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What does it mean to believe?

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QUESTION: Hello pastor, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ, being our Saviour for the sin that befell the world? Ben.

RESPONSE: The world has many believers, but only a few have taken the trouble to ask this question.

Religions point people to believe in deities and saints, while the secular world appeals to the populace to believe in icons. Modern philosophy motivates people to believe in themselves.

As Christians, we need to pause and ask ourselves what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. To address this question, we need to understand what belief is.

In simple terms, belief is an acceptance that something is true, either based on empirical evidence or even without proof, but living and acting equally the same with or without evidence.

Everything factual and assumptive in life survives and thrives on belief.

Assumptions might evolve into practical facts if the belief attributed to them is stable. But such facts might be reduced to heresy minus believers.

New Testament
In the New Testament Greek Lexicons, ‘belief’ is a verb and the term is ‘Pistueo’. The root word from which we get the English word ‘faith’ is ‘Pistis’.

Faith (pistis) means firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction.

However, belief (pistueo) means to trust in and rely on, commit to the charge of a mental persuasion and to confide in.

When you look at these two Greek New Testament words, you are justified to conclude that they are synonymous.

The New Testament writers use them interchangeably to mean the same thing.

The Scriptural definition of faith/belief is in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”

From this definition, we learn two fundamental aspects of Biblical belief as opposed to all other philosophies.

We learn that Biblical faith/belief is substantial and evidential.

Biblical faith/belief is substantial and evidential. (Photo/Mindvalley Blog)

The ‘how’ of belief
Belief is constructed in conscious beings like us. According to Romans 10:17 it comes by hearing and not hearing anything, but the Word of God.

We already have the first two stages of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. It is by hearing first.

And the word of God is the substance of our hearing. Without this audibility by human internal or external sound receptors, belief is impossible (Romans 10:14).

So, to believe in Christ means to first hear Him right, and hear the right information about or from Him.

Since He is the object of belief, He must be understood right. In case he is misrepresented or confused, the whole belief system is rendered wrong (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Believing in Jesus, therefore, is first getting the facts about and from Him correct (Acts 4:4). You cannot claim to believe in what you do not understand.

However, it does not start and end there. Belief in Christ is not orthodox head knowledge.

It is not a collection of facts about Jesus, and neither is it the ability to recognise who Jesus is.

If this was entirely what belief was about, Satan and demons would beat us all at the game (James 2:19, Matthew 8:29, Luke 4:41).

While these other components are equally important, belief is a coin with two sides; evidence (facts oriented) and substance (reality oriented).

Believing in Jesus means trusting in His Person (substance) even when there is no evidence by the standards of the World.

Believers in Christ consider evidence to be on equal footing with no proof at all as long as it is Jesus in focus.

“Blessed are those who believe without seeing,” (John 20:29).

Jesus is the Lord and Saviour, but you have to first believe. Without it, his Lordship and being the Saviour is of no effect on your life.

Jesus forgives sins, but only for those who believe in Him. Those who understand who exactly He is, know how His forgiveness works.

Salvation is by His grace, through one’s belief. (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-17, Acts 16:31).

Without it, we cannot impress God regardless of how morally upright we are (Hebrews 11:6, Ephesians 2:9).

A good example is Abraham. He heard the Word (Romans 4:13), repented (Romans 4:18-19), embraced the hope without facts (Romans 4:18); he did not waver in his commitment (Romans 4:20) and rejoiced before the promise was accomplished (Romans 4:20).

This is what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.

Answered by
Pr Isaiah White.
Contact: +256775 822 833

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