Archive for the ‘Faith’ category

The Importance of a Name in Hebrew Thought

November 1, 2014

A few weeks ago I finished reading “Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith”. There was one section a mere two paragraphs long in that book I have been thinking about ever since and think is worth sharing with anyone who is interested.

Before I provide the quote a little back story is in order. Once upon a time I became embroiled in what I like to call the “free grace wars”. It was an internecine battle between Christians with five point Calvinists at one extreme and the followers of Zane Hodges on the other. The experience was unpleasant but in the end it caused me to grow in understanding of the scriptures which is always profitable. The five point Calvinists tended to graft repentance of sin into the Gospel message. Of course repenting of your sins is a work but since, according to them, God does all of the work including giving us faith that is no big deal. For those who believe that each person can freely choose to accept the gift of salvation this adding of works to the Gospel message was anathema.

Of course it is possible to react too far against the five pointer works gospel which is what I believe that Zane Hodges did. I was always taught, and I believe rightly so, is that one must believe on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Hodges and his followers went so far as to deny the need to believe in the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation. These same people also advocated that believing in “Jesus” didn’t really involve knowing who He is.

There is one time in particular that I was debating (arguing) with one of these persons when they said that all a person has to do is believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and they will be saved. I agreed because I knew scriptures such as the following:

23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)

And:

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)

I also pointed out that the word “name” has more meaning than a string of letters spelling out someone’s name to which he replied “no it doesn’t!” How does one argue with that?

With that in mind here is the quote from Marvin R. Wilson’s book:

Another perspective on the nature of salvation concerns the name of Jesus. In Hebrew thought, the name of an individual was considered to be more than a title or label for identification. Rather a name was believed to reveal the essence, character, reputation or destiny of the one to whom it was given. This is why the moral Law of Moses forbids defamation of another’s name by false witness (Exodus 20:16). Indeed, “a good name [i.e. reputation] is more desirable than great riches” (Prov. 22:1). Thus the name of every Hebrew sent out some sort of message with it. This was particularly so in the case of Jesus, as we shall now demonstrate.

The fact that Jesus was a Jew by birth is crucial for understanding the nature and person of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. Jesus was given the Hebrew name Yeshu’a. (“Jesus” is the Latin form of Iēsoús, the Greek transliteration of Yeshu’a). The name Yeshu’a, derived from the Hebrew verb yasha (discussed above), revealed the destiny he was to fulfill in his life and ministry on earth. The angel of the Lord said, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith
pp. 180-181

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Faith in the Book of Jonah

October 7, 2012

My Father and I have been discussing the topic of faith in the Old Testament. Specifically what was the Old Testament version of the Gospel. The Book of Jonah has a fair amount to say on this topic.
Recently I listened to a study on the Book of Jonah taught by Pastor Clay Ward of Pleroma Bible Church who covers the subject matter as thoroughly as I have ever heard. Jonah 1:9 says:

9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

Pastor Ward says that when Jonah states that he “fears the Lord” he is identifying himself as a believer. Of course it isn’t that cut and dried since, according to Pastor Ward, fearing the Lord can be used in both a justification sense (saving faith in the Lord) and in a sanctification sense (doing what God expects of the believer). In this case Jonah was using “fear the Lord” in the justification sense because he was not obeying the Lord when he was speaking in that verse.

In lesson 6 of his study of Jonah, Pastor Ward discusses the Phoenician sailors and states that they did believe in Yahweh (Jehovah). He begins discussion of this at about the 45 minute mark of lesson 6:

06 – The Book of Jonah – The Great Storm

Pastor ward continues teaching on this topic in the following lesson:

07 – The Book of Jonah – Prophet Overboard

Then there is the response of the city of Nineveh to Jonah’s message:

16 – The Book of Jonah – The Response of Nineveh

There is a lot to think about in these lessons. Enjoy!

NOTE: I have checked the CD that I uploaded this lesson from along with the other materials I have from Pleroma Bible Church and I see no copyright or language prohibiting me from uploading this lesson. If anyone from Pleroma Bible Church finds this post and thinks I have violated any laws please let me know and I will delete this post immediately.

The Doctrine of Faith

January 8, 2010

I am going to do something that I haven’t done on this blog before (which, come to think of it, could be almost anything!) and dedicate this post to Rose Cole who runs the Rose’s Reasonings blog. I have known Rose via the internet for about four years. At that time I began regularly commenting on her posts which usually had topics like: “what is faith?” or “what exactly must a person believe to be saved?” I was new to internet debates and was surprised by how hot they got.

Over the years that I have been reading Rose’s Reasonings, Rose has posted many times asking people to precisely define what saving faith is. Many times I would chime in with my two cents worth but I have always felt that I was missing something (and I was). Fortunately Grace Memorial Bible Church (you can find their link in the side bar) has made some of R.B. Thieme, Jr.’s detailed doctrines available on the internet. It just so happens that I noticed Colonel Thieme’s Doctrine of Faith was among the content that GMBC has posted. I have now converted the scanned version of the doctrine into text so it can be posted here.

I am providing the full doctrine below the fold but I do want to provide a quote from the doctrine that I think Rose (and anyone else looking to define what faith is) will find of interest:

Although I used the term, “saving faith” in the doctrine, there is really no such thing as “saving faith.” I mean by that, there is nothing like a faith that is made “saving,” genuine or efficacious by its quality or quantity. As I explained in the doctrine, faith is real or “saving” only because it has the proper object. Faith is given substance only by its object. Faith is “saving faith” only when it is in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ on cross.

The entire doctrine is very valuable but the section that discusses “saving” faith is basically an extended footnote at the end of the doctrine. Please read and enjoy! (more…)


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