Read Clint Decker’s HOPE FOR TODAY column post here or on the column site.
“I believe in God.” I have heard the statement many times in my years as a minister in rural communities across the Great Plains. The regular at the local bar, the businessman, the county jail inmate, the greeter at the church, and the friendly neighbor across the street all have said they believe in God and are doing fine.
Additionally, nearly every person I have talked with has heard of Jesus, God, the Bible and are familiar with many Christian terms and concepts. Some regularly attend church while others only went as children. Others have gone just for funerals or weddings and a few have never been. And though many are not familiar with traditional Bible stories, the majority have heard or read at least portions of the Bible.
If so many people believe in God, then why are our communities so filled with abuse and immorality? Should not this belief make a difference?
Perhaps there is a misunderstanding about what belief in God means. Maybe people think they believe, but in truth, they do not.
The Bible is the original source for understanding the whole idea of belief in God. A casual reading of the Bible on this can be a little confusing. On one hand the Scripture says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31). While on the other hand, it says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:19). The Devil believes in God like everyone else? What is wrong with this picture? It all comes down to understanding what belief means, not according to our opinions, but according to God’s Word.
If you study the Bible on the subject you will see five truths. 1) Believing in God is synonymous with belief in Jesus. Since Jesus is God’s Son, to refuse to believe in Him is an empty belief. 2) Believing in God is an acknowledgement of Jesus. It means you acknowledge His deity, virgin birth, death and resurrection. 3) Believing in God is to trust in Jesus. It means you are willing to entrust your whole life into His care and submit to His leadership. 4) Believing in God is to follow Jesus. It means you are willing to do what Jesus and the Word of God says, no matter the cost—even unto death. 5) Believing in God is union with Jesus. It means Christ is in you and you are in Him.
The belief the Devil has is knowledge-based and does not proceed to trust, following or union with Christ. The Devil’s belief does not lead to a changed life.
However, a whole-hearted, biblical belief in God through Christ shows itself in a spiritual and moral transformation. The old has gone, the new has come. You do not have to tell someone you believe in God, they can see it.
I urge you to embrace full-on, radical belief in Christ. Go beyond superficial words and the mere window dressings of religion, like Jesus did, when He went to the cross and shed His blood for you. He counted the cost and laid His life down. Do the same. Count the cost and believe in Him with all your heart.
A prayer for you to pray – Lord God, help me to believe in your glorious Son. Help me to go beyond knowledge and trust Him, follow Him, and be one with Christ. Though I do not understand it all, help me to believe and be changed. In Jesus name. Amen.