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What is Paul really talking about when he talks about "faith" in Romans?

Various forms of the Greek word "pistis" are used 240 times in the New Testament, in 33 verses of Romans over 60+ times. In Greek "pistis" can mean faith or belief. "Faith" and "belief" can be used interchangably.

But what does it "really mean"? Skeptics will say Christians operate on "blind faith". Do we?

My sister has told me she does not want to discuss her faith with me? What is it she does not want to discuss?

For those that know my story, why did it take two weeks of "saying the salvation prayer" before my deep (a seven year slide with no medication or therapy) depression, anger, and profanity were removed from my body and mind? Why did it take two weeks for me to be convicted I was indwelt with the Holy Spirit? Was my faith or belief any different on day one than day fourteen?
"The early church Fathers and Reformers recognized three aspects or types of faith. In Latin they call it notitia (knowledge) assensus (assent) fiducia (trust), which simply means that there is a knowledge element, an assent to the truth that you know. But it can't stop there. There also has to be trust. All three are necessary for saving faith."

[NOTE: "pistis" by definition does incorporate all three of these ideas - so Paul IS talking about "saving faith". But what does that look like? - ME]

[In English there can be a conceptual difference between "belief" and "faith" - perhaps that is where the porverbial "rub" is for people seeking God.- ME]

"Let me give you another illustration that I think really catches this idea. Have you ever played that game where you put your back to someone that you supposedly trust, close your eyes and fall backward and allow them to catch you? You can say that you know that they are capable of catching you. You agree that they will catch you. But of course, you don't exercise trust until you fall backwards. Then you trust.

Christianity is just like that. You can say, I know Jesus is the Savior. I believe and agree that He died for my sins and is coming back again. You can run through the whole list of doctrinal truth. But unless you fall back into His arms, you have not exercised trust. Now, watch this: the act of falling back in His arms leaves you in His arms. He's in control of you. The act of faith throws you into His Lordship. That's what Biblical faith is: an act of falling into the arms of Jesus. Lordship is not a separate condition in itself, but a logical and necessary and unavoidable result of fiducia , of trust. If we're actively trusting ( fiducia ) Jesus, such that His work of the cross is useful to us, we can't avoid being in Jesus' arms, and when we're in His arms and He's in control. As Ron Arnold said, the director of Christian Discount Bookstore, "We have to be in His arms or else we'd be on the ground." - ibid.

Another Example is parachute jumping: I know how it works, I believe the principles work, but you don't trust until you jump out of the plane.

I think in my early prayers for salvation, I knew the truth, I believed in the truth, but I did not trust God enough to submit my will to His, let Him control my life, be in His arms until that fourteenth day.

I just thank God that somehow I was made aware something was lacking, was given the grace and strength to continue in prayer, and the confirmation of God's work in me.

I shudder to think what it would be like to stand before Christ, if I had stopped short of that fourteenth night of prayer.

Hebrews 11:1 takes on a whole new meaning for me now, but I will wait till we get their to explain.

Romans 4

Paul spent 3.5 chapters talking about man as a sinner, than talked about the solution - "Righeousness through Faith". Paul mentions it is not a new idea - it is in the Old Testament.

Now he gives examples - Abraham and David. Important because Abraham is the founding father of Jewish nation, and David is its greatest king.

Abraham was BEFORE the Law, yet he was accounted righteous? How? Paul cites Gen 15:6
"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

The Hebrew word for believed in Genesis is 'aman - to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in. There's that concept of "trust" from above post.

vs. 4
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation."

A system of works seeks to put God in debt to us, to have God owe us His favor because of our good behavior. In works-thinking, God owes us salvation or blessing because of our good works. - David Guzik

So Abraham was credited with righteousness by belief in God.

By this we understand that there are not two ways of salvation - saved by works or law-keeping in the Old Testament, and saved by grace through faith in the New Testament. Everyone who has ever been saved - Old or New Testament - is saved by grace through faith, through their relationship of trusting love with God. Because of the New Covenant we have benefits of salvation that the Old Testament saint did not have, but we do not have a different manner of salvation. - David Guzik

Devastating argument to the Jews.

