I came across this nugget recently:
“There are five very effective tips that anyone who desires to understand the Bible can put into practice immediately, regardless of how much or how little his knowledge of God’s word may be…”
“The first tip is to bear in mind that the dictionary’s definition of a word does not always match the Bible’s definition of that same word.”
This, of course, is very true. The English definition of an English word in an English dictionary does not necessarily carry the same meaning as the Greek word is attempts to translate.
Point well taken.
However, after making this point, the author goes completely off the rails…
“According to Webster’s pocket dictionary, the word ‘believe’ means to accept something as true or real and to hold on to religious beliefs, but biblical scripture demonstrates that faith in God is not merely an intellectual acceptance of the veracity of something. Genuine belief in God is defined by the Bible as obedience to God…”
“If the dictionary’s definition of “obey” is applied to the scripture of St. John 3:16 which states that whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life, everyone with a simple intellectual belief in God has eternal life. However, according to the Bible, this is not the case. Jesus warns in the scripture of Matthew 7:22 that many will call him Lord in the last day but he’ll respond that he never knew them. The misinterpretation of the word “obey” is only one of numerous words that are misunderstood due to the application of a modern dictionary’s definition” (see here).
So to “believe” means to “obey.”
Where did the author get that idea? She deduces it from Romans 10:16 and James 2:17.
The Greek word for the verb believe is pisteuo. According to the leading NT Greek Lexicon (which is very helpful to consult if you’re trying to find the definition of a Greek word), the definition of pisteuo is 1. To consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, believe (BDAG, p. 816).
That’s exactly what Jesus calls us to do in John 3:16. Believe that His promise is true.
There’s no salvific power in believing. The saving power is all on God’s side—it’s all in Christ. He promises to act. You believe that He will. Obedience doesn’t enter into it. You can’t obey yourself into eternal life. Haven’t you already tried that? How is it working out for you? Are you perfect yet? Do you plan to be anytime soon? If not, how do you expect to get into a perfect place based on less than perfect behaviour?
When Luther started the Reformation, the great debate was to separate faith from works in justification. Not much has changed. But the debate has shifted. Now it’s about defending and clarifying the nature of faith itself.