"Faith" as Loyalty and Loyal-Acknowledgement

An Ongoing Consideration
The biblical words behind "faith" and "trust" represent concepts which are both important in the relationship of man to God. In our modern English usage "faith" and "trust" become almost synonymous. The biblical words, however would appear to have represented two more clearly separate things. There is a characteristically thorough 44 page article on the "pisteuo" word group in Kittel's Theological Dictionary of The New Testament. This entry with its many footnotes, has two authors and was edited by Gerhard Friedrich. The following is an observation from page 197 of Vol.6 about how the ancient translators of the Septuagint (Greek)version of the Old Testament had an abnormal precision in separating the Hebrew and Greek counterpart words that we would most commonly think of as "faith" and "trust".

Worth noting is the fact that [pisteuein] is never used for [BaTaH],.... It is re-markable that [pisteuein] and [pepoithenai] are never used for the same Heb. original. On the one side[AMeN] ni hi is with phililogical exactitude transl. [pisteuein]. Even the derivitives of this root, though sometimes they have or receive in the LXX a different meaning, are rendered by [pisteuein] , never [pepoithenai]. Only once at Prv. 26:25 do we find[peisthanai] in the sense of being decieved. On the other hand [pepoitha] is used for several Heb. words apart from [BaTaH], and these are transl. in many different ways in the LXX ([AMeN] with its uniform rendering in Gk. is in this respect an exception). For none of these originals, however, is [pisteuein] a possible transl. This is no accident. Trust and faith are not co-extensive in the LXX.

Hebrew: ......AMeN..................BaTaH

Greek: ....... pisteuein............ pepoithenai

English: .........faith..................... trust


Faith as Loyalty and Loyal-Acknowledgment

An Ongoing Consideration
I continue my consideration of biblical Faith as Loyalty and Loyal-Acknowledgment with 2 items: First I quote a few lines of a relatively well informed dictionary entry which could do more to work around “belief” and “trust,” but which also allows for “loyalty”. Second I talk about about "shrinking back" or "severing from the object of loyalty" which has been interpreted and translated in a couple of NT passages as “doubt” in contrast to "faith".

1) Faith- Belief, trust, and loyalty to a person or thing. Christians find their security and hope in God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and say "amen" to that unique relationship to God in the Holy Spirit through love and obedience as expressed in lives of discipleship and service.
You can read the whole article here Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
2) One apparent difficulty with our consistent use of “loyalty” is when it seems to be set against “doubt” in a couple of passages.
Mat 21:21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith/loyalty and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen.
Mat 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing/being loyal, you will receive."

However doubt, or Διακρίνω (diakrinō , dee-ak-ree'-no), would be more clearly understood if translated with the more literal “separate thoroughly” or “withdraw” or even by implication “oppose”.
Strong’s definition: From G1223 and G2919; to separate thoroughly, that is, (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively to discriminate (by implication decide), or (reflexively) hesitate: - contend, make (to) differ (-ence), discern, doubt, judge, be partial, stagger, waver.

Replacing the figurative “doubt” with a more literal translation of diakrino such as “separate” or “withdraw” or even “oppose” is actually to be preferred when “loyalty” or “loyal-acknowledgment” is understood.

Mat 21:21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have loyalty and do not withdraw, [or separate from the object of your loyalty] you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen.
Mat 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, being loyal, you will receive."

In my next entry on this subject I should include some interesting observations about the LXX version of the Old Testament.


"Reformed and Beyond" or "Which Way North?"

If you and I are both in pursuit of the North Pole then we have something pretty significant in common. I would like to think of such a pursuit as a helpful analogy of our much more important common pursuit of fidelity to God through fidelity to Jesus Christ.

