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#1. WHAT IS REAL APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN FAITH?

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Greek word study on πιστεύω, 'pisteuo' meaning 'to believe'.
Greek word study on πίστις, 'pistis' meaning 'faith'.

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Introduction 1

One meaning of the word "faith" is, "complete trust, or unquestioning confidence", and this can not only be applied to God, but also to natural things, and people. We can have faith in people, such as doctors, or dentists, or teachers, or family, or friends, that they will not let us down when we need help. We can have faith in technology, such as a car, that it will not break down on a long journey, or a plane that it will not crash if we fly abroad. Another meaning of the word "faith" is "strong belief, especially in a religious doctrine, a system of beliefs, a religion". Some people refer to "the Christian faith", or "the Methodist faith", or "the Baptist faith", or "the Roman Catholic faith", but as far as God is concerned there is only one true faith (Ephesians 4:5), and it is this faith that we are going to examine in this study. It is the "faith of Jesus Christ" Galatians 2:16), the true apostolic faith that the apostles had through the indwelling spirit of Christ in them (Galatians 2:20). It is important because we are told that we should walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), stand by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24), and live by faith (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We are justified by faith (Romans 3:28; 5:1; Galatians 2:16), we overcome the world by faith (1 John 5:4), and we can be healed by faith (Matthew 9:22; Luke 17:19; James 5:14-15). Faith will move mountains (Matthew 17:20; 21:21; Mark 11:23), obtain answers to prayers (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:23-24), and make all things possible to us (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:23). We cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Most important of all, our ultimate promise of salvation and eternal life with God is through faith (Luke 7:50; Ephesians 2:8;  1 Peter 1:9). So in this bible study as we investigate the various passages of scripture which reveal to us what real apostolic Christian faith is, we will try to explain how each one applies to our salvation.

#1.1 FAITH IS THE BASIS OF THINGS HOPED FOR?

HEBREWS 11:1 (Paul)
1 Now faith is the substance1 of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Note: The word translated substance1 (Gr. ὑπόστασις, Gtr. hupostasis) is made up of two words, ὑπό (Gtr. hupo) meaning "under", and στάσις (Gtr. stasis) meaning "a standing". The word ὑπόστασις can be translated in several ways, depending on the context in which it is used:

(1) That which stands, or is set under something: a foundation, a substructure, or a basis.
Some think that this literal use of the word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, but we might consider that "faith is the basis of things hoped for" does make very good sense, and other scriptures support it (Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23; James 1:6-7). In fact the use of the word "substance", here may be considered to be out of context: for example, if we were to pray for food, is faith the substance of that food? No, the substance of that food already exists in the world, in the fields, or in the shops, but it does not exist inside of us. What we have in us is the "the faith" (which is the basis) that the food which we have prayed for will soon be manifested to our sight, not the substance out of which our food will be made. By way of illustration, suppose we desired to buy a certain item from a shop, and when we telephoned the shopkeeper he told us the purchase price, and that he had the item in stock. First we make sure that we have the money to buy the item, because this is the basis of the shopkeeper letting us have it, and then we set out to go to the shop to collect it. As long as we have the money, which is the basis of exchange with the shopkeeper, we can be confident that the item will soon be ours. In fact as long as we have the money, it is as good as ours. But if we lost the money, or it was stolen from us on the way, would the shopkeeper then let us have the item? No, because we have lost the basis of the exchange, and we would not receive the item. We would somehow have to obtain more money to buy the item, or go without. However, if we get to the shop with the money safely in our possession, then we can exchange the money for the item, and what we had been hoping for then becomes ours in reality. Once we have the item in our possession, our basis to obtain it, the money, is no longer ours.
Now compare this with salvation by faith. Our faith is like the money, it is the basis of us obtaining salvation, and salvation is like the item we wanted to buy. The fact that salvation is still future in a real sense is given by many scriptures:

(Mark 16:16 RPT) "He who believed and was baptised shall be saved;"
(Acts 15:11) "But we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
(Romans 13:11) "for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
(Philippians 2:12) "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
(1 Peter 1:5 RPT) "Who are being kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
(1 Peter 1:9) "Receiving at the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

When we become believers, God gives us "a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3) for our salvation, but we need to maintain that faith, because if we lose it, just like if we lost the money, we will get nothing. Providing then, that we hold on to our faith to the end, we will receive our salvation in a real sense when we are resurrected from the dead at Jesus' second coming (1 Corinthians 15:50-57;  2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:28;  1 Peter 1:7).