Abraham was counted as righteous in Genesis 15:6. He did not receive the covenant of circumcision until Genesis 17, which was at least 14 years later. Therefore his righteousness wasn’t based on circumcision, but on faith. - David Guzik

Since all God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob happened before the giving of the Mosaic Law, we can’t say they were based on the law. Instead, they are based on God’s declaration of Abraham’s righteousness through faith.

How can Paul say, where there is no law there is no transgression (vs.15)? Because “Transgression is the right word for overstepping a line, and this for breaking a clearly defined commandment.” (Morris) Where there is no line, there is no actual transgression.

i. There is sin that is not the “crossing of the line” of the Law of Moses. The root of sin isn’t in breaking the law, but in breaking trust with God; with denying His loving, caring purpose in every command He gives. Before Adam sinned he broke trust with God - therefore God’s plan of redemption is centered on a relationship of trusting love - faith - instead of law-keeping. When we center our relationship with God on law-keeping instead of trusting love, we go against His whole plan. - David Guzik

It is of faith that it might be according to grace: Faith is related to grace in the same way works is related to law. Grace and law are the principles, and faith and works are the means by which we pursue those principles for our relationship with God.

i. To speak technically, we are not saved by faith. We are saved by God’s grace, and grace is appropriated by faith.

If our relationship with God is according to grace (not circumcision or law-keeping), then that relationship is for those who are of the faith of Abraham, even if they are not of his lineage. - David Guzik
If God could call the dead womb of Sarah to life, he can call those who are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) to new life in Jesus.

Abraham’s example also helps us to understand the nature of faith. The conception of Abraham’s son Isaac was a miracle, but it was not an immaculate conception. Abraham’s faith did not mean that he did nothing and just waited for God to create a child in Sarah’s womb. Abraham and Sarah had marital relations and trusted God for a miraculous result. This shows us that faith does not mean doing nothing, but doing all with trust and reliance on God and His miraculous work. - David Guzik

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." NIV

The idea seems to be that Abraham was strengthened in his faith; but Paul could also mean that Abraham was strengthened by his faith - certainly both were true.

As God continues to prove Himself in a "believers " life, it seems natural that one's faith would be deepened. A difference in "trust" and "supreme trust"????
Paul ties it up neatly in the end.

"it was credited to him" was not for Abraham alone but anyone -
"God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." NIV

That is anyone who knows, belives, and trusts! That is Faith!

I agree completely with this statment:

"Sin will sell you lies and leave you with nothing."

I have to resist the devil and repent of temptation to sin every day. This is the ONLY way to walk in life.

I like these the verses below, because they show me that because I am free from sin and righteous IN CHRIST that I CAN AND MUST BE more and more free from sin and righteous in my character.

Colossians 3 (NKJV)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

BECAUSE CHRIST IS MY LIFE... and BECAUSE MY LIFE IS IN CHRIST... therefore I put to death in my life and experience that which is still connected to death (i.e., sin).

Romans 4 (NKJV)
and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[Genesis 15:6]

May we meditate, chew on, turn over and over in our beings, and pray over the fact that God has promised He is able--and will always--perform.

May we meditate on the character and promises of God until we KNOW that we know that we know for certain it is true FOR US.

May I do the same thing for me.

Romans 5 (NKJV)
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Hope in the Bible is not like the popular phrase: "I don't know, but I hope so."

Rather, hope is the certain, guaranteed hope that God will perform His Word because He is always faithful.

Peace is like that. Peace is a state that Christ has obtained for us that we receive by faith.

Yes, we can choose to walk out of the peace and hope that God paid for us to have in Christ--

or we can "abide", that is, "remain" in what Jesus has paid for us to have.

Psalm 14 (NKJV)
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.

It is SO easy to compare myself to others in order to feel good. It is especially tempting to compare myself to Charles Manson or Adolph Hitler or the man or woman down the street who committed adultery and left his or her marriage.

Yet, I am not called to compare myself to anyone except Jesus Christ.

