Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

  1. Do you thirst for God?
  2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
  3. Are you more loving?
  4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
  5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
  6. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?
  7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
  8. Do you still grieve over sin?
  9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
  10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?
Donald Whitney’s Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. 2001
03 Jul 2021


What is the difference between propitiation and atonement?

Are these the same or different?

Short Answer

Propitiation and atonement are two different things, but are both related to the same thing – neither would be required if sin did not exist. Bibles, such as the NIV that substitute propitiation with atonement, are doing a disservice to God at best and is belittling the work of Christ at worse, disregarding the fact our righteous God’s wrath required appeasement in order for grace to abound. Whilst atonement, which relates to the reality of cleansing, has at its focus an individual, and thus concerns reconciliation of sinners to God or more rightly denotes the way that reconciliation occurs, in that atonement provided by the blood of Christ reconciles the sinner to God, propitiation is concerned about God, in particular appeasing His wrath in order to satisfies His righteousness, enabling Him to justify those that turn to Him in faith. Propitiation enables God to demonstrate his love and grace; it does not produce these, but allows God to become consistent with his character in order for Him to have communion with people.

These two words have their commonality in the mercy seat, found on the Ark of the Covenant, under Mosaic Law. On the great Day of Atonement the high priest carried the blood of the sacrifice he offered for all the people within the veil of the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the “mercy-seat,” with it and so made propitiation. It is upon the mercy seat (which can be called the propitiation, i.e. as a noun) that the atonement takes place; the sacrifice of Christ, once for all, who offered himself, satisfied all that God’s righteousness requires in order to exercise grace to those that believe.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)


I noticed that other day when someone was reading Romans 3:25 that they used the term atonement, when I knew that the noun was propitiation:

Jesus Christ whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Romans 3:24b, 25)

At first I thought I had misheard the reading, but on reflection it was clearly chapter 3 of Romans, and I had not misheard, because the reader had used the NIV version of the Bible. That raised the question, could the noun atonement be substituted for propitiation?

The first place I started was to read the verse in Greek – what was the actual word being translated? The word used by the Apostle Paul in verse 25 of Romans 3 is ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion), which is a noun and speaks of the means of expiation.

Furthermore, I found ‘propitiation’ is used four times in Scripture, all of which are translated from this word, or a form of this word. The others are found in Hebrews 2:17 (hilaskomai, verb), 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 (hilasmos, noun). It is from the root word ἱλασμός which means expiator according to Strong’s Concordance, and more correctly appeasement necessitated by sin (BDAG)[1].

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

Related to this we find in Hebrews 9:5 (ἱλαστήριον, hilastērion) the place of propitiation where the noun is usually translated mercy seat, being the actual place propitiation takes place.

Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. (Hebrews 9:5a)

The verb ἱλάσκομαι (hilaskomai) can be found in Hebrews 2:17 meaning to eliminate impediments that alienate (the deity) (BDAG)1.

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  (Hebrews 2:17)

The need for Atonement and PROPITIATION?

Propitiation focuses on God; so when we think about what it means we need to think about what holiness and justice really mean. Although out of favour, it is still true that God will judge all things and His wrath will be upon all who reject Christ. But what about His wrath when He justifies those that put their faith in Him? How is this possible? Humans tend not to think about how our sin has impacted God. He created a perfect world and He saw (and said) all that was in it was good, including the first two humans, Adam and Eve. This was until they sinned, which had devastating consequences for the whole universe (Romans 8:20), who from that time awaited a solution (Romans 8:22).