(Matthew 24:13) "But he who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."

(2) That which is firm, that which has foundation.
Rather than being the firm foundation itself, here it is taken to mean that which has a firm foundation:

   (a) That which has actual existence, essence, or substance.
The word ὑπόστασις (Gtr. hupostasis) is incorrectly translated "person" (Hebrews 1:3), where "substance" or "essence" would have been more accurate and consistent with the meaning of the word.

   (b) Steadiness or firmness (of mind).
This can be taken to mean confidence, firm trust, or assurance, and so ὑπόστασις is translated "confident" (2 Corinthians 9:4), and "confidence" (2 Corinthians 11:17; Hebrews 3:14).

#1.2 FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN

HEBREWS 11:1 (Paul)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence1 of things not seen.

Note: The word translated evidence1 (Hebrews 11:1) (Gr. ἔλεγχος, Gtr. elenchos) has the basic meaning of "proof", and only occurs one other time in the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV) where it is translated "reproof", perhaps meaning "a proof of sin". If it had been translated simply "evidence", or "proof", then it would show that this "evidence" comes through the study of the word of God, just as faith does (Romans 10:17). Faith is the proof that we have something that we have no other evidence for whatever. Rather than just being the evidence of things "not seen" with the physical eyes, it is really the evidence of things not detected by our five senses. It is evidence of something that we cannot see, hear, touch, taste or smell. We have already seen that faith is the "basis" or "confidence" of things hoped for, but Paul said, "hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then we do with patience wait for it." (Romans 8:24-25). Once any particular prayer is answered and manifested to our sight, we can then no longer have faith for it, because we have it by sight, and faith is "the evidence of things not seen". Faith does not rely upon our senses at all; if we require any sense evidence in order to believe, then we are not in total faith. Look at these scriptures made about men of faith:

(2 Corinthians 4:18) "we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:"
(Hebrews 11:1) "faith is ... the evidence of things not seen."
(Hebrews 11:7) "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,"
(Hebrews 11:13) "All these died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and and embraced them,"
(Hebrews 11:27) "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
(1 Peter 1:7-8) "Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:"

The kind of seeing spoken of concerning Moses and others (Hebrews 11:13; 11:27) is not a literal seeing with the physical eye, but rather a spiritual visualization or perception. It is seeing with the eye of faith. When you have something by faith, it cannot be seen with the physical eyes, but your faith is the evidence that what you cannot see is yours, because God is faithful who promised it (Hebrews 10:23).

#1.3 FAITH IS AN ASSURANCE

HEBREWS 10:22 (Paul)
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance1 of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Note: The word translated full assurance1 (Gr. πληροφορίᾳ, Gtr. plērophoria) comes from πληροφορέω (Gtr. plērophoreō) meaning "to fill completely". It means "full confidence", or "full assurance", when used in context with thoughts or attitude of mind. It is translated "full assurance" (Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11), and "assurance" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The word for "faith" (Gr. πίστις, Gtr. pistis) is translated "assurance" once (Acts 17:31), but "proof" or "evidence" would have been better. This scripture (Hebrews 10:22) is telling us that faith will give us the confidence to carry us fully through any trial that God allows us to have, as Paul said, "Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." (Ephesians 6:16).

#1.4 FAITH IS A LAW

ROMANS 3:27 (Paul)
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? No: but by the law of faith.

Note: Faith is a law by which we can obtain any of the promises of God, including healing, deliverance from sin, forgiveness of sins, justification, and salvation. It works on the same basis as natural laws such as the law of gravity, and that is that God ordains that it works, "upholding all things by the word of his power," (Hebrews 1:3). Faith is the means by which we can obtain any of the promises of God, and there are some basic conditions for faith in God to work. These do not all apply in every case, but most of them will.

