Jul 21, 2010

Faiths mentioned in the Bible and Principles of Interpretation by William Styles

...Faiths mentioned in the Bible—The various meanings of the Terms. 
It is common to assume that the Bible mentions but one kind of Faith or Belief—namely, that which is spiritual and with which salvation is conjoined. There are, however, six descriptions of Faith referred to in the Inspired Volume.

1. Ordinary Credence in the being of God, which devils exercise (James 2:19), and which requires in men no more than the right use of their rational powers. It is demanded of God from men as men, and is, therefore, a natural duty. It is not saving, but its absence is sin, and its presence of moral benefit (Jonah 3:5). This is frequently called Historical Faith, because it receives the inspired histories as worthy of unreserved credence. Also Notional Faith (though the term is not happy), because it accepts the Gospel as a notion or merely objective idea, and is not conjoined with the working of Divine grace within the heart.

2. National Faith demanded of the Jewish nation by God in Himself in the Covenant character in which He stood to them. It was essential to their national prosperity. “If ye will not believe, ye shall not be established,” Isa. 7:9. For its absence they were blamed as “Children in whom is no faith,” Deut. 32:20. It was connected with their enjoyment of their land as a nation. “He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall possess the land,” Isa. 57:13. For want of it they went astray (2 Kings 17:14), and were punished. See Addendum 8.

3. Faith in Christ as the Jewish Messiah, and as able to work miracles by the power of God (Matt. 8:10, 9:23, 27:42; John 7:5, 11:48; see Addendum 7).

4. The Faith of Miracles, that is to say, which enabled men to work miracles, or to have miracles wrought on their own persons (1 Cor. 12:9; Acts 3:16, 14:9, and Matt. 9:29).

5. Transient Faith. Acts 8:13. Probably this was but the working of natural credence, induces by reliable testimony under circumstances of an exciting character. It is, therefore, identical with that above enumerated as No. 1. This is the Faith of much of the short-lived religion of the present day.

6. Spiritual Faith, to which the following chapter so largely refers.
It is then incumbent on all who quote texts in which the words Faith and Believe occur, to show to what Faith reference is made.

...Principles of Interpretation.
It appears to be held that (what is called) an evangelical interpretation may unhesitatingly be given to any passage from the Word of God, apart from its connection, if it happens to suit a preacher or writer’s purpose so to use it. Against this reckless employment of Scripture we have already protested (Pages 50 and 111). A law that should always regulate us when giving to any scripture a meaning other than its obvious, primary, or literal one, however, claims attention.

“We are not warranted in taking any words that we find in scripture and spiritualizing them according to our fancy. There must be a groundwork for a spiritual interpretation, founded on the literal meaning of the passage. If no analogy or resemblance can be traced, there is no foundation for a spiritual exposition. Such would stand upon a wrong basis, and would be merely fanciful and uncertain. Before, then, any text in what is supposed to be its spiritual import is adduced in support of any doctrine, we must be prepared to show that there is a resemblance between the obvious literal meaning, and the spiritual one for which we plead.”—J.C. Philpot.

Again, a spiritual doctrine may be illustrated by, but must not be based on the secondary meaning of a passage. Thus to cite Ezek. 16:6 in proof of the sovereignty and necessity of the Spirit’s work in Regeneration would be inadmissible, although the verse affords an admirable illustration of the subject (see page 130).
Again, the minor circumstances of parables must not be cited to establish scriptural doctrines. No parable can be pressed in all its details. Each is intended to teach one general truth. Thus Matt. 18:34 does not teach that once forgiven sinners may be consigned to endless woe." -William Styles [quoted from his "Manuel of Faith and Practice"]

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions