What is faith?

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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
What is your definition of faith?

ME:
I thought it was an acting out of a certain hope. So, the Holy Spirit comes and gives a new heart and with this new heart comes a seed of hope in the gospel promises. Then faith is the acting out towards this hope, a coming to God in all that he is for us in Christ and trusting him.

My example was: See that chair? I used to think that that chair was no good. Now, I have a new heart that sees the truth of the chair. It is good and now I know that it is and it has become my hope. I can put my trust in the promise that the chair will catch me. So, I do the only rational thing that there is... i go over there and sit in it. My walking over and sitting in the chair was faith. It was the acting out trust in my hope.

HIM:
He said, as of what I can remember, that faith is different than belief. Belief is based on thinking. Faith is based on knowledge. Faith comes from God so it can never be wrong. Belief comes from your desirable ideas. Faith and belief are totally different.

His example was:
If I jump out of my window i believe that I can fly. I do not have faith that I will fly. It cant be faith, because faith is always based on knowledge. Belief is based on an idea that you have, not on solid evidence. So to say that someone has faith that the Yankees will win the World Series this year is wrong. He would say "You have belief, not faith." Can this distinction be made?

BIBLE:
We looked at Hebrews 11:1 and he didnt like the esv version that reads "assurance". He like "substance". So he doesnt define faith as "knowing of things hoped for" but, i think more so, "evidence of things hoped for".

CALVIN:
And today I looked at calvin's definition of faith: "A firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence towards us, found upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ,both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit."

Basically, I need help understanding what faith is.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
From the larger catechism.

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.


Some key elements here that seem relevant to the discussion you're having: faith comes from the Spirit and the Word, and also involves assenting to truth.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

I like this!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Classically, Reformed theology recognizes three basic elements in true faith.

1) Knowledge, notitia
2) Assent, assensus
3) Trust, fiducia

WSC Question 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Answer. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive {assent} and rest {trust} upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us {knowledge} in the gospel.

Heidelberg. Q21. What is true faith?
A. True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits. This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel.

To borrow the chair illustration,
I can know the chair is there, I can appreciate its workmanship, and its function.
I can believe the chair will support my weight, and that it will be comfortable.
But until I rest my body upon the chair, I have not really trusted it to hold me.
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
For the first 25 years of my Christianity, the explanations people gave to explain what faith is were never understandable to me. It was not until I looked into Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3 KJV) that it finally made sense to me. In the end the explanation is pretty simple, and the explanation is right in Scripture. Please pardon the length and narrow focus of this study.

Abraham Believed God
or
What is Faith?
Updated November 17, 2012

Introduction

Faith is one of the most important words, and concepts, to understand from the Bible. But faith can mean different things. The different kinds of faith and belief are explained in the Bible.

Faith is often explained as believing God exists, or being persuaded that God exists. But this is not saving faith. James cautions,

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (Jam 2:19)

What is the most important type of faith in the Bible? It is the kind of faith which is credited as righteousness.

This study examines the Scripture,

Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3 KJV)

This is a New Testament quotation of Genesis 15:6,

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6 NIV1984)

New Testament Texts

Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 twice.

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3 KJV)

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. (Galatians 3:6 KJV)

And James quotes Genesis 15:6 once.

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23 KJV)

English Definition of Believe

From Webster's 1828 Dictionary,

believe - to be persuaded of the truth of something upon the declaration of another

Meaning Of "To Believe Someone"

The phrase "to believe him" has the same meaning as "to believe what he said". Therefore, "Abraham believed God" has the same meaning as "Abraham believed what God said".

Does it Mean "He Believe God Existed"?

Does the phrase "Abraham believed God" simply mean "Abraham believed God existed"? Even when ignoring the logical meaning of the phrase, given the history of Abraham as recorded in Genesis 12:1-8, Abraham's "believing" in Genesis 15:6 cannot simply be interpreted as belief in the existence of God.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram [was] seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite [was] then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, [having] Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. (Genesis 12:1-8 KJV)

Abraham understanding that God exists is left implied as a precondition in chapter 15. Here in chapter 12, the LORD speaks to Abraham, commands him, gives him promises, and appears to him. Abraham hears God, obeys God, sees God, builds altars, and calls upon the name of the LORD. All of this occurs long before the situation described in Genesis 15:6 where Abraham believes what God promised and it was credited unto him as righteousness. Abraham was already convinced God existed.

Old Testament Text

What was it that God said to Abraham, that Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness?

