For me, this has been an incredibly difficult article to write. The meaning behind pisteuo is powerful, but oftentimes misunderstood and diluted by the English word "believe". My goal in this study has been to clearly demonstrate the meaning of belief as recorded by the inspired writers. I pray I have done so. To close this study, let's summarize what we've learned.
In our study we've learned that pisteuo is comprised of two principal parts: a firm conviction, and action consistent with such conviction. How might one claim to believe, but in actuality not believe? There are two possibilities: One could claim a firm conviction but fail to demonstrate an appropriate action, or one could demonstrate an action but fail to have a firm conviction. The Bible gives us examples of each. Let's consider these examples.
Firm conviction but inappropriate action
We've already considered one man who knew God existed but didn't manifest the action necessary for one to have true faith. Cain knew He existed, but failed to obey His commandments. Someone may state, "But Cain didn't know what God expected!" He must have known! We know that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and that He doesn't change (Malachi 3:6). Since God doesn't change, and is no respecter of persons, He must never have been and never will be a respecter of persons. But we read in Genesis that God respected something of Abel's, but not of Cain's. What did he respect? Abel's offering! (Genesis 4:4-5) Since God is no respecter of persons, but He respected Abel's offering, why did He respect his offering? Because Abel did what God commanded him to do! If God hadn't told the brothers what He expected in worship to Him, and had respect for one brother's offering over the other, His respect would have been for the person and not the offering. We know this could not be the case. So, both Cain and Abel knew what God expected, but only Abel obeyed. As we learned in Hebrews 11:4, because of Abel's faith (knowledge of God's existence and obedience to His commandments) he received witness that he was righteous.
Next, please consider James' words in chapter 2, verses 17-20 of his epistle. Before using Abraham as an example of faith accompanied by works, James writes: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" There is only one verse in the entire Bible that uses the phrase "faith only": James 2:24. But what does he say about faith only? Man cannot be justified by faith only! The only passage of scripture which uses this phrase condemns the doctrine of faith only! However, he doesn't deny the fact that many live by this doctrine. What does he tell us about these people? They are no different than the devils! (verse 19) He describes one who teaches such doctrine as being vain. Kenos is translated "vain" in verse 20, and means "destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith." How many people today claim to have this unshakable faith, but have failed to manifest the works which must accompany such faith?
Let's consider these devils for a moment. James uses a striking word when speaking of their belief: in verse 19 he actually uses pisteuo to speak of the belief the devils possess! Pisteuo! The word we've considered in detail (I pray not ad nauseum!) in this study! The word which speaks of one's firm conviction in the existence of God, and is followed by surrender and action consistent with conviction. The word Jesus uses in John 8:24. When I first began work on this study I was convinced some word other than pisteuo would be used in James 2:19. It just goes to show that what we think must be true in God's word is frequently not true! No wonder Paul tells Timothy to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) The use of pisteuo by James in 2:19 is one reason this has been an exceptionally difficult article for me to write. Once I knew James used pisteuo in this verse, it behooved me to understand what he is saying about the devils.
It is certain that James is emphasizing the fact that belief in God without works is insufficient. This is no different than the belief possessed by the devils. However, let's think about the other two components of pisteuo. Did the devils surrender to God and then manifest works demonstrating such surrender? Turn to Luke 8:27-33. Luke gives his account of a man possessed with a legion of devils. Jesus came to his country and commanded the legion of devils to depart from the man. The legion confessed their knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God, and asked Him that He not cast them into the abyss but rather into a herd of swine. He consented to their request, and they promptly left the man and entered the herd. Here we see the legion of devils fulfilling all 3 parts of pisteuo: they had a firm conviction of Jesus as the Son of God, they surrendered to His will (manifested as His commandment for them to leave the man), and their actions reflected their submission as they left the possessed man and entered the herd of swine. But they remained devils! What does this tell us about belief? It's not enough to simply fulfill these 3 parts of pisteuo. One must willingly obey!
