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In the 19th century the pioneers began moving west, and three institutions went with them. There was vaudeville, travelling entertainment. There was lyceum, travelling culture and education. And there was the itinerant preacher, with a new style of preaching called "hell fire and brimstone". It was very entertaining and only loosely based on scripture. Local ministers didn't even try to compete. They switched to preaching philosophy and morality.

Eventually an entire generation grew up with no idea what they were supposed to believe. "Faith" and "spirit" became meaningless placeholders for concepts nobody understood, and that condition has persisted to the present day.

Isaiah 55:11 King James Version (KJV)
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Our God is a wonderful God! He has given His word to teach us everything we need to know, and He personally maintains the integrity of His word. All you have to do is forget what you have been told it says and read what it actually says.

"Spirit" is pretty simple: you can't see it, and that is all we know.

"Faith" is the Greek word pistis, which is translated faith or believing. Believing is a natural ability: anybody can believe. But the bible says pistis came by Jesus Christ, so that establishes two contexts: before Jesus and after Jesus. 1 Corinthians 12:9 says faith is a manifestation of the holy spirit, so that defines it to be a spiritually augmented ability to believe.

It gets to be a problem when talking to others because they use the word as a shorthand for "anything religious". They speak of the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith and converting from one religion to another. There is no benefit in trying to correct all those people, but we Christians know the truth: only Christian salvation offers anything that can be called a conversion, and faith is one of the nine manifestations of that conversion.

Acts 2:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

This is Peter, the flake who was unhinged because a maid recognized him when Jesus was arrested. On the day of Pentecost he gets up in the public square and yells "Everybody listen to me!" Then he accuses them all of murder. That tremendously strengthened personality is the unmistakeable sign of being born again of holy spirit, the same thing that so annoys atheists.

That is what "faith" means. It is a lot more than just choosing a denomination.

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  • Choosing a denomination has nothing to do with it at all. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Love your description of Peter in the last paragraph. Faith in Christ brings the dead to life! 

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