First off, ttoews, let me say that I know this is a rather quick response. You just happened to catch me at a really "good" time, I suppose
. I'm not in a rush with this discussion, so no worries as it relates to how long it takes to respond. Had you written this on Monday, it still would have been now before I could have gotten to it
OK, as for your post . . .
I love the irony here Jac. I don't know how many posts we spent going through modern dictionary definitions and modern usages of "believe". I tried to convince you that modern dictionaries and usages understood "believe" to include the view that something is possible, hopefully true, but not certain. You refused to be convinced....so you can imagine my surprise when you quoted the above passage from TWOT with approval. Can I presume that you now agree with my view that the meaning of "believe" as used today includes the concept of something that is possible, hopefully true, but not certain.
I'm not sure I see where you are getting this from the TWOT quote. Let me repeat that quote, keeping the emhasis you added:
- In this sense the word in the Hiphil conjugation is the biblical word for "to believe" and shows that biblical faith is an assurance, a certainity, in contrast with modern concepts of faith as something possible, hopefully true, but not certain.
He doesn't say that modern concepts of "belief" are things possible, yet not certain. He talks about modern concepts of "faith." The reality is that, in English, the words "faith" and "belief," while they have a good deal in common, are not absolutely synonomous. If you don't believe me, go ask an atheist the following questions:
1) Do you believe evolution to be true?
2) Do you have faith that evolution is true?
How do you think that they will respond to these quesions? Exactly the same? Hardly. Why do you think that people argue that faith and science are incompatible? Don't most people look at faith as "belief in absense of evidence"? That definition alone proves that faith (in the modern concept) is a subset of belief.
So . . . I don't see the irony, unless you absolutely equivocate faith and belief, which you cannot do. Now, the actual irony here is that in both Greek and Hebrew, belief and faith are
absolutely synonomous, because they are the same word
Now, let's take a walk on the wild side and assume that you are right with your soteriology. What you must keep in mind is that your audience (when you preach the gospel) is a modern audience with a modern concept of "believe".....so you had better be very careful to not just say "believe":, but you had better be very careful to explain that Jesus meant "believe in me with absolute certainty" when He said "believe in me".
See the discussion above. I don't tell people "you just have to have faith in Jesus," because they would
likely misunderstand my meaning. What I tell them is that Jesus has offered them everlasting life and to believe in Him for it, and that is ALL they have to do. Inevitably, the response is the same: "What? It's JUST belief? No way." The odd thing is that I can say, "All you have to do is trust Jesus for everlasting life," and they are ok with that. Or, I can say, "All you have to do is have faith in Jesus," and they are ok with that, too. But people know what it means to believe something. It means that you know something to be true (that, of course, don't change the fact that you could be wrong; nor does it change the fact that you could know that you could be wrong - more on that below). So, they object, because they really do understand the Gospel at that point (so long as they also understand what the belief is FOR, namely, everlasting life.)
I agree that in the OT saving faith is a faith that is full of certainty. The same is true of the NT and, of course, the same is still true today. That, in part, is why I call saving faith a profound faith and not a simple faith. Certainty is also not the only characteristic of this saving faith. What you must keep in mind is that just b/c scripture describes saving faith as a faith with full certainty, does not mean other types of faith (lesser faiths) don't exist...in fact, scripture clearly talks about belief/faith that does not save and of levels of faith. I have given these examples before where Christ and the apostles speak of various levels of faith:
I would disagree that faith is "a faith that is full of certainty." Faith is
full certainty. Look again at Heb. 11:1. It does not say, "Now faith holds the evidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things unseen." It says "Faith is
the evidence . . ." Or, look again at the definitions of pisteuw
. They mean "to know something." Now, this is even recognized in the atheistic world. For example, Thomas Henry Huxley wrote:
- Looking back through the prodigious vistas of time, I find no record of the beginning of life, and, therefore, I am devoid of any means of forming a conclusion as to the conditions of its appearance. Belief, in the scientific sense of the word, is a serious matter and requires strong foundations. To say, therefore, in the admitted absence of evidence, that I have any belief as to the mode in which life forms have originated, would be using words in the wrong sense (source)
If it helps, I'll concede that there is a popular usage in which "believe" carries the idea of a tenative commitment to an idea. But, that is simply incorrect usage of the word, which is what Huxley is taking issue with here. And, if it makes you feel better, when I am presenting to Gospel, I do present it as a matter of full certainity. A friend of mine puts it very simply: "Jesus says in John 6:47, 'Whoever believes in Me has everlasting life.' Do you believe this?" When I present the Gospel, I explain the historical aspects of the faith first. Jesus Christ existed (they believe this), He lived and died (they believe this), and He says that if you believe in Him for everlasting life then you have it (they believe He said it). Now, do you believe in Him for it? At that point, discussion deepens . . . how could He make such an offer? Why should I believe the offer is true? But, they understand that "to believe in Jeus for eternal life" is just that--to "believe in" Him.
