The Assurance of Salvation–Why It Matters (and resolving some supposed contradictions)

(in process…much good material here, but more to come)

Voddie Baucham
Inspiring Philosophy

QUOTES TO PONDER
(Remember that all Bible verses on a topic must be reconciled and incorporated in a true doctrine. See Jesus’ example: Luke 24:25-7)

  • “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.“1 John 5:13
  • “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9
  • If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:8-9
  • “God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7**
  • “Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:1-4
  • Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ….Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27
  • “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:1,2
  • “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” Revelation 22:12 (see also Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 2:6, etc.).

What is the most important question on earth? It has to be the question of eternal life. Why?
1) Because nothing on earth is more valuable than life. And if that is true, which all reasonable people agree it is (since without life you can’t experience anything good in life), then nothing could be more valuable than having life forever and especially meeting the Creator who gave it to us.

2) As Oxford professor  C.S. Lewis wrote,

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. “

Those who have confidence that they can live forever are much more willing to sacrifice to improve life and human rights for others on this earth. This is why it is Jews and Christians who have pioneered pretty much all major human rights in this world and a large majority of everything else good in this world according to historians, scientists and even some informed atheists. Examples are here:
http://www.truth-is-life.org/GoodLifeEvidence.html

3) Because as thousands of years of history show, many who don’t have confidence in eternal life will focus their lives on greed, pride and power, getting as much as they can in any way they can because they think this short life is all they have. So they might as well try to experience as much as they can now…even if that means some theft, exploitation, abuse or in more extreme cases murder.

An acquaintance of mine who left Christianity but then thankfully came back put it this way:
“I figured I was going to hell because I couldn’t keep the
commandments so I said the hell with it… Took me a few years to realize God accepted me at the cross. That all my sins were
forgiven.” Steve S

The profound documentary China’s Confession (神州忏悔录) shows that through ~5,000 years of history, when leaders and people did not believe in God or believed in false concepts of God, those who held power engaged in many kinds of oppression over those who did not. The documentary eloquently says:

“Facts have once again demonstrated to us that as long as the Chinese people worship men instead of God, as long as sinful men act like righteous God, as long as men with limitations hold limitless power, that peace and stability will never last long…Oh China! This is where your misery resides. The one who sits on the central throne is not God, but an earthly man….men who did not know God became gods of men. Is not this the source of all China’s tragedies? Chinese butchered their fellow Chinese and Chinese conspired against their fellow Chinese. They abused each other…until…they became prey for foreign invaders…Oh China, because you firmly believe there is no God, you give full reign to sinful men to carry out their self abuse in hopelessness. Since you firmly believe mankind does not share a common holy nature, you then let human reason negate your God given conscience. Since you believe there is no Savior except yourself, you are left to drown again and again in an ocean of bitterness, a sea of fire and a pool of blood, of your own making”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh5cBIZscSA

This is not only true of China, but of all nations.  Things may seem good for a time, maybe even a generation or two as they did in China at times. But the greed for riches and power eventually destroys trust between people and degenerates into distrust, betrayal, various types of conflict, broken relationships and all too often crimes, violence and war. As the Bible says:

“Righteousness makes nations great. Sin is a disgrace to all people.” Prov. 14:34

In quite a few cases, they will engage in crimes if they think they can get away with it. For the poor this will more often be crimes of theft and violence while for the rich it will be crimes of theft at the level of banks, power over government laws and the use of deceptions to encourage wars for greed and things of that nature. The crimes of greed at high levels of power are the most serious problem because they are the crimes of greed that cause the desperation that fuels the crimes of nearly all the poor and that eventually destabilizes and ruins nations.

The crux is that many non-believers will abandon the principles of the golden rule and equality in many if not all areas of life because they innately realize that this is the only life they have and so they get all they can in any way they can while they are here. This is made exponentially worse if they live in a materialistic society or one where moral values are not communicated through schools. Unfortunately, the high levels of inequality that greed produces are the root of all evils in societies, as both the Bible indicates (1 Tim. 6:10) and science shows.
http://blog.truth-is-life.org/rights/equality/

GENUINE FAITH IS BASED ON PROOF & INVOLVES ACTION
Many word meanings have changed over time. So it’s important to check the actual meaning of the writers in the time and culture in which they wrote. This is called the Historical Principle.

“The Historical Principle. As time passes, culture changes, points of view change, language changes. We must guard against interpreting scripture according to how our culture views things; we must always place scripture in its historical context.”
http://www.gotquestions.org/Biblical-exegesis.html

Many people in the last century or so have come to think that faith has no connection to evidence or facts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Assurance of eternal life is not something iffy or based on speculation. No, the Bible tells us that faith in God is based on rock solid evidence, facts and proofs.

