We have already seen two types of pistis in the accomplished believing of Jesus Christ and the right way of believing for the individual child of God. Yet there is still more to know and understand concerning believing.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
The Greek word translated "propitiation" is hilasterion and literally means mercy seat. Honestly, in today's culture mercy seat means absolutely nothing to the average Christian believer. Therefore, in order to gain a accurate understanding of propitiation we are going to have to understand what God means by a mercy seat.
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
The Ark of the Covenant, which held, among other items, the Word of God given to Moses, had a covering or a lid. On this covering were two cherubims, angels, with their wings spread toward one another thus framing in the covering for the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was kept in what was known as the Holy of Holies, the place where only the High Priest could go and he only went in there once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kipper.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
On the Day of Atonement the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat. The sprinkling of the blood cleared the way for the High Priest to be able to hear from God.
The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
1 Samuel 4:4a
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims:
The mercy seat was considered the throne of God, the place where God dwelt and spoke to man.
And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.
It was from the mercy seat that God spoke to Moses.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
The words "through faith" are not in the text. The words "set forth" are translated from the Greek word protithemi and mean to predetermine. God predetermined that Jesus Christ would be a mercy seat by his blood.
For Israel, it was the sacrifice of the lamb without spot and without blemish, whose blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat that granted access to God. It is through the sacrifice of the one with the innocent blood, after a life time of accomplished believing, that the same one would be our access to God.
God is able to meet with us similar to how He met with Israel but now this one sacrifice, of the man Jesus, who is the Christ, gave us access for all time. It is only similar because Israel only had the High Priest who was meeting with God and it was in a very specific location, the Holy of Holies. Whereas today, God has created His gift of holy spirit within each believer so that God is with each believer and in each believer at all times. The comparison being made is concerning access to God not the exact specifics of the access. It is Jesus Christ that has spanned the chasm that has separated man from His God since the Garden of Eden. Now, with the chasm spanned, our access to God has been secured.
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Believing is a law! When we believe what God says in His Word we have the right way of believing. When we have the right way of believing it will absolutely comes to pass for God has ordained believing to be a law, just like the physical laws of the universe that He also has set in place.
Merriam-Webster defines law as, "a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority." The law of believing works every time dependent upon the controlling authority. Spiritually it works because the controlling authority that backs it up is God. In the world the law of believing doesn't always apply because of the controlling authority.
Who is backing up what you are believing for in the world? If I believe I can fly then I am in for some harm or at least some disappointment. Who is the controlling authority for such believing? God hasn't made such a promise. The world hasn't made such a promise. Are you then your own controlling authority? As I stated in the previous teaching, all people believe but not all believing is aligned with a controlling authority that insures the results desired or promised.
But when it comes to believing what God has declared in His Word it is a law, a spiritual law, because God is the controlling authority and He has both the willingness and the ability to back up everything He has declared in His Word. This point would be best understood along the lines of what is available. We can only believe and expect to receive what God has declared in His Word. God decides what is available and He has let us know what is available by having it written in His Word.
Are you ill and want to believe to be healed? God has declared that is available. Do you have a need in your life like housing, or food for yourself and your family? God has plainly stated in His Word that believing to receive such things is available. The right way of believing would axiomatically include the principle of what is available and what is available is what God has said in His Word.
Many times people confuse and mistake action for right believing and thus they turn believing into works. It isn't my works that proclaim believing is present, it's what I have in my heart.
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
When you receive something by works you have earned it, it is yours by debt. Consider your paycheck at the end of the week. You don't receive your pay because of grace, you receive your pay because you have earned it, it is due to you for the your accomplished work. Abraham believed God and it was counted for righteousness. Righteousness was not counted to Abraham because of works that he accomplished.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Doesn't this contradict what I just said? Doesn't James contradict Romans? The answer to both questions is no!
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
The right way of believing will spring forth into an action. The action is a natural outgrowth of the right way of believing. But actions themselves are not a guarantee, or a proof, that a person has believing.
