Monday, November 12 , 2018, 4:49 pm | Fair 72º


D.C. Collier: What Do I Believe? Really

“It is our choice of good or evil that determines our character, not our opinion about good or evil.”
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

In last week’s column, we stated that to have a relationship with God, we must come to believe in what scripture calls “the gospel of your salvation.” This critical gospel message is “that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that He was buried; that He was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says.”1

But what does it mean to “believe” something from a biblical perspective?

Biblical Belief Defined

The word “believe” carries a lot of baggage in our culture. Ask most people what they believe about the greater issues of life and they tend to view such beliefs as theoretical, separate from their day-to-day existence.

Their beliefs are often treated as intellectual pets that occasionally get a pat on the head but are rarely taken seriously. They tend to think of their beliefs and their actual lives in two distinct spheres, only occasionally (if ever) intersecting.

Beliefs of this sort rise no higher than mental assent, more like tongue-in-cheek aspirations. Sadly, many professing Christians “believe” the gospel in this way. They give it lip service but are unwilling to let it profoundly change their lives.

True biblical belief is made of sterner stuff.

Crazy-Quilt of Beliefs and Behavior

I can say that I “believe” all sorts of things and then go off and live my life as though nothing I claimed to believe exists. It happens all the time.

Ask a father if he believes exposure to pornography is harmful to his children, and he’ll heartily agree. Yet many such dads then regularly run off secretly and immerse themselves in porn without a thought to the blinding inconsistency of their behavior.

The same applies to alcohol, drugs or moral compromise in business, public life or in our homes.

James says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.”2

Is it any wonder why children seldom take us seriously?

A.W. Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God, wrote:

“Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above.

“However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.”

The way I live my life “tells” exactly what I truly believe. My true beliefs are literally the rails my life runs on.

It could be said that our beliefs constitute our reality. They provide the means of making sense of the world around us. To live apart from these real beliefs would be to part with our reality, which, as it turns out, is another definition of insanity.

What does the way you live your life say about what you really believe? Your attitudes and behavior, which lead to your choices, flow directly from those beliefs. This explains why discipline that is directed only at behavior may yield a temporary response but produces no lasting change while underlying beliefs remain unaddressed.

How many dieters, addicts, convicts and frustrated parents have learned this lesson the hard way? To bring about lasting change, beliefs must be addressed first and behavior will follow in lockstep.

It’s What You Believe In That Counts

To illustrate the biblical meaning of belief/faith, think about sitting down in a chair. Suppose you came into a strange room and wanted to sit down on a chair but weren’t sure it could hold you. You go over, put a little weight on it and finally, sufficiently confident of its structural integrity, you put your full weight down on the seat and rest.

The key is the chair itself. Your faith is just the means of connecting with the chair.

It is the same with biblical faith regarding salvation. The procuring value lies in the object of your faith — namely the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

I can have a lot of faith in the wrong thing to save me (such as religion, works or good deeds, to name just a few) or enough faith in the right thing (what Jesus did for me on the cross) that can save me.

So rather than concentrating on acquiring or improving your faith, turn your attention to what you are placing your faith in.

How About You?

To believe biblically is to commit, to stand for something, to act upon it, to live it. What in your life would you be willing to die for? Jesus requires no less.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, The Message

2. James 1:23-24, New American Standard Bible

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