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John 2:23-25 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 8 mins 31 secs

The Doctrine of Faith
John 2:23-25
John Lesson #023
October 11, 1998

We have been looking at a very important passage and one that is misunderstood and misinterpreted most of the time. It is misinterpreted because of the presupposition of what is called lordship salvation, a presupposition that includes the idea that somehow after we are saved our sin nature is not as virulent, is not as corrupting as it was before we were saved. Yet nothing in regeneration diminishes the power of the sin nature. At justification salvation, phase one, we are saved from the penalty of sin but it is only under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God that the power of the sin nature is experientially broken in our lives. It is positionally broken because of our identification with Christ in positional truth but it is only experientially broken as we learn the Word of God and apply it to our lives. In certain circles there is a distinction often made between faith in Christ that is not saving and a faith in Christ that is saving. One of the passages that is used to support this is the last three verses of chapter two. John 2:23 NASB "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man."

What does it means  to "believe on His name"? In a Jewish culture name references a person's internal character and the essence of them. Jesus' name is iesous [I)hsouj] in the Greek, which is the transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua which comes from the same root as Joshua, and the verb means to save or deliver. So Yeshua means the Saviour, it references salvation. So His name is not merely a tag like we have. Therefore when we read the phrase, "believe on the name," it not just believing that there was a historical figure who had the name Jesus but that this person who had the name Jesus was who he claimed to be, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world and that he died on the cross for our sins.

The doctrine of faith

We might have all kinds of experiences and we might be able to interpret them all kinds of ways, but the Bible tells us how to interpret our experiences. It may seem one way but the Bible tells us what it is. The Bible tells us how to use our reason and establishes the boundaries so that we can learn to appreciate reality for God says it is and not what we think it is on the basis of our reason or experience. Through the act of understanding God's Word we can understand reality as it is.

There are four systems of perception—rationalism, empiricism, mysticism and faith. Faith is defined as a non-meritorious system of perception based on confidence in the authority and the veracity of another. For the believer it is based on confidence in the authority and veracity of the Word of God—not of God, because we don't have a direct encounter with God, we only know about God through the propositions of Scripture; not in Jesus because none of us have ever seen Jesus. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father right now, He is not revealing Himself in this age. The only thing we have is the Word of God, this is our source of truth. We know everything we know about Jesus and God the Father and salvation and the spiritual life because of what the Word of God tells us. So we are people of the book. This not something people pejoratively call bibliolatry, we do not worship the Bible; but the Bible is the written Word of God, Jesus is the revealed Word of God, and the revealed Word of God is given to us in the pages of Scripture. So that through then use of vocabulary, syntax and grammar we can come to an accurate understanding of who God is, who Jesus Christ is, and what God has done for us in salvation. Faith, then, is not based on our own merit, our own IQ, our own abilities, or on our own experience. That is going to differ from one person to another. Faith in the Word of God is based on a principle of equality, that God makes spiritual truth equally available to every human being. The issue is not, therefore, your IQ, your intelligence, your background, you experience or anything else, the issue is positive volition. Do you really want to learn the Word of God in spite of your background, in spite of your experiences, in spite of whatever your family might think about you, whatever your friends might think about you? Do you want to learn the Word of God? Do you want to make that the highest priority in your life?

Background in terms of the words for faith in the Scripture

a)  pistis [pistij]. Sometimes it is used as a description or an attribute, and there it describes that which causes the faith or reliability, faithfulness, integrity. Titus 2:10 NASB "not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." There it is an attribute of the people. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 NASB "therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure." It is an attribute which describes the character of somebody, that they have faith. Secondly, it is used in an active sense, which means faith, confidence, trust or belief. It is the recognition and acceptance of something as true, holding it to be true. It is not a feeling. Faith is always believing something to be true, and that something is always going to be able to be expressed, a proposition of truth. You either believe it or you don't. Belief is an activity that takes place in the mental or intellectual faculty of your soul, not in the emotion. Faith means trust or confidence, it doesn't mean commitment. That is another error today, trying to make faith a commitment. Instead of trusting in Christ people say you have to commit yourself to Christ; the Bible never says that. That is a false gospel. It is used in this active sense of faith in Ephesians 2:8; 1 John 5:4, 5. Faith is also used to describe the various stages of the faith-rest drill, claiming a promise and mixing faith with the promises of God, doctrinal rationales and reaching doctrinal conclusions—the three stages of the faith-rest drill. Romans 3:20; Hebrews 4:3. And it is also used to describe the assimilation of Bible doctrine into the thinking of your soul. That is the basis for learning. The means of appropriating salvation is faith; it is by means of or through faith. The third sense is a passive sense, and that refers to that which is believed, e.g. What faith does that person hold to? Or, What is your faith? Galatians 1:23 NASB "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith [doctrine] which he once tried to destroy"; also 2 Peter 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:19; 4:1, 6.

b)  pistos [pistoj]. Used adjectivally it means faithful. It also means faith but can mean faithful.

c)  Galatians 2:16 is an example of the verb pisteuo [pisteuw] which means to believe or to trust something or someone as an object of faith. Acts 16:31 NASB "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 1 Corinthians 15:3 NASB "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, [4] and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." It is faith alone in Christ alone, you don't have to tell anybody.

What is the meaning of faith?

1)  Faith is a mental activity triggered by volition. It is not something that just happens. You have to make a choice to believe or not to believe. The synonym is given in John 1:12 NASB "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, {even} to those who believe in His name." It is the acceptance of the gift; you do nothing for that gift, you simply accept it.

2)  Faith is always directed toward an object which can be expressed in a proposition. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ died for your sins. A proposition is a statement of fact, a verbal statement expressed in words. It is the expression of a thought which can either be verified or falsified. Therefore faith is not a function of emotion but of reason.

3)  Therefore you do not believe directly in a person or come to salvation through a relationship with Jesus. Remember, Judas had a relationship with Jesus for three years and he is not in heaven. You first believe the propositions of Scripture that inform you about Jesus and His saving work on the cross. That means that faith is essentially rational, not irrational. You do not put your mind in neutral to accept Christ as your Saviour, in fact you have to engage your mind in order to understand the gospel.

4)  Therefore faith is an activity of the mentality of the soul which is directed first and foremost to a proposition, a statement of certain facts. The Scripture is the object of faith for the believer, 1 John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 11:31; Psalm 35; Proverbs 28:13. This is in the exercise of the faith-rest drill. You believe what the Scripture says and you mix the promises, those statements, with faith and you claim those promises. To the mature believer doctrine is often the object of faith. You understand doctrinal principles and you apply those and believe those and claim those in the practice of the faith-rest drill.

5)  Faith has no merit in itself, all the merit lies in the object of faith.

6)  Faith as an intellectual activity excludes emotion, irrationalism and mysticism. That doesn't mean that if you understand the gospel and believe that it is wrong to fell good about it, but that has nothing to do with faith. It is a response to the faith, a realization that because this is true I don't have to go to hell, and God loves me. There is nothing wrong with emotion, it is not part if faith though. It is not inherent to the operation of faith.

7)  Faith is rational and logical in conformity with the ultimate person of the universe, the Logos of God.

8)  All the faith in the world secures nothing but condemnation from the integrity of God, it is the object of faith that matters not the amount of your faith that matters. The object of faith is Christ.

9)  The tiniest bit of faith in Christ, no matter how microscopic it might be, secures eternal salvation.

10)  Faith is not something we do but it is the channel by which we appropriate what God has done for us. Jesus paid it all, 100%; we can add nothing to it. It is faith alone in Christ alone.