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I [am] thy shield, [and] thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:1-6 KJV)

Clarification of the King James Rendering

The King James (KJV) rendering in Genesis 15:6 of "believed in the LORD" is a bit misleading in modern English. The original Hebrew has two words: 'aman Yehovah, literally meaning "[he] believed the LORD".

From the New English Translation (NET) translator notes:

The Hebrew verb (’aman)... In the Hiphil, the form used here, it takes on a declarative sense: “to consider something reliable [or dependable]. Abram regarded the God who made this promise as reliable and fully capable of making it a reality.

The New International Version (NIV) rendering is:

Abram believed the LORD, and he [God] credited it to him [Abram] as righteousness (Genesis 15:6 NIV)

What Does The Apostle Paul Say?

What does the apostle Paul say about how to understand the phrase "believe God" in Genesis 15:6?

He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:20-25 KJV)

Conclusion

Understanding the meaning of the phrase "Abraham believed God" is critically important to understanding the concept of faith since this type of belief / faith is credited as righteousness.

In Genesis 15:1-6: God spoke a promise to Abraham, Abraham believed what God said, and was fully persuaded that God would carry out His promise -- and that type of belief was counted unto Abraham as righteousness.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I think semantics can be an issue here:
—There's "believe" that means accepting something as true intellectually (which is fine; good theologians often use it this way).
—And there's "believe" that also incorporates trust and means essentially the same thing as exercising faith (the way the writings of John and other parts of Scripture often use it: "whosoever believeth in him...").

My understanding is that you don't run into quite the same issue if you're dealing just with Koine Greek. But if you're speaking English it often helps to define which "believe" you're talking about, and to be aware that just because your English Bible says "believe" it may not be speaking of the same "believe" you're thinking of.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
I think semantics can be an issue here:
—There's "believe" that means accepting something as true intellectually (which is fine; good theologians often use it this way).
—And there's "believe" that also incorporates trust and means essentially the same thing as exercising faith (the way the writings of John and other parts of Scripture often use it: "whosoever believeth in him...").

My understanding is that you don't run into quite the same issue if you're dealing just with Koine Greek. But if you're speaking English it often helps to define which "believe" you're talking about, and to be aware that just because your English Bible says "believe" it may not be speaking of the same "believe" you're thinking of.


As per your first point "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."

As per your second point "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

:)
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace,[297] wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit[298] and Word of God,[299] whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition,[300] not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel,[301] but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin,[302] and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.[303]

What exactly is this saying:
upon Christ and his righteousness, is received, a pardon for sin...
upon Christ and his righteousness, is given the right, of a pardon for sin...
maybe something else even, just trying to piece it all together.
???

Maybe it means:
upon Christ and his righteousness, that Christ holds out, a pardon for sin...and his [Christ's] righteousness to be accepted [on behalf of the sinner] for salvation
???
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think it is saying that "in this kind of saving faith we receive pardon and justification."

Am i understanding this correctly? The wording here is just something that is hard for me
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I think it is saying that "in this kind of saving faith we receive pardon and justification."

Maybe more like...

"Saving faith means you (1) believe the gospel promises are true and (2) receieve and rest in Christ and his righteousness, which the gospel tells of. This brings (1) pardon for sin and (2) acceptance by God as he counts you righteous in his sight."

It's important, I think, not to leave Christ out of the sentence. Faith doesn't save you, nor does the gospel. Christ saves you. Faith is believing, receiving, and resting in him as he's revealed in the gospel.

As I just used the word, "belief" is not the same as saving faith. It is one element of saving faith. But it's very important that you NOT define "believe" and "faith" the exact same way every time you see them in your Bible. If you take a theology textbook approach and assume those words are precisely defined and used the same way every place you find them, you will quickly have much confusion. This is because both of those words have several possible usages and the definition always depends on the context in which they're used, which is true of most words, both in the Bible and in most other writing. So sometimes "faith" means saving faith, but other times it means something less. Sometimes "belief" means mere intellectual assent (one element of saving faith, but not enough in itself), but other times it means intellectual assent plus trust (the same thing as saving faith). You must notice context. If you don't, you end up trying to reconcile Acts 16:31 with James 2:19, as Earl pointed out above, and you drive yourself batty.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Saving faith means you (1) believe the gospel promises are true and (2) receieve and rest in Christ and his righteousness, which the gospel tells of. This brings (1) pardon for sin and (2) acceptance by God as he counts you righteous in his sight."
1) Knowledge, notitia
2) Assent, assensus
3) Trust, fiducia

What are the parallels here?
1)knowledge - believe
2)assent - receive
3)trust - rest
???