“For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God’s kingdom.” Acts 1:3 (CEV)

The very  definition of faith throughout history reflects this fact. The Hebrew root word of faith, aman/אֱמוּנָה, “means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a “secure” place…When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as “faith,” as it often is, misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in Elohiym is not [just] knowing that Elohiym exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward Elohiym’s will.” http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/vocabulary_definitions_faith.html

In Latin, the word faith comes from the word “fides” which meant ‘reliablity’, and includes the concepts of honesty, trustworthiness , confidence, trust, veracity, etc.
http://thelawdictionary.org/fides/, ancienthistory.about.com/od/lawgovernmentpolitic1/g/113010-fides.htm, www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=faith

In the 1913 dictionary, faith is defined as:
7. Credibility or truth.
1913.mshaffer.com/d/search/_words.word,faith

See more on the biblical/historical meaning of faith here:

BEING SURE OF SALVATION–A SHORT SUMMARY

The wonderful science of salvation combines concepts that at first seem to be very contradictory. We will look at many verses on each of these below, but briefly, the A, B, C of salvation is this:
A) ADMITTING SIN & ACCEPTING THE FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” Galatians 2:21

The Good O’Meter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrLzYw6ULYw

Grace and Law for Dummies (with scripture)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnhpFhu1Q9c

B) BELIEVE IN JESUS’ POWER TO CHANGE LIVES & CHOOSE TO CHANGE OUR BEHAVIOUR DAILY

Grace and Law for Dummies (with scripture)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnhpFhu1Q9c

C) CONQUER & CREDIT/REWARDS
Good work is rewarded in heaven and often on earth too.  But

“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.” 2 John 1:8

Jesus and godly authors throughout the Bible say that salvation is a free gift and there is nothing we can do to earn it. But they also say that those who keep on sinning and rebelling against God’s laws will not be saved and that every action we do will be brought into judgement and rewarded, whether it be good or evil.  These concepts seem contradictory to western minds since how can something be free if you have to do something as part of the deal? And if salvation is a free gift, then why and how are we rewarded for our actions? It is really hard for some people to comprehend this.
but history and science shows that all 3 of these concepts and every Bible verse supporting them below are very important to bring about the best life and the least harm for every person and the most people on the planet. This is always the goal of God’s love, truth and laws.

 

It’s important to test everything that is said (as 1 Thess. 5:21,15 instructs), including things in our own culture that we often take for granted. So let’s look at the issue of contradiction a little.

SALVATION & RESOLVING CONTRADICTIONS

One of Satan’s more sophisticated deceptions throughout history has been to get people to choose only part of the truth and mix it with errors and ignore crucial truths and verses so they only think about those that are comfortable He has been doing this since Eden. For the Greeks, it was foolishness to think that a God would die on a cross.  The Jews made a similar tragic error and cherry picked only the verses about the Messiah that showed Him conquering enemies and ignored the ones that showed him suffering and dying for sins. This resulted in the tragic destruction of their nation. Jesus explained the full truth, going through all the verses about the role of the Messiah in Luke 24:25-7 and keeping all in balance showing that both types of verses were true (just at different times). In any truth, it is important that we look at all verses, or at least all the major ones on a doctrine in order not to make the same disastrous mistakes the Jews and Greeks did.

One of the problems is that most people have grown up thinking of Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction as absolute. But this just isn’t true. Graham Priest is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York and says,

“The principle of noncontradiction says that you can never accept a contradiction. [It] has been high orthodoxy…since Aristotle… mounted a spirited defense of it in his “Metaphysics”… …You might think that since Aristotle’s defense established the principle in Western philosophy, his arguments must have been pretty good. Were they? No. The main argument is so tortured that experts can’t even agree on how it is meant to work, let alone that it works… virtually everything else that Aristotle ever defended has been overthrown — or at least seriously challenged. The principle of noncontradiction is, it would seem, the last bastion! ..But the fact that it is rational to accept some contradictions does not mean that it is rational to accept any contradiction…We have, then, quite good general grounds for rejecting a contradiction we come across. But of course, those general grounds may be trumped on the occasions where we do have good reason to believe that the contradiction is true — as with the Liar Paradox.”

Paradoxical Truth by Graham Priest. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/paradoxical-truth/?_r=0. November 28, 2010.


