take a promise given to someone else (in the Bible) and claim it for our own, acting presumptuously. The context will identify if the promise made can be appropriated by others, and if there are conditions to a promise, those must be met.
Taking a phrase or passage out of its original context, separating it from the meaning that God intended, does not work. You can claim a healing (which is a good thing to petition God for ~ Our God is a healing God), however it is God that chooses when, and if He heals someone on this side of eternity.
It is in understanding that the greatest healing received for the believer is on the other side of death’s door, yet it is faith that will get them through that door and nothing short of it will work.
Faith Displayed to the World
1 Peter 3:15 states:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (in maintaining proper context, we should not cut this verse out of its sequence, isolating and separating it from the verses prior and after; therefore, you are urged to read this 3rd chapter in 1st Peter wherein the context addresses a believer’s lifestyle, and the consideration concerning verses 14 to 18 which addresses suffering in faith, wherein real faith is displayed for the world to see.
Many attributes and virtues can be faked in religion, such as piety, love, and patience. Yet, suffering in faith, trusting that God is in control must be borne out by the true conviction and trust that God is in control and loves the person, even though bad things occur [and yes this can faked too, though rarely]. This is what these four verses address, the kind of faith in long-suffering which is the strongest type of witness that can be displayed by a believer)
Faith is never as powerful as when it is seen in the context of suffering. This is a witness that perplexes the world; that of trusting God when things are bad. It is in appropriately claiming the promise that Jesus made to his followers as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, which states:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
This promise of Christ’s presence with us is especially valid during times of trouble. There is no greater witness to the world than when the believer trusts God in spite of tremendous trials; anyone can trust a god that only allows good things to happen to them. This is a natural truth easily witnessed in the parenting of a child. Every child would love to only get what they want from their parent, and never go through painful experiences.
Yet, it is a foolish parent that spoils their child, giving them whatever they want, whenever they want it, never realizing that their own motivation is to be liked by the child. With them refusing to punish the child when it is wrong and the child does not learn to connect negative consequences to their negative behaviors; God is not this foolish. What is amazing is to witness a child that is raised by a godly parent, where the child trusts the parent even when the parent must punish them.
A child that accepts painful experiences brought on by the parent because of the track record that the parent has laid down in always doing what is best for the child; this is the witness of a godly parent.
Our faith in God is our witness to the world that God is worth trusting. The world is amazed when it witnesses a believer devastated by the loss of a child or loved one who displays acceptance and a sense of peace, living out the above promise that Christ is with them during these times of tragedy, believing that what is not seen by the eye, is experienced in the heart; wherein this child of God displays the greatest trust there is, this is what witnessing is all about, and this is what Peter was speaking about in 1 Peter 3:15.
Faith & Witnessing
Our English word for martyr (Greek: martus) is taken from the word witness; first understood concerning the stoning of Stephen that displays what true Biblical witnessing is to be, that of holding faith in God in spite of the loss of one’s life. How shoddy is our witness as seen during the current day when we simply hand out tracts, and speak a few words; rather than following the example of the first century Christians which sacrificed and invested themselves in unbelievers, both in time and resources.
It was in them “dying to self” that witnessed true Biblical faith and trust in God; it is this type of witnessing that is axiomatic (self-evident), and is the fruit of having Christ sanctified (set apart as above and beyond everything else) in our hearts.
If we examine the witness of Stephen, starting in Acts 6:8 through 7:60; what is seen is a believer living a life “full of faith,” completely trusting God; and also full of the power of the Holy Spirit, displayed in miracles and signs. Due to our ignorance of the Greek involved in addressing Acts 6:8, which states:
“And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”
We mistakenly assume that being “full of faith” and full of power wherein miracles are achieved are synonymous, yet this verse is speaking about two different issues; faith and the power to do miracles.
In (Greek) Koiné Greek, when two nouns are connected with the conjunctive, “and“ (Greek: kia), and one has the definite article, (such as) “THE,” and the other does not have the definite article; then both nouns are of the same in essence, and are synonymous.
And if these conditions are not met exactly, then the two subjects are not the same in essence, and are not synonymous (an example of: Ephesians 4:11; and of not: Romans 8:17, and here in Acts 6:8).
Therefore, when this passage states that Stephen was “full of faith” it is not synonymous with the “power.” Though he was also full of power as well; they are 2 separate subjects; with “power” being displayed in “great works” and “miracles” “among the people,” and faith being displayed in his boldness to speak even in the face of death.
Verse 9 refers to: “certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia,” as those that were “disputing with Stephen.” Among those that disputed with Stephen, according to verse 11, there were men that were: “suborned,” which is an old expression in law which referred to: procuring a person to make a false oath which constitutes perjury (as per Webster).
Stephen was “full of faith,” in that he refused to be silent, and was willing to wager his life in trusting that God would ultimately take care of him, even if it meant his death, knowing that God was his salvation.
Living in faith, which is always is seen in boldness (the first act after being filled with the Holy Spirit as seen in Acts chapter 2, is Peter’s boldness to preach to doubters and scoffers) to speak words that can bring harm (rather physical harm, or even simply harm due to the accusations of unbelievers against a believer’s reputation) to us; is to be willing to say or do what God would have us say or do especially when it costs us something, this is what Stephen was doing that brought his death.
