Saturday, August 17, 2013

Through Belief

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thess. 2: 13-14)

The word "belief" in this passage is another way of translating the Greek word "pistis," though it is generally translated as "faith." Strong gives its definition as - "conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it."

The fact that the King James Version translate pistis as "belief" in the above passage is detrimental to the Hardshells often defining it as someking of physical substance, or as "ability to believe." Also, the definition given by Strong is detrimental to the Hardshell idea that "pistis" sometimes denotes some kind of "seed faith" which lacks any belief of any truth. 

One could translate "belief of the truth" as "faith of the truth." The object of faith is truth, Gospel truth, truth about God and Christ. Where there is no knowledge of God and Christ, there can be no faith.

Hardshells cannot possibly make the salvation of this text into a mere temporal salvation, seeing it is that salvation that is the result of God's having chosen.  It is eternal salvation.  This salvation is said to be "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." Hardshells, however, do not believe that eternal salvation is "through belief of the truth."

The text also says that the chosen people are "called" to this salvation "by our gospel." The word "by" (Greek "dia") denotes instrumentality.  The end of being called by the gospel is "to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," which cannot be interpreted to be a mere temporal blessing, but as descriptive of that final salvation to which the elect are chosen.

The first Hardshells understood all this. This passage was often cited by them, in the Black Rock Address, in their first periodicals, such as in "The Primitive Baptist," the "Signs of the Times," the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," and in the "Old Baptist Banner." They all affirmed that this verse taught the necessity of being converted to Christ by the preaching of the Gospel in order to be eternally saved. It would be good if our modern Hardshells would return to the Old Baptist faith regarding the teaching of these words of the Apostle.

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