(1) We must base our faith on what God has said, or on what we know he will do.
(2) Sometimes we must ask God for it.
(3) Sometimes we must command it to happen.
(4) We must believe that we receive what we ask for or command to happen.
(5) We must confess what we believe.
(6) We must act upon what we believe and confess, by fulfilling any conditions which apply to the situation concerned.
(7) We must endure through any time period that God ordains before the manifestation of the promise.

#1.5 FAITH IS A FIGHT

1 CORINTHIANS 9:26-27 (Paul)
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so I fight, not as one who beats the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

1 TIMOTHY 1:18-19 (Paul)
18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on you, that you by them might war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

1 TIMOTHY 6:11-12 (Paul)
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you are also called, and have confessed a good confession before many witnesses.

2 TIMOTHY 4:7 (Paul)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;

Note: The above scriptures, and others, show that Paul described his Christian life as a spiritual fight:

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5) "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
(Ephesians 6:10-12) "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places."

When we claim any promise of God by faith, then spiritual war almost inevitably follows, because the devil and his angels do not wish us to receive anything from God (Daniel 10:1-14). Our whole Christian life from the moment we first believe in Jesus is a spiritual battle, to forsake sin, to do God's will, and ensure that we do not fail to receive our salvation when Jesus returns.

#1.6 FAITH IS A SHIELD

EPHESIANS 6:16 (Paul)
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Note: We have already seen that faith involves us in a spiritual battle (See #1.5), and here it is described as a shield; a means of protection during that battle. Our protection is the spirit of Jesus Christ in us (See #1.8), and when the Devil comes against us, he is really coming against the spirit of Jesus in us, and Jesus has already defeated him (Hebrews 2:14). Through the spirit of Jesus in us, we can think spiritually, we can look at the things which are not seen (2 Corinthians 4:18), we can call those things which are not as though they are (Romans 4:17), and this is what overcomes the Devil. He works in the flesh realm, and he may bring bad circumstances against us, but he cannot alter the things which are not seen. Look how he attacked Job. He used the Sabeans to steal his oxen and asses (Job 1:14-15), and fire to burn up his sheep (Job 1:16). He used the Chaldeans to steal his camels (Job 1:17), and a great wind to kill his ten children (Job 1:18-19). He struck Job himself with "sore boils" (Job 2:7), and then used his wife to try to get Job to curse God (Job 2:5; 2:9). Nevertheless, he could not defeat Job, because Job was prepared to trust God, even if he died:

(Job 13:15) "Though he slays me, yet will I trust in him:"

Job was believing in a God he could not see; "I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;" (Job 19:25).
Operating in faith, and walking in full obedience to God, therefore gives us full protection as far as obtaining the promises of God and salvation is concerned, as it is written:

(John 10:28-29) "I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
(1 John 5:18) "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch him."

#1.7 FAITH IS THE PRESENCE OF THE WORD OF GOD IN OUR HEARTS

DEUTERONOMY 30:11-14 (Moses)
11 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14 But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

ROMANS 10:6-8 (Paul)
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaks this way, Do not say in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up again from the dead.)
8 But what does it say? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Note: In order to obtain faith in Jesus Christ, we must hear about him:

(Romans 10:14) "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"
(Romans 10:17) "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The reason why we believe is because the word of God has entered into our hearts, and given us that belief. Jesus is the word of God (John 1:1; 1:14), and when God's word enters into us, this is the Spirit of Jesus in us which gives us the faith. The fact that words are spirit is made clear by the following scriptures.
We know that, "the Spirit is truth." (1 John 5:6), and the Word of God is truth (John 17:17), which indicates that in some way, the Spirit and the Word are the same. Jesus said "the words that I speak to you, they are spirit," (John 6:63), and as he only spoke God's words (John 3:34; 8:28; 8:38; 12:50; 14:10), that confirms that the Word of God is the Spirit of God doesn't it? When Jesus returns, he will destroy the wicked with "the spirit of his mouth," (2 Thessalonians 2:8), which is "a sharp sword," (Revelation 19:15), which is the "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;" (Ephesians 6:17). When Jesus cast out demons, he did it "with his word" (Matthew 8:16), and "by the Spirit of God" (Matthew 12:28), again confirming that the Word of God is the Spirit of God. Also the Spirit quickens (John 6:63), and the Word quickens (Psalm 119:50). The Spirit leads us (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18), and the word of God leads us (Psalm 17:4; Proverbs 6:20-22). The truth leads us (Psalm 43:3), the Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6), and the word of God is truth (John 17:17), all effectively indicating that "the Word, and the Holy Ghost: ... are one." (1 John 5:7). One what? "one spirit." (Ephesians 4:4). As the word for "one" (Gr. ἓν, Gtr. hen) is neuter gender in the Greek, so the word for spirit is neuter. So we can conclude that Word of God is the Spirit of God. Just as "the Word was God." (John 1:1), which means that "the Word is God", because he doesn't change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), so "God is a spirit:" (John 4:24). As God creates everything by his Word (Psalm 148:5; John 1:3), so he creates everything by his spirit (Psalm 104:30), and just as he sends his word to do his will (Psalm 107:20; Isaiah 9:8; 55:11; Acts 10:36), so he also sends his spirit (Psalm 104:30; John 14:26; Galatians 4:6;  1 Peter 1:12). We can see how words are spirit from the writing of the apostle Paul:

(2 Corinthians 3:3) "written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God: not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart."

When we write words with ink, the ink is the substance of the words, and the words are the form of the ink. If we rub out the words, the ink disappears, and if we rub out the ink, the words disappear. Why? because ink and words are two ways of looking at the same thing, one describing its form, and the other describing its substance. Another example is of two men describing the same table. One says, "It's a wooden table", and the other says, "It's a table with a flat oblong top, four legs, one at each corner, and strips between the legs for strength." Who is right? Both of them. One has described it according to its substance, and the other according to its form. Each saw the same thing from a different point of view. So it is when God writes his words in our heart, his word is the form, and his spirit is the substance, which is equivalent to the ink. Therefore, God is Word in form, but Spirit in substance, and this is in total agreement with the next section (See #1:8).

#1.8 FAITH IS THE PRESENCE OF THE INDWELLING SPIRIT OF CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 4:13 (Paul)
13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore I have spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.

ROMANS 3:21-22 (Paul)
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and upon all those who believe: for there is no difference:

GALATIANS 2:15-16 (Paul)
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

GALATIANS 2:20-21 (Paul)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

GALATIANS 3:21-22 (Paul)
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for it there had been a law given which could have given life, amen righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

EPHESIANS 3:11-12 (Paul)
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

PHILIPPIANS 3:7-9 (Paul)
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

HEBREWS 12:1-2
1 Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy which was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

JOHN 6:57 (Jesus)
57 As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he who eats me, even he shall live by me.

HEBREWS 10:38
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:57 (Paul)
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 JOHN 5:4-5
4 For whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

Note: Here we see that faith is a spirit (2 Corinthians 4:13), and that our faith is: "the faith of Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; 3:22; Philippians 3:9), or "the faith of the son of God," (Galatians 2:20), or "the faith of him." (Ephesians 3:12), and that Jesus is, "the author and finisher of our faith;" (Hebrews 12:2). This means that our faith is the faith of the spirit of Jesus Christ who lives in us, and we cannot have real faith in God without him. (Many modern bibles hide this truth by translating "faith in Christ" instead of "faith of Christ".) Compare Jesus' statement, "he shall live by me" (John 6:57), with Paul's statement, "I live by the faith of the Son of God," (Galatians 2:20), and "the just shall live by faith:" (Hebrews 10:38). Then compare, "the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57), with "this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4), and it all confirms that our faith is the faith of the spirit of Jesus Christ who lives in us.
As far as salvation is concerned, the indwelling spirit if Jesus Christ is essential:

(Romans 8:9) "Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
(2 Corinthians 13:5) "Do you not know your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you are reprobates."
(Colossians 1:27) "Christ in you, the hope of Glory:"
(1 John 5:11-12) "God has given to us eternal live, and this life is in his Son.
He that has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

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