Now, in the above quote, you bring up a separate issue, which is other faiths. I do believe that there is such a thing as "non-saving faith." When I put my faith in my car everyday, that doesn't save me. Now--this is IMPORTANT--Jesus wasn't talking about saving faith when He talked about such things as the faith of a mustard seed. A Muslim may have great faith in God. He may have greater faith than you or me. I suspect there were many Muslims, prior to the Iraq war, that believed that Allah would overthrow the infidel United States. They proved themselves wrong, but I'm sure somebody believed that he could do it.
The kind of faith you are talking about is faith in the ability of God to work in our lives. The disciples had little faith on the Sea of Galilee, not because they had NO faith in God, but because they didn't believe He could or would save them. They were afraid. They were doubting, and it was for THAT doubt that Jesus castigated them. He did that because they were doubting God. They had little faith, and in that little faith, they were sinning, because doubt=unbelief.
That is all the more reason that saving faith is absolute certainty, because doubt is unbelief. In the issue of saving faith, we are not deciding whether or not God can do great things in our lives. We are deciding whether or not God can give us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Once we have entered discipleship, we start working on the day-to-day faith of trusting God with the mundane issues of life, as that song says, "Jesus take the wheel." The more we can do that, the greater or faith, because we can believe (are certain that) God is capable and will do more things in and through us. But, again, please don't confuse this with saving faith. They are separate issues.
note that the apostles view faith as something that may be increased, which if one substitutes in your concept of absolute certainty, then one has the apostles asking the Lord to, "Increase our absolute certainty." ...this doesn't exactly make sense.
I'll just use this as an example of the above. They weren't saying "increase our absolute certainty." They were saying, "Increase the realm of our certainty about what God is capable of doing!" In other words, "Let us belief more about God!"
It is saving faith that possesses full certainty.....and so one in the free grace school of thought should still be asking himself, "Did I or do I believe with full certainty.?...Did I believe strongly enough?"
Hopefully the above should answer this question. It is impossible to believing "strongly enough." That is like saying, "Can water be any wetter?" The question is simple: "Have I believed in Jesus' promise to give me everlasting life?" If you haven't believed it, then you don't have it.
You want to say that one either has faith or that one doubts and that there is no middle ground, but what you should be saying is that one has saving faith or that one doesn't have saving faith and that there is no middle ground.
And hopefully you are starting to see where you have misunderstood my position. As it relates to saving faith, you either have it or you don't. If you want to be technical, the law of excluded middle says that we can't have a middle ground on this. However--and this is the all important key I think you've missed so far--"faith" is not a technical word that refers only to saving faith. I can have faith in lots of things. I can have "great" faith or "little" faith. Again, to be SURE everyone is following, let me give an example of that:
I can have "great" faith in Target to provide all my needs. I can be absolutely sure that ANYTHING I need, they have. I could, of course, be wrong. My faith could be misplaced. But, I could certainly believe that. On the other hand, I could have "little" faith in Target. Here, I can be absolutely sure that they will have some things I need, but not everything. Or, I can have no faith in Target. I don't know they will have ANYTHING I need. There is, you see, no progression is the certainty of the faith. There is progression in the realm that certainty covers.
given that one school of Jewish thought didn't believe in a resurrection, I find it hard to accept that the Jews immediately understood Christ's remarks...Nicodemus certainly needed help following along.