PROCESS OF SALVATION

Many complicated books have been written on the theology of salvation. One reason for this is because in the Bible you will see 3 sets of verses regarding salvation, faith, grace, works, law and rewards. Some of them appear to be contradictory and so many minds that have been immersed in western culture and especially the law of non-contradiction have wrestled with how to reconcile the hundreds of verses on this crucial topic (some listed below). The reality is that in Hebrew thinking some kinds of contradictions are complementary and both must be kept in balance. But the most essential aspects of salvation are really as A, B, C. I have included a links to BibleGateway so you can be a good Berean and verify them them for yourself):

A) ASK FOR FORGIVENESS & ACCEPT JESUS’ SACRIFICE
(the theological term for this is justification)

God’s standard for those who will live in heaven is perfection. Satan and His angels were cast out when they sinned. So even one sin, esp.  any not repented of, makes us unfit to enter in and live in heaven. The problem of course is that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) and cannot achieve the perfection that is required to live in a perfect place. So God has in infinite mercy provided a substitute for us. Jesus, the perfect lamb of God, lived a flawless, sinless life and then died as the perfect sacrifice.

Because of His sinless death, He has the right to be our substitute if we recognize our sin, ask for forgiveness and accept His sacrifice on our behalf by faith in Him. The salvation  He offers is completely free based on God’s grace. It has no connection to works and is given to those who have genuine faith in Jesus’ wondrous sacrifice of love on the cross which pays for our sins.

The only actions that you can take are the ones which connect you to Jesus, the source of eternal life and give Him permission to forgive your sins, choose to be baptized as a sign to all that you have a new Lord and choose to receive His power to grow more and more like Him over time (this is the next step of the process of living as a Christian, sanctification).

Here are some of the many Bible verses proving very clearly that salvation is a free gift and there’s nothing we can do to earn it.

SUPPORTING BIBLE VERSES:

“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Genesis 15:6 (NLT)

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.Isaiah 64:6

“But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” Habakkuk 2:4

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.” Romans 1:17

“So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.” Romans 3:28

“people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Romans 4:5

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” Galatians 2:21

“For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.” Galatians 5:4

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:1,2

“I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.” 1 John 2:12

Check them online for yourself if you wish (in any translation you choose)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+15%3A6%2C+2+Chronicles+7%3A14%2C+Isaiah+64%3A6%2CHabakkuk+2%3A4%2C+John+3%3A16%2C+Romans+1%3A17%2C+Rom.+3%3A28%3B+4%3A5%3B+Galatians+2%3A21%2C+Galatians+5%3A4%2C+Ephesians+2%3A8-9%2C+1+John+1%3A8-9%2C+1+John+2%3A1%2C2%2C12&version=NLT

For SDAs (or misguided ex-SDAs/SDA critics) Ellen White makes this point very strongly as well numerous times. Just a couple examples:

“There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone” Ellen White, Faith and Works, p. 19).

“From these scriptures it is evident that it is not God’s will that you should be distrustful, and torture your soul with the fear that God will not accept you because you are sinful and unworthy…. Present your case before Him, pleading the merits of the blood shed for you upon Calvary’s cross.

Satan will accuse you of being a great sinner, and you must admit this, but you can say: “I know I am a sinner, and that is the reason I need a Saviour. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’…I have no merit or goodness whereby I may claim salvation, but I present before God the all-atoning blood of the spotless Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is my only plea. The name of Jesus gives me access to the Father. His ear, His heart, is open to my faintest pleading, and He supplies my deepest necessities.”  Ellen White OFC p. 289

“Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God’s Word. In amazement he hears the message, “Ye are complete in Him.” Now all is at rest in his soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God.”  Ellen White, Faith and Works p. 107

“Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.” Desire of Ages, p. 35


B) BELIEVE IN GOD’S POWER-BEHAVE MORE & MORE LIKE HIM
(the theological term for this is sanctification.)

Genuine faith in God who has created us, died a horrible, excruciating death for our sins and offers us eternal life, inspires us to desire to perfectly obey God’s truths, grace, mercy and laws in our daily lives. As we fill our hearts and minds more and more with God’s truth and love and as we see the devastating effects of sin in our lives and that of others, we become more and more revolted by the abuse of sin and want it out of our lives in every area. God gives us power through His Holy Spirit to change to be more like Him day by day.

This process of change happens first in the mind and our daily choices. When the mind is filled with God’s love and truth, it will inevitably filter out into the actions. The science of brain neurons shows that whatever we focus our minds on, makes little pathways in the brain and they get stronger and stronger over time and eventually they will often translate into actions. Whatever we decide to focus our minds on is what we will become more and more similar to.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

For our benefit and that of those around us, God asks us to
A)to imitate God in all we do (Eph. 5:1)

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Eph. 5:1

B)  to live out the 2 greatest laws of love, love to God and love to man in everything we do and say.

