What Does It Mean To Believe?

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You see the word “believe” has to do with the head, the intellect. It is a mental process. But you can believe all you want to believe about Jesus Christ and still not be saved. You can believe everything that I believe about the Bible, and yet perish eternally. That is the faith of the demons. The word of God declares that the demons also believe and tremble. They were among the first to acclaim Jesus as the Son of God, but they did not submit to Him. They believe as much more than you do about Christ. They do not for a moment doubt His Deity, but their faith is purely intellectual. It does not change their lives, and their doom is certain, therefore they tremble.

I came across a certain denomination one day and I was anxious to discover, if I could, the basis upon which they received men and women as members of their churches. I learned that they asked them just one question, one question consisting of two parts, namely, “Do you believe God loves you and that Jesus Christ  His  Son died for you?” If they could answer that question in the affirmative they were accepted. But who doesn’t believe in the love of God? Everyone who believes the Bible does. And who doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ died for mankind? The Bible says He did, and if you believe the Bible you believe He died for you. That doesn’t make you a Christian. That doesn’t change your life. That is purely intellectual. Thousands believe in the love of God and the death of Christ who are not Christians. The second step will save no one and yet that is where multitudes stop. They take the second step but not the third. Hence they are not yet saved.

What are the usual questions that are asked of one who wishes to join the church? These – “Do you believe in the virgin birth, the death, resurrection and second coming of Christ? Do you believe Christ died for your sins?” Such questions are doctrinal and can be answered intellectually by anyone. What are the questions I ask? These – “Have you been born again? Are you saved? Have you received Jesus Christ?” Such questions are experimental. If they can be answered in the affirmative I do not worry about the others. Trust – The third step and the only step that saves I designate by the simple word “trust”. And now I must turn to the New English Bible. At long last the translation of the Authorised Version has been corrected. After 350 years the word “believe” has been eliminated.

When the Philippian jailer asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?” the answer in The New English Bible is, “Put your trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). Again and again instead of “believe” it is “Put your faith in” or “Put your trust in the Lord Jesus.” That has nothing whatever to do with the intellect; that has to do with the will, and it demands a decision. Multitudes there are who “believe”, who have never “trusted” In the Old Testament the way of salvation is stated thus- ‘Put your trust in the Lord” (Ps. 4:5). In the New Testament it is, “Believe on the Lord” The Old Testament has the correct translation. When you “put your trust in the Lord”, you are saved. Now what is the meaning of the word “trust”?

First, it excludes effort. Did you ever have anyone try to teach you to float? Do you remember how you stood beside your instructor in the water, and how he said to you, “The water can sustain your weight. All you have to do is to trust the water. Now throw yourself back and float.” And do you remember how you threw yourself back on the water and how you floated-to the bottom? Then do you recall how you stood again by your instructor and how he said to you, “Now why did you tighten your muscles? Why did you hold your breath? Couldn’t you trust the water? Why, it carries whole navies. It can easily bear you up.” And once again you threw yourself back on the water, but there was a slight catching of the breath, a tightening of the muscles and once again you floated-to the bottom.

Then again you stood beside your instructor. Again he urged you to trust, and this time without any effort of your own, as you threw yourself back on the water, to your pleasure and delight, you found yourself floating. I wish someone would float on God’s great salvation. Put aside your effort. Stop struggling. Don’t try to help yourself either by works or religion. Just float. Trust, I say, excludes effort. As long as you are putting forth effort you are not trusting. Second, 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 least 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 friend comes 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.” You see, she had taken the second step; she had believed.