One last thought concerning witnessing is that it was not ever a superficial, benign thing; it always involves two aspects:
1 ~ Declaring what was seen (how many believers witness, stating they know the power of God; yet don’t display it in their own lives, not having seen it themselves ~ how easily Christianity can become mere regurgitation, that of simply reiterating what someone else has said or went through, rather than relating our own experiences with God, or how easily it can be merely reiterating the preacher’s words from Sunday or a Bible teacher’s comments concerning a passage; rather than having truly studied the Word of God for ourselves, digging deep into the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to uncover precious truths that we have become investment in because of our commitment of time and sweat).
2 ~ Taking action concerning what is asserted to be true, with commitment and sacrifice.
Concerning the stoning of Stephen, the witnesses referred to in Acts 7:58 are (understood in the grammar to be) the same individuals “they,” that stoned him in verse 59. According to Leviticus 24:14, an individual that was deserving of death had to be taken outside of the camp, referring to the city, and the stoning had to involve all of the inhabitants wherein they declared by their involvement that they agreed with the sentence, and were fully involved in its fulfillment.
According to Deuteronomy 17:7, the witnesses had to be the first ones to throw stones in the execution. It was impossible to be a witness and be passive, God knows that words can be cheap, therefore for a person who makes such a dire testimony they must be willing to get blood on their own hands, themselves. God wanted to make sure that the weight of their testimony was heavy upon their conscience, so God made sure that a witnesses’ words were never superficial, and always cost them something.
Faith Actions are defined by God
As has been said repeatedly, there is always a behavior that is connected with faith, even if the behavior is restricted to words, such as the thief on the cross, or Jesus’ admonition concerning denying Him as seen in Matthew 10:33.
The oldest example of the difference between belief and faith can be seen concerning the illustration of “sitting in a chair.” A person can walk around a chair and visually examine it, determining that it is structurally strong enough to hold their weight. This person can witness to everyone how sturdy the chair is, and how it can be trusted no matter what. The person themselves can even hold this belief in complete acceptance, yet it is not until they exercise trust by sitting in the chair, that the behavior of faith is exhibited.
However, the major difference is we can never really tell when someone else is truly exercising faith, or not, because the behavior can be done to be seen of men (such as Matthew 6:1-6), as compared to a true conviction concerning the trustworthiness of God.
Faith Starts on the Inside
This is why trying to figure out who is saved and who is not becomes so untenable. Because human examination can only be from the outside, only God is privy to see their heart (we know that the word heart is indicative of the whole inward making of a man, primarily: 1) Mental Reasoning, along with 2) Emotional Response, and 3) Discretion – the Seat of the Will in to making a determination between the two – the heart is never indicative of the emotions singularly. Please see our essay entitled “The Heart and the Mind”) and to know if those behaviors exhibit true Biblical faith; or are motivated by self interest, gaining profit or the esteem of others (Psalms 139:1-4).
Wheat & Chaff
There are many individuals, who appear to be Christian from the outside, yet their motivations are not Biblical, genuine, or godly according to Jesus’ addresses in Matthew chapter 6, where Jesus refers to the hypocrites (which is addressed in the following section, entitled “Jesus the Actor?“). It is when belief is coupled with life changing behavior, that faith is displayed. This also explains why there are people who seem to be brothers and sisters, in appearance, looking just like wheat when in reality they are chaff.
These are those individuals which Paul speaks about in II Timothy 3:12-14, as: “deceiving and being deceived;” this emphasizes the necessity of discernment within the church of Jesus Christ (in case you missed the previous comments;Please see the below Endnote 3 concerning “Discernment / Judgment” ~ it is a lengthy endnote, yet very important for each believer to consider, it also addresses “Judgment that is Commanded“4, “Church Discipline“5, and the correct application of “Turning the Other Cheek“6, all in regard to the subject of judgment).
Every allusion and illustration that Jesus presented was done so in order that greater insight would be gained as the presentation was examined more thoroughly. One good example of this is Jesus’ teaching regarding wheat and chaff as examples of believers and unbelievers as seen in Matthew 13:24-32, which states:
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
One thing to take note of is the fact that the tears were unrecognizable until the issue of varying fruit surfaced. Concerning the idioms in the Bible, there is always what is referred to as “Expositional Consistency” (meaning that the Holy Spirit consistently uses the same meaning for every idiom utilized in God’s Word) in the use of idioms, which is seen here concerning the subject of fruit bearing when Jesus also teaches that the identifying characteristics of false prophets are seen when it comes to bearing fruit, as referred to in Matthew 7:20 (Matthew 7:15-20). Even more interesting concerning the idiom of wheat is Jesus’ words in John 12:24-26, which states:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Here again we see Jesus teaching a connection between faithfulness and commitment and sacrifice, wherein without these two, bearing fruit is impossible.
Faith & Fruit
Often time’s fruit is thought to be figurative for winning souls to Jesus Christ, and where there are a few scriptures that use the word fruit in this vein, this is the exception rather than the rule. A majority times when the word “fruit” is used in the New Testament, in a metaphorical sense; it refers to a man’s works or behavior (Matthew 7:16-18; John 15:2-8, 16; Romans 6:21). While other times it refers to fruit in the sense of fruition, it is what is produced out of the substance of which it is derived, such as the “fruit of the Spirit,” as seen in Galatians 5:22, as well as the “fruit of righteousness,” as in Philippians 1:11 and Hebrews 12:11.
