“For it is My Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life.” (John 6:40 NLT)
A few days ago, we looked at the connection between the words: “love” and “relationship.” Today and tomorrow, we’ll look at two more words found in the Bible that are very interrelated and can often cause confusion: “faith/faithful” and “belief/believe.” Some of the confusion stems from the fact that both words are derived from the same Greek root word. So, how can we tell the difference?
Fortunately, Biblical scholars have done much of the work for us, but in practical terms, I think of “belief/believe” and “faith/faithful” as two sides of the same coin. We often use them interchangeably, thinking of them as having the same meaning; however, depending on the context, their meanings can have shades of difference that can determine where we’ll spend eternity. Today we’ll look at what “belief/believe” means and tomorrow we’ll look at “faith.”
Think of the difference between “foundation” and “application.” In Matthew 7:24 Jesus says: “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” “Belief” is the foundation upon which our “faith” in Christ, who is the Rock, is built. What we believe about Jesus will be verified by the “application” of our belief in our day to day lives, but especially when the storms of life come. Jesus said in verse 25: “Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”
I know people who profess belief in Jesus, but whose lives aren’t giving evidence of the application of that belief, especially when they run into hard times. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said: “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.” Belief is static, in the sense it is something that is hidden in our heart and mind, not visible, unless and until we activate it by applying it to our daily lives. It then becomes visible to the extent we openly live in such a way as to give evidence of what we believe. If I believe in Jesus, my faith will be evidenced in my obedience to His directives in my life.
Some get confused because they think what they believe about God and Jesus should be “personal,” and it is, but it was never intended to be private. Quite to the contrary, Jesus said in John 9:5b: “I am the light of the world.” As Jesus-followers, we’re to let the light of our belief in Him shine out for all to see. How? Through our faith and our faithfulness, which is what makes our belief visible. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:9: “For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
Believing in Jesus means to center my trust in Him. I can believe what the Bible says about Jesus is true. I can believe what He did on the Cross, He did for me. I can confess my sins and believe Jesus will forgive me. I can invite the Lord to cleanse the temple of my life and fill me with His Spirit and I can believe He will. All those things focus on what God does for me that I could never in eternity do for myself. But all of these good and right beliefs have little value until they are activated by allowing the Holy Spirit to apply them to my life.
What we believe is critical, but unless and until we activate or apply our belief, it’s no more useful to us than prescription medication that sits on the counter and is never taken. We’ll dig into this a little deeper tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