Do we have Biblical examples of people who appeared to fulfill these 3 parts of pisteuo, but in reality failed to do so? Please turn to Mark 7:1-7. Jesus' disciples failed to wash their hands before eating. The Pharisees asked Jesus about their failure to wash their hands. Jesus' reply: "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." These were the Pharisees! They certainly had a firm conviction of the existence of God, and by their pious actions appeared to be submitting to His will. But to what were they actually submitting? The commandments of men! Jesus proceeds to tell them that worship given according to the commandments of men is vain! Here we have a people who, according to Jesus, was certainly honoring God, but their honor was no deeper than their lips. Their heart was far from Him. This distance was manifest by their unwillingness to obey His commandments. Instead, they worshipped according to the commandments of men, and as a result their worship was useless (vain). This example is somewhat different than that of the devils given above, in that the devils obeyed exactly the commandment given them by Jesus. However, in both examples the heart of the one who claimed to submit to God was far from Him. The point is that it is not enough to simply go through the motions of submission. One's heart must be right or the works are vain.
Paul tells us much the same thing in Colossians 2:18-23: "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." What do we see in religion today? We see many pious people, but are their pious actions according to the will of God? Paul tells us that one may be beguiled of one's reward by those who teach these doctrines of men (touch not, taste not, handle not). "Beguile" is not a word we use much in everyday English today. Vine's tells us katabrabeuo (translated "beguile") speaks of false teachers who would frustrate the faithful adherence of the believers to the truth, causing them to lose their reward. These things have a "shew of wisdom in will worship". Ethelothreskeia (will worship) refers to "worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ." Such worship appears pious and full of wisdom, but in actuality is vain and destined to condemn the believers to an eternal torment. Again, in this passage we see one who may well have a firm conviction in God's existence, but has failed to submit to His will no matter how religious his actions appear to be. Their lips honor Him, but their hearts are far away.
Let's consider these religious people in light of James 2:19. Anyone today who worships God according to the commandments of men is no different than the Pharisees of old. But what did Jesus tell the Pharisees in John 8:44? Listen to His words: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." Everyone today who does as the Pharisees did and worships God according to the commandments of men rather than according to the truth is a child of the devil! They are no different than the devils spoken of by James in 2:19! They may appear to be servants of God, but are truly the servants of Satan. Paul tells us to watch out for these people, because Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Consider his words to the Corinthians: "But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)
In these examples of those with a firm conviction but inappropriate action we see that one may appear to be a servant of God but truly be a servant of Satan. Next, let's consider those who may have an appropriate action but lack conviction.
Appropriate action but lack conviction
Why is it necessary for me to write an article on Biblical Belief? Many people misrepresent Paul's words in Romans 3:24-28. Listen to what he says, "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 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; 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. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." What did we learn about righteousness in Hebrews 11? It is by faith that one becomes an heir of righteousness! Did this mean that the heir of the righteousness which is by faith did not have to perform works consistent with their conviction in the existence of God? Absolutely not! On the contrary, those who failed to perform appropriate works were not declared righteous by God! What does this tell us about Paul's statement that "we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law"? Deeds alone are insufficient to lead to one's justification! But did anyone think that their deeds alone were sufficient? Absolutely! Paul tells us of these people in Romans 9:30-33. He says, "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." What else does Paul tell us about these Gentiles who attained to righteousness? Romans 2:13-15 says, "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another". Paul concludes Romans 2 with these words: "Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (verses 26-29) What was the Jews' problem? They did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. They stumbled at that stumblingstone and were ashamed because of it. They attempted to be justified by their works, but Paul tells us that one cannot be justified in such a manner. The Gentiles who attained to righteousness, on the other hand, performed the works of the law by faith! They showed the works of the law written on their hearts, even though they did not have the law as a covenant between them and God. So we see the Gentiles were justified by their works and the fact they were performed by faith! The Jews may well have performed the same works, but they were not performed by faith. As a result, they failed to attain to righteousness and stood condemned because of their unbelief! They were a people who lacked conviction, but performed appropriate works.
