Friday, November 30, 2018

The Active Nature of Faith

The basic premise of this blog is that according to Scripture we should be actively Seeking the Lord, not passively identifying ourselves with Christ as Christians. Aside from the first article in this blog by that name, which I have just alluded to, I have written others like Taking Heaven by Force, Seeking Glory from GodCrying Out to God Loudly, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pressing on Toward the GoalBy Faith Alone, and Spiritual Do-It-Yourself, which all convey a similar message from the Word that we are to play an active role in our faith walk with God.

As James said, "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?...Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself...But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works'...You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone...For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (Jas 2:14,17,18,24,26)

Word Study - Lambano
It is important is to understand the active nature of faith. This is plainly evident in the original languages the Scriptures were written in, especially in the selection and usage of verbs and adjectives. One of the most obvious and interesting examples of this in the Word of God is the use of the Greek verb lambáno, meaning "to take" or "to receive."

According to the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, lambano means "take in the hand, take hold of, take away, take up, take (into one's possession), make one's own, apprehend or comprehend (mentally or spiritually), grasp, remove with or without force, receive, accept, get, obtain, choose, or select."

According to Strongs dictionary, lambano means "to get hold of, accept, be amazed, assay, attain, bring, catch, have, hold, obtain, receive, or take (away, up)."

The verb lambano is in the middle voice. In Greek there are three voices -- active, passive, and middle. In English we have only the active and passive voices, but in Greek there is also this middle voice, in which the subject (the person, place, or thing performing the action) not only acts, but he, she, or it somehow participates in the result of the action.

The Greek scholar A. T. Robertson has said:

The only difference between the active and middle voice is that the middle calls especial attention to the subjectIn the active voice the subject is merely acting; in the middle the subject is acting in relation to himself somehow.  What this precise relation is the middle does not say.  That must come out of the context or from the significance of the verb itself.

The word lambano is known as a deponent verb. In the eighth chapter of Englishman's Greek, it states:

"A deponent verb is either passive or middle in form, but it is active in meaning.  In other words, the translation of the verb seems to have an active sense, but the form of the verb is either middle or passive.  The lexicon will often say whether a verb is deponent or not.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION:  The only safe way to determine the meaning of a middle verb is to look it up in the lexicon.  Remember, USAGE DETERMINES MEANING, and the key question is:  HOW WERE THESE VERBS USED BY THOSE WHO SPOKE AND WROTE THE LANGUAGE?"

Therefore, the key to remember about the verb lambano is that while it is in the middle form, it has an active meaning, in which the subject is acting in relation to itself.

Scriptural Examples
This verb lambano shows the active nature of faith, which I would like to highlight today in some key verses of Scripture. In these verses, I have underlined the English word used to translate the Greek word lambano.

To begin with, here are a couple more examples of the more passive translations of lambano, when the word "accept" is used:

"’Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.’” (Joh 3:11)

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” (3Jn 1:7)

Although the English translators often use the word "receive" to translate lambano, that word seems to connote a more passive act than what I believe was intended by the originally inspired speaker or writer. I think our English words "receive" and "accept" are too weak and passive to properly convey the active sense of the word lambano. Even if I hand you a gift, you must reach out and take it in order to accept it, so you still play an active role in receiving. Therefore, I believe we should understand these verses where it is translated "receive" to have a more active meaning like "to take, to get hold of, to obtain, to attain, to catch, or to take away."

"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Mat 7:8; cf., Lk 11:10).

"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Mat 21:22)

"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mar 11:24)

"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full." (Joh 16:24)

"and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1Jn 3:22)

"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," (Joh 1:12)

“So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”  (Joh. 6:21)

John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven." (Joh 3:27)

"In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;" (Mar 4:16)

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life." (Mat 19:29)

"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Mat 10:8)

"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." (Joh 1:16)

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." (Acts 10:43)

"To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." (Acts 26:18)

“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Joh. 7:39)

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Joh. 20:22)

“‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’” (Ac. 1:8)

“‘Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.’” (Ac. 2:33)

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Ac. 2:38)

“Who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”(Ac. 8:15)

“Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” (Ac. 8:17)

"Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" (Acts 10:47)

He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." (Acts 19:2)

"This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (Galatians 3:2)

"In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:14)

"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

"And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:11)

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15)

"Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying." (1 Corinthians 14:5)

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;" (1 Timothy 4:4)

"In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on." (Hebrews 7:8)

"And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes..." (Hebrews 7:9)