Other times it appears to be referring to the fruit of eternal life (John 4:36), and other times of winning souls to Jesus as seen in Romans 1:13; and yet other times as reward for service (Philippians 1:22). The point is in a majority of the text where the context makes it plain, fruit refers to man’s actions or behaviors or what flows out of them. The fruit that should be produced in the believer’s life, evident for all to see, is behaviors and actions which display faith and trust in God no matter what happens, rather good or bad; it is this kind of fruit that produces eternal life.
The second half of this essay is continued on the: “Faith? Part 2” dropdown page ~ Link –PENDING
The Addendums for this page are located on the: “Faith? Part 3” dropdown page ~ Link –PENDING
All Scripture verse listed, unless otherwise noted, refer to the King James Version
1. “Faith…” is an essay taken from two teaching series: Biblical Doctrine & Biblical Insights into Error.
Biblical Doctrine is an ongoing topical series that presents diverse insights into major and minor doctrines of God’s Word, the Bible. Much of the subject matter is uncommon and may deal with obscure themes. The purpose, as with all our essays is to build faith in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and in His Holy Word. Our main focus is always on Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of the world, God incarnate, He alone deserves preeminence in God’s Word. God’s Word, the Holy Bible stands alone as our source of guidance and direction, and is our singular foundation for and of faith. Biblical Doctrine is an outreach ministry of Faith Video Ministries Inc. You may contact us at our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Biblical Insights into Error is an ongoing topical series that examines those teachings, practices, and patterns of current Christian movements and organizations within the Christian community which are unbiblical, extra-biblical, heretical, cultic, or promote the flesh, directly or by implication; and exposes them in the light of God’s Word. It is in addressing these unbiblical practices and teachings within the church, in contrast to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, that the church needs to moderate and guard against, understanding that “judgment starts in the house of God.” This series also examines the ways and means that ministry is meant to be conducted, and that preachers and leaders are to function according to the Word of God. Our main focus is always on Jesus the as the Lord and Savior of the world, He alone deserves preeminence in God’s Word. God’s Word alone is our source of guidance, direction, and our singular rule of faith. Biblical Insights into Error is an outreach ministry of Faith Video Ministries Inc. You may contact us at our e-mail address: email@example.com
2. Chuck Missler
3. Judgment / Discernment
We are to “keep” God’s Word (Deuteronomy 11:8, 18-22; Psalm 19:13), which mandates that we watch (Greek: gregoreuo: “which means to give strict attention to“; “to exercise judgment and discretion in the most serious sense of readiness and awareness“) how others interpret it (Acts 17:11), and teach it (Acts 20:28-32; Romans 16:17-18), which will lead to identifying those false prophets and teachers that distort the Word of God (2 Corinthians 11:12-15; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 5:6-11; Colossians 2:4,8; 18-19), for without watching and staying aware (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4), the ability to be productive workman for the kingdom is made null and void (2 Timothy 2:15).
We are to judge when believers sin against other believers, such as defrauding each other financially (1 Corinthians 6:1-4), though this is normally referred to as church discipline (Matthew 18:15-205), it is the discernment of the individual members of the church that is necessary, not just the pastor (1 Corinthians 6:5).
We are also to judge other believer’s behaviors within the church which are sinful (1 Corinthians 5:1-12; 6:2-6).
We are to judge the actions of our leaders as well (Matthew 7:15-23), determining by their behavior, referred to as their “fruit”, if it lines up with sound Biblical doctrine, displaying what good spiritual leadership should entail, or if their behaviors can identify them as false leaders or prophets (2 Peter 2:1-3).
What is unfortunate is that those in the church are following this example, many times in the name of tolerance, diversity, acceptance, and what it refers to as love.
However, without the ability to discern, there is no ability to rightly choose, and without the ability to choose correctly [only made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit] we are cursed to follow the sin nature, which is opposed to the Word of God.
The Source of Godly Discernment
Perhaps the most elegant passage that addresses the application of judgment, also referred to as discernment is found in Hebrews 5:11-14, which states:
Discernment & Spiritual Growth
What a pathetic picture the author draws, that of believers who should be spiritual adults, yet spiritually immature believers unable to dig deeper into God’s Word; not because they have not heard the teachings, not because there’s not been a teacher to explain it, not because there is a lack of ability to perceive what is stated cognitively; but because of their lack of exercising proper judgment concerning what is good and evil. In the same way that faith is like a muscle and must be stretched and used in order to grow, the same principle is true concerning Spirituality, wherein the muscle that must be stretched is that of judgment and discernment. There must be an application of God’s Word concerning what is right or wrong in order to create the condition for yet further growth.
It’s like a baby that does not practice crawling, can never achieve the muscle necessary for standing. What is unfortunate is that the lack of ability to judge is formulated because of a lack of desire to use it.
Discernment, which is simply a politically correct way of saying judgment, must be used or it will be lost. And when there is a lack of judgment there is a lack of ability to spiritually perceive reality, and see what the Holy Spirit wishes to teach the believer from God’s Word.
There is a connection between
the understanding of God’s Word,spiritual growth,
the ability to discern good and evil
The repetitive and habitual use of Biblical judgment.
What this means is that there are many believers who cannot perceive deeper spiritual truths in God’s Word, which are necessary for spiritual growth, because of their refusal to exercise discernment according to God’s Word; and are therefore lacking spiritual perception concerning what is good and what is evil.
