Introduction of the word "Believe" in ActsVolume 4, Number 17
Created Date: December 24, 2016
Posted Date: December 24, 2016
Introduction to “Believe” in Acts:
The Greek word Pisteuo occurs 248 times in the New Testament (NT). In the King James Version (KJV) it’s translated “believe” 239 times and with 9 various other words. It occurs most frequently in the Gospel of John at 100 with second place going to Acts where it occurs 39 times. The word “believe” describes the primary action on the part of mankind in regards to God’s Word required throughout the ages in order to be saved to eternal life. During the three years Christ was on earth God’s Word to the Jews was to repent and be baptized. Those who believed did so. “John (the Baptist) did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (the Baptist). The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” .
After Christ ascended into heaven His Kingdom on earth was offered to Israel by His 12 Apostles. They preached specifically to Israel as exemplified by the Apostle Peter: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”. Thus Peter explains that although it was God’s will that Christ should die, Israel was under indictment for wickedly crucifying Him. This required their repentance: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” , see also .
We spent 12 Faith Studies on the word “believe” in the Gospel of John, which presents Jesus as the Word of God and the fact that in order to be saved one must believe in Him (Volume # 3; Numbers 75 - 86). The first “believe” in John, quoted above, teaches that John the Baptist came to bear witness to the Light, that all men through him might believe.” John 1:6 & 7. The last occasion of believe in John: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”. The use of the word “believe” throughout John amplifies and explains these truths.
The book of Acts follows John and explains how and to whom God’s Word was preached and what that preaching accomplished in those who believed. The first occasion of the word in Acts concerns members of the Jewish Pentecostal Church who believed: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common;”. When it next occurs we find that in spite of persecution by the Priests and Sadducees, the believing Jews numbered 5,000 men (plus Jewish women), . From these passages we find something amazing, something never witnessed in a large assembly or group of people, before nor since: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” . Can you imagine a group of around 10,000 Jewish men and women being of one heart and soul while living from a common treasury with no dissention among them? Such is impossible without the constant indwelling Holy Spirit’s influence on each and every one of them.
As we proceed though Acts we will see examples of believers, both Pentecostal Jews and some Gentles responding to the preaching of the 12 Apostles and their disciples; then to the Apostle Paul’s preaching to both Jews and Gentiles. We will find there is more to believing than just giving mental accent to God’s Word and that Israel to whom Christ originally came, not only rejected Him,, but continued to reject, stifle and persecute those preaching salvation through His Name. Regardless, His Apostles and Disciples continued preaching the good news to both Jews and Gentiles.
Something to consider here is that I’ve found no where up to this point in God’s Word where the formula for a pathway to salvation is to “ask Jesus to come into one’s heart;” or to “make a commitment to Jesus” or to “make Jesus King of one’s life,” etc. These are common terms used by some preachers and in “salvation” tracts that describe how to “be saved.” These formulas appear to be well meaning but they never the less have no Scriptural basis. However that is not to say that the many who used these terms when they became believers were not really saved. The fact is that many any of us used one of these terms at the time we recognized we are sinners and came to believe God’s Word. However, as we have grown and matured in the knowledge and understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should come to understand the simplicity of salvation; what really happened is that we believed the Gospel, as the Apostle Paul explains: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1Corinthians 15:1 - 4.
This Gospel Paul preached to the Corinthians is the same Gospel that saves people today who believe it. It has been said and I agree, that Satan has no problem with ritualism or philanthropy, which are found in abundance in many churches that lack the straightforward preaching of the Gospel entrusted to the Apostle Paul. Ritualism and helping people with their physical needs makes the “doer” feel good because they are “doing something” for the Lord. However, ritualism means absolutely nothing in God’s sight and philanthropy, although helpful in reaching people, may only feed the ego of the giver if not accompanied with preaching. It is preaching God’s Word that indisputably saves, as Paul told the Corinthians ... and us: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”. And believing that preaching is what saves.
Merry Christmas and Peace to you all!