“But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.” John 20:31
Well, John 20:29 tells me that I can see and believe or I can not see and believe. I think of people in countrires hostile to the Gospel and listen to their testimonies. I hear how they have seen visions of Jesus. And I suppose it’s been a confirmation of the Word that they have been hearing. And I think it’s more than that. It’s You, Jesus, reaching down however You have to, in order to save the ones You love. But we don’t all have visions of You. Some of us just believe based on the truth and loveliness of Your Word. Maybe I should call it the necessity of Your Word.
So this is where I have been hanging for some days now. Because John is telling us that the purpose of his sharing everything about You was so that people would believe the truth of who You are and that in believing, they would have life in You. At one point I think about how we can see, but on the other hand, I think about what believing actually means. Because when I look out in the real world, and even when I look into the Biblical examples, I can see that people think “believing” means different things. But do You allow such a wide variation in “believing”? Or is the road to “believing” actually quite narrow?
In thinking about this, I found that the Greek and Hebrew don’t differentiate between faith and believe like we do in the English language. That’s because when we say “faith” it’s only a noun. We never use it as a verb. So we use the verb “believe.” But in both Greek and with the Hebrew equivalent faith is both a noun and a verb. either Greek nor Hebrew, however, has this issue, since in both languages the noun also has a verb form. It’s not just a concept or idea, it’s a concept and idea that is put into action. You can’t have faith without demonstrating faith in action. James is pretty adamant about this. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Let’s put that in other words, “Believing without action, faith without action, faith without faith, is dead.”
It’s not about doing works at all. It’s all about faith being faith. It’s all about what we really believe. It’s all about whether I make You, Jesus, a concept to talk about, or a Living God that empowers me and I follow. It’s all about whether what I believe is really what I believe or if I just say I believe it. So, what is it? What do I believe? What is my faith? What does my faith demonstrate about me and about my relationship with You, Jesus?
In Isaiah 7:9, God spoke a warning to Ahaz through Isaiah, “If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.” Now, keep that in mind that this same word, “aman,” (from where we get “amen”) is used in 2 Kings 18:16 to refer to the pillars in the temple. Which makes me think that faith/believing has to go deep enough that it holds up everything around us. It must be that action that supports everything about me because if I were to remove my faith, I would crumble to the ground. Faith, therefore, must be what holds my life together. And life is not a concept. Life is always in action.
Noah Webster tells me that “Amen” is a “verb that signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable…In English…more generally at the end of declarations and prayers, in the sense of , be it firm, be it established.” It’s all about sureness and certainty, reliableness, trustworthiness, and total conficedence in. It’s how Abraham felt and acted in Genesis 15:6 when “Abraham believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” I think it goes beyond the idea that “You can and will do what You have promised.” I think it’s saying and acting upon the fact that “You can and You are doing what You have promised.”
“Pisteuo” or “pistis” is the Greek equivalent of “aman.” John uses it about one hundred times. I think that means he really wanted us to think about it. No, maybe that meant he wanted us to do more than think about it. He wanted us to get it, understand it, live it.
He wanted us to declare god as reliable, trustworthy, and steadfast. And in declaring God as such, he wanted us to rely upon Him as such. He’s trying to draw us to “entrust” ourselves to You, Jesus. He wants us to put all our weight into You, like when I sit cross-legged on the sofa in the morning to spend time with You. I’ve put all my weight into that sofa to hold me up and support me, to give me comfort and rest and a place of safety, to give me time to grow in You. If a sofa can do that for me during a short time in the morning, how much more so my almighty loving God!
Because You are reliable, trustworthy, and steadfast, I can entrust everything that is valuable to me to You. And what is really more valuable to each of us than our own well-being? But sometimes we find it easier to trust ourselves than You. But You realized the absurdity of that. In John 2:23-25, John shares, “Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, may people saw the miraculaous signs He was doing and believed [pisteuo] in His name. But Jesus would not entrust [pisteuo] Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.” Jesus knew we were not reliable, trustworthy, and steadfast. When will I learn that about myself? When will we learn that about ourselves? And when will we truly learn and understand that there is One who is?
But here’s the funny thing about faith. Just like I have a sofa where I can sit and rest and take time to enjoy the presence of the Lord, I could choose to never sit in it. I could have that opportunity, that experience stare me in the face every morning, and I could choose something else. I can know that sitting there and taking time out with the Lord is what I need, I can know that it is the best thing for me, but I can choose to clean house instead, or go back to bed, or whatever. So, I can believe that You, Lord, are faithful, trustworthy, reliable. But I can make choices that never place my confidence in You.
Paul, in Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God…” This is what will make or break my “faith”, my “belief.” As I see it, “grace” is the work of the power of God, of You, in me by the power and presence of Your Holy Spirit. The moment I put my faith in You, Your Holy Spirit came to dwell in me. The thing that continually “saves” me is that relationship. Your power is there inside of me. But have I entrusted myself to Your Holy Spirit and His power? Am I still living as though I am not saved by this powerful grace? Am I still living as though I’m the trustworthy one? Or am I entrusting my ways, my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, my children, my finances, my future, to this one who now dwells inside specifically for the purpose of demonstrating in my life the exceeding riches of Himself in me?
In the past I was without You, without the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t help but live like I was without You. But what about now? Do I still live like I was without You? Am I choosing to live like a stranger when You are right here, inside? Am I acting like a foreigner when I am a true citizen? Am I acting like a pillar in the house of God or do I not even realize where I stand? Are the actions of my life demonstrating that my trust truly is in You, Jesus?
There are lots of people in the world who believe. And You, Lord, knew there would be. But You also knew that only some of those who believed, would entrust their everything, their whole lives to You. There are disciples who walked away even though they believed. There were the believers among the weeds, and in the rocky places, who walked away. There are the ones who believed and show up before You at Your throne and You say, “Depart from me, I never knew You.”
But then there are those with continual saving faith because they continually rely on Your grace and on Your power. And it doesn’t matter what things look like, or how rough life is, because sticking close to You is worth everything. Because for them, faith, believing, is all about being built together with You. It’s all about being grown into a holy temple in You. It’s all about being built together as a dwelling place, a habitation of You through the Holy Spirit. And faith is the confidence in the action of grace that You are performing in our lives and that we just can’t get enough of.
Well, Lord, sometimes I don’t know what to believe about things. But no matter how confusing or hard life is, I know that I can always believe You. I don’t have to understand, but I can just entrust myself to You no matter what. I can let You be the One who understands and just continue in Your grace in the joy that You have it all under control even though I don’t. I can know that You see the future even when I can’t. And I can absolutely trust that You have my back covered, and every other part of me besides. And this is a time when I need to be reminded of this. Because I don’t know a lot of things right now. I don’t understand why I’m going through some things in the way I am right now, why I’m feeling the pain that I am. But the whole point is, I don’t have to understand because You do. And maybe I just need to learn to climb up into Your lap, and not just on the sofa, and just let You take care of me like You want.