Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Faith to Move Mountains (part 1 - definition)

What is faith?  It's an easy exercise to find the clinical definition of faith.  Though the textbook definition probably won't change your "faith", it seems to be the necessary starting point.  So here's a few textbook definitions to consider:  

Definition of Faith In the OT and NT, “faith” carries several meanings. It may mean simple trust in God or in the Word of God, and at other times faith almost becomes equivalent to active obedience. It may also find expression in the affirmation of a creedal statement. Thus, it also comes to mean the entire body of received Christian teaching or truth—“the truth.” In Colossians 2:7, the term suggests something to be accepted as a whole and embodied in personal life. In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul witnesses to having “kept the faith.” [Emphasis added]
 Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference library (470–471). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Faith, in the Bible trust in, or reliance on, God who is himself trustworthy. The NT and the Greek OT express the understanding of faith primarily with two terms (pistis, pisteuein), which are related to the primary OT verb ‘to be true’ or ‘be trustworthy’ (’aman). The OT concept is considerably broader than this term and its cognates, yet ’aman remains the most profound expression to describe faith in the OT.
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed.) (298). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

The primary Old Testament words for “believe,” “belief,” and “faith” are Heb. ˒āman and its cognates ˒emûnâ and ˒emeṯ. The basic meaning of ˒āman is “be steady, firm and trustworthy” (KoB, p. 60); in the hiphil, rendered “to believe,” the verb signifies “accept as true” (1 Kgs. 10:7 par. 2 Chr. 9:6; Lam. 4:12; Hab. 1:5), “be sure” (Job 15:22), or “trust” (Jer. 12:6). The meaning of ˒emûnâ is “steadiness,” “faithfulness,” or “candor” (KoB, p.60; cf. Isa. 9:7b for the parallel between “believe” and “establish”), while that of ˒emeṯ is “trustworthiness,” “faithfulness” (Gen. 32:10), or “truth” (e.g., 42:16; cf. KoB, p. 66).
The New Testament terms are Gk. pisteúō “believe” and pístis “faith.” John uses the verb pisteúō to indicate the circumstance of believing; Paul primarily chooses the noun pístis, but cf. Rom. 3:22, where he combines the noun and verb to indicate “faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
The word “faith” occurs in a variety of expressions: “in good faith” (Heb. be˓emeṯ; Judg. 9:15–16, 19), a “breach of faith” (ma˓al; Lev. 6:2" [MT 5:21]), “full of faith” (Acts 6:5; 11:24), “of little faith,” i.e., without confidence that God would provide for the basic human needs (Matt. 6:30; cf. 14:31; 16:8 for the small degree of trust the disciples placed in Jesus’ power), a “door of faith” (Acts 14:27), the “word of faith” (Rom. 10:8), the “spirit of faith” (2 Cor. 4:13), the “shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16), and the “breastplate of faith” (1 Thess. 5:8). The Old Testament also portrays faith as undergirding human relationships (e.g., Judg. 9:15). Basically, however, both the Old and the New Testament view faith as mankind’s trust in God. [Emphasis mine]

Myers, A. C. (1987). The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (373–374). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Finally, I love books like the New Topical Textbook that provides wonderful lists of a topic for us to this case "faith".  Don't be too quick to scan this list, but take the time to reflect on "faith" as used in these Scriptures.  Jot down 2-3 points that stand out to you.  How have they made an impact in your life?  How will these truths further your trust in God? 

When we get together next time, I want to begin looking at faith in the lives of men and women in  the Word.  As Jude said, "Beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith." v.20a 