"For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15)

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..." (Hebrews 10:26)

"I do not receive glory from men;” (Joh 5:41)

“‘How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?’ ” (Joh. 5:44)

"I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” (Joh 5:43)

"Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” (Joh 4:36)

"When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius.” (Mat 20:9)

"When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce.” (Mat 21:34)

"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.” (Mat 25:16)

“For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,” (Jas 1:7)

“Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,” (Rev 14:9)

"‘And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’" (Rev 14:11)

“And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” (Rev 19:20)

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

“‘He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.’” (Joh. 12:48)

 “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.’”(Joh. 13:20)

“‘That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.’” (Joh. 14:17)

“‘For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.’” (Joh. 17:8)

“When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.”  (Ac. 3:3)

“And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” (Ac. 3:5)

Therefore, when we see the word "receive" in the verses above, I think we should understand it in a more active sense like "taking" in such a way that the subject is acting in relation to himself. As John Podmolik has stated, "In the same way by active faith we take the gift of the sanctifying Spirit - John 20:22, Acts 1:8, 2:38, 8:15, 10:47, 19:2, Rom 5:11, 8:15, we must also take mercy by faith - Heb 4:16 (see Mark 10:47-48, Luk 17:13)...we also take forgiveness of sins - Acts 10:43, 26:18, the reconciliation to God - Rom 5:11, also we take the anointing I John 2:27."

All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“And a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.” (Luk 9:39)

All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“‘For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.’” (Joh. 10:17)

“‘No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. ” (Joh. 10:18)

“‘He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.’”(Joh. 16:14)

"And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was." (Hebrews 5:4)

"I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you;" (2 Corinthians 11:8)

"And he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus..." (Acts 9:19)

"And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage." (Acts 28:15)

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” (Mat 26:52)

“The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.’" (Mat 27:6)

"They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” (Mat 21:39)

“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.’" (Mat 27:24)

“Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.” (Joh. 19:1)

“They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” (Mat 27:30)

“Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.” (Mat 27:48)

“Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (Joh. 19:27)

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES." (Mat 8:17)

“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,” (Mat 27:59)

“So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.” (Joh. 19:40)

“And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.” (Mat 28:15)

Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,” (Mar 9:36)

"The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third.” (Mat 21:35)

"’However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.’" (Mat 17:27)

“'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev 3:11)

“And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.” (Rev 5:7)

“When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5:8)

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.’” (Rev 5:9)

“Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, ‘Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.’” (Rev 10:8)

“I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.” (Rev 10:10)

“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” (Rev 6:4)

“saying, ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.’” (Rev 11:17)

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Rev 22:17)

All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

“Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’" (Luk 5:5)

Picked Up
All of the underlined words in the following verses are English translations of lambano, which help to illustrate the active nature of this verb:

"Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up?" (Mat 16:9)

Lay Hold of
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12)

 “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?’" (Mat 17:24)

“He said, ‘Yes’ And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’” (Mat 17:25)

Overall the word lambano is used 255 times in the NASB version of the Bible, and that is just one example of a word that expresses the active nature of faith.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, both from its explicit teachings and from the selection and usage of verbs, our faith in God must be living and active, because faith without works is dead. We must participate with the Lord in the process that He is carrying out. That means we must actively embrace Christ, and not just passively accept Him. Each of us must actively receive the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for himself or herself personally. We must actively take for ourselves the grace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness of sins that God has offered us in Christ. Everyone who receives Christ must receive the Holy Spirit, too. He wants all of us to be baptized, not only in water, but with the Holy Spirit, as well as with fire. No matter which of the promises of God we may consider, they are all "Yes" in Christ and we say the "Amen" to the glory of God. We must claim them for ourselves in order to activate them in our lives. We must not only believe, but speak and act, putting His Word into practice. I hope you will implement this message into every aspect of your own life, so that you might be victorious in the ongoing battle against darkness and make it into the kingdom of heaven at last.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Image may be subject to copyright, used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Seeking the Lord, Taking Heaven by Force, Seeking Glory from GodCrying Out to God Loudly, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pressing on Toward the Goal, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Faith Works, and Spiritual Do-It-Yourself, as well as Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Holy Fire Baptism. I also recommend By Faith Alone - Part I, By Faith Alone - Part II, and By Faith Alone - Part III. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are going to comment and you want it to be published, do not write in ALL CAPS, and use clear English. All comments will be evaluated before publishing. If they are of a hateful, belligerent, or vicious nature, they will not be posted.