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)

Note clearly that sin brings about death, and hence what follows is the doctrine of the wages of sin being death, which was brought into force from the time Adam sinned (Romans 5:14). Since that time, we learn that:

God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.  (Psalms 7:11)

This continues today, due to the natural hardness of man’s heart, which rejects Christ, and therefore, the righteous God must pour His wrath upon them:

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:5)

This means God will act in accordance to His character and punish all who are descendants of Adam, all of whom have the original sinful nature. This being the impact of Adam’s sin – prior to this punishment of His perfect creation was not in His preview – there was no sin. Yet we learn (see also from the Letter to the Romans) that God is merciful:

But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again. (Psalms 78:38-39)

Escaping this penalty requires the exercise of God’s grace manifested through our faith in Jesus, but this would not satisfy the wrath of God. Wrath naturally flows from righteousness which is exercised in justice and is an element of holiness, in that a holy God’s just response against that which is not righteous is wrath. That is, to remain just, God’s holy wrath against sin must be satisfied. Thus since the penalty for sin is death, God demands a payment of death, which can be substitutionary (undertaken by Jesus Christ – no one else is good enough); it is this substitutionary sacrifice which turns God’s wrath, and which is propitiatory. The alternative is God’s wrath exercised – Satan and his angels, along with all the wicked (those who reject Christ’s redeeming work on the cross) will be thrown in the lake of everlasting fire, called Hell.

Why Christ as a substitute? A person who substitutes dying for us cannot be that of another sinner (i.e. any other person, for all have sinned), because their death would merely become payment for their own sin. Thus, our propitiation must be someone who was innocent of sin and this means someone who did not have a sinful nature; only the Lord Jesus Christ could fulfil this criterion. (Evidenced from the fact Christ did not need to offer a sacrifice, as earthly priests such as Aaron had to, for his own sin, because he had none - Hebrews 7:27). He could be the substitute for you or I because Jesus was born of a virgin, thus He did not inherit the sin nature of Adam, and therefore was not in rebellion against God, as Adam and all his descendent are (or where) (Romans 5).

What do we learn

Propitiation is God focused and concerns reconciliation (it literally expiates sin, in particular our guilt); atonement is man focused and concerns cleansing.

While we delight with joy and adoration in Christ because of his sacrifice on the cross and because he saves us from God’s wrath there is a tendency to think only of Christ’s work as being solely for our benefit, when the ultimate benefit was to bring glory to the holy and just God who was glorified in the work of Christ (John 17). The principle reason for Christ’s death is God-ward: meaning the most important aspect is God’s benefit as it provides a means by which He can turn his wrath away from His creation, and in particular His people, and whereby He can exercise His true character of love. In relation to people, propitiation stems from His love for us (1 John 4:10); we were unable to love God, so He sent his son to provide a means by which we could love Him.

Propitiation refers to the satisfaction of God's righteousness and justice as a result of Christ's death for the sins of mankind, Romans 3:25, 26.

A true understanding of propitiation is revealed by the Ark of the Covenant, Exodus 25:10-22; 37:19 and Leviticus 16.

The Greek word hilasterion, found in Hebrews 9:5 mean’s Mercy Seat, the place of propitiation.

The shadow of things go come

The Ark of the Covenant is the foreshadow of propitiation and where it was to take place. Propitiation can be understood in light of the Ark of the Covenant, Exodus 25:10-22; 37:19; Leviticus 16; Numbers 17:8 - 10 & Hebrews.9:4, 5.

The ark was a box of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It contained three items;

  1. The tablets of the covenant, which spoke of sin as a violation of God's righteousness (Jesus Christ kept the Law).
  2. Aaron's rod that budded, which spoke of sin as a rejection of authority, (Jesus Christ is the resurrection).
  3. A jar of manna, which spoke of sin in relation to truth as outlined in Scripture (Christ in truth).


  • The Ark and its contents form a shadow of Christ bearing the sins of the world in His own body, 1Peter 2:24.
  • The top of the lid was solid gold; on each end was a cherub (points to deity having righteousness and justice).
  • The Ark sat behind a veil in the Most Holy (holy of holies) place, assessable by the High Priest, only, on one day of the year (Exodus 26:33).
  • Once a year, on the Great Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Most Holy Place and sprinkled blood on the Mercy Seat seven times.
  • This represented Christ propitiating the Father from the Cross, Hebrews 9:12-14.
  • The high priest's re-emergence from the Holy of Holies portrayed the Father's acceptance of the work of Christ.
  • Of interest also, is the burnt offering had as its main emphasis the doctrine of propitiation, Lev.1:2-17.