If this is right, then i dont understand (2) they dont seem the same. I see "assent" as "agree" and "receive" as "get".
It's important, I think, not to leave Christ out of the sentence. Faith doesn't save you, nor does the gospel. Christ saves you.
Love this!


Faith is believing, receiving, and resting in him as he's revealed in the gospel.
Is it safe to say "you can only have faith in Jesus". I say this because you said "Faith is....in him". So if I said "I have faith in you" to a friend... would that be wrong?
But it's very important that you NOT define "believe" and "faith" the exact same way every time you see them in your Bible. If you take a theology textbook approach and assume those words are precisely defined and used the same way every place you find them, you will quickly have much confusion.
Thanks for the advice! This seems to be the problem. My friend and I are trying to do word studies to figure this out, and its just been really difficult to get a solid definition.

So what my friend has come up with is that based on his interpretation of Heb 11:1 faith is a gift of evidence that God gives you which leads you to believe. So, he believes faith is evidence that is not tangible.

And at that time I am saying to him that I think belief can be the same as faith. Like Acts 16:31. We are saved by Christ through faith and Paul told him to believe. Why would he tell him to believe if belief doesn't justify you? Or what about Romans 10:9, it doesnt use the word faith?

His response was: Yes, I have no problem with those verses. Faith (gift of evidence, his definition) was given to them and that will leave them to belief.

But i told him that didn't make any sense because if you think:
Belief is "thinking something based on no evidence",
but you believe those verses (Acts 16:31,Rom10:9) are talking about faith (evidence) that will lead them to belief (thinking something based on no evidence)... that doesnt make any sense. How would having evidence lead you to believe with no evidence?
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
"Saving faith means you (1) believe the gospel promises are true and (2) receieve and rest in Christ and his righteousness, which the gospel tells of. This brings (1) pardon for sin and (2) acceptance by God as he counts you righteous in his sight."
1) Knowledge, notitia
2) Assent, assensus
3) Trust, fiducia

What are the parallels here?
1)knowledge - believe
2)assent - receive
3)trust - rest
???

We as humans rest unlike the demons who do not rest though they believe. Look to it as a disposition of the soul towards love vs. hate. We humans love the fact that Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead. The demons hate and believe Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead. If you are human it is impossible to believe Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead without having a loving disposition toward this statement.

In other words, it is impossible for a human to believe or have faith that Jesus is Lord and rose from the dead. It is possible and true the demons do believe such and know they are damned contra to what humans can do....know they are damned.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally Posted by Jack K
"Saving faith means you (1) believe the gospel promises are true and (2) receieve and rest in Christ and his righteousness, which the gospel tells of. This brings (1) pardon for sin and (2) acceptance by God as he counts you righteous in his sight."


Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum
1) Knowledge, notitia
2) Assent, assensus
3) Trust, fiducia


What are the parallels here?
1)knowledge - believe
2)assent - receive
3)trust - rest
???

If this is right, then i dont understand (2 assent - receive) they dont seem the same. I see "assent" as "agree" and "receive" as "get".

I was trying to figure out if i am understanding "assenting" and "receiving" right?
I see it as:
"assenting" means "agreeing"
"receiving" means "getting"

but how can people use these synonymously? assent and receive seem different.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

What exactly is this saying:
upon Christ and his righteousness, is received, a pardon for sin...
upon Christ and his righteousness, is given the right, of a pardon for sin...
maybe something else even, just trying to piece it all together.
???

the sinner... [by means of the gospel] resteth upon Christ and his righteousness therein [i.e. in the gospel] held forth for pardon of sin, etc.

You just have to learn to parse the sentence, and relate the clauses in the right way. They weren't called "precisionists" for nothing...

On the up side, it makes for very clear and accurate theology, once you understand it.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Is belief and faith the same?

Jack's comments are helpful here, I hope you've been able to make use of them. He has explained how in our English use of the terms, we can mean things in a broad or a narrow sense. So we have to look at the words in their settings to see if belief is simply credulity or a synonym for faith in the fullest sense.

In Greek, the word translated "faith" most often is the noun "pistis." By one concordance count, "pistis" is found 244 times, 239 of which is rendered "faith;" once as "assurance," once again as "belief," etc.