If I am a farmer, whose crops are suffering through a great drought, can I believe for rain to nourish my crops? Yes, you can believe for rain to nourish your crops. Does the fact that I wear a raincoat each morning, or carry an umbrella, show that I am believing for rain? No! Rain shows that I am believing, not what I'm wearing or carrying in my hand!
Pisteuo is action but it isn't the action that secures the result, it's the pistis. We take many actions in our lives that have absolutely nothing to do with what we believe. We act on impulse, we act on passing thoughts, we act on emotion, we act on day dreams, yet none of that actually guarantees we have believing, pistis, in the heart. Just because a Hollywood actor puts a crown on his head and prances around like a king doesn't mean he actually believes he is royalty. He's simply playing a part in a show for a brief moment. Some of the actions people take are no more than play acting for a brief moment, they are not connected to pistis in the heart.
I'm believing for my eyes to be healed so I throw my glasses away. Imitating what you think is the right action does not mean you have right believing. Right believing is in the heart first and foremost. Right believing will have an outward evidence but to look at an outward evidence as a guarantee of believing is foolish and wrong.
And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
We considered these verses in the previous teaching when we looked at the importance of the heart. Now look at what follows these verses in the context.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
Jesus was sent to Israel, not to the Gentiles. This woman is from Canaan, she is a Gentile. If you remember the Old Testament, the Canaanites occupied the land God had promised to Abraham. The nation of Israel had to fight them to gain what God had promised. The Canaanites were people who rejected God beginning with the father of the Canaanites who was Ham the son of Noah.
This Gentile woman comes to Jesus and makes some amazing declarations as she calls him Lord and the son of David. This woman recognized Jesus as Lord and the prophesied king from the line of David. The nation of Israel didn't even see Jesus in this light. This woman has right believing concerning God's desire to have all people whole. But she is wrong in believing that Jesus came to minister to the Gentiles. Therefore she encounters an obstacle to her right way of believing.
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This woman declared her daughter to have a great need and Jesus ignored her, it is like she wasn't even there! How would you feel if you had the right way of believing and you came to the son of God to have your need met and he simply ignored you? The disciples of Jesus wanted him to send her away, she's a Gentile, tell her to beat it. If this woman only had what she thought were the right actions, pisteuo, then she would have given up and gone away. It wasn't her actions that kept her at the feet of Jesus, it was the pistis in her heart. But still, the believing in her heart is going unanswered. There is an obstacle here and she is failing to see what it is.
Finally, Jesus turns to her and informs her he has not come to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus has just informed her of the obstacle but she doesn't hear what Jesus is saying.
Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
This woman is not deterred. She knows the promise of God. She knows what is available. She has believing in her heart and it is evidenced in her actions. The right way of believing will produce right actions but right actions do not produce the right way of believing.
Right actions never come first because you do not know what the right action is until you have the right way of believing. There are always obstacles to the right way of believing. Sometimes the obstacles are a failure to fully understand what God has declared, like with this Canaanite woman.
And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
The right way of believing will always appropriate the promises of God. The right way of believing will stagger not at the promise of God no matter what obstacle stands between the person and the promise.
Abraham had unbelief concerning the promise of God. The Greek word translated "unbelief" is apistia. Apistia is not knowing or not fully understanding what God has promised. Abraham believed God would give him seed and out of that seed would come the Christ. On that point he never wavered. But he failed to understand the seed would come from himself and Sarah and therefore he had a child with Hagar. The child he had with Hagar was not the line from which the Christ would be born. As Abraham received more information he understood it would be a child from himself and Sarah. Although Abraham had apistia in his life, he never wavered on God's promise that the Christ-line would come from him and his seed.
This Canaanite woman has misunderstood how to direct her believing. She went to the one who was sent to minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel when she needed to be going to God. The obstacle was her own apistia because she didn't fully understand the promise of God.
Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Jesus Christ calls this woman a dog! She knew who he is, she identified him correctly. The person who is only mimicking actions would have long since walk away in tears. But not this woman because she has pistis. But he explains to her that he is here to feed Israel and it isn't right for him to neglect Israel to take care of the Gentiles. But she hasn't caught on yet to what he is telling her.