Correctly Dividing God’s Word Regarding Judgment
As was stated in the introduction, many times we hear well-meaning Christians state we are not to judge one another, citing Matthew 7:1, or Luke 6:37, or Romans 2:1.
However, concerning these three passages (which appear to be abused more than most), we need to exercise grammatical and contextual integrity in examining them. Matthew 7:1-5, states:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
In verse one, the Greek word for judge (krino)87 is a verb wherein the word can mean judgment but it can also mean condemnation, depending on the grammar, and condemnation is not about evaluating something, but it is about damning the person.
Concerning the grammar concerning the above Greek word “judgment” used in this verse, it is a verb, the tense is present, the voice is active, the mood is imperative, and the person is second, and the number is plural.88 What this means is that the judgment was a continuous action, never stopping, not contingent upon the situation but upon the person who continually judged. The judgment came from the person and was not a reflection on God’s Word but their own opinion. The mood displays it was a command of continual commitment to judge. This command from our Lord applied to His local audience as well as you and I, and it pertains to everyone.
Defined & Applied
What this means is that the intention of the word was condemnation, not simple discernment or judgment, but putting oneself in a place of superiority in condemning another person, and doing so in hypocrisy. This is seen in contrast to the correct application of judgment where discernment and judgment are rendered rather than condemnation, and where the person doing the judgment does so not in hypocrisy, but yet in humility in accordance with God’s Word. The point is, this is not about a subjective opinion, this is about application of God’s determination of right and wrong. It is applying God’s Word to a situation where judgment is necessary in order to bring correction, as opposed to condemnation and self-righteousness which is never correct.
Robertson states that concerning the word “judgment” used here that it was:
“The habit of censoriousness, sharp, unjust criticism. Our word “critic” is from this very word. It means to separate, distinguish, discriminate, that is necessary. But prejudice (which is prejudgment) is unfair, and captious criticism.”89
Barnes states concerning this passage in the word “judgment”:
“Judge not … – This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Romans 2:1. Luke 6:37 explains it in the sense of “condemning.” Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of “expressing” such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed. It rather refers to private judgment than “judicial,” and perhaps primarily to the customs of the scribes and Pharisees.”74
What we need to see about this particular use of the word judgment was that the focus was not on the judgment, but upon condemnation, as well as inappropriate hypocrisy when judgment was merited. What Jesus is honing in on is the attitude of the person, who did not have genuine concern for the person they observed as having a mote in their eye, and was the observer in a position to where they had clarity to truly discern the situation, by not having a mote and their own eye. This passage deals with pride, arrogance, and condemnation, along with hypocrisy, and spiritual immaturity; it is not condemning discernment or evaluation in judging, but the use of judging others in an immature ungodly manner.
The Real Issue
It is by noticing that verse 5 goes on to instruct the hypocrite that once he has corrected his own error, to go on and address the error of his brother, in support of helping a brother by the exercise of judgment that needs to be focused in on concerning the subject of judgment.
What should also be noted is that a few sentences later, at verse 15 and 16, Jesus commands(Jesus states: “beware” ~ Greek: prosecho ~ which is in the imperative in the Greek, meaning it is a command not an option) the people to become fruit inspectors, meaning that they were to judge the behaviors of their leaders to discern if they were teachers according to God and His Will, or false teachers.
Without proper judgment, without proper discernment; the believer is not properly using God’s Word or following His guidance. Judgment is not only a privilege (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) but a necessity as far as God is concerned (1 Corinthians 6:5).
Acting ~ Hypocrisy
One other aspect concerning hypocrisy is seen in the Greek word for hypocrite which is based upon one of its derivatives combined with the Greek word for “to cover,” meaning: “a person that judges from behind a mask.” This word was used of actors. 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 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. This is what the actors had the ability to do because of the cover of the mask while they were wearing (these masks were not worn on the face, but held in front of the face with stick which was held by the actor, in order to disguise who they were, but also what they were really feeling. This was a valuable tool concerning sarcasm, condescension, and mockery. Sometimes the actor presented according to their words sympathy while behind the mask truly feeling sarcasm or contempt) them on stage.
This passage appears to be a reintegration of the sermon of the Mount as was in the above Matthew passage.
Concerning the context of the Romans 2:1 passage, it would be best to consider as much of it as possible to gain the full context, at least through verse 11, which states:
First, it must be understood that this passage is to the unbeliever, not the believer. The unbeliever has no ability to discern or judge anything due to their spiritual deadness, which in turn mandates spiritual blindness. This essay, concerning discernment only applies to born-again believers, and only applies to those that by studying God’s Word, and exercising what God has said concerning good and evil, have gained the ability to correctly judge the world they live in, as always only according to and by God’s Word. In no way is this essay meant to separate Biblical discernment from God’s Word, Biblical discernment cannot be separated from God’s Word. It is when the believer has hid God’s Word in his heart90, has studied God’s Word and taken it as his own, when he has incorporated God’s views and judgments; that the believer can thus exercise discernment.