“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39

Ellen White explains that this is the key to confidence in salvation:
“Eternal life is the reward that will be given to all who obey the two great principles of God’s law,—love to God and love to man. The first four commandments define and enjoin love to God; the last six, love to our fellow men. Obedience to these commands is the only evidence man can give that he possesses a genuine, saving knowledge of God. Love for God is demonstrated by love for those for whom Christ has died….THE YOUTH’S INSTRUCTOR March 22, 1900

Those who are striving to love God and people in all their actions and confessing when they fail and trying to improve next time can be sure of salvation.
“You cannot be overcome of the enemy unless you press positive resistance against God’s will…The curse of the law is not upon those who are striving to fulfill God’s holy precepts through faith in the Redeemer. They are covered with his righteousness. They are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Ellen White, ST September 30, 1889, par. 7

C) continually aim for perfection in our daily lives (Matt. 5:48),

“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48

Many misunderstand the Bible because there have been many definitions of perfection in history different from the Bible and and there are many types of perfection in the Bible itself.  We’ll look at that in the next section, but why should Christians want to be perfect?

Why do we do desire perfection?

1) We want to honor our Creator and His love for us, never dishonor Him.  We do not want cause any harm to our relationship with God or any being He has created.

“for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” Colossians 1:9-10

2) We want to follow the Golden Rule and the 2 most important laws upon which Jesus said all others depend, love to God and love to man. Paul says that each of the 10 commandments is an illustration of love.

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:8-10

3) Paul writes that those who consistently rebel against God’s truths/laws cancel grace and will have to suffer the punishment of sin themselves instead of Jesus covering it for them.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” Hebrews 10:26-7

4)  We want to be able to testify to others about the benefits of living life God’s way.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

5) We want to attract others to accepting eternal life for themselves.

“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” 1 Thessalonians 2:10

6) Since we know that all sin is slavery (Romans 6:16) and causes harm we hate it more and more, especially as we experience and see the depths of its destructive effects and depravity in our own lives and that of others.  Sin always dishonors God’s desires for us and all humanity to be free, happy, successful and more.

“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” Romans 6:16

7) We want to experience the highest level of freedom, happiness, success and more for ourselves, our families, churches, community, nation and world.  God says this comes by following His laws.(Ps. 119:44-5, James 1:25, etc. ***)

“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” Psalm 119:45

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:25

SUPPORTING BIBLE VERSES:
Once we become believers, we are instructed to live holy lives, to do all we can to imitate Jesus, do good to every person and all people and follow His principles of grace, mercy and laws of love and freedom.

“If you love me, obey my commandments…. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.” John 14:15,21

“…Everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” 1 John 5:1-4

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8-10

The Bible repeatedly instructed to imitate Jesus and those who love and obey him in good works.
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ….Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

God states that this is a proof that we are really true believers and have had a heart change.
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.” Matthew 3:8,9 (also Luke 3:8)

“I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.” Acts 26:20

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 1 Peter 2:1

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Ephesians 4:31

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead…We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:14,16-20

See these and many other verses at the links below:
Genesis 6:9, Deut. 4:1-8, 1 Samuel 7:4, 2 Samuel 8:15 2 Kings 20:2, Nehemiah 5:14-19, Job 6:24,28-30, Job 27:1-6, Joshua 14:14, Psalms 119:44-45,Matthew 3:8,9/Luke 3:8, Matt. 5:18-19, 7:21, Matthew 5:48, John 13:35, John 14:15,21, John 14:15,21, Acts 26:20, Romans 2:13, Romans 6:16, Romans 13:8-10, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Cor. 11:1, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Galatians 2:21, 1 Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:31, Eph. 5:1,2, 25-27, Phil. 2:15, Colossians 1:22, Colossians 1:28-29, Hebrews 10:26-31, James 1:25, James 2:8-12, James 2:24, 1 Thess. 5:15, 21, 1 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:2, 1 John 3:2-9, 1 John 3:14-16-19, 1 John 3:14, 3 John 1:11, Jude 3,4, Rev. 12:17;14:12
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+6%3A9,+Deut.+4%3A1-8%2C+1+Samuel+7%3A4%2C+2+Samuel+8%3A15+2+Kings+20%3A2%2C+Nehemiah+5%3A14-19%2C+Job+6%3A24%2C28-30%2C+Job+27%3A1-6%2C+Joshua+14%3A14%2C+Psalms+119%3A44-45%2CMatthew+3%3A8%2C9Luke+3%3A8%2C+Matt.+5%3A18-19%2C+7%3A21%2C+Matthew+5%3A48%2C+John+13%3A35%2C+John+14%3A15%2C21%2C+John+14%3A15%2C21%2C+Acts+26%3A20%2C+Romans+2%3A13%2C+Romans+6%3A16%2C+Romans+13%3A8-10%2C+1+Corinthians+3%3A3%2C+1+Cor.+11%3A1%2C+2+Corinthians+6%3A6%2C+&version=NLT   

