Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Understanding What It Means to Believe

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Why do we humans have so much trouble understanding the simple words of God? He says, for example, that He so loves us that He has GIVEN all He can give, so that "whosoever will, let him take of the water of [eternal] life freely." He has set the fountain flowing; our job is to drink! (John 3:16; Rev. 22:17).

But what have we humans done with this? We can't bear to believe "that whosoever believeth in [Christ] shall not perish, but have eternal life," so we interpolate all kinds of ideas of duties that we must DO. Our problem obviously is understanding what it means to "believe" (which in the original is the same as to have faith).

Because some fanatics (there are many!) have the idea that to "believe" is merely to confess head knowledge while we go on reveling in continued sin (and we know that lie can't be true), we humans have tried to add "works" to John 3:16, etc., etc. So we say that salvation is by faith plus by works; but immediately we run into a roadblock. God also says, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." And then to forestall any attempt on our part to add "works" to the equation, God adds specifically: "NOT of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). So, strictly speaking, the correct truth to say is: we are saved by grace--100 percent God's grace in Christ. But that doesn't mean we have nothing to do: the salvation is "through faith." So, we do have a part--to believe.

Let's be patient and let the Lord explain in the Bible what "believe" means. The explanation is in John 3:16: to "believe" is our heart response, to appreciate God's "loving" and His "giving." It is to "behold," to "see," to "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love [agape] of Christ" (Eph. 3:18, 19). It's just to "behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). More than a hurried glance while our gaze is fixed on worldly cares and pleasure; no, it's to let our hard, selfish hearts "look," which all the world is invited to do--"look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth" (Isa. 45:22).
"Beholding" that love motivates to all the "good works" that even God can think of (see 1 John 3:1-3).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 28, 2003.
Copyright © 2011 by "Dial Daily Bread."

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