[1] (BDAG) Danker, F.W. & Bauer, W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago, Chicago 2000

David L Simon (25 June 2021)
What is the difference between propitiation and atonement?

The Messiah Foretold

The Jews were waiting for the Messiah from the day of Abraham[1], but the first glimpse of the Messiah is shown to Adam after his fall[2], was foretold by Israel[3] and again by Baalam[4]. Moses looked forward to the day of the Messiah[5], which Jesus alluded to[6]. David’s throne is the throne on which the Messiah shall ascend, which will last for ever[7].

The Messiah is foreshadowed in the Old Testament (for David was a type of Christ). David spoke much of the Messiah as did other psalmists eg. Psalm 2, noting in this Psalm the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit speak to each other[8], Psalm 9, Psalm 21 and Psalm 40. Zion is spoken much of in the Old Testament as the place of reign of the coming Messiah – that is Jerusalem[9]. All these things the Jews looked forward to.

Prophecy of Christ’s suffering

The suffering and humiliation of Christ is clearly foretold; indeed, the Gospel, notably Matthew demonstrates the truthfulness of the prophecies in Jesus Christ: see Psalm 22, Psalm 16, Psalm 40, and Isaiah 53 etc. Isaiah outlines the suffering of the Messiah for the sins of the people; he was to come to his own (Israel) and be rejected[10], he suffered for the sins: he borne our grief, carried our sorrows; he was stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted and he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities and by this we can have peace, and by his suffering we can, through faith have our sins washed way (Isaiah 53).

Prophecy on the nature of Messiah and his coming

The nature of the Messiah is shown in various portions of the Old Testament – especially the Prophets. Isaiah 11 shows him to be the king and ruler over the house of David in the time to come[11], and demonstrates the rightness of him being the heir to the throne, arising from the tribe of Judah[12], the rightful holder of the sceptre (See Psalm 45 & Isaiah 66). He was to come physically[13] (prophecy is to be read literally – see how Daniel read and interpreted the prophets[14]), and as saviour[15] as shown in Isaiah 53, which also clearly foretold of his suffering for our sake.

The Old Testament is also very specific as to when, where and how he was to be born. For instance Bethlehem[16] was prophesied to be his birthplace, born into the tribe of Judah (see endnote [11], also Matthew 1, Luke 3), at a time of great turmoil (Jeremiah 31:15 & Matthew 2:18), after the second temple was repaired[17] etc. Jesus did not come into the world unannounced, but the prophets stated a forerunner would first appear[18]. This was John the Baptist (see Matthew 3, John 1:19, Luke 3 etc).

[1] John 8:56  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad.
[2] Genesis 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
[3] Genesis 49:10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be].
[4] Numbers 24:17  I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
[5] Deuteronomy 18:18  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
[6] John 5:46  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me
[7] 2 Samuel 7:13  [NKJV] "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
[8] Ps 2:6  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
[9]Ps 2:6  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
Jer 23:5  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Zec 9:9  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
[10] John 1:11 KJV  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
[11] Isa 11:1 ¶  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
[12]Mic 5:2  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting.
Zec 12:10  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.
[13] Isaiah 40:10-11  Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young etc.
[14] Compare Jeremiah 25:11 with Daniel 9:2.
[15] Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?...
[16] See also note 12 (above) Matthew 2:6  And thou Bethlehem, [in] the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
[17] Hag 2:9  The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
[18] Malachi 3:1   Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Isaiah 40:3  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
David L Simon
30 May 2021


The Rapture of the Church compared with the Second Coming of Christ

Much confusion arises from miss-understanding the elements of the rapture and the appearing of Christ. The only commonality is that Christ is the centre of the action – coming in both instances.