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+2%3A21%2C+1+Ephesians+2%3A10%2C+Ephesians+4%3A31%2C+Eph.+5%3A1%2C2%2C+25-27%2C+Phil.+2%3A15%2C+Colossians+1%3A22%2C+Colossians+1%3A28-29%2C+Hebrews+10-26-31%2C+James+1%3A25%2C+James+2%3A8-12%2C+James+2%3A24%2C+1+Thess.+5%3A15%2C+21%2C+1+Peter+2%3A1%2C+2+Peter+2%3A2%2C+1+John+3%3A2-9%2C+1+John+3%3A14-16-19%2C+3+John+1%3A11%2C+Jude+3%2C4%2C+Rev.+12%3A17%3B14%3A12&version=NLT

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PERFECTION? (and how perfect do I have to be anyway?)
Various Greek thinkers for example said that  “Nothing in the world is perfect”, to “Everything is perfect”; and from “Perfection is not an attribute of God”, to “Perfection is an attribute of God.” Some thought perfection meant you still had the potential to improve and so people could be perfect, but God couldn’t. Others said that perfection meant you were finite and had limits. So since God isn’t finite/has no limits, He couldn’t be called perfect. Due to this, Aristotle thought that the world could be perfect, but God could not. Greek philosophy infected medieval Christianity so much that some medieval Christians said that creation and people could be called perfect, but that perfection was not a trait of God since he was infinite. See more on this here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfection#Ontology_and_theology

Ellen White explains that perfection means that we should have the desire to be perfect according to all the knowledge and ability we have at the present time, and acting with the purpose that our actions should reflect love to God and man in all we do and that we want to keep progressing in godliness since we understand more and more that every kind of sin is destructive**. Perfection is not something achieved and finished at one point long in the future. It happens every moment and every day as we strive to be the best we can be with God’s help.

At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 65

It’s kind of like school. Each student can be perfect in the chapter or course he/she is studying with diligent study. But there is still much more to learn and more areas to improve in.

Perfection must always be our goal if we understand that sin hurts people and we love people. Of course no one can be or ever has been perfect in all areas as God is, but when Godly perfection is our goal, we will always make far more progress towards it than if it is not. If you shoot for shoot for the stars, you’ll at least fly past the moon. But if you don’t even aim for the moon, you won’t hardly get off the ground.

The Bible speaks of many types of perfection, not just one. Here are some of them:
Perfection #1) God’s perfection/flawlessness: This is the flawless perfection that only God has and no one else has experienced.

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalms 18:30 NIV

“The law of Yahweh is perfect, reviving the soul.” Psalms 19:7

Perfection #2) Prophetic inspiration perfection

“Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 1 Peter 1: 20-21

Are prophets flawless in all they say or do once God chooses them as a messenger? Why or why not?

ANSWER: No, Nathan told David to build a temple, but then had to retract that after God corrected him in 2 Samuel 7.

Just because a prophet has a revelation from God does not mean that every tiny thing they do and say from that point is infallible. Only God is infallible. No human being is, not even inspired prophets (and Ellen White repeatedly said she was not infallible).

“Even the prophets who were favored with the special illumination of the Spirit did not fully comprehend the import of the revelations committed to them. The meaning was to be unfolded from age to age, as the people of G-d should need the instruction therein contained…Not infrequently the minds of the people, and even of G-d’s servants, are so blinded by human opinions, the traditions and false teaching of men, that they are able only partially to grasp the great things which He has revealed in His word.” (Ellen White, Great Controversy, pages 343-345.)

So even Bible prophets were not infallible in what they said or did at all times and sometimes had to make corrections. Yet, they were considered godly and righteous.

Perfection #3) Justification perfection

Perfection #4) Love perfection

Perfection #5) Heart perfection

Perfection #6) Intellectual perfection
(truth, academic, doctrinal, science)

Perfection #7) Moral/Character perfection
(sanctification)

Perfection #8) Corporate perfection

When we fail or sin, there is always repentance for those who repent and wish to do better (1 John 2:1-2). God gives power to cleanse us from sin and to help us grow consistently towards His perfection(1 John 2:1-2).

 

C) CONQUER & CREDIT/REWARDS:

 

C) JUDGEMENT: Numerous verses state that we will be rewarded or judged for every work that we have done. But because :

“Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.” Ezekiel 18:20

“The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal.” 1 Samuel 26:23

If the righteous are rewarded here on earth, what will happen to wicked sinners? Proverbs 11:31

“He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.” Romans 2:6-8

If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God,[a] you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:41-42 (NLT)

“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.[k] Matthew 19:29-30

“If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.  But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk?  The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.  “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.  But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Luke 12:43-48

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)

“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.” 2 John 1:8

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:12 (see also Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 2:6).