Yes, and I will flat say that every Sadducee (supposing that they had NEVER believed in the resurrection of the dead) died lost in their sins. What was the basis of salvation in the OT? It was believing in the promise of God, not simply that the Messiah would come (even Judas believed that!). What was the promise of God? It was that the people would inherit their land forever. It was explicitly tied to the general resurrection. Righteous Jews believed that they would be raised up on the last day and would rule forever. They didn't realize that the MESSIAH would be the one to provide this, which is why Nicodemus had trouble understanding Jesus. The Pharisees - Judaism in general - had long forgotten that salvation was by faith. They believed that they were "born saved." The issue for them was not to be born again, but rather to avoid losing their salvation by being cut off from the people of God, and that could happen by breaking the Law (thus, their interest in that area). This understanding has no bearing on what Nicodemus thought about belief or unbelief. In fact, there is absolutely nothing in that account to imply that he did not understand what Jesus was saying when He got down to verse fifteen.
In any event, earlier I had said, "when the OT talked about faith it was talking not about simple belief, but was talking about a profound belief where one totally relied on God and unavoidably evidenced that belief by obedience". You replied that this claim was unsubstantiated. That claim however is substantiated by the Totality concept.
I disagree. First, I already said that I don't accept the Totality concept as Holding applies it. If you agree with that, you'll have to prove it. My view of Semitic Totality comes from their understanding of the constitution of man. He was both body and soul, but the continued existence of the soul after death guaranteed the future existence of the body in the resurrection. So, the ISBE writes
- What shape did this hope of immortality assume? It was not, as already seen, an immortality enjoyed in Sheol; it could only then be a hope connected with deliverance from the power of Sheol--in essence, whether precisely formulated or not, a hope of resurrection. It is, we believe, because this has been overlooked, that writers on the subject have gone so often astray in their discussions on immortality in the Old Testament. They have thought of a blessedness in the future life of the soul (thus Charles, op. cit., 76-77); whereas the redemption the Bible speaks of invariably embraces the whole personality of man, body and soul together. Jesus, it may be remembered, thus interprets the words, "I am the God of Abraham," etc. (Matthew 22:32), as a pledge not simply of continued existence, but of resurrection. This accords with what has been seen of the connection of death with sin and its abnormality in the case of man. The immortality man would have enjoyed, had he not sinned, would have been an immortality of his whole person. It will be seen immediately that this is borne out by all the passages in which the hope of immortality is expressed in the Old Testament. These never contemplate a mere immortality of the soul, but always imply resurrection.
So, we can see that, in general, they were more holistic in their thinking rather than, say, the Greeks, who believed that once the body perished, we lived on simply as spirit. The extreme form of Semitic Totality, I suspect, seems to be a daughter of Hodge's views, discussed in the same article:
- he other and later view, which is thought to follow logically from the account in Genesis 2:7, supposes the soul to perish at death (pp. 41). We read there that "Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The "breath of life" (nishmath chayyim) is identified with the "spirit of life" (ruach chayyim) of Genesis 6:17, and is taken to mean that the soul has no independent existence, but is "really a function of the material body when quickened by the (impersonal) spirit" (p. 42). "According to this view the annihilation of the soul ensues inevitably at death, that is, when the spirit is withdrawn" (p. 43). This view is held to be the parent of Sadduceeism, and is actually affirmed to be the view of Paul (pp. 43-44, 409)-- the apostle who repudiated Sadduceeism in this very article (Acts 23:6-9). Body, Soul and Spirit.
So far as it goes, this view is very wrong, as is Holding's version of it. But, again, I didn't see any need to go into all of this with Turgonian, as it was unrelated to my specific point with him.
Now, unless you can prove that your view of ST is correct, then your claim absolutely is unsubstantiated. There is no reason to assume that the Jews looked at aman
in such a way as to believe that it necessarily produced good works, else it was not truly aman
Further, at this point I don't believe that you have answered my challenge and pointed out an OT example of a fellow who had "aman" in God, but never obeyed God. Perhaps you could refer me to the Jew in Christ's audience who understood circumcision to be an option, who thought sacrifices were not required or who thought that the commandments were merely suggestions that one could choose to follow or not? Until you do, why should I think that the 1st century Jew thought that obedience could be divorced from faith?
There are several problems with your first question. First, it is an argument from silence. The Bible tells us of very few individuals
who had saving faith. It is ridiculous to require that Samuel or Moses was required to give us a list of the names of those who had believed, and then a record of their actions. The second problem is that the OT primarily records theology in the form of narrative, and that narrative focused on Israel's history. Thus, the individuals that push history along are either glorified or demonized. This, of course, is not to cast doubt on the veracity of Scripture. Not portraying a particular side of a person or event doesn't make you a liar. So, the hero's of the faith--those who clearly had "saving faith"--are lifted up for their deeds. The evil men are ridiculed for their wickedness. Of course, all of this is in further line with the Jewish interest in temporal blessings and curses as they relate to behavior.
As for your second question, I'll refer you to John 12:42 --
- Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue (NIV)
This answers the heart of your question. Belief did not necessarily result in obedience, in this case, confession. You may say, "Ah, but it doesn't say they NEVER confessed," but it never says that did confess at some point in the future, either, does it? The simple fact is that, in this case, faith did not produce obedience. It did not produce confession.
Well, maybe faith takes some time to sink in, eh?
The point here is that your claim that faith necessarily produces good works is unsubstantiated thus far by both Semetic Totality and Scripture in general. In fact, it is contrary to at least two Scriptures I've already provided--the parable of the seeds and John 12:42.
Jac3510 wrote:Why do you say "religious faith"?
cuz I wanted to give your position the benefit of such a restriction
I don't understand . . . why would you want to give my position the benefit of something I don't believe?
agreed, and such was the case for the OT Jews...I am inclined to think that they (like us) would have believed that if they a)put some wheat seeds in the ground and b) watered them, that c)wheat would grow. It seems that you want to say that they didn't "know" that wheat would grow and so they didn't "aman" that wheat would grow, b/c "aman" requires complete certainty. I kinda think the OT Jews were just like us....that is, they said that they believed things (such as wheat growing from seeds) even if absolute certainty wasn't there....however, I am inclined to believe, that wrt to saving faith/religious faith, the OT Jews understood such faith to be profound and not passive or casual.
OK - here is where we need to differentiate between doubt and the recognition that you could be wrong. Using your example, I know that if I put wheat seeds in the ground and do all the necessary things that I will a crop. Now, I certainly don't know how big that crop will be. I know there is a possibility I could be wrong, because I know there could be an unexpected famine. However, that does not change the fact that I KNOW (with complete certainty) that if I do these things, then certain things will happen.
See, I don't KNOW there will be a crop. I don't "have faith" there will be a crop. What I KNOW is that if I do the things necessary, and if it rains, etc., then there will be a crop. Besides this, I can completely rely on that future crop, whether I am sure it will be there or not. I can place my full assurance in it. If I am wrong, then I will pay dearly, but I can say to myself, "This is the only way that I will live. Therefore, because I know how to farm and what the results of farming are, I will do this to live."
With reference to Christianity, I have absolute certainty that I am saved--that I have eternal life. Of course, I recognize that it is a logical possibility that I am wrong, but that doesn't change my certainty. It is logically possible that I don't even exist, but that doesn't change the fact that I am certain that I am sitting here now. Again, to be certain means to not have doubt. To doubt means to disbelieve. To believe means to be certain. Thus, to believe means to be certain something is true. All of these ideas are related, but none of them are defined by what is actually real. The truth is that I can be absolutely certain of something and yet be wrong
. In fact, I can be absolutely certain of something, know that some people disagree with me, still hold to my belief, and still turn out to be wrong!
