What Does It Mean To Believe?

Study Sheet

Rev Gary Evensen

@2005 NJUPC INC

 

 

The English language has a couple of different implications for believe.

 

To accept as true or real as in - Do you believe the news stories? -

To credit with veracity as in - I believe you. –

To have an opinion, to think as in - They have already left, I believe. -

To have firm faith, especially religious faith.

 

If you just accept something as true and real as in the example of believing in news stories, that definition of believing requires no action on your part.

 

 If your crediting someone w/veracity, or something that is true, that also does not necessarily require any action just simply believing.

 

If your belief is like have an opinion as in - They have already left, I believe. -

 

If your wrong its no big deal because its just your opinion

 

The 4th definition was to have firm religious faith and amazingly enough the dictionary gives no example of usage as in the other definitions

 

The English language has some interesting nuances. Consider these words which have multiple meanings or implications.

 

Statement 1) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

 

Statement 2) I did not object to the object

 

Statement 3) The bandage was wound around the wound

 

Here we find all the statements had 2 different meanings

 

As I showed in the English definition on believing, it can have multiple implications and I want to perhaps challenge your thinking today and ask you to consider how do you believe in Jesus Christ.

 

Do you accept him as true or real as in simply believing news stories?

 

Do simply credit him with veracity?

 

Is your belief merely an opinion in him?

 

Or Do you have that firm religious faith in him.

 

If you look at some the many biblical examples throughout the bible, God either spoke his word directly to these men, or spoke though his prophets, which they then believed and received that word in faith but that faith required that they do something in order to receive the word that they had believed!

 

Naaman was a captain of the Syrian army and was afflicted with leprosy.

 

Naamans wife was told about the prophet Elisha and how he could heal Naamans leprosy, so Naaman went to find this great prophet and we pick up the story now in 2 Kings 5

 

9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

 2 Kings 5:9-14

In the story of Naaman God gives us an object lesson

 

1) Naaman had an attitude, he had to lose the attitude to receive his healing. His power and status held no weight in regard to his healing

2) Naaman did not like what he heard, but that did not matter, he had to do what the prophet said or he would not have been cleansed.

3) Naaman thought his ideas were better than the prophets instruction, he wanted to wash in the rivers of Damscus, but again if he had not obeyed he would not have received the promise.

 

He believed the words of the prophet but if he did not dip in the water seven times he would not have been cleansed and this shows us an action was required of him in a response of obedience to a promise given him by the prophet of God

 

Abraham gives us that same faith lesson. Abraham believed the words of the Lord in Genesis 17 but if he did not perform the act of circumcision he would have never been in covenant with God and this shows us also that an action was required of Abraham in a response of obedience to a promise given him by God.

 

In the book of John we are given this great and wonderful promise:

 

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:16-17

Notice the phrasing of the scripture: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish.

Notice He did not say will not perish.

 

Why?

 

Because Jesus knew a response is required by God to every word of faith spoken!

 

In  Matthew 7:21 Jesus said “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 

Matthew 7:21 (NKJV)

 

To do the will of God in response to words of faith requires a response of obedience when a person believes!

 

In Acts 16 we are given another scenario, Paul and Silas were freed by a miraculous move of God and there jailer was going to take his own life because escaped prisoners carried the penalty of death for the jailer. He asked the Apostles what he must do to be saved

 

READ ACTS 16:30-33

 

 30And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 

Acts 16:30-33 (NKJV)

 

The apostles told them believe of the Lord and you shall be saved. Some make a quantum leap and say believe on the Lord and you ARE saved. In there eyes perhaps they are thinking of believing as in some of our earlier definitions.

 

1- To accept as true or real as in - Do you believe the news stories? -

2- To credit with veracity as in - I believe you. –

 

But neither of these definitions address true religious faith

 

The chronicle in acts 16 goes on and tells us they spoke the word to him and his house, and while it doesn’t tell us exactly what or all of what it said evidently they spoke to them about being baptized as part of that believing because in verse 33 it tells us he and all his house were baptized.

 

Like Abraham and Naaman there response of faith was a response of obedience to the spoken word of God and they were baptized.

 

And this is a very biblical response consider James 2:17-18:

 

James 2:17-18 (NKJV) 17Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

 

Here the writer of the book of James clearly states that simply believing is not enough. In Romans 4:11 Abraham is called the father of all them who believe

And the writer of James shows us that faith cannot be shown without works, or that action that defines faith.

As we read in Matthew 7:21 its those who DO the will of God who will be saved

And as we continue a little farther down we find in that same dissertation some folks who will miss heaven.

 

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matt 7:21-23

But these were people who prophesied in Jesus name, they cast out demons in Jesus name and if they had not believed they would have been subject to the demonic abuse the 7 sons of Sceva received at the hand of demonic forces in Acts chapter 19. They did MANY wonderful works in his name, yet the Lord will say

 

I NEVER KNEW YOU!

 

Why?

 

Because they were practioners of lawlessness, or as the KJV says iniquity

 

You see there are some spiritual laws, one is found in Galatians 6:7-8

 

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Galatians 6:7-8

 

If you do not sow spiritual things you will not receive spiritual things. Believing is just the starting point, for you cannot have faith unless you believe, you cannot act upon your faith unless you have faith, you cannot receive the promises of God unless you act upon your faith. And it all starts with believing.

 

If you do not sow, you will not reap. God will not fill a vessel that does not present itself to him.

 

Believing is more than just believing that Christ lived died and rose again.

It will take you to new heights and new depths with God if you will step out and begin to be like Abraham and Naaman and a multitude of others who believed the promises of God and did something about it.

 

How bout you today, I want to challenge you to not only believe and have faith but stand upon the promises of the scripture and receive what God has for you by letting your faith take action.

 

For that is what true believing is all about.