The Rapture The appearing of Christ
Comes for His saints: John 14:2-2 Comes with His saints: Jude 13, Zec 14:5
Takes place at any moment and is imminent: Matt 24:36 Proceeded by the tribulation and thus will not be imminent for those that understand the prophecies of Daniel chapter 9: Revelation 4-19
The tribulation begins after the rapture, when the Antichrist dupes the world and makes a covenant with the nation of Israel (Dan 9:27) The second coming commences the Messianic Kingdom that lasts a 1000 years (The Millennial Kingdom) (Luke 1:32-33)
Is a mystery: 1 Cor 15:51 Prophetic and well known: e.g. Numbers 24:17, 1 Chron. 5:2
Takes place secretly, in the twinkling of an eye: 1 Cor 15:52 Is public – every eye shall see Him: Rev 1:7
Concerns the Church only: 1 Thes 1:10 Concerns Israel, although the consequence concerns all nations: Ps 6:1-4
Comes in the air – the saints rise up to meet Him – the Messiah does not reach the earth: 1 Thes 4:16-17 Places His feet on Mt Zion at the Mount of Olives: Zech 14:4-5
Preluded by the archangel sounding a trumpet: 1 Thes 4:16 Christ as Messiah will come in glory and with all his angels: Matt 25:31.
The saints are gathered to himself:
1 Thes 4:17,18, 2 Thes 2:1
Angels are sent to gather the elect of Israel: Matt 24:30-31, 25:41
Believers taken out of the world: John 14:2,3 The wicked are taken out of this world: Matt 13:41-43
He comes to deliver the Church from the wrath to come: 1 Thes 1:10 He comes to deliver His wrath: Rev 19:11-16
No divine judgement occurs with this event Ends divine judgement of Israel, the nations and Satan, who is tied up for 1000 years (Rev: 6-19)
Comes for his bride – the Church: John 14:1-2, 1 Thess 4:16-17 Comes with his saints: Rev 19:14
He comes as the Bridegroom, to receive His bride, the Church: Matt 25:6, 10 Comes as the Son of Man in judgement upon those that reject Him: Matt 24:27-28
Comes pre tribulation Comes at the end of the tribulation: Rev 19:11-16
Comes as the “Morning Star”: Rev 22:16 Comes as the “Sun of Righteousness”:
Malachi 4:2
Comes without signs – believers do not need signs: John 6:30-35, 2 Cor 5:7 Comes in signs and wonders:
Luke 21:10,11,25-27
Is not the thief in the night – believers are watching and waiting: 1 Thes 5:2, 2 Pet 3:10, Matt 24:43, Rev 16:15, Rev 3:3 Comes as a thief in the night – no-one is watching and waiting: 1 Thes 5:2, 2 Pet 3:10, Matt 24:43, Rev 16:15
Is not mentioned in the Old Testament as the Church was not revealed until New Testament times: Eph 3:3 Is mentioned in both Testaments: e.g. Jude 14
Church believers will be evaluated, rewarded and married to the Bridegroom, the Christ, following the rapture: 1 Cor 3:11-15, Rev 19:7-9 The nations are judged following the tribulation and 1000 year reign of Christ: Ezek 20:34, Matt 25:32. The judgement at the great white throne takes places – people whose name are not in Book of Life are cast into hell, Satan is cast hell: Rev 20:11-15


David L Simon
Edited 23 September 2018

Peter's Confession (Matthew 16:16)

Jesus said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

"At first sight a careless reader may see nothing very remarkable in these words of the apostle. He may think it extraordinary that they should call forth such strong commendation from our Lord. But such thoughts arise from ignorance and inconsideration. Men forget that it is a widely different thing to believe in Christ's divine mission, when we dwell in the midst of professing Christians, and to believe in it when we dwell in the midst of hardened and unbelieving Jews. The glory of Peter's confession lies in this, that he made it when few were with Christ and many against Him. He made it when the rulers of his own nation, the Scribes, and Priests, and Pharisees, were all opposed to his Master. He made it when our Lord was in the "form of a servant," without wealth, without royal dignity, without any visible marks of a King. To make such a confession at such a time, required great faith and great decision of character. The confession itself, as Brentius says, "was an epitome of all Christianity, and a compendium of true doctrine about religion." Therefore it was that our Lord said, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah."