This is how the Jews saw things, too. When Jesus said, "Believe in Me," they were certain that He would raise them up on the last day. They were certain that He gave them everlasting life. By a logical extension, they were therefore certain that they had everlasting life.
thanks for the question, as it sets up my answer perfectly. In response how do you know that you haven't deluded yourself into thinking that you once believed with absolute certainty? Memories are rather fallible, they fail and change...perhaps you only think that you once believed with absolute certainty. To this you might reply, "Ahh, but I still believe with absolute certainty, and therefore, I know I believe in that fashion and have objective assurance of my salvation". In that case you have just described perseverance as being required for your objective assurance....but perseverance is something that you deny as necessary. You can't have it both ways. Also, how do you know you will continue to believe with absolute assurance?
First, let's say that tomorrow I start to doubt that I ever really did believe. You are right that, in that moment, I have no certainty, and I, in fact, have no faith. However, does that negate the fact that I believe NOW? No, it does not. Thus, it does not negate the fact that I am truly saved.
In the second case, I may have tricked myself into thinking that I believed three years ago. However, as you note, I DO know that I believe now. You may say, "Ah, but how do you know that you have not tricked yourself even now?" The reason is that I may be manipulating my memories to conform to what I now
believe. I may not have believed three years ago. Sure. I think I did, but I may be wrong. However, right now I know that I believe this. Is it logically possible that next year I may disbelieve and wonder if I "really" believed today? Yes. But, does that change the reality of my believe NOW? No. As of this second, I do, in fact, believe that I have everlasting life because I have trusted Jesus for it.
In the final place, that scenario has nothing to do with perseverance. And you should know that. Now, assurance is necessary for salvation (because assurance IS faith), but sustained
assurance is not necessary for salvation. Therefore, your argument does not work.
Jac3510 wrote:Of course, you can assume I am lying, and thus, you do not know, but assuming I am telling the truth (or with a bit of prodding as to WHAT I claim to have believed), you can know objectively about my state of belief.
this is such an inappropriate use of "objective" that I just can't let it pass w/o comment. Get thee to a good dictionary immediately!
Does Dictionary.com qualify?
- 4. being the object or goal of one's efforts or actions.
5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective).
8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.
It seems to me that 5-8 all fit my usage well enough? As I am the object of your study, you know objectively (without personal bias or interpretation) about the reality of my faith. How you interpret that obervation my be subjective . . .
Anyway, if you want to quibble over English words, then feel free to tell me what word you would rather I use. Call it "foo." Call it "subjective." I don't care. We use words to convey meaning, and it the meaning we are trying to discuss here. What I am saying is that you have to know with certainty that you are saved basd not on your own works but on the simple promise of Christ that you have everlasting life. If you don't know that you have everlasting life on THAT basis alone, then you do not believe the Gospel at the present time. If you find that in order to know that you are saved you must have good works to prove you have really believed, then you do not believe the Gospel at the present time. I call those assurances objective and subjective, as does MacArthur. But, again, if you want to use a different word, feel free. I really don't care.
yes, and in particular I am concerned that your free grace soteriology is the source of that type of mistake....that your soteriology has misled people into thinking that they were saved with a momentary simple belief when they weren't.
And this is what terrifies me about your belief, ttoews. If this doesn't make it clear that we are advocating different Gospels, I don't know what does. If you are right, then "simple belief" (to use your terminology) doesn't save, and these people have believed a false gospel. If I am right, then you do not, at present, believe the Gospel, because you don't believe that "simple faith" is enough.
so I guess I just live out my life and find out....trusting Jesus to keep me in the palm of His hand in the process...kinda thought that was the way it worked and I feel quite at home in that hand.
So you acknowledge that it is possible that in ten years, you may no longer believe (if it turns out you didn't REALLY believe). So, you have an assurance based on your works, although this isn't certainty. You don't KNOW that you won't fall away in ten years. So, you don't KNOW you are saved. You are just pretty sure you are saved.
You say you are trusting Jesus to keep you in the palm of His hand. How do you know you were ever in it?
...as the scriptures say, "by their fruit, you will know them".