  1.      Is the substance of things hoped for. Heb 11:1.
  2.      Is the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:1.
  3.      Commanded. Mt 11:22; 1Jo 3:23.
  4.      The objects of, are
     a.      God. Joh 14:1.
     b.      Christ. Joh 6:29; Ac 20:21.
     c.      Writings of Moses. Joh 5:46; Ac 24:14.
     d.      Writings of the prophets. 2Ch 20:20; Ac 26:27.
     e.      The gospel. Mr 1:15.
     f.      Promises of God. Ro 4:21; Heb 11:13.
  5.      In Christ is
     a.      The gift of God. Ro 12:3; Eph 2:8; 6:23; Php 1:29.
     b.      The work of God. Ac 11:21; 1Co 2:5.
     c.      Precious. 2Pe 1:1.
     d.      Most holy. Jude 1:20.
     e.      Fruitful. 1Th 1:3.
     f.      Accompanied by repentance. Mr 1:15; Lu 24:47.
     g.      Followed by conversion. Ac 11:21.
  6.      Christ is the Author and Finisher of. Heb 12:2.
  7.      Is a gift of the Holy Spirit. 1Co 12:9.
  8.      The Scriptures designed to produce. Joh 20:31; 2Ti 3:15.
  9.      Preaching designed to produce. Joh 17:20; Ac 8:12; Ro 10:14,15,17; 1Co 3:5.
  10.      Through it is
     a.      Remission of sins. Ac 10:43; Ro 3:25.
     b.      Justification. Ac 13:39; Ro 3:21,22,28,30; 5:1; Ga 2:16.
     c.      Salvation. Mr 16:16; Ac 16:31.
     d.      Sanctification. Ac 15:9; 26:18.
     e.      Spiritual light. Joh 12:36,46.
     f.      Spiritual life. Joh 20:31; Ga 2:20.
     g.      Eternal life. Joh 3:15,16; 6:40,47.
     h.      Rest in heaven. Heb 4:3.
     i.      Edification. 1Ti 1:4; Jude 1:20.
     j.      Preservation. 1Pe 1:5.
     k.      Adoption. Joh 1:12; Ga 3:26.
     l.      Access to God. Ro 5:2; Eph 3:12.
     m.      Inheritance of the promises. Ga 3:22; Heb 6:12.
     n.      The gift of the Holy Spirit. Ac 11:15-17; Ga 3:14; Eph 1:13.
  11.      Impossible to please God without. Heb 11:6.
  12.      Justification is by, to be of grace. Ro 4:16.
  13.      Essential to the profitable reception of the gospel. Heb 4:2.
  14.      Necessary in the Christian warfare. 1Ti 1:18,19; 6:12.
  15.      The gospel effectual in those who have. 1Th 2:13.
  16.      Excludes self-justification. Ro 10:3,4.
  17.      Excludes boasting. Ro 3:27.
  18.      Works by love. Ga 5:6; 1Ti 1:5; Phm 1:5.
  19.      Produces
     a.      Hope. Ro 5:2.
     b.      Joy. Ac 16:34; 1Pe 1:8.
     c.      Peace. Ro 15:13.
     d.      Confidence. Isa 28:16; 1Pe 2:6.
     e.      Boldness in preaching. Ps 116:10; 2Co 4:13.
     f.      Christ is precious to those having. 1Pe 2:7.
     g.      Christ dwells in the heart by. Eph 3:17.
     h.      Necessary in prayer. Mt 21:22; Jas 1:6.
     i.      Those who are not Christ’s have not. Joh 10:26,27.
     j.      An evidence of the new birth. 1Jo 5:1.
  20.      By it saints
     a.      Live. Ga 2:20.
     b.      Stand. Ro 11:20; 2Co 1:24.
     c.      Walk. Ro 4:12; 2Co 5:7.
     d.      Obtain a good report. Heb 11:2.
     e.      Overcome the world. 1Jo 5:4,5.
     f.      Resist the devil. 1Pe 5:9.
     g.      Overcome the devil. Eph 6:16.
     h.      Are supported. Ps 27:13; 1Ti 4:10.
  21.      Saints die in. Heb 11:13.
  22.      Saints should
     a.      Be sincere in. 1Ti 1:5; 2Ti 1:5.
     b.      Abound in. 2Co 8:7.
     c.      Continue in. Ac 14:22; Col 1:23.
     d.      Be strong in. Ro 4:20-24.
     e.      Stand fast in. 1Co 16:13.
     f.      Be grounded and settled in. Col 1:23.
     g.      Hold, with a good conscience. 1Ti 1:19.
     h.      Pray for the increase of. Lu 17:5.
     i.      Have full assurance of. 2Ti 1:12; Heb 10:22.
  23.      True, evidenced by its fruits. Jas 2:21-25.
  24.      Without fruits, is dead. Jas 2:17,20,26.
  25.      Examine whether you be in. 2Co 13:5.
  26.      All difficulties overcome by. Mt 17:20; 21:21; Mr 9:23.
  27.      All things should be done in. Ro 14:22.
  28.      Whatever is not of, is sin. Ro 14:23.
  29.      Often tried by affliction. 1Pe 1:6,7.
  30.      Trial of, works patience. Jas 1:3.
  31.      The wicked often profess. Ac 8:13,21.
  32.      The wicked destitute of. Joh 10:25; 12:37; Ac 19:9; 2Th 3:2.
  33.      Protection of, illustrated
     a.      A shield. Eph 6:16.
     b.      A breastplate. 1Th 5:8.
  34.      Exemplified
     a.      Caleb. Nu 13:30.
     b.      Job. Job 19:25.
     c.      Shadrach, &c. Da 3:17.
     d.      Daniel. Da 6:10,23.
     e.      Peter. Mt 16:16.
     f.      Woman who was a sinner. Lu 7:50.
     g.      Nathanael. Joh 1:49.
     h.      Samaritans. Joh 4:39.
     i.      Martha. Joh 11:27.
     j.      The Disciples. Joh 16:30.
     k.      Thomas. Joh 20:28.
     l.      Stephen. Ac 6:5.
     m.      Priests. Ac 6:7.
     n.      Ethiopian. Ac 8:37.
     o.      Barnabas. Ac 11:24.
     p.      Sergius Paulus. Ac 13:12.
     q.      Philippian jailor. Ac 16:31,34.
     r.      Romans. Ro 1:8.
     s.      Colossians. Col 1:4.
     t.      Thessalonians. 1Th 1:3.
     u.      Lois. 2Ti 1:5.
     v.      Paul. 2Ti 4:7.
     w.      Abel. Heb 11:4.
     x.      Enoch. Heb 11:5.
     y.      Noah. Heb 11:7.
     z.      Abraham. Heb 11:8,17.
     A.      Isaac. Heb 11:20.
     B.      Jacob. Heb 11:21.
     C.      Joseph. Heb 11:22.
     D.      Moses. Heb 11:24,27.
     E.      Rahab. Heb 11:31.
     F.      Gideon &c. Heb 11:32,33,39.

