FROM BELIEF TO BELIEVING
by paul hoffmaster
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To believe in Jesus Christ is more than making a verbal acknowledgement that He is the Son of God. It is more than confessing the reality of His earthly visitation. It is more than professing that through His death and resurrection we have the opportunity of eternal life. It is more than accepting His teachings and affirming the reality of His word. If we base our definition simply on the acceptance of those Biblical truths, then there is little doubt that the majority of Americans are classified as Christians. If one simply believes the teachings of the Scripture but fails to implement the words into action, then the Bible and Its proclamation of “…having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:5) is being fulfilled. Many Christians have knowledge of Jesus, but not to the point of action. They have “a belief,” (noun) but have ignored “to believe.” (verb)
Years ago, a man was to walk across Niagara Falls pushing a wheel barrel. He asked how many believed it could be done. The thousands in attendance shouted their affirmation. He then asked if someone would volunteer to sit in the wheel barrel. There were no takers. If Jesus would call out today and ask how many believe that He is the way, the truth, and the life, millions would shout out in unity their confirmation of belief. But if Jesus would then ask if anyone would be willing to surrender their life to Him, and to take up their cross daily and follow Him, many would profess having a hearing problem!
Many people have GPS gadgets that give out precise directions to a predetermined destination. They follow the directions with complete obedience to the little voice in the box. Some people trust these devices, but often choose to rely on their own directional instincts. The group of people known as Christians has a belief in the things of the Kingdom, but when it comes to acting on those precepts, there is little activity. It is like carrying around “tablets of stone” with no activation of what is written.
Belief is acknowledging the validity of the written Word, while Believing is acting on that acknowledgement. Belief accepts the Scripture, while Believing activates the Scripture. Belief knows the Biblical addresses, while Believing experiences the reality of the word at that location. Belief is Knowledge of what the Bible says, while Believing is the Wisdom to act on what the Bible says. Many Christians have the knowledge of God’s Word, but lack the initiative to live by the Word.
Practically all Christians know that the Scripture teaches complete forgiveness is granted from God to man, but fail to believe that they are required to grant forgiveness to those who have wronged them. It is easy to have a vertical belief, but it takes an effort to practice demonstrating believing horizontally.
It is time to move from simple Belief, to a life of Believing. It is time to move from knowing the Word to showing the Word. It is time to move from just acknowledging the Tablets of Stone, to being a Living Epistle.
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We do need to be reminded of the importance of putting what we say we believe into action. Besides, most of the times when 'believe' is used in the NT, it actually is a verb. And I don't think John even uses the noun once, in his gospel and letters. Your comment about forgiveness reminded me that the Lords Prayer links our forgiveness with our willingness to forgive others - 'forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us".