We shall do well to copy that hearty zeal and affection which Peter here displayed. We are perhaps too much disposed to underrate this holy man, because of his occasional instability, and his thrice-repeated denial of his Lord. This is a great mistake. With all his faults, Peter was a true-hearted, fervent, single-minded servant of Christ. With all his imperfections, he has given us a pattern that many Christians would do wisely to follow. Zeal like his may have its ebbs and flows, and sometimes lack steadiness of purpose. Zeal like his may be ill-directed, and sometimes make sad mistakes. But zeal like his is not to be despised. It awakens the sleeping. It stirs the sluggish. It provokes others to exertion. Anything is better than sluggishness, lukewarmness, and torpor, in the Church of Christ. Happy would it have been for Christendom had there been more Christians like Peter and Martin Luther, and fewer like Erasmus."

Ryle's work on the gospels can be found in hard copy and on the web. Matthew can be found at: < www.gracegems.org/Ryle/Matthew.htm > accessed 11/04/2021

J C Ryle (1816 - 1900)
The Gospel of Matthew 1856, (Matthew 16:16)
11 Apr 2021


O Lord, Thy love's unbounded!

O Lord, Thy love's unbounded!
So full, so vast, so free!
Our thoughts are all confounded
Whene'er we think of Thee:
For us Thou cam'st from heaven,
For us to bleed and die,
That purchased and forgiven,
We might ascend on high.

But oh! the hope of being
For ever with the Lord,
The joyful hope of seeing
That face for us so marred!
It fills our heart with comfort,
It fills our lips with praise,
So that amidst our sorrow
A joyful song we raise.

O Lamb of God, we thank Thee,
We bless Thy holy name;
Thy love once made Thee willing
To bear our sin and shame.
And now thy love is waiting
Thy saints like Thee to raise;
Firstborn of many brethren,
To Thee be all the praise.

James George Deck (1802-1884)
Little Flock Hymnbook Hymn 85
04 Apr 2021


A few thoughts on Faith: "The just shall live by faith"

A few thoughts on Faith: "The just shall live by faith"

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "AND WAS NOT FOUND, BECAUSE GOD HAD TAKEN HIM"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.


The Hebrew Christians, to whom this letter was written, were clearly on the brink of turning back from their faith in Christ to the old Judaism from whence they came. That is, there were turning to the things they could see, feel, touch, but could not save them – for none of these required faith. Chapter 11 of the Hebrews examines faith, or at least some of the important elements of faith, and explains that faith has to do with what cannot be seen.

Chapter 11 is a warning, as it is a tendency of all to go back, rather than trusting in Our Lord. There is however no need to turn back as there is waiting for all believers something better – very much better.

The verses before us set some very important truths in regard to faith. The passage not only contains important principles of faith but also sets forth many examples of what faith entails and how these are worked through in ordinary lives. One of the strongest truths of faith can be found in verse 6: "without faith, it is impossible to please Him", that is the Lord God Most High.

The author assumes that one knows that the essence of righteousness is faith, indeed the essence of Christianity is faith – that is, there is no work that humans can do to make themselves right with God, or even move in the direction of making oneself better or closer to God, for sin has separated man from God:

And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:42-43 NKJV)


And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31).

Further, we have Jesus’ word in John 7:38:

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Which of course follows John 3:16?

Note also: For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring (Isaiah 44:3.)

