Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Does It Mean To Believe?

John 3:16-18, 35-36

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone  believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “The one believing into Him is not judged; but the one not believing has already been judged; for he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God."

"The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. The one believing into the Son has everlasting life; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

The promise of God to those who believe in the Son is very clear for us all, so what does it really mean to believe according to the scriptures?

The first thing we have to do is get the Greek definition for the word 'believe' used here, then we can get a better understanding of what the scriptures are saying to us today.

G4100  pisteuō  pē-styü'-ō Believe, commit unto, commit to (one's) trust, be committed unto, be put in trust with, be commit to one's trust, Believer (BLB)

4100. pisteuo pist-yoo'-o from 4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ):--believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with. (SGL)

Vine's Expository Dictionary

Belief, Believe, Believers:

"to believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence. It is most frequent in the writings of the Apostle John, especially the Gospel. He does not use the noun (see below). For the Lord's first use of the verb, see Jhn 1:50. Of the writers of the Gospels, Matthew uses the verb ten times, Mark ten, Luke nine, John ninety-nine. In Act 5:14 the present participle of the verb is translated "believers."  (See COMMIT, INTRUST, TRUST.)

Believe - Part Of Speech - Verb

Definition of VERB

":a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb." (MW)

Now that we have some more understanding of the word 'believe' from these excellent study tools, we can see that John meant far more than mere mental agreement or intellectual acknowledgement of Jesus and the scriptures.

Believe in the true sense and original Greek definition of the word means to commit to, have faith in, be committed to, be put in trust with. The kind of belief that Jesus and John is talking about here is a heart felt commitment and trust in the Savior of the world, this belief requires us to take action and obey the commands of Jesus Christ.

Now let's insert a few of the definitions for the word 'believe' into the quoted passages and see what we get.

John 3:16-18, 35-36

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone (committing) to Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “The one (who trusts) in Him is not judged; but the one not (committing) has already been judged; for he has not (put faith) into the name of the only begotten Son of God."

"The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. The one (committing) to the Son has everlasting life; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

This gives us a much better understanding of what John was really saying, now doesn't it!? It does for me!!!!

While I was searching for more messages about what it means to believe I ran across a very well written piece by Oswald J Smith that uses some great analogies to convey this truth we are learning here. I'll share one of them with you.

Trust Implies Committal

"I think the best illustration is that of the marriage ceremony. Here is a young man who is keeping company with a young woman. For some considerable time they go together. At least they should. At last he asks the all-important question and she says, "Yes." Now they are engaged.

Now this young man makes a great many promises and the young woman believes he means what he says. After a while her girl friends come along and they ask her some questions. "We understand," they say, "that this young man of yours has promised you a home." "Yes, he has," replies the young woman. "And he has promised you clothes and food. Now tell us, do you have the home?" "Oh no," she exclaims, "I do not. I am still living with my parents." "What about the food?" they continue. "Does he supply your food?" "Why no, of course not," she responds, "except when we go to the restaurant, and then sometimes I pay the bill." "What about clothes? Has he given you any clothes?" "No, he has not," the young woman answers; "my parents still buy my clothes." "And yet you believe the young man," they exclaim. "Yes, I do," she answers. "I believe every word. I have no doubt of any kind."

There comes a never-to-be-forgotten day when the young man stands at the front of the church facing the minister, first on one foot, then on the other. Never in his life has he stood so long before. It seems an age. At last to the strains of the wedding march the young woman on the arm of her father comes slowly, oh, so slowly, down the aisle. Every eye is fastened on her. There is plenty of time for everyone to admire her wedding gown. At last she reaches the front and stands beside the man of her choice. The minister asks one or two very important questions: "Wilt thou?" And she "wilts". And then something happens that has never happened before, and I want you to mark, if you will, very carefully, my phraseology. For the first time in her life she gives herself over, she hands herself to, she commits herself to, she trusts the young man. Taking his arm, she now leaves the church in his protection. Never again will she have to work. He is now responsible for her and it is up to him to look after her. Her worries are over. He must provide for her.

A little later her girl-friends approach her again. "Well," they ask, "has he given you a home?" "Oh yes," she exclaims, "we are now living together in our own home." "What about the food?" "Yes, he pays the grocery bills and the butcher bills. He provides the food." "And what about clothes?" "Yes, he is buying my clothes—not as many as I want, but all that I need. Indeed he is looking after everything."

**Excerpt taken from 'What Does It Mean To Believe?' by Oswald J. Smith**

Have you really believed in Jesus Christ? Have you given yourself over to the Bridegroom? Have you entrusted your very soul into the hands of the only one who can save you from death and hell? Have you truly committed yourself to Jesus and decided to obey His commands wholeheartedly?

He's waiting for you my friend, with arms wide open, won't you go to Him while there is still time?

In Jesus Name,
Tyrone