"Them" being disciples and false teachers, yes. Believers, no.
why would you think the Pharisee wasn't saved?....maybe he was...was the pharisee in question following Jesus, following works or sitting under a tree thinking, "hey, I listened to that guy from Galilee, believed for a second that he could save me, so if there was any legitimacy to him I guess I am saved,... but really, when I think about it now, you'd have to be a complete fool to follow that Jesus fellow." ....Now, Jac, I am not inclined to judge, b/c, as I have said before, I can't see into the heart of this pharisee, but I would be concerned if he was following works or sitting under the tree as described.
I was referring to Pharisees prior to Jesus' coming. It's pretty clear that most of the Jewish leadership did not believe in Jesus. And yet, they certainly looked really good on the outside. Now, ttoews, if assurance of salvation comes through works, and these people had works, then how is it that they did not have assurance of their salvation?
If they did have assurance, but it was a false assurance, then we have established that works can not guarantee that your faith is real. Therefore, if you are appealing to your works, then how do you know that your faith is real and that it is not the same type of faith that the Pharisees had?
you do realize that in my understanding "fruit" would include false doctrine as well as good/bad deeds...and so one looks at all fruit that is produced and not just the non-doctrinal fruit
You missed the point of the question. In this question, you are implicitly recognizing that a person may profess false doctrine, and thus be an unbeliever, and yet produce behavior that is consistent with genuine belief. Yet, how can an unbeliever produce such behavior? And, if an unbeliever CAN produce such behavior, then how does your behavior prove that you are actually a believer? How do you know that you are not an unbeliever who is producing a false-good fruit, like the Pharisees did or the Mormons do?
again, their mistaken doctrine is a fairly easy fruit to observe...however, I am also not prepared to say all Mormons are damned. If God told me that only one of the following two fellows was saved:
a) fellow one...a Mormon fellow who has some false doctrine, but follows the mormon teaching that Jesus died on the cross for his sins and to gain his salvation, and has dedicated his life to loving God and his neighbour; and
b) fellow two...a free grace fellow who believed for a moment, but has no love of God in him and has refused to follow Jesus..
I'll write this off to your ignorance on Mormon doctrine . . . Let me just let them tell you
what they believe:
- Jesus Christ did what only He could do in atoning for our sins. To make His Atonement fully effective in our individual lives, we must have faith in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, obey God's commandments, and strive to become like Him. As we do these things through His Atonement, we can return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father forever.
So, fellow (a) is out, unless he has believed the Gospel, which is faith alone in Christ alone. As for fellow (b), I ask a simple question - did he believe (even for a moment) or not? John 6:47 says everyone who believes HAS everlasting life. I'd rather not contradict the Bible.
Now the above just can't be right...even by your soteriology. If you find a problem with 1, 2, and 3 then just add 4) Get off your butt, do some works and gain some assurance....problem solved.
"A) Salvation requires knowing that you are saved" Where in the world did you get this idea from? ...It most certainly isn't my psoition and it doesn't jive with what you have told me about your position. You claim that someone can believe for but a moment, reject Jesus for the remainder of his existence and that such a fellow is still saved. That fellow does not "know that he is saved". He might not even believe in the existence of salvation, God and eternal life...let alone "know that he is saved".
You can't "gain" assurance. I'll assume the above discussion should show why that is true in my understanding of things. Secondly, even if you could, it wouldn't solve the problem. At what point would you be CERTAIN you were saved? How many works do you have to do before you have that kind of knowledge? And, given (A), which you disagree with, that means that you aren't saved until you GET that certainty, which still proves my original point, which is that you aren't saved at the moment of "belief."
Now, you still seem to be confused about the perseverance issue. I don't have to ALWAYS know for certain that I am saved. I only have to know at one point in time that I am saved, because that is what faith is. It is
assurance. Thus, as Calvin liked to say, "Assurance is of the essence of saving faith." I'm not saying anything new here, ttoews. This would be a nice time to start quote-mining. It wouldn't be hard, but I'll just leave it at that, for now.
I want you to see this VERY clearly, ttoews: You don't believe what I am saying is the Gospel. Therefore, if what I am saying IS the Gospel, then you don't believe the Gospel. That is a scary and sobering thought. Does that mean you aren't saved? Only if you've never believed the Gospel, and that is something you shouldn't play around with.
Do you know you are saved? Right now? And based on what?