Verse 1 and its connection with the previous chapter

The author of Hebrews 11 sets out to illustrate the truths declared in the previous chapter (10:38 & 39), which is shown by the first word "now". The truth of 10:38 is that "the just shall live by faith" and furthermore, ‘belief’ is "to the saving of the soul".

Verse 1 does not give a definition of faith per se but rather sets forth the important principles, which he then illustrates in the rest of the chapter. In fact it is a terse description of the operation of faith along with its outcome, rather than being a definition.[1]

Now faith is the substance [assurance, confidence] of things hoped for, the evidence [conviction] of things not seen. (KJV)


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)

Note here that the "substance" of the "assurance", which the NIV renders "being sure", has been translated in various ways: the Greek being hypostasis (ὑπόστασις). In chapter 1 verse 3 this word was translated nature or essence (the brightness of His glory and the express [NIV uses exact] image of His person) and chapter 3 verse 14 as conviction or confidence. It is the same word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 9:4 talking of his confidence in the Macedonians.

Faith requires a sincere heart: Chapter 10:22 "sincere heart in full assurance of faith". Without sincerity, that is having no hidden doubts, faith cannot flourish. Here the emphasis is on truth (or true to fact) because "sincere" (ἀληθινός) connects (observed or seen) reality with the truth. Sincerity is really about not having hidden defects – to be sincere is to be truthful, not hiding anything.

Faith needs to be more than a mere acknowledgement of a fact, but needs to be a persuasion of the mind of that which is hoped for. This ensures the believer that there are such things as salvation - but also assures, through the power of the Holy Spirit that he shall possess such things. Hence, faith must contain these two principles - being convicted of what is hoped for, and have evidence of those things.

Easton suggests that this is about being persuaded of the mind that a certain statement is true.[2]

. Hence, faith relies on trust, and trust on truth. Put another way:

So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Hence, faith comes from hearing the message - the Gospel, and the message is the word of God. Note the tense in the following:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24 

The primary idea of faith is trust

Without trust one cannot believe what one hears. This is an obvious corollary. Of utmost importance is the fact that truth can only be revealed by divine testimony. Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life". This is certainly true if one examines verse 3 - faith in the true testimony of God reveals how the world was made. Words of men are utter folly and remind us of the second Psalm: "Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?"

Truth is always seen in light of what sin is. Observe the following: Isaiah sees the Lord, as judge, seated on His throne, and immediately he understands deeply the meaning of sin (the sinfulness of sin). His eyes compare the holiness of the Lord with his filthy wretched state and immediately his heart cries out:

So I said: "Woe [is] me, for I am undone! Because I [am] a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)

It is faith that sees sin and a distant view of Christ and causes us to flee our guilty conscious to Christ the Saviour. We do this because we can trust Him.

Faith requires the mind to be enlightened, remembering that before salvation we are in complete darkness. Note carefully John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.

Saving faith is God given. (See also Ephesians chapter 1.)

What is Faith

Faith in Jesus Christ is essentially a saving grace - grace being undeserved favour - i.e. believing in the salvation of the soul (Hebrews 10:39). By it we receive Jesus Christ (John 1:12), and can rest upon him for salvation (man cannot achieve this), Philippians 3:9.

Faith is having a confident persuasion, expectation, and assurance - faith is being fully convicted or persuaded that Christ saves; and indeed has redeemed us from our sinful state, not by making the old new, but giving as a new life (i.e. being born again).

Romans 1:17 (JND) for righteousness of God is revealed therein, on the principle of faith, to faith: according as it is written, But the just shall live by faith.

Faith is not blind – it must be based on evidence. One steps onto a bridge having faith it will hold – the evidence may be that others have used it, or the structure looks sound etc. The Holy Spirit provides the undeniable evidence that Christ saves. Faith therefore is a result of hearing, or teaching:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14 KJV)

Why Faith

The Bible amply demonstrates the moral weakness of man. He is incapable of being holy, and furthermore, he cannot cleanse the consciousness of the guilt of sin. This fact Hebrews chapter 9 has already pointed out.  However, Ephesians makes another point: if man could save himself, we would do so only to boast: because pride can only ensure a downward path.

