Delving deeper into faith

What is faith? This probably sounds like a silly question – but only if we have given it no thought because we assume we fully understand it. Consider one small sampling of the evidence.

In the second and third centuries before Christ, Jewish scholars translated their Hebrew Bible into Greek. We call their work the Septuagint. Interesting questions might be: When they used the Greek word pistis (faith), what Hebrew words and ideas were they trying to convey? Was their understanding of faith broader, the same or narrower than ours? Take a look.

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Vulnerabilities in the sinner’s prayer

For many the following logic is simple, straightforward and irrefutable:

“Since salvation is by faith, if someone genuinely accepts Jesus by saying the sinner’s prayer, then he or she is saved. Baptism, therefore, can not be for salvation because the individual has already been saved by faith.”

However, a closer examination reveals this thinking is flawed. Scripture points in another direction. Continue reading Vulnerabilities in the sinner’s prayer

Did Paul agree with Luke that to believe includes baptism?

The previous article in this series is here.

Did Paul’s and Luke’s missionary companionship influence how they used the word believe? Did they share the same understanding of how to respond to Christ crucified? These are very interesting questions for two reasons.

First, early Christian tradition asserts Luke wrote the gospel Paul proclaimed. If this is true, then Luke’s usage of believe might very well reflect Paul’s viewpoint. What can we discover regarding whether their perspectives aligned?

Second, in the first article the evidence led us to the conclusions: Luke was comfortable using “believe” and “turned to the Lord” as general terms for conversion indicating baptism had occurred.  Thus, when Luke recounted that someone believed, that conversion story encompassed more than just believing; it signified a faith response involving baptism. Continue reading “Did Paul agree with Luke that to believe includes baptism?”

The gospel instructs: rely upon Christ in baptism to be saved

Our world abounds with controversial issues ranging from politics to scientific theories, from social policy to religion. Among the chorus of dissenting voices rise competing perspectives regarding baptism.

It is my belief that scripture provides an unequivocal voice inviting us to rely upon Christ in baptism in order that we might receive the benefits of our Savior’s death. My experiences have also led me to conclude that one major barrier against accepting this understanding lies not with scripture’s failure to positively teach about baptism, rather false assumptions about faith are negating the biblical message.

How might someone tackle such a scenario? Here is one possibility.

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Saved by faith alone? yes! no!

One problem with language involves assuming we accurately understand others. Biblical wisdom would remind us, “The one who gives an answer before he listens – that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

Consider for example someone asserting, “We are saved by faith alone.” Do you agree or disagree?

Since this statement could describe two very different ideas, a better response than offering a knee jerk “yes” or “no” would be to first seek clarification. Continue reading “Saved by faith alone? yes! no!”

The crux of our saving faith

The following quote describes a richness lying within the word “faith” that challenges popular thinking. What are we to make of this claim about faith within the Greek New Testament?

The noun pistis offers a range of semantic possibilities for English translators. It can be rendered as ‘faith,’ ‘faithfulness,’ ‘fidelity’ or ‘trust.’ It probably does not, however, mean ‘belief’ in the sense of cognitive assent to a doctrine; rather, it refers to placing trust or confidence in a person. The cognate verb pisteuw (pisteuo) can be translated as ‘believe’ or ‘trust.’ English, regrettably, lacks a verb form from the same root as the noun ‘faith.'” – Richard Hays’ commentary on Galatians

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