I said in my introduction to this section that many people misrepresent Romans 3:24-28. How do they do so? John Calvin, in Book 3, chapter 15 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion states, "The principal point in this subject has been now explained: as justifications if dependent upon works, cannot possibly stand in the sight of God, it must depend solely on the mercy of God and communion with Christ, and therefore on faith alone." In Book 3, chapter 11, paragraph 19 he asks the question, "Does he not plainly enough attribute everything to faith alone when he disconnects it with works?" This is why it is necessary to write an article on Biblical Belief. Many people today are being misled down the path to destruction by teachings such as these. As we've seen throughout this study, works alone certainly will not justify a man before God, but faith without works is equally dead. Works, while they cannot justify alone, must be performed in faith before one will be declared righteous by God. The Jews attempted to do the exact opposite of what many religious people today attempt: they sought to be justified by the works they performed, and failed. Today many people attempt to be justified by faith alone without works, and fail just as miserably. Only when one's firm conviction in the existence of God and the deity of His Son is combined with a total submission to His will and works consistent with such submission, along with the proper attitude and motivation for performing these works, will one be declared just by God. As we've seen in a prior study of justification, man is justified by faith (Romans 5:1), by works (James 2:24), by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9), and by grace (Titus 3:7). One cannot trust in one to the exclusion of another and be declared just by God. They all work together.
Our physical senses and understanding
Much of our study dealt with the issue of understanding. Noeo (to perceive with the mind, to understand) is used to tell us of the understanding we gain by faith. This understanding is independent of our physical senses. Many religious people today, however, rely upon the understanding gained by their physical senses when they reject certain teachings of the scriptures. Many people teach that baptism is not essential to salvation. Peter hinted at the presence of this doctrine when he, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned these words: "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21). What do our physical senses tell us concerning baptism? They may say, "I've taken thousands of baths in my lifetime. What power is contained in my immersion in a tub of water?" Peter answers this question: Baptism for the remission of sins is the answer of a good conscience toward God! When one has Biblical faith and manifests the appropriate actions necessary to confirm that faith, God's power may then work in his life. Until one has true Biblical faith it is impossible for them to be saved! The saving grace of God is not available to them. Consider Jesus' words in Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Here we learn that belief alone is insufficient for salvation. When one has "belief" but has not been baptized, they do not have faith in God and His power cannot wash away their sins. Such a one is not saved. It was unnecessary for Jesus to state, "but he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned." If one doesn't believe, it doesn't matter whether they are baptized or not. They will be eternally condemned should they not correct that situation. From our study of Biblical Belief, what do we know about the one who claims to believe but refused to be baptized for the remission of sins? They don't believe (pisteuo) in Jesus! Their belief is in the false teachings of man, their faith is not in God, and it is impossible for such a one to be forgiven of their sins.
For everyone who desires to spend eternity in heaven, this should be one of the most important questions they ask themselves. Without a true faith in God their sins will not be forgiven. So how does one obtain this faith? Paul tells us: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Here we have pistis as the subject of the sentence. "Cometh" is the verb. Next, we have a prepositional phrase, with the Greek noun akoe serving as the object of the preposition. Akoe is translated "hearing", and is in the genitive case. What is meant by a noun being in the genitive case? The genitive case "indicates that the noun is modifying another noun in the same phrase; often shows possession." Recall from our earlier study how a prepositional phrase is telling us something about the relationship between the subject and the verb? So in the first part of this sentence Paul is telling me that "Faith comes by my hearing". I cannot obtain faith by your hearing, and you cannot obtain faith by my hearing. The verb form of akoe is akouo. We considered akouo in some detail when we answered the question, "Does God hear a sinner's prayer?" If you haven't completed this study, please follow the link provided and you'll be taken to it. For a brief review, the word akouo may refer to the sense of hearing or to the understanding of that which is heard. We need to determine which thought is being conveyed by akoe in this verse.
