In the world of Christianity, we often hear both Christian and none-Christian say we believe in God, but what do we mean when we say we believe in God, and do we understand what it means to believe? And if we are not sure what it means to believe, we need to take a good look at the truth of what it means to believe because it’s important for our understanding of scripture and the manifestation of God’s word. And the reason we need to know what it means to believe it’s because there are a few instructions provided we are to accomplish as Christians, and unless we understand what it means to believe, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to carry them out.
As part of our mission, Jesus told us we are to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” And in Mark it is said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” But if we do not understand what it means to believe, it will be virtually impossible for us to accomplish any of the things Jesus calls on us to do. Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:17-18.
So, what does it means to believe? To answer that question, one of the closest examples I can use to explain what it means to believe is the cousin of Jesus, John who upon seeing the Pharisees at his baptism declared, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance, and think not to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say unto you that God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” A powerful and revealing statement. Matthew 3:7-9.
But why was this a powerful and revealing statement, it was both powerful and revealing because for the Pharisees to say they have Abraham as their father doesn’t mean they will inherit the promise of Abraham because to inherit the promise of Abraham they must have faith in God. In the eyes of the Pharisees, they were the righteous seed of Abraham, they believed because they were Abraham’s seed by ancestry they were automatically planted in the promise of God.
The Pharisees couldn’t be any farther from the truth because this was an incorrect thinking on the Pharisees’ part, and because it was, they errored in the word of God. And as a result, they lived their lives according to the law of the flesh becoming a religious and traditional group by identity. Holiness was no longer what God viewed as holy, in the eyes of the Pharisees their traditions were more important than what God was communicating.
The Pharisees overlooked the message of God, they couldn’t see that God was coming into the world to set the standard by which men shall be saved. They failed to take note Abraham himself was looking toward the day God would come in the likeness of men, meaning taking on human weakness, so that he might redeem us from our sins. Therefore, when the time was fulfilled, they rejected Jesus Christ and through their rejection failed to believe that they may enter the kingdom of God.
The point I’m making is this, we need to understand what it means to believe, we need to understand what God is communicating so that we might live our lives in true faith and not according to our traditions. Because the moment we allow our traditions to become our faith, we will become like the Pharisees who rejected Christ and, in their rejection, failed to see God’s kingdom.
To that point, Jesus spoke these words when one of the Pharisees came in secret to speak with him concerning God’s kingdom, Jesus said, John 3:3, Truly, truly, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Because to see the kingdom of God we must truly be born again which is to place our faith in God.
So, “What does it mean to believe and to have faith in God?” Is it for us to come together in what we call the church today sing a few songs and go home, or is it to do what Jesus said we are to do, meaning act on his word? It is certainly not to come together sing a few songs and go home, after all, that was the life of the Pharisees who believed coming together and raising their hands in prayer and signing they were being heard by God.
Rather, to believe in the face of Christ is to act on his word, to change the way we think and do things. It is to be transformed into a new person, a person living and acting out God’s word based on the relationship we have with God. It means to do whatever Jesus said we are to do because in doing what Jesus said we are to do, we are producing the fruits of righteousness. In-other-words, to believe in Jesus, and to truly believe is to do what he said we are to do because believing is doing… And what did Jesus said we are to do? He said we are to: John 15:15.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20.