SUPPORTING BIBLE VERSES:

1 Samuel 26:23, 2 Samuel 22:21, Job 20:29, Psalm 18:20,24, Psalm 58:11, Psalm 91:16 , Proverbs 11:23,31, Matt. 6:1, 16:27; Mark 10:30-1, Matt. 10:40-42, Matt. 16:27, Matt. 19:29-30, Luke 12:43-48; Jn. 5:28,29, Romans 2:6-7, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:14, 1 Peter 1:17, Revelation 20:11-15; Rev. 22:12.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+26%3A23%2C+2+Samuel+22%3A21%2C+Job+20%3A29%2C+Psalm+18%3A20%2C24%2C+Psalm+58%3A11%2C+Psalm+91%3A16+%2C+Proverbs+11%3A23%2C31%2C+Matt.+6%3A1%2C+16%3A27%3B+Mark+10%3A30-1%2C+Matt.+10%3A40-42%2C+Matt.+16%3A27%3B+Jn.+5%3A28%2C29%3B+Romans+2%3A6-7%2C+1+Corinthians+3%3A12-15%2C+2+Cor.+5%3A10%2C+2+Timothy+4%3A14%2C+1+Peter+1%3A17%2C+Revelation+20%3A11-15%3B+Rev.+22%3A12.&version=NLT

FAILURE OF EARTHLY THINGS TO BRING ENDURING HAPPINESS

People all over the world try to find enduring happiness in all sorts of ways. But many fail because they are looking in the wrong places.

WEALTH: Many think being rich will bring happiness. But those who have experienced agree with Solomon that it is a failed method.

“There are so many unhappy billionaires.”  Simon Cowell, American Idol judge

“It is I that have led the most foolish life in the world!” “I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth”. Jay Gould, millionaire

“Money doesn’t make you happier.  Last year I earned $40 million dollars. This year I earned $50 million dollars. I am not any happier.”
Arnold Schwarzeneggar, from the book “I Can Make You Rich” by Paul Mckenna

Jung Da Bin—famous, rich, but it didn’t make her happy. She committed suicide.

Yoon-Ee—famous, rich, but it didn’t make her happy either. She committed suicide.

“I have been everything, and everything is nothing!”
Severus, Roman Emperor

Owen Wilson
–A famous actor in comedies.
–Has struggled with drugs and depression
–His partying lifestyle “could have been partly responsible” for Wilson’s breakdown according to one of Wilson’s friends.

“I’ve just been a machine for making money. I seem to have spent my life in a golden tunnel looking for the outlet which would lead to happiness. But the tunnel kept going on.” Aristotle Onassis (husband of Jacqueline Kennedy) His daughter Christina Onassis felt similarly and attempted suicide.

“I’ve got the presidential suite,” he said, “and it all came at once…. I realized…This will not work. It is not gonna make me happy.’ … The only thing that’s gonna make me happy is the joy that’s on the inside of me.“Joseph Simmons, rapper

” I would go to work on the show and I felt awful every day… I felt like some kind of prostitute or something. If I feel so bad, why keep on showing up to this place?”  Dave Chappelle

“Economists and psychologists have spent decades studying the relation between wealth and happiness, and they have generally concluded that wealth increases human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class but that it does little to increase happiness thereafter.” -Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

A big reason that being rich doesn’t help people have long term happiness is because it often fractures relationships in several ways:
1) People have to spend long hours working on their business and sacrifice family and friends to do so.

2) When people are made inferior to money, they lose trust in the person who does that.

3) When people get wealthy, they can never be sure whether people love them for who they are or for their money.

4) Many who make a lot of money eventually find that this is boring and they want a new drug. This is sometimes power and the work to gain power and control over others. This power also damages relationships and trust.

EDUCATION: Does education guarantee happiness?
Voltaire, a famous French philosopher wrote,
“I wish I had never been born”.

GENIUS/INTELLIGENCE: Ernest Hemingway, a writing genius, said, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Philip Katz, a genius programmer, died at 37 from chronic alcohol abuse.

ART: Ernest Hemingway, a writing genius, had 4 failed marriages and eventually committed suicide in 1961.

Van Gogh was often depressed and committed suicide.

Materialism in any form, whether financial, educational, philosophical or whatever has very negative consequences.  Dr. Amit Amin, professor of heart medicine Washington University School of Medicine, has found that materialism makes makes people feel
**less competent,
**reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude,
**reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life,
**generates negative emotions, and
**makes them more self-centered.
happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

“Materialism is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and increased rates of mental disorder.” 1,2,3
happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

1. Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). MATERIALISM AND DIMINISHED WELL-BEING: EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE AS A MEDIATING MECHANISM. Journal Of Social & Clinical Psychology, 26(5), 521-539.