And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
She knows the truth in her heart. She has confidence and trust in what she has learned about the promise of God. Her believing does not wavier no matter what obstacle she encounters. Abraham was the same way when it came to him believing God that the Christ would come from his line.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Finally, Jesus says to the woman, "be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Jesus had informed the woman of his ministry to Israel. Jesus let her know he hadn't come to teach the Gentiles. But Jesus also knew the right way of believing was between the individual and God. The woman had a need concerning her daughter and God had made a promise. The deliverance came to her daughter not because of what Jesus willed but because of what the woman willed. All she needed to do all along was to go to God. Her believing was there but her believing was not supposed to take Jesus away from his ministry to Israel.
She was her own obstacle but she didn't see it until Jesus said, "even as thou wilt." Jesus didn't lay his hands on her daughter, he didn't say, I'll come to your house. Jesus taught her that the right way of believing is between the individual and God and when she understood that, her daughter was healed that very hour.
Although this woman's obstacle was her own understanding, many obstacles to right believing come from the world around us. The right way of believing deals with following the words of God and the god of this world, the Devil, is opposed to anyone who would believe God.
So they (Barnabas and Paul), being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul (Paul), and desired to hear the word of God.
Paul and Barnabas are on the island of Cyprus and they are about to share God's Word with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, the leader for the Roman government. But the representative of the adversary's system has other ideas. The adversary is the god of this world according to Corinthians and the system he has set up has no intent of allowing people to believe God without a fight from him.
But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
The word "withstood" is the Greek word anthistemi and means to stand against, to set yourself in opposition to. Elymas stood against what Paul and Barnabas shared with Sergius Paulus. His goal was to turn the deputy away from pistis, the right way of believing. "To turn away" means to distort or to turn aside.
Generally speaking these attacks on right believing come from unbelievers, like in the days of Moses.
2 Timothy 3:8-9
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was.
Jannes and Jambres are the men that threw down their staffs and their staffs became snakes. Their goal was to turn Pharaoh from the right way of believing due to the words Moses was speaking to Pharaoh. Jannes and Jambres wanted to belittle the power with which Moses walked. Yet the staff of Moses, which had also become a snake swallowed up the snakes of Jannes and Jambres.
When a person has the right way of believing God will back up what He has promised. The power of the right way of believing will be demonstrated as the person who is believing has their need met. The adversary will always put obstacles in the way of a person who endeavors to believe God.
The adversary will ridicule a person, mock a person and try to pressure a person away from trusting in the words of God. Sometimes the adversary will offer what looks like a good deal but it only appears as good. The believer must always remember that the adversary was a liar from the beginning and that there is no truth in him at all. He only appears to be an angel of light and his deals only appear to be profitable. His deals, or compromises are a lie!
And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
The word "pervert" is the same word translated "to turn away" in verse 8. The adversary wants to turn people away from the right way of believing. The adversary doesn't want people to receive the benefit and the blessings of God. All those who stand with him and work with him, whether knowingly or ignorantly, will be obstacles to the right way of believing.
Anyone who believes Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father is a flat-earther, a Neanderthal, a person that is closed minded and ignorant, a hater. Recently it was proclaimed on a nightly news show that some Christians need to wake up because it's the twenty-first century and the world doesn't need foolish superstitions any longer. The world has always been too intellectual for belief in God. Today is no different.
The system of the world, that the adversary has set up, will always be an obstacle to the right way of believing.
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
The phrase "faith of God" is in the genitive case. It is a genitive of origin, meaning the right way of believing which comes from God. Romans 3:4 in answering the question of verse three states, "God forbid." God forbid that the unbelieving of some would negate the right way of believing of others.
This tells us very simply that the unbelief of the majority will not negate the right believing of the one. The right way of believing appropriates the results of the promise God has made. Actions will follow the right way of believing, but actions without believing are simply play actors looking for an Academy Award. What God has promised in His Word is what is available for us to receive by the right way of believing in the heart. Obstacles are irrelevant, the system of the world is irrelevant, the focus of the heart is on the promise of God. Pistis does not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief. Whether that unbelief comes from the world or our own lack of understanding.