So we are in pursuit of the North Pole, that is the place to which we must direct ourselves. You're starting out in Los Angles and I am starting out in Las Vegas; so we may both be helped by going through Seattle...but the North Pole isn't in Seattle! Now you may want to say that you still have our original goal in the back of your mind as you go on and on about Seattle and how its a lot better than Tijuana...and I may even agree with you that heading toward Seattle was an improvement over heading toward Tijuana...but still...we have got to keep THE NORTH POLE front and center in our hearts and minds or we will never get there. If we settle for Seattle, IT will be the end of our common pursuit. And we really don't want Danny who is all the way to Anchorage to be distracted by looking back either. In the Gospel of Matthew we have been learning some things about what a King's behavior and a Kingdom's character look like when moved by the "other" Spirit. Jesus has shown up the rulers of this age for what they are: bankrupt, vain, empty. They are still being used for the restraint of evil but they are incapable of ruling like Jesus because by nature they fear and reject the cross. The rule of God by the Holy Spirit through fidelity to Jesus Christ was not achieved in the worldly authorities of The Holy Roman Empire, it was not achieved in European Christendom, not even Reformed European Christendom. If you and I want to be loyal to God we must be loyal to Jesus Christ not the mutated and mutating dogma of men, even Reformed men! The North Pole isn't in Seattle and fidelity to Jesus isn't in fidelity to the traditions of men. The analogy may be stretched...to pass through Seattle or Anchorage is fine but to truly be on mission our goal must, undividedly, and all along, be the North Pole. And in fact the nature of loyalty to Jesus requires that it not be split with another loyalty.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Mat 10:37).

But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ (Mat 23:8-10).

Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul (1Co 1:13)?

Now friends, Seattle is a nice city and if we were settling maybe it would be fine, but we are not. Just because I am uneasy in Seattle and you see me looking at the compass, that does not mean I am interested in heading back to Las Vegas, or even worse, Tijuana. Let's maintain our common goal; The North Pole. As we arrive, only that will prove to have been a worthy pursuit.


What kind of king? what kind of kingdom? Matthew 11:1 - 14:12 (part 2)

Matthew 11 and 12; What kind of king?

(Read Matt. 11:1-6)
Let's consider this Gospel information about our King and His new kind of Kingdom in a little more detail. We noted earlier that a natural take on Jesus as Messiah of Israel might be negative. Even though he worked many miracles, especially in the countryside, he never harnessed his exploits to turn them into political clout. He never really took the next step...or took advantage of miracle working ability by translating it into a formidable political movement. Remember Jesus is presented to Israel as the would-be-messiah who will end up getting himself rejected and crucified without ever mustering the political and organizational oomph to spring his own cousin from jail. Jesus' reticence to pull the right political strings will quickly result in John's arbitrary execution! "WHY SUCH INCOMPETENCE?" a zealot for God's rule might be tempted to cry out. But thankfully as we look at this King there is a better perspective and a better response, one motivated by the Holy Spirit. (Read 11:1-6 again)

(Read Matt 11:7-30)
As you read chapter 11 did you notice Jesus used the image of children in two different ways. Once in Matt. 11:16 He uses the image of children as non-receptive brats who refuse the truth from God no matter how it is "packaged" in reference to religious people who would not receive God's message from John or from Jesus himself. Then we find Jesus using and image of children in Matt. 11:25. This time using a word for infants, Jesus refers to the simple who receive his teaching, as opposed to those who think they are to "mature" to receive it. (Read 7-30 again)

(Read Matt. 12:1-21)
After a glimpse of the extraordinary authority of Jesus from the end of chapter 11 through 12:7 we go on to learn how this authority is to be strangely expressed by the uniquely Spirit-moved-King.