2. Belk , R. W. ( 1985 ). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world . Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265 – 280

3. Sheldon , K. M. , & Kasser , T. ( 1995 ). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 531 543 .

BELIEF IN GOD BRINGS HAPPINESS

Many theologians, psychologists and scientists have come to the conclusion that there is a God shaped area in our lives and that we can’t be really happy long term without it.  No matter what we occupy ourselves with in this life, eventually we will face our mortality without a sure confidence in eternal life. And for many that lack of belief in God has made them think that all their hard work and efforts in this life are wasted in a sense, since they will not be able to continue enjoying them and others will enjoy the fruits of their labor.

In contrast, those who have sure confidence in God know that their actions will continue to have effects throughout all eternity.

This may be why Christians are so much happier on average than those who don’t believe in God.

Dr. Amit Amin, professor of heart medicine Washington University School of Medicine has a website that shows the best ways to be happy from science. He writes that:
“As an atheist…as far as I can tell, considering the time and effort involved versus the benefits gained, going to church ranks as the #1 best strategy on this list.”
http://happierhuman.com/how-to-be-happy/#a36

Some of the reasons why church is so beneficial is because it:

1) Gives people purpose/meaning in life (which adds ~7 years to life)
2) Encourages people to be generous and volunteer to improve the lives of others (working for human rights, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc.)
3) Aids the building of strong communities/networks. People have others around them to encourage and help.
4)  Improves gratitude, optimism.
5) Improves persistence, not giving up
6) Gives weekly micro-doses of happiness: The average person reports a 4% mood bump from attending church.
7) Improves mental condition, grades, success.

Research was done on Adventists and it found that 97% percent of Adventists… described themselves as “very happy” or “fairly happy”

“Religious people are more likely to be part of a supportive community, which helps people cope with stress and threats to happiness,”

“Faith provides meaning and purpose that sustains people through difficult times, and faith also gives hope for the future.”
news.adventist.org/all-news/news/go/2001-06-11/adventist-happiness-rates-high-in-health-survey/

To close, scientists have found that even babies have a hardwired belief in God built into them.  Maybe the reason why they find this so strongly is because a God who loves us and has designed us for a relationship with Him and created a universe for us learn about and explore throughout eternity really exists.

C.S. Lewis wrote a simple but powerful argument about this (explained in more detail here),

“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

That makes sense. Why not study more into the facts, evidence and proof of God and much more importantly, try out a relationship with the very God who made you? You will never regret it.

BEING SURE OF SALVATION

“1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. 4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 1 Peter 4:1-5,8-11*

(EXTRAS TO ORGANIZE)

God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven. Clothed in the glorious apparel of Christ’s righteousness, they have a place at the King’s feast. They have a right to join the blood – washed throng. COL 315.1

The period of our probation is fast closing. Soon our opportunity to give the last message of mercy to the lost will be forever past. The help of every one that loves Jesus is needed now, in the Lord’s work. Let there be no idlers in the Master’s vineyard. Let there be no robbery of God in tithes and offerings, which are needed to sustain His cause. RH February 4, 1902, par. 20

True grace helps us realize that all godliness is for the purpose of benefiting humanity. Often it’s all humanity, but sometimes it’s communities, churches, believers or unbelievers. Once we understand God’s incredible grace for us in paying the penalty of sin and that He is the Creator of all humanity and that all sin is slavery and harmful to some or many of His creatures, we will hate and despise all sin and lawbreaking and ask for God’s help in overcoming it. We will understand that all laws are based on the 2 great commandments of love to God and love to man. We will recognize that every time we disobey any law, we are doing things that harm other human beings and that it can have generational effects. There is always forgiveness when we have been duped and deceived into committing sin if we genuinely wish to turn away from evil. God also understands extreme cases, such as abuse  or times of persecution where extreme measures may be necessary. But if we try to make all decisions for the good of each person and all people and confess when we have failed, we are God’s children and He forgives our sins and winks at our ignorance.

In the opening paragraph of his famous work “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection,” John Wesley wrote: There is scarce any expression in holy writ, which has given more offence than this.  The word perfect is what many cannot bear.  The very sound of it is an abomination to them;and whosoever preaches perfection, (as the phrase is,) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.1

EXTRAS TO ADD SOON (respond to this):

“The Historical Principle. As time passes, culture changes, points of view change, language changes. We must guard against interpreting scripture according to how our culture views things; we must always place scripture in its historical context.”
http://www.gotquestions.org/Biblical-exegesis.html

“There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone” (Ellen White, Faith and Works, p. 19)…

Where there is no grace, there will be no true obedience. There may be an outward compliance to the law, but that isn’t obedience. Legalism isn’t obedience. It’s rebellion wearing a mask of obedience…

Ellen White sees no danger in preaching, without reserve or qualification, that there is absolutely no value in obedience for salvation, and this is why she is completely comfortable in placing the weight of our preaching emphasis on the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. She explained the idea like this: “The theme that attracts the heart of the sinner is Christ and Him crucified. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus stands revealed to the world in unparalleled love. Present Him thus to the hungering multitudes and the light of His love will win men from darkness to light, from transgression to obedience and true holiness” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892)….

