In the world of Christianity, we often hear both Christian and none-Christian say they believe in God, but based on how we live our lives, it begs we ask the question “What do we mean when we say we believe in God? It also begs we ask the question “Do we understand what it means to believe? And if we are not sure what it means to believe, it is important we take a good look at the truth of what it means to believe because it’s important for our understanding of scripture and for us to live out the manifestation of God’s word.
God has called each Christian to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world, and as believers it is important we understand how vital it is for us to know what it means to believe; otherwise, we’ll never be able to carry out the call on our lives as commanded by the word of God.
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 impossible for us to accomplish any of the things Jesus calls on us to do because the things Jesus calls on us to do requires faith in God, a change of mind according to the new creation in Jesus Christ. For it is through the spirit of faith in Jesus Christ we will be able to accomplish the things Jesus commands us to do.
Therefore, what does it mean to believe? To answer that question, one of the closest examples we can use to explain what it means to believe is to review the life of 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 judgment to come?
John told the people gathered at the Jordan river to “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.” Matthew 3:7-9.
John made this public statement before the crowd standing at the Jordan river because he understood for the Pharisees to say they have Abraham as their father doesn’t mean they will inherit the promise of Abraham; for to inherit the promise of Abraham they must have faith in God. But according to the Pharisees, they were the righteous seed of Abraham, they believed because they were Abraham’s seed by birth, they had eternal access to the promise of God.
But the Pharisees couldn’t be farther from the truth, because what they thought to be the way into the promises of God was not what they thought it to be. Because birth according to the flesh or ancestry was not the way into the promises of God, and because of this kind of thinking the Pharisees missed understood the word of God.
As a result, the Pharisees 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 will be saved. And although they handled the word of God, they yet failed to take note Abraham himself was looking toward the day God would come in the likeness of men, so that he might redeem us from our sins. Therefore, when the time was fulfilled, the Pharisees rejected Jesus Christ and through their rejection failed to believe that they might enter the kingdom of God.
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, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, 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, and to place our faith in God means to believe in Jesus Christ. John 3:3,
But again, what does it mean to believe and to have faith in God?” We know it is to believe in Jesus Christ, but how do we show we believe in Jesus Christ? Some of us believe it is by confessing our sins and proclaiming we believe Jesus is Lord, while others are holding on to the thought attending regular Church services is a demonstration we believe in Jesus Christ. But there is no doubt, it is certainly easy for anyone to say they believe in Jesus, and it is easy for anyone to come and listen to a sermon, but the scripture told us if “You believe there is but one God. Good! But know even the demons believe there is but one God and trembles. Therefore, you should know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20.
Faith is dead without works, and as John declared at the Jordan river, faith without fruits is dead and the tree that fails to bring forth fruit is ready to be cut down. But he that believes, will have his place in the house of the Lord who will separate his people from those ready to be judged, those reserved for judgment. Therefore, knowing these things, it is important we understand what it means to believe and have faith in God. This is such an important issue Jesus made the point when he cursed the fig tree standing without fruit. And in his response to his disciples who were astonished by the results of the dying fig tree, Jesus said:
“Have faith in God. For surely I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” Because knowing who Jesus is will produce faith, for faith is not based on human wisdom, traditions, or passiveness, but on the revelation of who Jesus is by the will of God that will encourage us to fulfill and do the things Jesus commands we do in his authority. Mark 11:22-23.