Preface by Dave Brown
Do You Believe with All Your Heart by Bryan Gibson
The Epistle of James: How Faith Should Behave by Bryan Gibson
Many of them Believed by Bryan Gibson
Additional Thoughts on "Many of them Believed" by Dave Brown
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Preface: How do we acquire faith? There is only one passage in the Bible that tells us how to obtain faith, and that is Romans 10:17: “So faith comes of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Some of the ancient Greek manuscripts have God (Theos) rather than Christ (Christos), and this would explain the differences in the various translations. However, the New Testament teaches very definitively throughout that there is absolutely no difference between the word of God the Father and the word of Jesus, who is God the Son. Jesus said as recorded in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” This was not a statement of identity, but one of unity in thought and teaching. Since the only way that we can obtain the word of God or Christ today is through the Scriptures, we conclude that the way to obtain faith is to study the scriptures with an open heart, and with our spirits open to the truth of the word (1 Corinthians 2). When you take the time to do this you will realize an increase in your faith.
Do You Believe With All Your Heart?
by Bryan Gibson
[Editor’s note: the fact that Philip stated that the belief that the Ethiopian treasurer required was “with all your heart” necessary implies that a superficial faith can exist, and that this quality of faith cannot save. This verified by James 2:14-26, and further explained by Brother Gibson in this article.]
When the Ethiopian treasurer asked Philip, “What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip answered, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The treasurer then confessed his faith: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37).
Why did the treasurer need to believe with all his heart? It’s really pretty simple. Whole-hearted belief is the only kind that produces conviction. One who believes with all his heart will act in harmony with his beliefs; one who believes half-heartedly will not—at least not consistently (see the rulers in John 12:42-43). The truth be told, half-hearted belief is really not belief at all in the saving sense of the word. The treasurer believed with all his heart that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and so he was eager to be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 8:36-39).
Of course, there are other truths people will believe if they believe with all their hearts. Let’s consider a few in the light of some questions:
- Do you believe with all your heart that what God has promised, He is able to perform? Abraham did. He was “fully convinced” that God would give them the child He promised, even though he was 100 years old and Sarah’s womb was dead (Romans 4:19-22). Do you have that kind of faith in the promises God has made to you? (Mark 11:24).
- Do you believe with all your heart that God has revealed all truth in the Bible, that all Scripture is inspired of God? (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 1:3). If you do, you will not add to, take from, or change the Scriptures in any way (Revelation 22:18-19). You will treat the words of the Bible with the greatest respect, because you know they came from God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
- Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus loved you and died for you? (Galatians 2:20). If you do, you will spend the rest of your life living for Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). A true believer is even willing to die for Jesus! (Acts 21:13).
- Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus saves those who obey Him? (Hebrews 5:9). There’s one way to prove it—obey Him! (1 John 2:3-6).
- Do you believe with all your heart that one day you will stand before Jesus Christ, to be judged for what you’ve done in this life? (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). If you do, we all know what you’re doing right now—preparing for that judgment.
- Do you believe with all your heart that if you do not obey the gospel, you will be punished with everlasting destruction? (2 Thessalonians 1:8). If so, you will not delay in obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Do you obey the “first and great commandment”—“love the Lord your God with all your heart...”? (Matthew 22:37-38). There is no way you can—until you believe with all your heart.
The Epistle of James: How Faith Should Behave
by Bryan Gibson
The entire Epistle of James can be gathered around one key passage: James 2:14-26. The argument is made in this passage that faith without works is dead. It has no profit at all. The kind of faith that will please God and save our souls is a living, active faith. But exactly how is faith supposed to behave? The rest of the Epistle of James helps to answer that question. We are taken through a lot of different problems and situations, and shown how in each case faith is supposed to act. So let’s take a look at how faith is supposed to behave, according to the Epistle of James.
- FAITH endures trials, by helping us recognize the value of trials (1:2-4), and by keeping our eyes fixed on the reward (1:12; 5:7-11).
- FAITH overcomes temptations, first by recognizing the true source of temptations (1:13-18), and then by being doers of the word and not hearers only (1:19-25).
- FAITH works by love, expressing itself in such works as “visiting the orphans and widows in their affliction” (1:27) and restoring erring brethren (5:19-20). FAITH working by love will never be guilty of partiality (2:1-13); or of speaking evil of a brother (4:11-12); or of hoarding up riches for ourselves and ignoring the needs of others (5:1-6).
- FAITH controls the tongue, making sure that blessing and cursing do not come from the same mouth (3:1-12).
- FAITH chooses the wisdom of God over the wisdom of the world, understanding the difference in the fruit yielded by each one (3:13-18).
- FAITH turns away from worldly lusts and pleasures and draws near to God (4:1-10).
- FAITH does not count on tomorrow, but instead says, “if the Lord wills” (4:13-18).
- FAITH prays fervently and confidently to God (1:5-8; 5:13-18).
“Many of Them Believed”
by Bryan Gibson
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12).
The title for this article is taken from the beginning of verse 12: “therefore many of them believed.” Why did so many believe? The passage gives at least three reasons.
Because they kept open minds. They were “fair-minded” or “noble-minded” (NAS), and so they “received the word”—without the prejudice that so many in Thessalonica had (Acts 17:5-9). They didn’t have their minds made up already; they were determined to give Paul and Silas a fair hearing. Furthermore, they received the word “with all readiness”, or “with great eagerness” (NAS). They were not gullible, as we will observe in just a moment, but they were eager to hear the Scriptures. There is no doubt that these people had the “good and honest heart” that Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:15).
Because they kept open Bibles. They “searched the Scriptures,” because they wanted to know if what they were hearing was “so”—if it was indeed the truth. They recognized the need to “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), to test the teaching of Paul and Silas by the infallible word of God. Wouldn’t it be great if we still did that? Too many are satisfied to just take the word of the preacher, not realizing how easily they can be led astray. Even preachers with good intentions can still be wrong! Are we sure that what we believe and practice today is really the truth? The only way we can know for sure is to search the Scriptures.
Because they kept open schedules. They searched the Scriptures “daily.” Open minds and open Bibles are of little use when they’re not put to use. Can you think of a better way to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16) than studying your Bible daily? If we’re too busy to study God’s word, then we’re just too busy—period! You’ve heard the expression, “ignorance is bliss.” That may be true about some things (Romans 16:19), but not when it comes to knowledge of God’s word. “Desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Note: The main points for this article were taken from an article by Dan Shipley in Plain Talk, January 1983.
Additional Thought on “Many of Them Believed”
by Dave Brown
Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess (it), lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the glory (that is) of men more than the glory (that is) of God.
Clearly the rulers believed on Jesus. Did this belief save them? Surely no one would say they were saved by such a belief; and yet, those who teach faith-only would be forced to say they were saved if their teaching is to be consistent.
Why would anyone teach the lie of faith-only? Perhaps John 12:42-43 gives the answer to that question as well:
Nevertheless even of their own teachers many believed on Him; but because of their traditional teaching regarding faith-only, they did not teach the living faith (James 2:26), lest they should be put out of their own churches: for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God.
Yes, faith-only is a terribly popular teaching, consuming many souls and sending them to hell. But a greater woe awaits those teachers who commit the worst possible offense against their flocks by convincing them that they are saved when, in fact, they are not.
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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