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 loves us so much that He has given all He can give, so that "whoever desires, let him take 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 done with this? We can't bear to believe "that whoever believes in [Christ] should 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 have the idea that to "believe" is merely to confess head knowledge while we go on reveling in continued sin (and we know that can't be true), we have tried to add "works" to John 3:16, etc. So we say that salvation is by faith plus by works; but immediately we run into a roadblock.
God also says, "By grace you have been 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 anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9). So, strictly speaking, the truth 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 the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love [agape] of Christ" (Eph. 3:18, 19). It's to "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). More than a hurried glance while our gaze is fixed on worldly cares and pleasure; it's to let our hard, selfish hearts "look," which all the world is invited to do--"Look to Me, and be saved, all you 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.
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