To determine which thought is being conveyed by akoe, let's review what we've learned about Romans 10:17 so far. To this point we know that my faith comes about because of my hearing, and your faith comes about because of your hearing. To answer the question regarding akoe, let's ask another question. Can I have faith if I am incapable of physical hearing? Surely the answer must be yes! Therefore, if I can have faith even though I'm deaf, and faith comes about because of hearing, the concept of hearing in Romans 10:17 must refer to an understanding of the information given rather than the physical act of hearing.
Paul goes on to say, "and hearing by the word of God." Akoe is used a second time by Paul in this phrase, but this time the noun is in the nominative case. In the first part of the verse, "by hearing" told us something about faith. Now, the prepositional phrase "by the word of God" is telling us something about "hearing". Again, the context of the sentence tells us that akoe is referring to understanding rather than the physical sense of hearing. The word of God doesn't have a direct effect on our physical sense of hearing, but it does have a direct effect on our understanding. The psalmist declares this truth when he says, "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." (Psalm 119:104) We learn much about faith in this verse. It is by the word of God that a man gains understanding. This understanding then leads to faith. As we learned in Hebrews 11:3, it is by the means or instrumentality of faith that a man gains understanding which extends beyond the understanding gained through the input of his physical senses. But it all begins with the word of God! One who does not hear the word of God does not gain the understanding required for true faith. One who does not have true faith cannot understand truths that extend beyond his physical senses. And, it is impossible for one without faith to please God. Therefore, one who will not hear God's word CANNOT be pleasing to Him!
We now know that one gains true faith by the understanding obtained through the word of God. One whose "faith" is based on the words of men does not have the faith required to be pleasing to God. Such a faith is truly dead. It cannot serve as the conduit through which the power of God flows to the true believer. But how does one know upon what their faith is based? One must evaluate their faith in the light of the word of God!
I heard an excellent analogy recently which I believe makes a valid point. Did you know that several brands of rat poison contains only 0.005% poison by weight? Bromadiolone is one type of poison used to kill rats. (If you'd like to see how little it takes to achieve its purpose, please visit the link above.) But why do the rats eat it at all? Because the majority of the compound is not toxic! Not only is it not toxic, but it is designed to be attractive to rats! Bromadiolone may be purchased in multi-edged sticks which appeal to the rats desire to gnaw, it may be purchased in pellets designed with greater "palatability", it's made in canary-seed form to appeal to mice, meal baits give rodents a variety of textures and flavors, liquid baits are available to attract rodents during dry seasons of the year, and powders may be used that stick to the rodent's fur causing their death when they ingest the poison while grooming. What is the end result: a dead rodent! The rat found the bait desirable, consumed it, and died. What would happen should one decide to use pure rat poison? It's likely they would continue to have a problem with rats! Even rats know better than to consume pure poison. However, when it's included in small quantities as part of a nourishing bait, the poison is highly effective. From the standpoint of religion, how much of the teaching proclaimed from pulpits, published in printed form, or made available around the world on the internet is just like rat poison? Nobody preaches pure false doctrine. If they did, they would have few if any followers. Just like the rat which wouldn’t eat pure poison, the overwhelming majority of people would refuse to consume teaching which was completely contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Unfortunately, a small quantity of spiritual “poison” derived from the mind of man is mixed in with a large quantity of truth. What is the spiritual fate of those who consume this mixture? Those whose faith was based on such poison would be condemned to an eternity in hell! We've already considered Satan's tactics as recorded by Paul in the book of 2 Corinthians. Please hear his words again: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (verses 13-15) Just as the vast majority of rat poison is non-toxic, the majority of Satan's teachings may be true to the word of God. It's that small percentage that kills.
Each of us must evaluate our faith in the light of God's word. If any part, even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant portion, is based on something other than the word of God the entire body of our faith is vain (empty and useless).
