Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Exercise Faith" / "Believe"

(Bowman's Attacks on the NWT (the New World Translation, the Bible translation by Jehovah's Witnesses) in his Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses)

"Exercise Faith" / "Believe"

Bowman claims the NWT is attempting to "obscure the truth" by "the rendering of `exercise faith' instead of `believe.'"

"As others have noted, to exercise faith implies more than to believe; it implies doing works on the basis of one's belief. The NWT almost always translates the Greek word for "believe" (pisteuo) as "exercise faith" when it concerns God's free pardon and justification of those who believe in Christ ...." - pp. 70-71.

The word usually translated `believe' in many Bibles (pisteuo) may honestly be rendered `exercise faith,' which implies certain action on the part of the believer. For example, the highly reputed (and highly "orthodox") Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Abridged in One Volume) tells us:

I. The OT Legacy. OT faith corresponds to Gk. pisteuein inasmuch as both involve trust in persons and belief in words (including God and his word). The OT term, however, carries a stronger element of acknowledgment and obedience. - p. 852.

II. General Christian Usage.

1. Continuation of the OT and Jewish Tradition.
[8] b. pisteuo as "to obey." Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:18; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13. - pp. 853, 854, Eerdmans Publ., 1985.

And Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 511, also tells us:

[pisteuo] .... g. used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e. a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah .... conjoined with obedience to Christ - Baker Book House, 1977.

So, even some of the most respected New Testament scholars admit that pisteuo includes the idea of obedience with belief! This requires belief in and acceptance of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and action on the part of the believer. There are many things true believers must do and must not do. Doing (or not doing the forbidden things) certainly does not earn salvation. But not acting in obedience to the word of God may well prevent you from receiving the free gift of salvation.

There is clearly and obviously an inseparable union between true faith and actions on the part of the true Christian. As James 2:14-26 tells us:

What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? .... Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. .... You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? .... For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. - NASB.

Notice, "just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead"! Faith and works (or active obedience to the word of God) are just as inseparable as the body and spirit are inseparable in a living man! When this faith is spoken of, then, it certainly should not be considered dishonest to translate it with that understanding: "exercise faith." (See the FAITH study paper.)