...the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED; I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES. "HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT; NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS. "A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF, AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT, UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY. "AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE." ....(Read 12:1-21 again)
(Read Mat. 12:22-32)
The Spirit as spoken of by Isaiah is what quickens the King and qualifies the Kingdom. we learn the unpardonable shortcoming is to reject this "spiritualness" as the true expression of the Kings authority. We observe this Spirit in the whole approach of Jesus to being king. It is a Spirit which moves in Jesus' mode of operation.And it is a Spirit which can finally drive out those sickly motivators which have plagued Israel and kept Her from being the light to the nations. (Read 12:22-32 again)

(Read Mat. 12:33-37)
Now adding onto what we read in 22 ff; to say anything against this way of rescuing Israel is to say a"worthless word" for which men will be judged. It is to say a word that does not encourage loyalty to Jesus Messiah. It is to say a word against the cause of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.(Read 12:33-37 again)

(Read Matt 12:38-50)
Men want a bigger and bolder sign of being the King. But they will receive no sign that he is the King except his death...and not even his resurrection will be harnessed for a lesser spirit of political reign.

As a resurrected miracle worker he really could have put together an insurrection and gone back into Jerusalem, messed those dudes up, and then sailed straight for Rome. But no; the sign of His resurrection, though it is a vindication of his anointed life, would not be made a hobby horse for a cause so unlike that which the Spirit would have you and I follow Jesus in.

This is it! He is the King, by this other kind of motivation, one which gives room for perfect loyalty to God so that this King can also afford to be perfectly loyal to men. He is "the faith". The Israel that does not enthrone Him will be taken up by a worse oppression than before. And the Israel that does the will of Jesus' father in heaven will be his closest family members.(Read 12:38-50 again)


God couldn't let us all be wrong, could He?....Well yeah, I mean why not!?!

(Reading Matthew 15:1-39)

We count prophetic scripture as quite distinct from other writings. We even count prophetic scripture as quite distinct from the evolving opinion of what is sometimes romantically called "the Church".

Can we assume that God does not count it His responsibility to shore up people's errors? What about people who use His Name? Is it God's job to fix their errors or to make immediate corrections to their thinking? Or... can we assume that the Lord would allow a multitude, who use God's name, to also be in fundamental error? If we say, "Yes, the Lord would allow 'the people' to be in error," it is not necessarily a naked assumption. We find this truth in the Gospel itself. Jesus does not make it his business to shore up the understanding of the whole body of bible scholars and religious authorities in Israel even though they are making a universal mistake. They have authority (they have seated themselves in Moses’ seat) and they are the scripture experts (You study the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life), yet Jesus in no way concentrates his teaching efforts with them. One place we see his reticence to take responsibility for their error is in Matthew 15.

First, we see that "some Pharisees and scribes came" to correct Jesus, Jesus did not go out to chase them down and correct them. Jesus answers their loaded question with a question of even greater weight and He then goes on to quote Isaiah: "THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN".
Wow, did you hear that? "THIS PEOPLE", is a reference to the general entirety of Israel...a people who, unlike the heathen, "honored the God of Israel with their lips". After that the leadership of Israel and the Bible Scholars of Israel overheard Jesus give this law-changing statement:

"Hear and understand. "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
So how did that go over????
“Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit(Mat 15:12-14).”

I don’t think this means we can think of ourselves as having everything right. I don’t think that any of us should conclude we have little or nothing to learn from other studiers. But my loyal-acknowledgment of God and your loyal-acknowledgment of God through our loyal-acknowledgment of Jesus is something God looks in on, personally. And the last thing you or I should do is move the eyes of our loyalty off of Jesus and onto the unsteady or even stormy response of the guild or the experts or the magisterium or the romantically imagined Hegelian model of "The Church". If we do this we may lose Jesus Christ as our object of all true loyalty. If we do this we will surely begin to sink from our faith-filled-walk-over-the-water with Jesus Christ.

Real and substantive corrections to the scriptural understanding begin at the place of loyalty to Jesus. And loyalty to Jesus will be the end of a scriptural understanding that has received corrections which were real and substantive.

What I am saying is a real, substantive, and corrected understanding of Scripture, begins and ends with loyalty to Jesus. I can have many inaccuracies in my understanding of scripture and still be on the path of loyalty to God through Christ. If I am loyal to Jesus then meaningful corrections to doctrine may be expected to flow from that loyalty as God superintends our understanding hearts.