In the discussion section of our study I mentioned that I would come back to the gospel in our summary. I'd like for us to close by considering the gospel and the role it plays in our salvation. We've spent much time in our study considering the actions that occur and others that are made possible by faith. Hebrews 11 taught us that, by faith, actions occur on the part of the one with faith. These actions are consistent with faith and demonstrate the presence of faith. In addition, by faith it becomes possible for the power of God to work in the one with faith. Keeping these thoughts in mind, what does Paul tell us about the gospel? Let's review Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." What did Paul say the gospel is? The power of God unto salvation! He didn't say "The power of God into salvation"! If you've studied with me already you understand the difference between these two words. If you haven't, let me briefly review them. "Unto" and "into" tell us where we are in relation to where we are going, or where we've been. "Unto" tells me that I am near my goal, while "into" tells me I've reached my goal and am currently within its confines. When Paul tells us that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believeth, he is telling us that the gospel takes us up to the point of salvation. But how does the believer get into salvation? By grace. Listen to Paul's words in Ephesians 2, verses 4-10: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." This passage in many ways sums up what we've learned about Biblical Belief. Where was I before God quickened me together with Christ? I was dead in sins and trespasses. What saved me? God's grace. Was I saved because I was obedient to everything God told me to do in the gospel? Yes and no. Yes, because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe, and without obedience to it one does not have this power; but no, because no work I do will ever bring me "into" salvation. The only way I get into salvation is by the grace of God!
So how does one summarize the need for works? Many sincere religious people have completely discounted their importance. But James tells us that it is by works we are justified, and not by faith only. Consider where we started with this study. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6). But how do I acquire this faith I need to please Him? By understanding the teachings recorded in His word. (Romans 10:17) What does the understanding I gain from His word cause me to do? Be obedient to the commandments He has given us to obey. What is the body of teaching and commandments God has given called? The gospel. How is God's power allowed to work in my life? By my faith. When I've obeyed the commandments contained in the true gospel, what am I? A believer in Jesus Christ (recall pisteuo, conviction plus action consistent with surrender). When I've become a believer in Jesus Christ, what does the gospel become to me? The power of God unto salvation. As long as I'm unto salvation, in what state am I? Dead in sins and trespasses. How do I move from a state of death in sins and trespasses into salvation? By the grace of God. What role do works play in this process? Just as Abraham was required to do everything he could at the time he believed God's word before God imputed righteousness unto him, every work God has commanded to take me unto salvation must be performed before God will, by His grace, bring me into salvation! So by understanding true Biblical Belief we see how the following four things are involved in our justification (being declared righteous by God):
Faith (Romans 3:28): True faith gained by understanding God's commandments leads to action.
Works (James 2:24-25): True faith leads one to obey the commandments given him by God.
The blood of Christ (Romans 5:9): When one is obedient to the commandment to be baptized for the remission of sins one comes into contact with the blood of Christ.
Grace (Romans 3:24): When I have true faith, have obeyed His commandments, have been washed of my sins by the blood of Christ, I receive the grace of God which brings me into salvation.
I have no doubt that some of my students are asking, "How do you know that baptism is required for one to access the blood of Christ?" Many denominations teach that one is cleansed of sin before baptism. The answer is found in the scriptures. John tells the seven churches of Asia, "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:4-6) Now let's read what Ananias told Paul: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." What did Jesus do? Washed us from our sins in His own blood. What did Paul have to do to have his sins washed? Be baptized. Therefore, it is by baptism that one comes in contact with the blood of Jesus, which washes away our sins. One who depends upon salvation based upon the "sinner's prayer" in one of it's varied forms has NOT come into contact with the blood of Jesus. Without the blood of Jesus one will not be declared righteous by God.
I pray this study of Biblical Belief has been beneficial to you. Faith is a universal requirement for everyone who desires to be pleasing to God. This faith comes only by understanding the requirements for true faith as outlined in the word of God. I pray each of you will critically evaluate the source of your faith, and determine to eliminate any doctrine of men that may have crept in unawares, poisoning your faith and rendering it worthless. Listen to the words of Jude: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (verses 3-4) Friends, the true faith was delivered once, and it was delivered to those living in the first century. Anything different is of Satan. Please allow God to purify your heart. This purification, however, can only occur by faith (Acts 15:9). If I may be of any help, please let me know. Feel free to contact me by e-mail. I stand ready to serve in whatever capacity I may as you strive to develop the understanding necessary to have a true faith in God.