The verbal cognate, "pisteuo" could be translated (a bit clunky perhaps) as "have faith." (There's no verb "faithing".) But it is usually translated, "believe." It would be easy to see the cognate relationship if we only used the words "belief" and "believe."

But, as "belief" might more likely be read in an overly narrow way, "faith" (from the Latin, fides) has come up in our tongue as a more useful term.

Sadly, today, faith is belittled by too many ignorant people, who themselves use faith (as Christians generally understand the term) in everyday ways without a moment's hesitation. They oppose faith (defined as irrational belief) to reason, simplistically, while they do not submit their own thinking to similar rigor. They call themselves "reasonable people," deny any faith in their own minds, and define people who disagree with them as irrational.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
"Saving faith means you (1) believe the gospel promises are true and (2) receieve and rest in Christ and his righteousness, which the gospel tells of. This brings (1) pardon for sin and (2) acceptance by God as he counts you righteous in his sight."
1) Knowledge, notitia
2) Assent, assensus
3) Trust, fiducia

What are the parallels here?
1)knowledge - believe
2)assent - receive
3)trust - rest
???

Knowledge would parallel "the gospel." Knowledge is the "stuff" your mind has to come into contact with, whatever the source: books, word-of-mouth, scientific data, your dreams, etc. You can't believe in anything you never conceived of (try it!). "How can they believe... if they never heard?" Rom.10:14.

Assent here would parallel "believe to be true," because Jack's sense clearly includes agreement.

Trust is the "resting." The receiving part is something of a transitional term. Above, I related it to "assent" because it is the opposite (in a sense) to rejecting, which we do with falsehood. It can also be seen as related to resting, because it is an "embrace" of the truth, you are holding it as much as you are being held by it. But ultimately, the "being held" (like actually sitting in the chair) is the essence of real reliance or trust.

Faith is believing, receiving, and resting in him as he's revealed in the gospel.
Is it safe to say "you can only have faith in Jesus". I say this because you said "Faith is....in him". So if I said "I have faith in you" to a friend... would that be wrong?
No, it isn't wrong. It's recognizing that "faith" is a pretty normal aspect of life. What Christianity is concerned with is "saving faith," "justifying faith." The point of our faith, is its OBJECT.

I may have very strong faith in a poorly packed parachute to help me down to the ground. The problem is not with my faith (after all, many parachutes have helped many people to the ground safely; so the knowledge part is not faulty). The problem is with the OBJECT; it is untrustworthy, though I may not know it until too late.

The problem with false religion is that it substitutes another object of hope in the room of Christ.


So what my friend has come up with is that based on his interpretation of Heb 11:1 faith is a gift of evidence that God gives you which leads you to believe. So, he believes faith is evidence that is not tangible.

And at that time I am saying to him that I think belief can be the same as faith. Like Acts 16:31. We are saved by Christ through faith and Paul told him to believe. Why would he tell him to believe if belief doesn't justify you? Or what about Romans 10:9, it doesnt use the word faith?

His response was: Yes, I have no problem with those verses. Faith (gift of evidence, his definition) was given to them and that will leave them to belief.

But i told him that didn't make any sense because if you think:
Belief is "thinking something based on no evidence",
but you believe those verses (Acts 16:31,Rom10:9) are talking about faith (evidence) that will lead them to belief (thinking something based on no evidence)... that doesnt make any sense. How would having evidence lead you to believe with no evidence?

Heb.11:1 is one of the Bible's great texts. There is a problem, however, if one takes it to be some kind of "textbook" or "dictionary" definition for faith. In other words, what the writer to Hebrews means by "faith is..." is not merely explained by the few words that follow, but by the whole chapter!

The author is actually using the word "faith"--being the instrument by which we lay hold of the promises of God--as a metonymy (a certain figure of speech) for the "substance," the "essence," the "stuff," the "hupostasis" of the promise itself. (I don't like the word "assurance" here, per ESV, unless it be understood in an extrinsic {outside of me} sense, rather than the subjective feeling; M&M gloss it "title deed").

The second word, "elegchos" (noun) is sometimes "proof" or "evidence;" sometimes the "conviction" produced by the proof adduced. So for the latter, Mt.18:15 (cognate verb), convict your brother of his fault. It's a matter of interpretation to tell which gives the better sense here. "Proof" makes a nice rhetorical parallel to the first term, and follows the first metonymy precisely. "Conviction" brings the thought back toward the believer, focusing on the instrumentality itself.