When reading the above passage in Romans in context, it is clear that God is contrasting the arrogant, presumptuous, evil type of judgment of fallen man (nonbelievers) in relation to God’s own judgment and that God speaks against those that condemn according to their own blindness. This passage has nothing to do with the judgment which comes according to the Holy Spirit as seen in God’s Word, meant for reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, which states:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine [teaching ~ “what is right”], for reproof [correcting wrong doctrine ~ “what’s wrong”], for correction [correcting wrong behavior ~ “how to get it right”], for instruction [teaching right living ~ “how to stay right”] in righteousness“
The reason for all of this is explained why in the next verse, which tells us:
“That the man of God may be perfect [Greek: artios: “complete, sufficient, qualified”87, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
What we must understand is that there are many different aspects(over 12 words in the Hebrew and Greek, with more diverse renderings according to the grammar) to the root word for judgment (such as: judge, judging, judged, judgment, discern, separate, select, choose, to determine, to examine, investigate, question, to separate throughout, discriminate, to decide, to judge, to pronounce judgment, to condemn88).
A few examples taken from the Word of God concerning the word judgment in regards to diverse applications are:
2) Making the Judgment of Condemnation ~ Man’s wrong assumption ~ Rom. 2:1.
3) Exercising the Role of a Judge ~ Rulers ~ Matt. 5:25; 7:1; John 3:17 (Noun).
4) The Process of being under Judgment ~ A trial ~ John 3:18; 16:11; 18:31; Jas. 2:12.
5) Judgment Rendered ~ A sentence or verdict ~ Acts 15:19; 16:4; 21:25.
6) Legislative Judgment ~ Plaintiff ~ Matt. 5:40; 1 Cor. 6:1; Defendant ~ Acts 23:6.
7) Governmental Judgment ~ To administer affairs, to govern ~ Matt. 19:28; cf. Judg. 3:10.
8) Figurative Judgment ~ To make a resolve ~ Acts 3:13; 20:16; 1 Cor. 2:2.
9) Discerning Judgment ~ To form an opinion ~ Luke 7:43; John 7:24; Acts 4:19; Rom. 14:5; I Cor. 6:5, 11:31; Heb. 11:11.
10) Believers to Exercise ~ Judgment according the truthfulness of what is said (fulfilled prophecy, which is speaking for another, speaking for God, rather future tense or not) ~ Deut. 13:1-5; 2 John 7.
11) Believers to Exercise ~ Judgment according to the Biblical doctrine of the divinity of Christ ~ 1 John 4:1-3; and Jude 1:3.
12) Believers are commanded by Christ judge the fruit (behavior) of spiritual leaders in determining that they are not false prophets ~ Matthew 7:15.
13) Believers to Exercise ~ Judgment according to doctrine / God’s Word ~ Acts 20:28-32; Rom. 16:17-18; Gal. 1:9; Eph. 5:6-11; Colo. 2:8; 1 Thess. 5:6, 21; 2 Thess. 2:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:20 to 2:3.
14) Believers to Exercise ~ Judgment according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within ~ Eph. 5:10; 1 John 4:1-3 ~ 1 Tim. 4:1.
15) Believers to Exercise ~ Judgment concerning the behavior of believers in the church ~ 1 Cor. 5:12-13, 6:2-5.
16) Believers to Exercise ~ Self-Examination/ Judgment ~ Mark 4:22-25; 1 Cor. 11:31.
17) Spiritual Leaders to Exercise ~ Guarding Their Doctrine ~ 1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9 to 2:1.
18) Spiritual Leaders to Exercise ~ Guarding Their Congregation ~ 1 Tim. 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:23-25.
A Good Example
It is in understanding the diversity of a word that we gain clarity concerning what the Scriptures expect of us in exercising discretion, as compared to the act of condemnation. A good example can be found in I Corinthians 11:31, which states:
“For if we would judge [Greek: diakrino] ourselves, we should not be judged [Greek: krino].”
The literal Greek rendering is: “if we discern for ourselves, then we will not be eternally condemned” (according to the full context of the chapter which centers around the Lord’s Supper; what is implied is that if a person discerns according to Gospel, faith unto salvation, they will not be eternally judged, the discernment here is unto life. Those in verse 29 are unbelievers, which is displayed because they could not see the value of Christ’s death, and indulged in the Lord’s Support focusing on themselves, not on Jesus’ as the only acceptable sacrifice for their sins. In verse 32 it states literally in the Greek: “when we perceive we are condemned as sinners, this perception by faith leads to God’s training/teaching[by and through His Word] wherein we are saved apart from the world that is condemned to pay the price for that condemnation”).
The first word for judge, diakrino, means to separate thoroughly, to withdraw from, to discriminate, or decide; depending on the grammatical breakdown. The second word for judge, krinoaccording to its grammar means to condemn.
Therefore, we understand that this is stating that, “if we would discern ourselves; with the implied intent of change, we would not be subject to ultimate condemnation.” This is what is to take place within the life of the believer according to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Lack of Discernment
In these last days, one of the most predominant features within the church is this lack of discernment which allows carnality to run rampant, even disguising itself as spirituality.
Some have said the greatest trick the devil ever performed was to convince the world that he was nonexistent. Yet, I believe the greatest trick Satan has performed within the church of Jesus Christ is to convince us that the application of discernment and judgment has no place within Christendom, and that therefore tolerance and acceptance are true signs of Christian love.
It is when we lower the standards of God’s Word, either due to a lack of application, judgment; that we open ourselves to all kinds of worldly pursuits.
