What Do You Believe?
Driving to the office, I heard a speaker on the radio relay a conversation between two people. One asked, “I’m just curious, but do you have faith?” “Oh yes,” the other answered, “I have faith. I believe.” The first then asked, “Well, what is it you believe?” The answer was, “I believe what the church believes.” “Well,” the first person said, “What is it the church believes?” “Oh, the church believes what I believe,” was the answer. Still not satisfied, the first person pressed on. “Okay, but what is it that you both believe?” The response? “Oh well, you know, we both believe the same thing.”
Whether such a conversation ever took place or not might be in question, but that there are those who claim to believe, but aren’t sure what it is they believe, is not. For example, 88% of households in general own a Bible, with each household owning an average of about 5 Bibles. However, only 37% of Americans claim to read the Bible once a week or more. To this one can add the statistic that 50% of all adults believe the Bible has too little influence in society, yet few are willing to spend any time studying the Bible to correct this deficiency. People believe, but don’t know what it is they believe, or what they should believe. If we could take a similar survey to that referenced above, but restrict it to those in the Lord’s church, what would the findings be? I’m sure we would find those who do read the Bible daily, and seek to take its principles and precepts to heart, to allow God to work through His word to transform lives. How many, though, would reflect the attitude of culture, speaking reverently about Scripture, but not spending time daily in Scripture, not really knowing the transforming power of Scripture in their personal lives? How many believe, but don’t know what it is they should believe? The problem is not just a lack of knowledge of Scripture, but a disconnect between what the Bible teaches and how a person lives. To believe, or have faith, one must come to Scripture. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Believing is a conviction based on God and His will, the truthfulness of what Scripture teaches (Heb. 11:1). So, one must know what it says for there to be faith. But faith without transformation is useless. Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Saving faith, a relational faith with God and Christ, is never simply a mental acknowledgement of the truthfulness of Scripture, but a submission by faith to the life it demands. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (Jas. 2:17). One could play out the scenario which we started the article with and find out if one just believes in believing, or has a genuine faith in the spiritual, in God and His will for life. “Do you believe?” “Oh, yes, I certainly believe.” “Do you faithfully worship God and fellowship your brothers and sisters in Christ?” “Well, not necessarily, but I believe in that.” “Do you take advantage of opportunities to serve others?” “I do believe that is important, but I have a busy schedule.” “Do you spend time in God’s word, and try to apply it in your own life situations?” “I believe in that too, but doing it, not so much.” If we objectively examine our faith, and how we live, what would we find? Do we just believe in believing, or do we have a real faith that acts? “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:22). Perhaps the greatest challenge we have as Christians is that which Paul gave in Rom. 12:2; “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” We must spend time in Scripture so God can transform us from the image of the world around us into His image, but that transformation won’t happen if we have no idea what it is we are to be transformed into. Even if we know what it says, its power to transform can’t be energized in us if we won’t do it. Even of Christ the Hebrew writer said, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8-9). Do you believe? What is it you believe? Do you believe in believing, or do you have a faith that will respond in doing? One will save, the other will not. Choose wisely. “And 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 seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)
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