Belief and unbelief

by Mike Ratliff

21 Therefore the Lord heard and was full of wrath;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob
And anger also mounted against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust in His salvation. Psalms 78:21-22 (NASB) 

There are only two groups of people in the world. There are Christians, the elect, and everyone else, the non-elect. What separates them? What is the difference? It is not that different streams of faith, which are all equal and going to the same place. Nor can Christianity be broken down into different racial groups like some are doing now with the Social Justice Gospel, which is not the Biblical Gospel at all. No, that is what the liberals are selling, but that is most definitely not what God’s Word explicitly says. No, the difference between those in Christ and everyone else is that the former are possessors of faith, which is the Greek noun πίστις (pistis). It and it’s many grammatical forms are translated as “assurance,” “faith,” ”belief,” et cetera throughout the New Testament. Before we define “unbelief,” let us define biblical faith, πίστις, so that we can see very clearly what marks the true believer from the false professor.

Carefully read the following passage my brethren.

7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today if you hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’;
11 As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:7-19 (NASB) 

What do those who have πίστις that those with unbelief, ἀπιστία (apistia),” do not and visa versa? The Greek word translated throughout the Bible as belief or faith, πίστις, is actually a technical rhetorical term for forensic proof. That’s right, the faith that Christians have that brings Him glory and is exhibited by those who believe God and obey Him is rooted in believing the proof He has given. As we can see in this passage, those with πίστις obey God because they have not hardened their hearts and rebelled, which is exactly what those with ἀπιστία instead do. In this passage, those who died off in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land died in their ἀπιστία, their unbelief. On the other hand, those who did enter in did so because of their obedience, which was the fruit of their πίστις.

Πίστις is not a feeling. It is not something that we have based on faith in ourselves in any way. No, our Lord said it well in the discourse He gave to the Eleven the night before His crucifixion.

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (NASB) 

No, the faith of those who walk in obedience to God is based in and focused entirely on Christ. It is never based in or focused on ourselves. When we make that huge mistake, we are setting ourselves up for a nasty fall. Faith that produces a godly life that brings God glory is an assurance and belief in our awesome God and what He has done on our behalf already and what He has promised to do for us in the future.

Therefore, when we see the liberals or heretics attempting to blend together their different steams of faith we see people who are exhibiting nothing more than ἀπιστία, which is defined as faithlessness or uncertainty, distrust, and unbelief. In the New Testament, it is shown to be what marks those who do not acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour. These doubt Christ’s power and do not trust in the God of promise. Oh, some have a religion built around a Jesus of their own construction, but this is not Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord, and Saviour. No, their Jesus is their buddy and has no problem with “sins” and participating in the blending of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity because, hey, these are just different streams of faith, right?

Therefore, we must examine ourselves. Are we walking before the face of God in πίστις, in obedience to His revealed will in the Word of God, or are we walking our own way in ἀπιστία. The former is the walk of obedience of the children of God. The latter is the walk of rebellion and with faith in self with the elevation of uncertainty to the status of a virtue.

We teach that all those in Christ are so because of what God has done.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB) 

The faith that believes God is a part of this gift. Without this, no one believes. The best we can do without it is works. We are being delivered as we walk through our life down the narrow path of obedience, which is a product of this faith, trust, or belief becoming manifest in us according to God’s grace. Those truly saved all go through this and these are the ones who cross over into God’s eternal rest, only them.

Soli Deo Gloria!

5 thoughts on “Belief and unbelief

  1. Thanks mike.
    Had an incident (some car hoons were speeding down our street, lost control and totally destroyed my daughters car) which happened to me the other day, and instead of responding submitted under Christ, i went into a rage. I swore, and even abused these guys.

    I was in shock, but no excuse. God exposed me down my whole street. And, ive shared the gospel with some of them.
    Everyone saw my reaction, and it wasnt long before i was hit with a spear of conviction in my heart.
    All this has powerfullly made me doubt that im even of the elect.
    I did apologize to these guys and to the people down my street, but too little, too late.
    I am deeply disturbed even now as i type this, i am mourning over my actions mike.
    I only have the knowledge of what scripture tells me right now. That im justified by faith.
    But at this moment, the fruit i displayed has me doubting.
    Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks mike.


  2. George, The fact that your reaction has caused you such grief and remorse, this is what shows you that you are indeed regenerate. You know what you must do. You must seek the face of God, you must seek to walk in repentance knowing that the righteousness that justifies us is Christ’s not our’s. Walk in repentance my brother. I have failed as well.


  3. Thanks again mike. Its quite disturbing the evil that can still lurk within my heart.
    Ive always been telling others that good fruit is a result of regeneration and changed hearts and, not something we do to earn salvation, hence why im so disturbed at my actions, and continue to repent of.

    This is why the feelings based christianity (the pentecostalism and purpose driven movements i came out of) is something i still have to war against, and take God at his word.


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