Corinth, a Church for 21st-century America
The church of Corinth displayed such poor judgment that it had allowed incest to be accepted openly, as well as believers defrauding other believers financially, their preoccupation with mysticism, along with signs and wonders in place of gifts of the Spirit, where the supper of the Lord was abused in drunkenness and gluttony, while others went hungry. Where selfishness became the norm to the extent that Paul worked a full-time job to support himself as well as the Ministry (which he later regretted because it added to their spiritual immaturity) no doubt exhibiting their lack of financial support in spite of the fact that they were very affluent.
Yet, in a close examination it becomes apparent that all of this existed because of their lack of and refusal to exercise proper judgment according to the mind of Christ. They were a very worldly church that refused to judge and intervene according to the church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17). Unfortunately for us, of all the New Testament churches we most resemble them today.
We in America are affluent and prosperous, we suffer no persecution; and yet we are also arrogant, self-centered, and morally bankrupt as a society. The buzzwords of the day which display that which is politically correct(concerning a lack of judgment) are: tolerance, broadmindedness, open-mindedness, forbearance, patience, acceptance, conformity, understanding, and respect. As well as (concerning the selfish, me-first, “refusal to die to self,” egocentric mindset which is becoming predominant within the church) such politically correct buzzwords as: success oriented, victorious, expedience, pragmatic, and purpose driven; all words which display our narcissism, and underpin a mindset that is contingent upon a lack of judgment in what is good and what is evil concerning God’s perspective as reflected in His Word. It is the idolatry found within Christianity today which explains why America is becoming more and more ungodly in spite of its Biblical roots. Christian idolatry can be seen when believers:
“Worship Their Work, Work at Their Play, and Play at Their Worship.”
Deception – Warning
Without judgment we have no ability to perceive danger when it is present. This is why Jesus spoke so often about deception. The only protection against deception is God’s Word and its application as seen in proper Biblical judgment.
Jesus repetitively warned: “Take heed that no man deceive you,” and “be not deceived,” as recorded in Matthew 24:4; Mark 13:5; Luke 21:8.
Paul and others also warned us concerning deception as recorded in: John 7:24; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:18; I Corinthians 3:18; 5:1-13; 6:9; 15:33; Galatians 1:6-9; 6:3,7; Ephesians 4:14; 5:6; 5:11; II Thessalonians 2:3,10; 3:6; 3:14-15; Titus 1:10-16; II Timothy 2:15; 3:5-7; Hebrews 5:14, James 1:22,26; II Peter 2:14; I John 1:5, 8; 3:7; 4:1; II John 1:6-9; as well as the seven times that the word deceive is used concerning the Devil in the book of Revelation.
What we must keep in mind is that these references are exclusively to believers, it is the believers that can be deceived when they refuse to stand firmly on God’s Word and judge according to what God has said.
An Example from the book of Revelation
One of the common denominators within the seven letters to the seven churches as recorded in the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3; is their inability to perceive their true spiritual state. It is their lack of discernment, their lack of judgment that stands out so predominantly concerning their condition, and was why they could not see the remedy to their problems.
Defending God’s Word
We, as the church of Jesus Christ have been granted the privilege of holding God’s Word in written form in our hands. And with privilege comes responsibility, which cannot be separated from accountability. This is why Peter said in I Peter 4:17:
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
We like to paint Jesus as a loving individual that showed mercy to all, without exception. Yet, this is an un-Biblical picture of Jesus, as repentance (changing direction ~ Acts 20:21) was mandatory (Matthew 9:13; Mark 1:4), as well as sorrow for wrongs committed (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10). The wrongdoer had to admit that they were wrong (Mark 2:17), seek for forgiveness, and be willing to make amends (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20).
It is un-Biblical to allow sin to persist within the church, corrupting others; in the name of mercy, grace, and love; and allowing sin to go unanswered, which in reality has nothing to do with any of these 3 virtues.
It’s like allowing your oldest child to habitually violate your rules with no repercussions, while their younger siblings watch and learn from this pattern of rebellion. Excommunication is demanded in this situation, it is not an option. The motive was always to correct, to drive the brother to repentance, in order to receive him back (2 Corinthians 2:6-10).
It must also be seen that when a brother was excommunicated, there was no Biblical defense against litigation. 1 Corinthians 6:1, forbids a brother from taking another brother to court, yet when a believer has been maltreated, or mistreated by a nonbeliever, they have the right as a citizen (Matthew 5:40 ~ presupposes involvement in the judicial system) to utilize the legal system which was meant as a defense against evil being allowed to permeate, and grow, perverting the community, and contaminating every one.
The problem that we have in understanding this passage is our lack of awareness that it had become common during that period of time, that if a Jew(wealthy & powerful prominent individuals) had felt that he had been wronged and suffered loss at the hands of another, rather than following Gods ordained system of law (Deuteronomy 19:18-21) which dictated that a local magistrate would investigate the situation and render justice in the form of any prescribed punishment according to the law of God, the Jews would revenge themselves, which meant that it was no longer a system of justice, but of vengeance.
What Christ is NOT saying here is to disregard the law, which contained a criminal justice system concerning the punishment of criminal behavior (Matthew 7:12; Romans 3:31). What Christ is saying here is that believers are not to revenge themselves upon perpetrators, but being willing to forgo what had become the standard of the day, which was to retaliate when one was wrong. Christ is indicating that we should forgive those that offend us.
Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other
It had become common that if a Jew felt humiliated or shamed by another, in return they would strike a person upon the cheek which in itself was viewed as a humiliation. This was usually done with an audience, in front of others as a display of shame and ridicule. The physical pain was minimal and not meant to address or correct negative behavior, but it was the humiliation of the act that was the point of the offense.
The very act of slapping another person on the face was an act of condescension, displaying pride and arrogance, and therefore considered evil in its self. The Greek phrase used here (me antistenai toi poneroi), would be more literally translated: “resist not him that is evil,” which concerning the grammar is in the infinitive (second aorist active), an indirect command; which could place the emphasis either on “the evil man,” or “the evil deed,” but either way this plays the assumption of the definite article (“THE“) in the English, which indicates not that Christ is saying to allow evil to permeate our society, without resisting it according to God’s law (1 Timothy 1:8).
But that on any individual basis, when a believer is minimally assaulted physically, and (to the real issue at hand) is humiliated or shamed, which is evil or done by an evil person; don’t retaliate, or defend yourself physically. We must keep in view that the issue here is not so much the physical contact, but the humiliation and shame intended. This also doesn’t say that we don’t question or defend ourselves verbally. Jesus displayed this Himself when He was slapped (as a sign of humiliation and ridicule) by one of the Temple officer’s while being questioned by the High Priest (John 18:19-23), and Jesus responded by verbally defending himself and saying, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”
The point is that Jesus is not presenting a pacifist doctrine here. As believers we are always to fight against evil, and those that promote it, otherwise we would violate the very law which God had given to man as a reference concerning what was good, which always mandated fighting and punishing what was evil. Jesus was not contradicting the law, He did not come to change the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44) by dying for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). The point was not that we are all forgiven, but that our punishment was paid by Jesus, but the point is there had to be punishment (1 John 2:2; Romans 3:25; 1 John 4:10) that the justice of God would be upheld (Romans 3:25).
What Christ is saying is that if a (small) offense is committed against you, such as being shamed by another (to reiterate, which is what being stricken on the cheek meant to the Jews, striking on the cheek was considered a non-punishable offense, one of questioning another’s integrity by publicly shaming them), take the offense and don’t revenge yourself, show honor and character in the face of humiliation.
If any man will sue thee at the law
First, and most importantly, what Jesus indicates here is that you are guilty in this litigation, and that your accuser wins against you, according to the legal conclusion against you in that the court determines to: “take away thy coat.” The law was very specific concerning the loss of personal property, especially if it was the essentials, such as a personal wardrobe (which are many consisted of the clothes on their back).
Jesus is here referring to a common occurrence of his day, wherein an individual would utilize their (tunic) inner garment as collateral for a purchase, and after being found guilty of not having fulfilled your part of the bargain, be prepared to surrender your outer garment as well. Because of the essential nature of the need of clothing, such as the tunic, in Hebrew law, the only way that your adversary could seize your tunic was because you used it as collateral for a loan and default on the loan.
It was common that if an individual conducted a street transaction (bartering) and did not have the items with them (which in a case where coinage was not used or available, bartering by using animals or other intrinsic articles was common), they would leave as collateral something of greater value with the person, such as their interior coat / tunic. This is seen when Judah doesn’t have the price of bartering (“a kid of the flock”) to pay Tamar, but uses as collateral (pledge) his signet, both bracelets and his staff.
Therefore what Christ is saying is if you lose litigation, indicating that you are wrong, be prepared to pay not just your obligation but even more in recompense, which in this case would be to allow the claimant to have your outer cloak as well, which was more expensive.
Whoever shall compel thee to go a mile
The expression “shall compel” was a specific terminology of Persian origin (a Figure of Speech, a current American cultural expression would be like saying “the few, the proud, …”, which would set the stage for the understanding that the reference was a expression concerning “…the Marines”), and was utilized concerning a royal standing command that was as a Royal law of the kingdom, throughout the conquered lands of Persia (from which the Jews had many times been under, such as Cyrus), and was understood that one of the officers of the King’s court could demand that a local citizen would personally escort them during their journey for a distance of up to 1 mile in aiding them during their travels.
This principle was used by the Romans, and known as the law of Angaria. Whereas verbal instructions concerning directions could be misunderstood (“go straight for 1 mile, then turn right at where Farmer Joe’s barn used to be”), having a local citizen personally take you to your destination became necessary.
The point that Christ is making is that when it comes to our civil commitments (whether they seem righteous or not), we should be willing to not only fulfill the requirement of the law, but sacrifice even more than required. Believers, as citizens are not only to meet their requirements, but to exceed them (see Endnote 6 for further insights and sources).
A final thought
It is amazing to consider that due to a lack of understanding concerning cultural issues of the (Biblical) times, that when believers do not study (studying is far more than simply reading, it is using credible Biblical dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, word studies, and being fed by Spirit and guided Bible teachers; and more. If we love God with our whole being [Mark 20:30], why would we do less) God’s Word, that what they perceive superficially ends up being much different than the reality that is presented.
Concerning Matthew 5:38-41, these 3 short verses hold tremendous insights and immense meaning.