Salvation is a gift of God, which we appropriate through faith. Before God we are dead in our trespasses. That is, our sin makes us so abhorrent to Him, He must turn His face from us (I shall hide My face from them)[3]. In fact we all deserve death - as in the time of Noah, because all have fallen short, and deserve to die. It is however by grace we are save - an undeserved favour - due to the love of God towards us - see Ephesians 2:4-10.

Lack of faith does two things, which in essence are the same. Hebrews 11:6 emphatically states that God cannot be pleased without it. And whether we like it or not, man is to please God; it is his duty. (This is what Esther was required to do in order to save the people, she had to please and be pleasing to King Ahasuerus; this contrasted with Queen Vashti's action who does not please the king and thus she is put out of the palace).

[W]alk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing [Him], being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:10

Jesus is far more brutal in describing the outcome of the lack of faith:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned [condemned]. Mark 16:16

That is there is no life for the un-faithful - only outer darkness and the gnashing of teeth will prevail. The truth is evident. Rejecting God rejects the only way open for salvation. Believing not on Christ leads to death. It is interesting to see that the first use of the word "faith" in scripture is in Deuteronomy when God was moved in anger against the Israelites because they did not please God. Indeed they had forsaken Him and gone after idols - God hides is face from those without faith (Deuteronomy 32:20).

There is no other way of righteousness, no other way of living, but by faith. It is by faith we are justified, and by faith we live. By faith we stand, and by faith we walk (Mackintosh). But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

The Beauty of Faith - verse 2

The Holy Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Ephesians 2:8 - saved by grace through faith) and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Ephesians 3:17 - that Christ by dwell in your hearts through faith) (see Spurgeon)

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; Ephesians 3:17

Not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:9.

Humans have strived long and hard to understand the world we live in, to please God or completely ignore Him, in order to make an impression. Indeed people in general spend most of their life ensuring a good impression is made. One only needs to read any politician's speech, listen to the radio or watch television to see that ‘self-image’ or ‘self-worth’ is viewed as the most worthwhile thing to strive for. Scripture has a different view. The testimony or commendation of those of old did not come from grooming their ego, but from their faith (verse 2). The rest of the chapter sets out evidence for this statement.

Verse 3

The things of God to the unbeliever appear unreal, unnatural or unlikely; in fact often regarded as impossible, but with faith, the veil of uncertainly is lifted. Faith visualizes the unseen world, and substantiates the things hoped for, and brings reality to things invisible (Arthur Pink). The eyes are shut to things seen, and ears are opened to the things heard. It is interesting to see the Holy Spirit of Revelation seven times asks for the ears to be opened. That is, to know that God created the world in six days requires faith in God – science cannot provide the satisfaction of being assured of this.

Verse 4

Following creation we have faith in respect to sacrifice. It is evident that faith was made known when sin came into the world. Faith is needed because of sin, which is required to have communion with God, thus bringing to us righteousness, life, shelter in the judgment of the world:

[B]e found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith Philippians 3:9.

Verse 5

Following sacrifice we get righteousness, which we see in Enoch. A reconciled man can walk with God. Enoch is said to have walked with God (See Genesis) and in doing so he pleased Him. His translation is evidence of this.

Verse 6

If I care only for what natural conscience says, I do not get God's mind at all. That does not touch what God is at all, but what man is; it is saying that man may exalt himself - has responsibility to himself; but believing God is a great deal more, for it acknowledges responsibility to God.