I lean to the latter option, since it "moves" the reader/hearer along. I am convicted of the truth of the things promised, even though I have not yet seen them other than by faith, by believing God's Word as the assurance from the ultimate unimpeachable source. This, it seems to me, is precisely then what is illustrated by the many following instances of hope given. So in the second place "faith is..." is less a metonymy, and more literally the personal conviction.

Faith is seen, therefore, in all those men and women of faith. We recognize faith (or the character of particular faith) indirectly, by seeing people exercising it. Faith is how those people obtained the victory. They did not abandon their hope, and so they gained it. Or so we must believe, because we have not ourselves anyone else to trust than the same God, who tells us that they are now gathered to him, and we may be also if we follow them.

It seems to me your friend has (without using this exact language) come quite close to recognizing that "the promise" IS what leads him to believe. Or more precisely, the God of promise, who is bound to his own word. As I said, "faith is..." in the first place a metonymy, for that thing which faith obtains or lays hold upon. Promises are not tangible. That's not to say that God's promises are not substantial! They just aren't things we can measure like material, or show on a video screen, etc. They are more trustworthy, however, than the words of the most honest man you know.

I commend you for thinking through these profound matters. I hope this is helpful.
 
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Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
parse the sentence
I am looking this up right now! thanks for the advice


You can't believe in anything you never conceived of (try it!)
this is funny

Knowledge would parallel "the gospel." Knowledge is the "stuff" your mind has to come into contact with, whatever the source: books, word-of-mouth, scientific data, your dreams, etc. You can't believe in anything you never conceived of (try it!). "How can they believe... if they never heard?" Rom.10:14.

Assent here would parallel "believe to be true," because Jack's sense clearly includes agreement.

Trust is the "resting." The receiving part is something of a transitional term. Above, I related it to "assent" because it is the opposite (in a sense) to rejecting, which we do with falsehood. It can also be seen as related to resting, because it is an "embrace" of the truth, you are holding it as much as you are being held by it. But ultimately, the "being held" (like actually sitting in the chair) is the essence of real reliance or trust.

1) Know the gospel
2) Believe it to be true / agree with it
3) Trust in it / embrace to be held by it / receive it to hold you


The point of our faith, is its OBJECT.
YES


It seems to me your friend has (without using this exact language) come quite close to recognizing that "the promise" IS what leads him to believe. Or more precisely, the God of promise, who is bound to his own word. As I said, "faith is..." in the first place a metonymy, for that thing which faith obtains or lays hold upon. Promises are not tangible. That's not to say that God's promises are not substantial! They just aren't things we can measure like material, or show on a video screen, etc. They are more trustworthy, however, than the words of the most honest man you know.
I told him the "knowledge, assent, trust" definition of faith and he said "I like it, especially because it doesn't have belief any where in the definition." And that is when I asked him if faith doesn't have anything to do with belief then why does Acts 16:31 and Rom 10:9 say only believe if we are saved through faith. That is when he said "we believe based on our gift of faith, our faith leads us to belief". So he is strictly using it as evidence.

Like this:
1) knowledge - faith
2) assent - belief
3) trust - belief

Faith isn't a believing in. Faith isn't a putting trust in. Faith is only a gift of intangible evidence that is gospel promises. Then after you have faith, you can believe in it.

And I don't think that is right. Because, if I am understanding what you are saying, I agree with you that faith has three elements: knowledge, assent, trust. Faith is not only a "gift of an intangible box of evidence"( his definition). If he is saying what you guys are saying, then i really am not understanding you guys.

"the promise" IS what leads him to believe.
You you would say that knowing "the promise" is apart of faith, and "believing" the promise is apart of faith, then an "embracing/receiving/trusting" is part of faith. Am I right on this?

Because my friend is saying "the promise" is the faith.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Matt,
It's just my opinion, but I think your friend needs to lose some of his self-confidence, and just try to learn and absorb. He needs to trust his teacher, preferably a local one. I was trying to affirm what seemed like a good beginning for him that (perhaps with your help) can be guided into a clearer apprehension of truth. His "box of intangibles" concept isn't that helpful a restatement, in my opinion.

Christians sometimes seem to think that theology and Bible study is easy as pie. They don't think the same thing about Integral Calculus, that you just open the textbook and it explains itself. But some folks think that since Holy Spirit is given to every believer, that means he makes all revelational truth equally accessible to every mind. This is not realistic, nor biblical. Qualified teachers are a spiritual requirement for the church.