First, do not revenge yourself, but allow the Powers that God has ordained (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17) to administer justice. ~ Be a forgiving person
Second, if someone shames, humiliates, or ridicules you; do not revenge yourself, but show honor and character by not reiterating the same back. ~ Be a humble person
Thirdly, if you have been found legally guilty, and rightly so, be prepared to suffer for your wrongs into pay back even more than what seems fair. ~ Be a righteous person
Fourthly, concerning your civil commitments; be willing to not simply meet your requirements, but to exceed them as well. ~ Be a good neighbor and good citizen, therefore be a good example
11. Ephesians 2:8-9 – “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.”
12. Romans 3:21-26 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
15. 1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”
The word “heart,” as it is used in the Bible, does not mean the same as the English word heart. Both in the Hebrew (leb ~ H3820, lebab ~ H3824, and labab ~ H3823, and other derivatives it is used over 860 times), and Greek (kardia ~ G2588, is used over 170 times) languages, the word “heart” is specific & refers to the complete inner man, and never solely concerning the emotions, as it does in the English understanding of the word.
2) Emotions; and lastly the
3) “Seat of the Will,” discretion, where choices are made between what the mind thinks and the emotions desire.
19. Psalms 56:3 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
20. Psalms 65:5 – “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea”
Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.”
Proverbs 14:26 – “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”
Ephesians 3:11-12 – “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
1 John 5:14 – “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” [Conditioned according to 1 John 3:22-24 – See below]
Hebrews 3:6 – “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
21. II Corinthians 5:7 – “for we walk by faith and not by sight”
22. Romans 10:17 – “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
1 Peter 1:23 – “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”
23. Intimacy= familiarity, closeness, understanding, relationship, confidence. ~
John 17:25-26 – “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
24. John 17:20-23 – “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
25. Psalms 86:5 – “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”
James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
26. Numbers 23:19 – “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”
Matthew 10:28-31 – “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
27. Matthew 7:11 – “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”
28. 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. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
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.”
29. Psalms 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
30. 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.”
31. Romans 8:28 – “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.”
32. I Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
33. Hebrews 11:6 – “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.” [The attitude of diligently] seeking God is not one of seeking things from God; but seeking to please God. It is a person that is obsessed with God, not a Sunday believer, but a person that thinks about God constantly]
34. Matthew 7:7-8 – “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.”
35. John 15:7-8 – “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” [It should be noted that the context here is bearing spiritual fruit, not asking for personal things – also, if we abide in Him, and His words abide in us, then we won’t be seeking the things of earth, but His Will – not our own]
1 John 3:22 –”And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” [A believer who keeps Christ’s commandments, and does those things that are pleasing to God, and dwells in God; is not a carnal believer seeking its own gratification]
James 4:3 – “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [when seeking through prayer issues which are solely based upon desire, this type of selfishness is “asking amiss” – in that it seeks only to pleasure the flesh rather than God and his kingdom, even if what is sought appears to be what is good such as healing if the healing is a tool that God would use in the person’s life, such as Paul’s “thorn in his flesh” which was used to keep him humble in order to fulfill God’s Will ~ 2 Corinthians 2:7]
36. Matthew 6:25 – “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
37. Matthew 6:26-30 – “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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?”
38. Job 2:10 – “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.”
39. Ephesians 3:20 – “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
40. Job 13:15 – “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,…”
Luke 22:42 – “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
41. 1 Peter 1:23 – “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”
Isaiah 55:10-11 – “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”.
Romans 15:4 – “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Hebrews 4:12-13 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4 – “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.”
42. Psalms 138:2 – “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
43. Hebrews 11:8 – “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.”
44. Rom 10:16 – “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report”
45. Romans 16:26 – “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” [We must realize that Biblically speaking, disbelief is synonymous with disobedience, because refusing to believe what God has said fosters disobedience; therefore disobedience is based on disbelief. Yet, also a refusal to obey generates disbelief, displaying a connection between disbelief and disobedience which cannot be severed.]
46. “The Faith” (the noun case is noted with the citation: Norminative Case, Genitive Case Dative Case, Accusative Case)
Galatians 2:20 – D – “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 3:23 – AA – “But before faith* came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith* which should afterwards be revealed.”
Ephesians 3:12 – G – “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
Ephesians 4:13 – G – “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
Philippians 1:27 – D – “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
Philippians 3:9 – G – “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith”
Colossians 1:23 – D – “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister”
Colossians 2:7 – D – “Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
Colossians 2:12 – G – “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
1 Timothy 1:2 – D – “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Timothy 3:9 – G – “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”
1 Timothy 3:13 – D – “For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 4:1 – G – “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”
1 Timothy 5:8 – A – “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
1 Timothy 6:10 – G – “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
1 Timothy 6:21 – A – “Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. The first to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana.”
2 Timothy 2:18 – A – “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
2 Timothy 3:8 – A – “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7 – A – “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith“
Titus 1:1 – A – “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness”
Titus 1:13 – D – “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith“
Titus 3:15 – D – “All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.”
James 2:1 – A – “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
1 Peter 5:9 – D – “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
Jude 1:3 – D – “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
Revelation 13:10 – N – “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”
Revelation 14:12 – A – “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
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 Believers2
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“
Yet it is in trusting that God knows what good gifts are, when many times we do not, to us the trying of our faith, that of tribulation and trial, would not be a good thing, yet God knows better as its eternal reward is far more important than the temporary pain we may endure (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
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 Tenach, 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,” located on our “Resource Center” dropdown page, under “Essay Archive,” (Summer of 2010).
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.
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.”
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 attributesare 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)
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 radiated (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.
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
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 number71concerning: “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.