When it comes to salvation, there is no such thing as God’s part and my part. All there is, is God’s part. The total reality of my salvation is His accomplishment. I have no part at all in achieving my salvation. God did it all in Christ. That’s the good news, and anything less isn’t good news at all, but merely good advice, which leaves me with a sense of self-serving obligation to obey, but without any internal power to actually obey….

Comprehending the powerful dynamic of the gospel, Ellen White insisted that when you “see the matchless charms of Jesus,” an amazing thing will happen in your heart: “You will fall in love with the Man of Calvary” (Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 293).

THE TRUE GOSPEL RELIEVES THE CONSCIENCE OF ITS GUILT AND SIMULTANEOUSLY AWAKENS THE WILL TO HEARTFELT OBEDIENCE.

“Fall in love”? Is that the language she used? Yes it is! Because she understood the gospel as articulated by Paul. She understood that righteousness only comes by faith, and faith is only energized by vital contact with God’s love in Christ…You can know you are under the influence of the true gospel of Christ when you believe with complete liberty that there is no merit whatsoever in obedience … and yet you want to obey … because you are in love with God … because He first loved you.
www.lightbearers.org/the-theological-identity-of-the-remnant/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw3v3YBRCOARIsAPkLbK6KGR8T2w9QBU19RnVLcQl6bi-JKDaGve9Z9lOrFomlZnIJUI-78o0aAjcjEALw_wcB

FAITH DEFINITION

The Hebrew root word of faith, aman/אֱמוּנָה, “means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a “secure” place…When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as “faith,” as it often is, misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in Elohiym is not [just] knowing that Elohiym exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward Elohiym’s will.” http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/vocabulary_definitions_faith.html

In Latin, the word faith comes from the word “fides” which meant ‘reliablity’, and includes the concepts of honesty, trustworthiness , confidence, trust, veracity, etc.
http://thelawdictionary.org/fides/, ancienthistory.about.com/od/lawgovernmentpolitic1/g/113010-fides.htm

Romans and Greeks used it this way too.

“Some modern thinkers have insisted that genuine faith is incompatible with evidence. Yet there is a significant tendency in ancient Greek literature, not least in Jewish & Christian writings from the period of Christian origins, to use pistis precisely in the sense of “pledge” or “evidence” on which subjective confidence or belief my appropriately be based…One might speak of sense data in general or of a particular empirical observation as constituting pistis in the sense of “evidence” (Democritus frg. 125; Polybius 7.13.5; 8.2.1; 10.47.6; Epictetus Disc. 1.28.3; Vettius Valens 7.5.29-30; Diogenes Laertius 10.63 [Epicurus]). Lawyers describe eyewitness reports as “conclusive proof”[pistis] of their assertions (Antipho 6.28)… Appian reports that Antony construed Brutus’s refusal to fight as clear proof (pistis) of defeat & cowardice (Bell Civ. 4,1119). Pistis as “Ground for Faith” in Hellenized Judaism & Paul, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3267114

The English word faith originated around the 13th century in English.
“mid-13c., “duty of fulfilling one’s trust,” from Old French feid, foi “faith, belief, trust, confidence, pledge,” from Latin fides “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief,” from root of fidere “to trust,” from PIE root *bheidh- (cf. Greek pistis; see bid).
www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=faith

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines several kinds of faith including these:
1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another…I have strong faith or no faith in the testimony of a witness, or in what a historian narrates.
2. The assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition advanced by another; belief, or probable evidence of any kind.
3. In theology, the assent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed.

And it includes many quotes common at the time using the term, such as:
“Faith is a firm, cordial belief in the veracity of God, in all the declarations of his word; or a full and affectionate confidence in the certainty of those things which God has declared, and because he has declared them.”
http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/word/faith

In the 1913 dictionary, faith is defined as:

1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.

2. The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth. Faith, that is, fidelity, — the fealty of the finite will and understanding to the reason. Coleridge.

3. The belief in the historic truthfulness of the Scripture narrative, and the supernatural origin of its teachings, sometimes called historical and speculative faith.

7. Credibility or truth.
1913.mshaffer.com/d/search/_words.word,faith

Experiencing how God’s truth energizes life!