Faith is not Faith

Acts 10:38-42 ESV
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

Some of you have been hassling your kids about grades the last few weeks so here’s a quick quiz for you. 

Do you think the words pistoo and pistis are similar? Do you think they are at least more similar in sound than the words faith and believe? Good. You passed. In the Greek version of your New Testament, which preceded whatever version you read, the noun pistis is used 244 times and translated faith all 244 times. That other word pistoo is the verb form of faith and is translated 243 times as believe

Faith is not the same word as believe, but it is the closest word we have in meaning for translation purposes. Words evolve. If you grew up watching the Flintstones, “a gay old time” meant something completely different than it does today. When Michael Jackson sang “Bad” it meant awesome- today bad is just bad…and so is that stupid song.


Now the point. When we dilute the meaning of faith to simply belief, our definition is incomplete. Faith, as such, is both a noun and a verb. Faith is and faith does. 

A life of faith is not marked by just belief but also service. We can’t have faith without certain works. It’s impossible (Jam 2:17). Faith is not just believing promises. Faith is not just supposing Jesus is the Son of God. Faith proves what faith believes. Early Christians knew this. Faith was a lifestyle not a school of thought. Faith always has associated evidence with what we believe. Always.

Now, I realize using Jesus as an example produces some anxiety. After all, He is God. The Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us is a bit different than how you and I ended up on the planet. But, Jesus is our example so we do the best we can. 

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and Power and went about doing good and healing all. Jesus didn’t just go around enjoying the good and enjoying healing. He went about doing good. This is no subtle point. What are we doing?

If the purpose of our faith is to simply bring the good of the land upon our heads and not others- we are living an incomplete definition of faith. Please notice how Jesus projected His life onto the disciples. This is huge.


The disciples saw what no one else did. They were chosen. However, God’s election didn’t exclude others from the party- rather what the disciples were given freely to see came with a command. Because they saw what others did not, they were responsible to describe what others had not seen. Why? So everyone could experience salvation.

I have never seen Jesus but because my parents were so convincing, I believe. Each generation is the result of the previous generation’s lifestyle of faith. Next gen Christians were the result of the testimony of the apostles. Most of those early Christians were excluded from seeing Jesus. In other words, they weren’t chosen. Yet, they saw. 

Think about it- many of the people who surround us every day have never seen Jesus. Many of them weren’t raised in Christian households. They didn’t have a best friend who was consumed with serving Jesus. As a result, they don’t believe. Not because they can’t but because no one has convinced them. 

It’s your turn to convince them. This must consume the faith of our generation.


Feed the poor, clothe the naked and help the homeless. Yes. Find your niche of doing good. And healing all. Really? Yes. Don’t forget the part that requires the most faith. Managing the time you have in order to build shelter for the homeless is doing good but it’s not healing. Most of them remain asleep in sickness. Budgeting money in order to buy extra meals for the poor is doing good but it’s not healing. If the soul isn’t transformed, we remain dead… but with a full stomach. Take off your jacket and throw it over the naked- she is still broken. 

Jesus went about doing good and healing. 

The apostles witnessed and testified of the risen Jesus before, during and after doing good and healing (Acts 5:12). It requires an enormous commitment of faith to do good and heal. No- you can’t heal, neither can you save. But, you can preach the Gospel and you can pray for that sick, broken, wounded person. 

You can. 

But it takes faith.

A weekly blog by G. Shawn Scarborough, Pastor of Livingstone Church

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