Sunday, June 26, 2011

PT3 THE GREAT ADVENTURE i.e. Practical Faith (Pt7 Living Life To Its Fullest)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (NKJV)
    Consequently, we now have a definition of faith that helps us better understand what it is; "Faith - an intimate and personal trust in the truthfulness of God and the reliability of His word."
    Yet a little more is needed to fully understand faith.  Hence another look at Hebrews 11:1 will complete our understanding/definition.  As before, we will look at specific words in the verse, i.e. the two words "substance" and "evidence" used in the passage;
substance [seb-sten(t)s] - noun;
a: essential nature
b: a fundamental characteristic, part or quality
synonyms: essence, sum
evidence [e-ve-den(t)s] - noun;
a: an outward sign
b: something that furnishes proof
synonyms: indication, testimony
    Using these definitions shows us that faith is also the essential nature, fundamental characteristic, or essence" of things hoped for" and is the outward sign, proof or testimony "of things not seen".  Like faith both words are nouns and not verbs. So, while it is less succinct then the one in Hebrews we now have a definition of faith which helps us better understand what it is;

"Now an intimate and personal trust in the truthfulness of God and the reliability of His word is the essential nature of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen." 

   In essence what Hebrews 11 :1 is saying is this trust is so intimate and personal that faith and what it produces may often become synonymous;

"...the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  (NKJV)

    This definition points to the outward (often practical, but not always) manifestation of faith in our lives.  It is the type of faith that;
  • enabled Joseph to excel and do well despite of all the adversities and injustices he suffered.
"And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.  So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. " (Genesis 39:3-5/NKJV)

But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper." (Genesis 39:3-5/NKJV)

  • enabled Joseph to forgive his brothers and see God's hand in all that had happened.
"Joseph said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.' And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." (Genesis 50:19-21/NKJV)

It is the same faith that;
  • enabled Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to not bow before the golden idol despite the threat of death from Nebuchadnezzar.
"Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, 'Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?'” (Daniel 3:14-15/NKJV)
  • and enabled Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to state the following to king Nebuchadnezzar.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.' (Daniel3:16-18/NKJV)

    This intimate and personal trust is so strong that it produces actions (which produce lifestyles) that are seen in everyday life (hence the term practical faith).  It is a faith in the One who makes "all things possible".

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

cowboy image source;
Visualphotos; Cowboy Riding Horse through Plains
fiery furnace image source;
Imagekind; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Sunday, June 19, 2011

PT2 THE GREAT ADVENTURE i.e. Practical Faith (Pt6 Living Life To Its Fullest)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"
    Also, synonyms given for faith are "certainty or confidence".  Hence faith is a "certainty or confidence...of... the truthfulness of God ". In addition to this we find the Greek word pistis is translated as; assurance (Acts 17:31/NKJV) and fidelity (Titus 2:10/NKJV).
    In the first case Paul is speaking to the philosophers at Athens about Christ;
"Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.'" (Acts 17:22,23/NKJV)
    As he preaches Paul shows; God is not just one of many gods but is the One true God that created everything that exists, discusses their desire to find God, and (at the end) points to Christ and His resurrection as the assurance that God has given Jesus the authority to righteously judge all men;
"because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31/NKJV)
The New American Standard Bible says it a little different;
"because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31/NASB)
In essence Paul is saying Christs resurrection is the assurance, proof or "evidence" that Jesus has been given this authority.
    In the second instance the word pistis is translated fidelity;
"Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." (Titus 2:10/NKJV)
The New American Standard Bible turns the translation of the word around and actually uses "faith";
"Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." (Titus 2:10/NASB)
    In this passage Paul lists individual groups and what qualities they need to make a sound church. One of those groups is bondservants, or slaves.  Obviously slaves do not exist in many countries today, but we must understand slavery was prevalent in Paul's time. So as he lists these qualities Paul addresses the issue of slaves "not pilfering" from their masters. Pilfering meaning stealing or defrauding. That phrase "not pilfering" is coupled with "but showing all good fidelity", 
    A primary illustration of "showing all good fidelity" is Joseph in Potiphar's house;
"So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate." (Exodus 39:6/NASB)
Here we see that Joseph had done so well that Potiphar not only put him in charge, but he also trusted Joseph to the point that Potiphar's only concern was "the food which he ate".
    Furthermore, there are also two illustrations that are useful for today;
  • when we take our vehicle in for repairs we rely upon the mechanics to not only do a good job, but to also be honest about their assessment of what the vehicle needs.
  • but this trust goes beyond that, it is more personal.  So a better example would be hiring someone to clean your home when you are not there to watch them.  Again there is the issue of trusting that person to do a quality job, but there is also the issue of trusting that person not to walk off with your jewelry, computer, or anything else from your home.
Both require a degree of trust on our part, one being a little more intimate then the other.
    So the word for faith, pistis, is coupled with proof or evidence when it is translated assurance in Acts 17:31 and coupled with the issue of trust when translated fidelity in Titus 2:10. By looking at these two translations and their context we get a fuller understanding of faith.  Faith - is an intimate and personal trust of "the truthfulness of God" and the reliability of His word.
"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