Have you and your friend weighed the fact that pistis (noun) and pisteuo (verb) are closely related cognates in Greek? "Faith," the noun, puts the focus on a thing: sometimes the objective body of Christian doctrine, "the faith." More commonly, faith is the subjective means (instrumental) of obtaining all the benefits of Christ's redemption. It can be the faculty of the mind or spirit that seems able (or not) to believe, i.e. "I have/have no faith."

In Heb.11:1, in the first part of the "faith is..." description, we have a metonymy, "a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated." The author could have said something similar but more concrete, like "faith is Christ," or "faith is the gospel." What he actually says is more conceptual, that faith is the very essence of the promises of God, in which we put our hopes. In other words, like a good preacher he's using language with peculiar rhetorical force.

What he's not doing is giving his hearers a theological-textbook definition for faith. He's asking them to recognize the "substance" their faith has latched onto (which is divine promise) is everything that faith is about, everything for which faith exists, in the context of the Christian religion. It is a "subjective" term being used in an "objective" way; almost as if "faith" were put in place of "the faith." The subjective and objective notions are being VERY closely and deliberately associated.

The second part of the "faith is..." description backs off a bit from the objectivity, and settles on "conviction." This cannot be missed without skewing the description that IS present. We have in Heb.11:1 a double predicate nominative. Expanded out you can put it: "Faith is...," and "faith is...."


You you would say that knowing "the promise" is apart of faith, and "believing" the promise is apart of faith, then an "embracing/receiving/trusting" is part of faith. Am I right on this?
In terms of the tripartite breakdown of the subjective act of faith, yes, this generally describes it. But you put the first "quotes" around promise rather than around knowing. In essence, you've just resorted to your own metonymy in that instance, perhaps without meaning to.

At this point, I think your friend may be conflating one meaning of "faith:" as in THE {Christian} Faith (objective and outside us), with that element of subjective faith inside me that accesses the information presented to me from outside.


If this is too complicated, I apologize; but again, it is the medium of the internet. I'm trying to help someone who isn't even asking the questions; and that through someone else (you) who is also attempting to grasp the material in a better way than he has hitherto.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's just my opinion, but I think your friend needs to lose some of his self-confidence, and just try to learn and absorb.
I do not believe he is self-confident. It is just that in his early years of his Christian life he was brought up Assemblies of God. Then, somehow he became calvinist. And he never had any good local teachers, so he has had to be discipled by teachers/pastors on the internet and books (which is really hard). He is like me, trying to unlearn a lot of things that he was taught growing up and learn whats right.

He's asking them to recognize the "substance" their faith has latched onto (which is divine promise) is everything that faith is about, everything for which faith exists, in the context of the Christian religion.
This just helped me greatly!

Originally Posted by Matthew1344
You you would say that knowing "the promise" is apart of faith, and "believing" the promise is apart of faith, then an "embracing/receiving/trusting" is part of faith. Am I right on this?
In terms of the tripartite breakdown of the subjective act of faith, yes, this generally describes it. But you put the first "quotes" around promise rather than around knowing. In essence, you've just resorted to your own metonymy in that instance, perhaps without meaning to.
Maybe i did that, but i meant to put it around knowing! ha
At this point, I think your friend may be conflating one meaning of "faith:" as in THE {Christian} Faith (objective and outside us), with that element of subjective faith inside me that accesses the information presented to me from outside.


If this is too complicated, I apologize; but again, it is the medium of the internet. I'm trying to help someone who isn't even asking the questions; and that through someone else (you) who is also attempting to grasp the material in a better way than he has hitherto.
Thanks so much for doing this BTW. It has helped me so much, and i hate that I haven't looked at this in more detail before this. I have been a Christian for 7 years, i definitely should have looked at for myself what faith truly is, instead of taking everyones word for it.

And yeah, that confused me, but i am going to keep looking at it and i am going to show it to him and ask him what he thinks about it!
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
Faith is a leap toward the light, not a blind leap bungee jumping into eternity. This is the judgment they loved the darkness rather than the light. But the love of the light is a gift.

Faith is tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. The back story for the Psalm 'taste and see that the Lord is good' is taken from is David drooling all over his beard to pretend to be crazy in front of a Philistine ruler. If you can taste as see God is God when life is crazy, it's a gift.

Faith involves a belief there is a reward to be had. Requirement for faith in cludes must believe that God is and the God who is rewards those who diligently seek Him Abraham''s exceeding great reward was God himself.

Faith goes hand in hand with love. In God's case the two attributes mentioned together most often are faithfulness and lovingkindness
 
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