Thursday, August 28, 2008

The concept of Faith from a Relational/Biblical Perspective

True Biblical Faith Defined

Faith is one of the most corrupted English word of the 20th/21st centuries. It is ironic that Bible translations are "forced" to do a word-for-word correspondence between the original language(s) into say, English. This is also one of the biggest reasons why it behoves a Christian who truly loves God and His Word to have several translations and sometimes paraphrases of the Bible as well as diligent study and analysis either individually or in a group situation in order to minimized the miscommunication of revelation from God to man.

The Greek word pisteuo for the English belief or faith is no longer what it used to mean. Unfortunately, attempts by classical expositions further confuse listeners and readers and they normally leave a sermon message without anything tangible that they could change in their mindset and/or behavior.

While the Greek word means exercising a believing trust based on reliable logical foundation, the 20th century meaning of faith if translated back 2,000 years to the Hellenistic culture would find that the closes Greek word for it borders on "sheer stupidity". The very phrase "blind faith" which is common to most, if not all, religions comes to mind.

To illustrate to simple extremes, a person who is about to jump off a 30 storey building to the ground exercises faith when he knows that based on the laws of gravity, he is going to fall and most probably die in the process. Note that he has NOT done it yet, but he already KNOWS! That is really what the Biblical pisteuo means.

On the other hand, a person who thinks he can defy the law of gravity without any assistance from technology (or demons), and believes all he can truly exercises STUPIDITY and NOT FAITH at all. This current generation with new age beliefs et all has it the other way around!

To take this a step further, if I book and subsequently ride a plane from Los Angeles to New York for arrival on March the 5th, I am exercising faith that I will be in New York on March the 5th. Note that faith is exercised BEFORE I even reach New York, I ALREADY believe that I will be there on March the 5th.

True faith or pisteuo is based on trusting some reason, logic, scientific or historical foundation. It is never faith on having much faith which is not blind faith but truly stupidity.

That is the reason we know we will be in heaven in the presence of God when we physically leave this life. We exercise faith on the One who promised that we will be there if we follow certain conditions and parameter that He has set.

When we book that plane to New York, there is always the possibility of failure. We may miss the flight, the plane could crash or re-route to somewhere else or just be cancelled. Nothing in this world is perfect, so we did exercise faith but on something that is not 100% reliable.

However, God is 100% reliable because He is God. The Lord Jesus Christ is 100% reliable because He is perfect. So we are actually more certain to be in heaven when we die than to be in New York on March 5th!!! And THAT... is what faith in an infallible God implies.

In the same way that wisdom is the application of knowledge, faith is also the application of knowledge. Note that knowledge has to be true and correct, otherwise both wisdom and faith utterly fail.

How is True Faith Developed or Increased?

Knowing the true Biblical definition of faith, the next question is "How then is faith developed and/or increased?" Why did Christ exclaim to his disciples, "Oh, ye of little faith"?

The Wrong Concept

The simple none-theological but very Biblical answer: The development of faith (or believing trust) has nothing at all to do with nurturing faith. On the contrary, it has almost everything to do with nurturing its OBJECT. What this means is that faith is an "automatic" or "natural" result of really knowing the OBJECT of faith. It could be a scientific fact, a historical fact, a natural law like gravity, or a proven concept. Note that it CANNOT be just a theory like the Theory of Evolution. So many people, including scientists exercise this blind faith, trusting something that is no more than just a guess, perhaps it is an intelligent guess but it is still a guess nonetheless and not a completely proven scientific fact (the missing links in the evolutionary path ARE STILL MISSING TODAY after all the research and technology behind it).

The same is true with the homosexual rights concept. It is already quite scientific that there is either a penis or a vagina for each person. People who do not fall under this category like the hermaphrodites are considered SCIENTIFICALLY ABNORMAL. Since when can it be mandated that a person with a correct sexual organ but the wrong brain orientation be considered "normal"? These last centuries have corrupted definitions with relativistic thought applied to extreme, that is relativism applied where IT SHOULD NOT EVEN BE APPLIED. Clean distilled water is scientifically CLEAN DISTILLED WATER even if I try to believe with all my might that it is VINEGAR or a form of vinegar!!!

Common sense has just gone out the door and the main stupid proponents call themselves scientists, teachers, philosophers or even theologians. The loudness of a lobby does not make it right. They consider themselves intelligent where universally, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth to agree with them.

I have not really digressed because these cases are examples of blind faith - putting your trust and belief system on a belief and not on simple universal and logical FACT. Again, if you gave these example to the Hellenists 2,000 years ago, they would simply call this STUPID, and stupid is as stupid gets.

So either the object of faith is fact or faith is just plain stupidity. I hope we have clearly laid that out. This is the day and age where one can redefine things and I simply refuse to get into that kind of non-sensical relativistic bent.

The Correct Concept

So to increase or develop faith, one has to not only get familiar with its object but study and analyze it to the point that everything about the object that is relevant to the exercise of specific faith (YES, all exercise of faith is specific and not general) becomes established FACT in the person's mind. Note that in order for the exercise of faith to be genuine, the object has to be an established fact in reality and an established fact in the mind of the person exercising specific faith.

After it becomes an established fact in a person's mind, he then has to truly and sincerely believe that fact for true Biblical kind of faith to start being exercised. Let us apply this to a real example. In a normal world, trust is built between people as they get to know each other better. The more they know the other person's character, behavior and responses to given circumstances, the more they can sort of "predict" what they would do under certain situations or stimuli. The TRUST that such and such is what a person would do if a certain action or stimulus is applied to him. This would be entirely based on one's knowledge of a person as well as experience dealing with him in various situations.

The same is true with God and Jesus Christ. The more I know them, the more experience I have with them as to how they respond to events, people's behavior, etc., the more I can sort of "predict" what they would do when certain events occur. The unique and peculiar reinforcement to the exercise of faith is that God's character never changes and the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. So there is a sense in making them not exactly more predictable but to state it in general, the basis of the exercise of our faith when it is founded on the Lord Jesus Christ or The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is more reliable. Call that predictability if you will but that definitely helps your faith in them.

For example, if I need healing from God for a specific ailment or disease, it has to be an established fact both in reality and in my mind that God can heal and that God will heal and if He gives conditions for me to be healed, I make sure that I abide by those conditions. Knowing that God fulfills ALL HIS promises within the Kingdom context (you must be a Kingdom child with a real and meaningful relationship with the King) and/or if you abide in Him as He abides in you, He promised to "ask anything in my name and it will be done to you" (John 15:7) or "whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you" (John 15:16). The Lord Jesus even encourages ask to ask in John 16:23,24.

For those who still doubt, what kind of God will make so many promises and either not be able to fulfill them nor would not act to fulfill them??? May that never be so. Fortunately, the Bible does declare over and over that if a Kingdom child continues to live within the Kingdom context, the fulfillment of ALL 100% of His promises will be experienced in reality.

The problem is not with the Promise-Giver for He truly is a Promise-Keeper. The problem is with the Kindom child who so often has one foot on the Kingdom and the other in the world. This is one reason why Christ said, "you cannot serve God and mammon". Christ meant that anytime one is a fence-sitter, he is in reality NOT living in the Kingdom context and that is why God's promises do not find fulfillment and that is why most Christians do not have the right faith to believe and make things happen.

Let us look at passages in Scripture

Now that we have established the true meaning of pisteuo and its implications... be discussed...

What did Christ mean "faith as big as a mustard seed"?

How did Christ respond to "help thou mine unbelief"

What did James mean by "prayer of faith"?

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