Mark 7 (NKJV)
And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Psalm 14 (NKJV)
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

This reminds me of one of my favorite verses from another Psalm:

Psalm 35 (NKJV)
Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.

Proverbs 19 (NKJV)
He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.

When we give to others out of love and worship for God and to help others—we are giving to God.

Give, and it shall be given back to us—good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over (Luke 6:18).

God is the Source of everything we are and everything we have. He is the One who determines the best time and way that what we give will come back to us as a blessing.

We all sow something-- either to the flesh or to the Spirit.

I pray for wisdom on how to give to those who are truly needy. In the area where I live, there are "professional homeless" people. They pretend to be homeless, and play on peoples' emotions. However, they are actually not homeless, and they make a lot of extra money by pretending.

May God bring to light all false people, and may we love and give in wisdom.


Romans 5:1-5

Benefits of Salvation

Paul has provided God's solution (rigteousness through faith) for mankind (as sinners). Paul said it is not a new idea - it was in OT, then gave Abraham/David as proof. In the end of Chapter 4 Paul linked the OT idea of "saving faith" as being the same "saving faith" when we Believe IN Christ.

'Oh Paul, that is pie in the sky stuff to come by and by - I am interested in the here and now!. I'll get around to that God stuff some day.'

Paul now talks about the Benefits of Salvation:
Peace, Access, Joy, Triumph in Troubles, and the Love of God.

vs 1a
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith.."

The Greek is so precise. "justified" is in aorist passive. It is completed action done to us. We did not justify ourselves - we cannot justify ourselves - we are unrighteous. Justification was done to us by God, through faith.

So what are the benefits?
"we have peace with God..."

We don't have the peace "of God". We have Peace "with God". "With" is specifically in the Greek text. That peace is in present indicative, (voice is debated) - regardless it is "continuing and ongoing".

Peace - Gk. "eirene"
a state of national tranquillity
a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war.

I guess you can say it is "tranquility", but that tranquility comes from no longer being at "war" with God. Wait a minute, a person who has not accepted Christ says, 'I was never at war with God. I am a good person, go to church, I have nothing against God, etc.'

Yes, you are - you may not know it, but regardless God is at war with you.

Some never knew they were out of peace with God, but they were like drivers ignoring the red lights of a police car in their rear-view mirror - they are in trouble even if they don’t know it, and it will soon catch up to them. - David Guzik

James 4:4
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. NIV

Paul spent the early parts of Romans talking about God's judgment and wrath regarding unrighteous and self-righteous man.

"God is at war with the sinner. God is the enemy of the sinner. God fights against the sinner. God is the enemy of sin. God is the enemy of Satan. And by the way, if you're not a child of God you're a child of Satan and you belong to Satan's dominion and God is at war with that dominion. And that's the point."

The good news is when you place your belief, faith, trust in Christ. The war is over. God is your ALLY. As Christians when we battle the temptation of "flesh" or the "ways of the world", we have God on our side. Sometimes I wonder if I use this powerful ally enough in my fights with temptation.
"..gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." NIV

Now at peace "with" God we can get God's Grace. "Access" being in the present active indicative means: by faith we now stand in continuing and ongoing state of receiving God's Grace.

We don't just need it for salvation, Christians need God's grace in their daily lives - and we have IT.

"..hope is the certain, guaranteed hope that God will perform His Word because He is always faithful." - Vance's post

We have joy in the guaranteed hope of the Glory of God.
Triumph in suffering (Tribulations)

As Christians we should welcome suffering. That is a strange thought. Who would want that? Christians should - even when I fail in my Christian life - I try to remember to thank God for thinking me worthy enough to "test".

Because we have access to God's Grace - when we suffer, we should persevere (patience), that leads to character which leads to hope.

But as a Christian we already have hope. Yes, but like Trust, hope is on a spectrum, and this process increases the guaranteed hope we have in God. It is part of the Maturity process of a Christian.
Love of God

God - who we were at war with - when we come to salvation, will "pour" out his love into our heart.

"pour" - Gk. "ekcheo" to bestow or distribute largely

We don't just get a measure of Love, we get large amounts - through the Holy Spirit in us.

