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There Is Faith That Is True, Faith That Is Illegitimate, and Faith That Is Hypocritical

After that, armies of heretical movements invaded the church—the Donatists, the Photinians, the Acatians or Semi-Arians, the Eunomians, the Macedonians, the Nestorians, the Predestinarians, the Papists, the Zwinglians, the Anabaptists, the Schwenkfeldians, the Synergists, the Socinians, the Antitrinitarians, the Quakers, the Herrnhuters, and many others.591

At length Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin prevailed over them all. Their teachings are dominant today.592

[3] There are three main reasons why there were so many disputes and rebellions in the church: (1) the divine Trinity was misunderstood; (2) there was no just concept of the Lord; (3) the suffering on the cross was taken to be redemption itself.

The truth about these three things is essential to the faith the church is based on, the faith from which it is called a church. If people did not know the truth about these three things, it was inevitable that everything about the church would be dragged first off course and finally in the opposite direction. It was also inevitable that when the church arrived at that stage it would still believe that it had a true faith in God and a belief in all God's truths.

This situation among these people in the church is like people who put a blindfold over their eyes and believe they are walking in a straight line, although step after step they are actually veering off course and eventually heading in the opposite direction, where there is a pit into which they fall.

The only way the wandering people of the church can be redirected onto the road of truth is by their knowing what true faith is, what illegitimate faith is, and what hypocritical faith is. Therefore this will be demonstrated.

a. There is only one true faith; it is faith in the Lord God our Savior Jesus Christ. It exists in people who believe that he is the Son of God, that he is the God of heaven and earth, and that he is one with the Father.

b. Illegitimate faith is all faith that departs from the one and only true faith. Illegitimate faith exists in people who climb up some other way and view the Lord not as God but only as a human being.

c. Hypocritical faith is no faith at all.

(a) There is only one true faith; it is faith in the Lord God our Savior Jesus Christ. It exists in people who believe that he is the Son of God, that he is the God of heaven and earth, and that he is one with the Father. There is only one true faith, because faith is truth. Truth cannot be split or cut in half in such a way that part of it heads left and part of it heads right, and maintain its trueness.

In a general sense, faith consists of countless truths. Faith is a combination of truths. Yet in a way the countless truths make one body. In the body of faith, there are truths that constitute its limbs: some make the limbs that are attached to the chest as its arms and hands; others are attached to the pelvis as its legs and feet. Inner truths constitute the head. The first truths derived from those inner truths constitute the sense organs that are in the face.

Inner truths constitute the head because saying "inner" also means "higher."593 In the spiritual world, all things that are deeper within are also higher. This is true of the three heavens that are there.

The soul and life of this body and all its limbs is the Lord God our Savior. This is why Paul calls the church "the body of Christ" and says that people in the church constitute his limbs, depending on the state of their goodwill and faith [Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31].

In the following words Paul also teaches that there is only one true faith:

There is one body and one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. He gave people the work of the ministry to build the body of Christ until we all come into a unity of faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, and a complete life to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4, 5, 6, 12, 13)

[2] As for the one only true faith being a faith in the Lord God our Savior Jesus Christ, this was fully shown above, §§337, 338, 339.

The true faith exists in people who believe that the Lord is the Son of God, because they also believe that he is God. Faith is not faith if it is not faith in God.

Among all the truths that initiate faith and form it, the belief that the Lord is the Son of God is the first. This is clear from the Lord's reply to Peter when Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said, "You are blessed, Simon. I say to you, on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:16, 17, 18). In this passage and elsewhere in the Word, the "rock" means the Lord in his role as divine truth as well as the divine truth that comes from the Lord. The truth that Peter stated is primary—it is the crown on the head and the scepter in the hand of Christ's body. This is clear from the Lord's saying that he is going to build his church on that rock and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The following words in John show the nature of this point of faith: "If any confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them, and they live in God" (1 John 4:15).

[3] In addition to this sign that people have the one true faith, there is another: they believe that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth. This second sign follows from the previous one that the Lord is the Son of God. It also follows from the statements that all the fullness of divinity exists in him (Colossians 2:9); that he is the God of heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18); and that all things that belong to the Father are his (John 3:35; 16:15).

A third indication that people who believe in the Lord have an inner faith in him, and therefore have the one true faith, is that they believe the Lord is one with God the Father. The chapter on the Lord and redemption fully demonstrated that the Lord is one with God the Father and is the Father himself in human form. It is also obvious from the words of the Lord himself that he and the Father are one (John 10:30); that the Father is in him and he in the Father (John 10:38; 14:10, 11); that he said to his disciples that from then on they had seen and known the Father, and he looked at Philip and said that he was now seeing and knowing the Father (John 14:7 and following).

[4] These are the three definitive indications that people have faith in the Lord and that the faith they have is the one true faith. Not all who turn to the Lord have faith in him. True faith is an inner faith and an outer faith at the same time. People who have these three jewels of faith have both the inner aspects and the outer aspects of the faith. It is not only a treasure in their hearts but also a valuable asset to their lips.

People who do not acknowledge that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, however, or that he is one with the Father, are inwardly looking toward other gods as well who have similar power. They see those other gods as having power that is to be used by the Son either as their representative or as someone who has earned the right through redemption to rule over the people he redeemed. People like this break true faith apart by dividing the unity of God. Once that unity is broken, faith no longer exists. Instead there is only a ghost of faith, which from an earthly perspective looks like an image of faith, but from a spiritual perspective looks like a monster from mythology.

Can anyone deny that true faith is faith in one God who is the God of heaven and earth—therefore a faith in God the Father in human form, a faith in the Lord?

[5] These three identifying signs, pieces of evidence, and indications that a given faith in the Lord is faith itself are like touchstones used for identifying gold and silver.594 They are like stone markers or signposts along the road that show the way to the church building where the one true God is worshiped. They are like lighthouses on rocks by the sea that let sailors at night know where they are and which direction to steer their ships on the wind.

The first identifying sign of faith, which is the belief that the Lord is the Son of the living God, is like the morning star for all who are coming into his church.

(b) Illegitimate faith is all faith that departs from the one and only true faith. Illegitimate faith exists in people who climb up some other way and view the Lord not as God but only as a human being. All faith that departs from the one true faith is illegitimate. This is self-evident. Given that only one faith is true, it follows that any faith that departs from it is not true. The marriage between the Lord and the church generates everything that is good and that is true in the church. Everything that is essentially goodwill and essentially faith comes from that marriage. Any goodwill and faith that are not from that marriage come from an illegitimate bed, not a legitimate one. They come from either a polygamous marriage bed or an adulterous one. Every faith that acknowledges the Lord and yet adopts false and heretical beliefs comes from a polygamous bed.

A faith that acknowledges three lords over one church comes from an adulterous bed. It is like a single woman who is promiscuous; or like a married woman who has a husband but rents herself out overnight to two other men, and when she sleeps with them she calls each of them her husband. Therefore these types of faith are called illegitimate.

In many passages the Lord calls people with these types of belief "adulterers." He also means people like this when he mentions thieves and robbers in John:

Truly I say to you, those who do not enter through the door to the sheep-fold but instead climb up some other way are thieves and robbers. I am the door. Anyone who enters through me will be saved. (John 10:1, 9)

Coming into "the sheepfold" is coming into the church and also coming into heaven. It means coming into heaven because heaven and the church are one. Nothing else constitutes heaven except the church in the spiritual world. Therefore just as the Lord is the bridegroom and husband of the church, he is also the bridegroom and husband of heaven.

[2] To test and find out whether a given faith is a legitimate or an illegitimate offspring, one can use the three indications presented just above:

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