Torrey, R. (2001). The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software.

A Muffler that Makes Sounds

It's amazing the simple pleasures of life.  What brings you joy?  A great cup of java, reuniting with old friends, unexpected savings on a purchase.  Oddly enough, my joy came at the low low price of $10 and a landfill.  Let me explain, we recently moved into a new house and they left behind a washer that didn't wash and a dryer that didn't dry and a dishwasher...well you get the idea.  Locally, I was able to take the appliances to the landfill for the rock bottom price of $10.  After living in Toronto for 6 years, the land of recycle and pro-active environment protection, I have to confess that taking a truck load of junk to the landfill felt a bit weird.  But clearing out my garage and starting fresh actually felt great.  I drove away exhilarated...the simple pleasures of life.

I found that I had a few extra minutes before work so I jetted over to the Post Office.  Just as I was pulling in, I began to hear this awful noise.  I quickly realized it was emanating from my 17 year old truck.  I pulled over and decided to ignore the noise and run into the Post Office to beat the other 7 people pulling into the parking lot behind me.  The line was 20 people deep and my 10 extra minutes look very small.  Fortunately, a new automated stamp machine in the lobby allowed me to bypass the the long line to get back to that hideous noise.  As I approach my truck, I found my tailpipe dragging on the ground...thus the noise.  I rip off the dragging pipe and hop into the truck.  All of the sudden I start laughing uncontrollably.  The simple pleasures of life...a clean garage, bypassing a long line at the Post Office and a car problem that can be corrected (ever so temporarily) with a swift yank.

What's the deep theological application here?  There isn't one per se'.  It's a simple life living by the grace of God, yielded to His Spirit, and eyes fortunate enough to see and experience the simple pleasures of life.   In everything, give thanks. 

Thanks God.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Will anyone miss you when you are gone?

"And he [Jehoram, King of Judah] departed [died] with no one's regret." 2 Chron. 21:22b

The other day I was driving by a cemetary where a service was in progress.  It caught my eye because of the sheer magnitude of the event.   Cars lined the streets of the cemetary, the parking lot was overflowing and standing around a casket were a thousand people, mourning a life lost. Evidently, this person will be greatly missed and exerted a level of positive impact upon their community.

I can't imagine anything worse than wasting my life so that no one cared when I died.  Not because I didn't have a large funeral, but that my life counted as nothing towards eternity.  What a very sad commentary of a life lived (or not lived).  No one was sad that Jehoram died, no one bothered to even bury him in the tomb of the kings. 

Have you seen the website  You can put in your date of birth, various lifestyle factors and you will see the estimated time of your death.  Regardless of how much time you have left, you can begin today making a positive impact for the community. 

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Jehoram was only 40 years old when he died and he reigned 8 years.  Like a two term American president, he had 8 years to make a huge influence on the nation...for either good or evil.  He had an incredible legacy, Jehoshophat was his father and Asa was his grandfather.  Both men left an impressive legacy for family, country and for God. 

What will your legacy be?  Don't wait until tomorrow... 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Faith to Move Mountains (intro)

When's the last time you watched someone wither a tree before your eyes?  How about sheer the top of a mountain off and send it hurling into the sea?  Never?  Me neither.  Yet the Christian life demands that we walk by faith.

My goal is simple.  Over the next weeks or months I am beginning an in-depth study on faith to deepen my "faith".  Why?  I want to move mountains.  Because when you have it, you please God.  The men and women that do the greatest things for God are the ones that have the greatest faith in God.  Finally, I don't want to waste my life.

I plan to post excerpts from my study here and it is my hope and prayer that you will take this journey with me.  I will be answering three major questions:
1) What is it?
2) Who had it? (Biblical Examples)
3) How do I get it and what do I do with it? (Practical Life Applications)

Oh, be careful what you ask for.  If you are serious about studying faith, your faith will probably be tested.  I just began this study this week and I have been praying for faith.  Just yesterday, my hours were cut at work...

Ready to move mountains?  Let's go!