Every Christian should know what it is like to have the love of God . . . poured out in our hearts - to have a deep inner awareness of God’s love for us.

i. Paul’s logical arguments in Romans are devastating but the Book of Romans doesn’t lack emotion or passionate experiences with God. Paul wants us to think the right thoughts about God, but he also wants us to have the right experience with God - the love of God . . . poured out in our hearts.

ii. God’s love isn’t given to us in a trickle, it is poured out in our hearts. Some Christians live as if it was only a trickle but God wants us to know the outpouring of His love. - David Guzik

Rick Warren reckons [The Purpose Driven Life] that when we become christians, its as if God has taken a beachhead on our life. Slowly, He takes a bit more then a bit more untill the whole land belongs to Him and is underHis govern-ment. It makes sense to me, its taken me 40 years to stop wrestling with God and to trust Him enough to fall back into His arms in the hard times and the selfish times.
I love Romans. Ch 5;5 says...we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love.
Proverb 19:17 "If you help the poor you are lending to the Lord and He will repay you." This is a strange idea, that I can "lend" to God. How can God owe me? I owe Him everything. It gives a bit of encouragement that I will not be out of pocket or worse off financially if I give a little to someone in need.

Belief means based on fact. Faith means a blind jump, but only from atop of belief. This is theological and etymologically true. Who thinks they are really loved by anyone who sees them only as they are? A Christian is someone who believes in God for what he can see. A Born-again Christian loves God and sees more. In the same way God accepts us as we are, but only sees us as we were meant to be. Christians (like Satan by the previous definition) go to Hell while Born-again Christians go to Heaven. How can you tell a Christian with real faith? The Bible tells us that such a person is successful all the time (the original disciples healed EVERY time), will cast out daemons (Mark 16:17), perform all the miracles Christ has done (like walk on water as Peter did) and MORE (John 14:12-14), as well as convert and baptize all the peoples of the world (just one true disciple of Christ only need, under God, to win one person each year and train that person to do the same in order to convert and baptize the entire world in just 32 years). Everyone else is just a faint faux want-to-be. Who here believes he or she has a good relationship with God? Jesus said such people have no relationship with Him as only those who believe their relationship poor as a right and real relationship. A church or person can only be spiritually healthy if driven by Jesus’ five New Testament life purposes (as illustrated in the Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren) to “Love the Lord with all your heart,” “Love your neighbor as I have loved you (which is infinitely greater than as you love yourself),” “Go and make disciples,” “Baptize them,” and “Teach them to obey.”


"Belief means based on fact."

Can be, but does not have to be.

be·lief (b-lf)
1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another: My belief in you is as strong as ever.
2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: His explanation of what happened defies belief.
3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.

"Faith means a blind jump"

Not necessarily. You walk into a room, and there are refreshments, you pick up a can of coke, and drink it.

You have faith (trust) that you will be drinking coke. It is not "blind" faith - (for example) it is based on past experiance, perceived reliability of company, and know the people hosting the get-together.

You can believe Coke is in the can, but it is not necessarily fact. Maybe most of the time it is - but when there exist examples of counterfeit cokes existing in the world - you cannot be 100% sure.

I would submit Christian faith is "not blind faith". At least to one that has done any kind of research before becoming a Christian. There is historical and archaeological evidence that backs up the Bible, reliable testimony of Gospels, fulfilled prophecies, etc. The evidence is far from complete, but there is enough there to state that a Christian's faith can be a far cry from a "blind jump".

When God acts in your life, of course, your faith should become "deeper". Making it even less of a "blind jump".

I would like to just comment on the trust activity that John has mentioned in his first post for today. I happen to have given this activity a number of times before in my psychology classes. As a behavior scientist, I have observed that the trusting individual/s would allow himself/herself to fall backwards knowing that the person will catch him/her. For those who don't trust they won't let themselves go. In other words, trust is already inherent in the person and gets tested by the act of catching.

How does this relate to faith? FAITH is a gift, and one has it by virture of his/her acceptance of God. Unless one has FAITH, one will never be able to make that leap...


