This is a photo of my husband Van with our little dog, Rudy. I've been busy editing a manuscript for a book so Van offered to be a 'guest blogger'. Men have a different way of communicating. I think the male readers, as well as the women, will enjoy his comments on the subject of 'Believing'.
With this blog I hope to cover the Biblical subject of ‘believing’ since we are admonished over and over in the Bible to ‘believe’. Some key questions’ are: WHAT is it a believer believes? WHAT happens to cause a believer to believe? WHO are the believers? We want to understand this important topic, for without believing there can be neither forgiveness nor salvation. God has forgiven and forgotten our sins as shown in Hebrews 8:12. The promise of salvation and eternal life with Jesus is clearly given in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.”
Believing is so important that the Book of John was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31. I Corinthians 15:1-5 presents the gospel quite concisely. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, walked the earth for forty days, and was seen by over 500 people, then ascended into heaven. He was crucified to set us free from sin and death. That is what we are to believe. The result is we are saved from our sins and given salvation and eternal life in heaven. This is a finished work; it has already happened. Romans 8:30Can we choose to believe? NO! We are dead in our transgressions and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) Dead men can do nothing! How can we believe if we are spiritually dead? We can’t! First we need to be ‘made alive’. Some reason that, “We believe and then we are given faith”. They’ve got the cart before the horse. Since we are ‘dead’, spiritually speaking, something must happen prior to our believing. We need to be given the faith to believe.
Some make the assumption that our achievements, or works, can help us win favor with God. No, like choosing, works require a spiritually dead man to do ‘something’. The belief of many professing Christians is that good works will earn them a place in heaven. This appears to be reasonable, but it’s not Biblical.
Two age old views exist that suggest ways to achieve salvation: works and grace. Some say it’s a little of both. The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, not works.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Salvation happens when God gives His free gift of faith. What a gift! Incomparable! This gift is given by grace, not through our choice, and not through our works. There is no room for both grace and works as explained by Paul in Romans 11:6, it’s one or the other.
James wrote, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ (James 2:17) Implied in this truth is that faith comes first, then the works. What ‘work’ do we do? It is a singular ‘work’; it is the ‘work’ of believing. Some think that when on balance their ‘good’ deeds outweigh their ‘bad’ deeds, they will make it to heaven. There are fundamental problems with ‘works’ counting toward salvation. How much is enough? How do you know for sure you’ve passed the test? Whose criteria for ‘good’ are you using? How is it measured? These are serious questions, the answers to which are fraught with problems.
When we are given a new heart we become alive in Christ. We are dead spiritually until then. Ezekiel 36:26-27 tells us what God does. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…I will put My Spirit in you…” This is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 3:16, John the Baptist writes, “I will baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
We aren’t aware of our spiritual life until ‘something happens’. God has a time in His plan when He will bring you into the kingdom. It is as if He turns on a ‘faith switch’. At that time, we are quickened, we are sparked to life, we are born again - whatever terminology you select, the result is the same, we are now able to discern Spiritual truth. It is those God quickens who will believe. Jesus speaks these words in John 3:7, “...you MUST be born again.” When we’re born again we go from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. God has given you the faith to believe. It's the most important day of your life; knowing absolutely you will spend eternity with Jesus. No longer will we just think we will go to heaven, or ‘I hope so, on balance I’ve been pretty good’. Now we know. Some of us know the exact moment this happened, others are only vaguely aware that ‘something’ has happened.
I had heard the gospel many times, but I just didn’t pick up on it. My belief, and fear, was that Jesus had turned His back on me. I knew I wasn't perfect. Then it was explained to me that Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13). I soon found myself on my knees at the altar of the Little Church in the Pines in Bass Lake, CA, accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. This was July 25th, 1972. I had been given the faith to believe and life has never been the same.
First the faith, then the believing. Without faith we can neither see, hear, or believe spiritual truths. We get our faith from Jesus.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2
Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:6 tells us “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It does NOT say “without believing it is impossible to please God!” Jesus wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. The object of our faith is pleasing God. ‘Believing’ is doing the work of God.
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29
Can’t we just call on him, ‘LORD, LORD’ and be saved? NO! Matthew 7:21, Jesus speaking: “Not everyone who says to me ‘LORD, LORD’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.” His will is for us to look to His Son and believe, John 6:40. Those who will be saved are those whose names are written in the Book of Life. Revelation 21:27, “Nothing impure will ever enter it (heaven), nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” This is the divine ledger, God’s list of those destined for eternal life. God sees the believer as ‘perfect’ in His Son. Jesus has removed all that isn’t perfect. This is why we praise Him.
Share the gospel. It’s a simple message - Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection provides forgiveness of sins and salvation so we can have eternal life with Him. We may freely love those who don’t believe, knowing the Lord is the One who opens eyes and hearts. It’s His business. Luke 24:45, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the scripture.”
Why did He do it this way? Who knows, but He did, for His own good pleasure. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Romans 9:15 and Exodus 33:19) If this all seems beyond our ability to grasp, be reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Thank you Father for sending Your Son so we can believe in Him and what He has done for us. Please give us wisdom to understand the important concept of believing and that it’s Your desire to give us the faith to believe.