"He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder"

What do I mind about difficulties, if I know I am pleasing God? Such a one does not despise any; because, thinking about God, he goes from strength to strength. Intercourse with God shews him more of God's mind - he sees what God is doing. "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." If he fail, there will be distress, thus walking with Him, because he has lost the thing he delights in. If accustomed to walk carelessly, he does not notice it. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." If there is diligence in seeking Him, there is the reward.” (JN Darby)


But it may be that some of our readers are disposed to put such a question as the following, "How can I be sure that I am on God's ground? - that I am washed in the blood of Jesus and sealed with the Holy Spirit?" We reply, How do you know that you are a lost sinner? Is it because you feel it? Is mere feeling the ground of your faith? If so, it is not a divine faith at all. True faith rests only on the testimony of Holy Scripture. (CHM Machintosh: The Living God and a Living Faith).

[1] Vine's definition of faith: Primary, firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing. Its elements in terms of spiritual things: (1) a firm conviction produces a full acknowledgement of God's truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11,12) , (2) A personal surrender to Him (john 1:12), (3) a conduct inspired by such a surrender – i.e. we walk by faith and not by sight.

[2] Easton's Bible Dictionary

[3] And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. Deuteronomy 32:20 KJV

David L Simon (CCC), October 2006
Edited 2 September 2014
C:\Family\Bible\Hebrews\Hebrews - chapter 11 v1 to 6

Man of Sorrows! What a name

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Phillip P Bliss (1875)
31 Jan 2021


Can We Be Sure of Salvation from Hell?

Do you care where you will be after death? It is a mighty subject, forsaken by most, despised by some and never even considered by those that are young. Lied to by schools, universities and the medias, people do not recognise they are not the same as animals – humans are made in the image of God, with intellect, imagination, the ability to reason and an ability to know God. They have a soul that can enjoy an afterlife in heaven or hell. Where will you be after death?

There is a Hell – those that do not believe on God will spend their after-life in Hell. What about those that do believe – can they be sure that God will indeed save them, and they will be taken to Heaven? Are we to live a life of continual uncertainty? Or may we know here and now that Heaven is our destiny, and be absolutely certain of the fact?

Queen Victoria wanted to be sure. After attending a service at St. Paul's Cathedral, she asked her Chaplain, "Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?" But he knew of no way to be certain.

The Court News published these remarks and so they became widely circulated throughout the land. Moved by what he read in a copy that he happened to come across, a quiet and unassuming evangelist by the name of John Townsend began to think and pray about answering her himself. Finally he sent the following letter to the Queen;

"To her Gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects:

With trembling hands, but heartfelt love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9,10?

These passages prove that there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and accept His finished work.

I sign myself, your servant for Jesus' sake, John Townsend"

The two verses that Mr Townsend had commended were:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.(Romans 10:9-10)

John Townsend brought many into his confidence and told them about the letter to the Queen. Many prayers from earnest believers went up to God over about two weeks when he received a modest-looking envelope in which was the following letter;

"To John Townsend

Your letter of recent date I received and in reply would state that I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God's grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, "I go to prepare a place for you."

(signed) Victoria Guelph"

The Bible is very clear on the assurance of Salvation – I know, and you can know, that I will be in heaven when God’s number of my days has been fulfilled. The one that receives the Lord Jesus Christ into their heart by simple faith will be saved.

These [things] are written [the Bible] that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (John 5:25)

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. (John 10:28-29)

David L Simon
17 May 2020


Using this website

The weakness of any Christian website is the failure of the author to truly know the mind of God. His weakness due to sin (and there will be weaknesses) can always be revealed if checked against the Bible. Therefore, it is urged that anyone using this website must check the information against the Holy Scriptures - for the test of any such information, by any person, is measruing it against the Canon. For this reason the Canon is called simply that - deriving its name from 'cane' meaning measuring stick. Even the early Christians checked what the Apostle Paul had spoken against Scripture in order to test its veracity. You need to do the same.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11

Furthermore, we must test all things:

Test [prove] all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

11 Feb 2017


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