I said that faith is a blind jump but only from atop belief (being based on facts). This means that faith must be something more than belief and not something different. Satan has more data and research than any human and as such has a stronger belief in Christ than any person can ever hope for. BUT, Satan is missing the faith needed to leap blindly from that knowledge of God to an understanding of God. With experience, one can jump blindly more and more – ever more able to do so with faith. To be authentic, Christians must add mystic to moral, not replace moral with mystic (or belief with faith).

The sincerity of my beliefs counts for nothing (“it’s the thought that count” is a lie). If I sincerely believe than I am Napoleon (something clearly inconsistent with an easily measurable and popular world view), a moral society will lock me up as dangerous. But, there are problems that rationality cannot solve alone, but we should never give it up. Critical thinking means understanding how our Input-Processing-Output works by identifying issues (problem definition), assumptions (and presuppositions), appropriate criteria for judgment, and the ability to draw sound conclusions from the evidence. A sincere approach will not validate all possible resulting opinions. What is left over is often referred to as “wishful thinking” or “blowing smoke.” For example, believing that Terri Schiavo could have ever walked and talked with a skull shown by CT scans to clearly be empty of any gray matter could only come from the father of all lies. The Bible tells us that the truly faithful will cast out daemons and out perform Christ, but wishing (even if you called it praying) could still not make Terri walk.

Biblical quality control is what keeps our beliefs and faith in check. For example, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29). Scripture demands that anyone claiming to have spiritual gifts or messages from God must submit to public and objective rational testing before employing by multiple accepted authorities using the standard of Scripture and the scrutiny of a true Christian community. “Faith requires reason.” (Isaiah 1:18 and Romans 10:8-15) Speaking in tongues without translation is sinful as is prayer without engaging one’s mind. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) If a person is unwilling or his message fails such an examination, he or she is to be rejected outright (if not stoned to death). Anything, in fact, that draws us away from Biblical authority, no matter how spiritual it may appear, must be completely rejected.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” “Having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.” “For some have already turned aside after Satan.” (1 Timothy 4:1, 5:12, 15) “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.” (1 John 4:1)

Oscar Wilde wrote, “Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love; it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.”

Trust, it is said, must be “earned.” If, however, I hit a rabid dog repeatedly with a stick and then give him my hand, should I talk disparagingly of it when it bites me back? Was not the dog, in fact, completely trustworthy and true to its nature and me the one who needed to “earn” an improvement in the relationship? Is it not the same if I reach out to pet a rattle snake and get bit (as is the case with most rattle snake bites)? If I gain enough understanding, I can learn to trust all. Does not love operate in the same way, in that there is nothing we can do to improve our worthiness to be loved, only in our capacity to love others? If I gain enough understanding, I can likewise learn to love all. While faith is based on hope of the unseen (but on top of trust or beliefs based on the seen), can I not also grow to understand that everyone has the potential to be more than just the sum of their past actions? Do we not all wish to be seen this way? In the same way, my prayers are not designed to change God but to change me.

When I ask Christians what their spiritual gifts are they most often respond with encouragement, but most remind me of the Peanuts comic strips in which Linus and Charlie Brown are all bundled up with caps and coats on a snowy, wintry day. They spot Snoopy shivering in the cold. Desiring to comfort him, they walk over to him. Linus speaks first, “Be of good cheer, Snoopy.” Charlie Brown adds, “Yes, be of good cheer.” Then, they turn and walk away. Snoopy is left still shivering. A big question mark appears over his puzzled expression, as he watches Linus and Charlie Brown walk away. Christian love, however, is supposed to carry us beyond words to deeds. The exhortational communication gift of encouragement (often grouped with Prophecy and Teaching), when real, is a critical healing check against getting off course and uses good social skills (like active listening) and the wisdom to prescribe practical step-by-step plans to help others mature in Christ (using personal experiences amplified by scripture) based on being able to discern (the one spiritual gift required of every Christian) the growth needs of others as well as the spiritual gifts they may be slow to recognize. The gift of encouragement means recognizing and successfully providing admonishments to believers (as in I Thessalonians 5:12) who have strayed from their faith. “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)

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