cowboy image source;
Visualphotos; Cowboy Riding Horse through Plains
Paul at the Areopagus image source;
Dover Beach; Fashions of the Mind

Sunday, June 12, 2011

THE GREAT ADVENTURE i.e. Practical Faith (Pt5 Living Life To Its Fullest)

"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews11:1/NKJV)

Last year I began a blog series on "practical faith" and stopped because of the questions involved.  In order to better answer them more prayer and research was needed.  Following is a recap of one of the posts with the questions and some of the answers;

"So all of this about practical faith is very nice, but;
  • What is practical faith?
  • Where do we get it?
  • How is it practical?
  • Where does it begin?"
I then began to answer the first questions  - "What is practical faith?" - and because true faith is often practical in it's very nature the question was rephrased; "What is faith*?"

Here is the beginning of the answer to the question;

faith [feyth]-noun; confidence or trust in a person or thing

This seems simple enough, however scripture better develops what true faith is;

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1/NKJV)

*NOTE; I am speaking of faith in a narrow sense, that is I am speaking of faith in God, and even that is narrowed further into the God of the Bible.  I would also like to note that this discussion is by no means exhaustive - this is a blog after all and brevity is a necessity.

Again, please note that in both definitions faith is a noun and not a verb - so faith is not an action but a thing. Therefore if faith is a "thing" then we can possess or have it.

It was at that point that I "got the cart before the horse" and began discussing other aspects of faith.  I realized I had not fully answered the first question and should do so before moving on to the others.  So I stopped the posts; went to prayer, the Bible and Bible study resources in order to properly answer it.  This next series of posts will hopefully rectify my error.

What is faith?  Earlier a definition of faith was given, but something more was needed.   So, to better understand what (practical) faith is we will look at the Greek word that is translated as faith, what it means, how it is used in other verses and if there are any other definitions given.

The Greek word for faith in Hebrews 11:1 is pistis and is defined as follows;

"...pistis pi-stis...persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly - constancy in such profession: by extension the system of religious belief (Gospel) truth it self: assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity." (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Greek Dictionary of the New Testament p. 58a)

So in essence faith is "credence, or moral conviction...of... the truthfulness of God".

"Simul iustus et peccator"*
*Martin Luther

cowboy image source;

Sunday, June 05, 2011


"Ave Christus, morituri te salutamus!"

Hebrews 11-13
(New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 11
 The Triumphs of Faith

 1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of  things not seen.
 2For by it the men of old gained approval.
 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
 4By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.
 5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.
 6And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a re-warder of those who seek Him.
 7By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
 8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
 9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
 10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
 11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
 12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.
 13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.
 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.
 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
 17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
 18it was he to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED."
 19He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
 20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
 21By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
 22By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
 23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
 24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,
 25choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
 26considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.
 28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.
 29By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.
 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
 31By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
 32And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
 33who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,
 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection;
 36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
 39And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
 40because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Hebrews 12
 Jesus The Example

 1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
 3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 A Father's Discipline

 4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
 5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
 7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
 12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
 14Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
 15See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
 16that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
 17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

 Contrast of Sinai and Zion

 18For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,
 19and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.
 20For they could not bear the command, "IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED."
 21And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling."
 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

 The Unshaken Kingdom

 25See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  26And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN."
 27This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
 28Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
 29for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 13
 The Changeless Christ

 1Let love of the brethren continue
 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
 3Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
 4Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
 5Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,"
 6so that we confidently say,
 7Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
 9Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
 10We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.
 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
 13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
 14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

 God Pleasing Sacrifices

 15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
 17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
 18Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
 19And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.

 The Benediction

 20Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
21equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
 22But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.
 23Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you.
 24Greet all of your leaders and all the saints Those from Italy greet you.
 25Grace be with you all.

"Simul iustus et peccator  "*
*Martin Luther

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Bible Gateway; Hebrews 11-13