The concept of belief is one of wonder–complete comfort to some, utter silliness to others. In this season of Lent leading up the the feast of Passover and the fulfillment of the Passover by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ; some may feel a resurrection, so to speak, of their faith or are still searching for their faith. What does it mean to believe? What does it take to believe?
When one hears the word “believe,” they usually think religion or spiritualism. The definition of the word believe is: “to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.” We all believe in something. We believe in how the world should look, how government and economics should function, historical events, what we want to do with our lives, what is right and what is wrong, etc. Therefore, the question of belief doesn’t just reside in the realm of spirituality and faith, but in all aspects of our lives. Naturally, this essay will cover the faith aspect. Whether you believe in the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; or not, you still believe in something. If you believe there is no spirituality at all, you still believe in something. If you believe that there IS spirituality, Judaeo-Christian, or otherwise, you believe in something. There is no one that believes in absolutely nothing. If there is, they’re not human.
To first believe, [in anything] especially in something bigger than us, a higher power if you will; you have to consciously want to. No one can make you consciously want do anything, not God, not people, not even the greatest spiritual adversary, the devil. They can only influence you. It ultimately comes down to your own conscious decision to believe. That’s the beauty of your free will that was endowed to you by your creator. Belief comes from a combination of different influences such as education, upbringing/environment, and experience.
Education can be attained via either of the two latter influences. Most people believe because they were influenced by their parents/guardians. They were raised in faith. They grew up being taught the greatest story ever told. And they go with it, they embrace it. However, for a number of reasons, some people that were raised in faith break away from it. Some come back, some unfortunately do not. So why do we choose to believe? Some people continue to believe because that’s all they know. It’s the simple life: eat, sleep, work, pray, repeat. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The simple life has many virtues. After all “But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7) Others choose to believe due to an event that had happened in their lives…an experience.
Many believers probably would tell you they’ve never experienced anything supernatural. They’ve never felt the presence of God, or the warmth of Jesus’ love. But they still believe. If you’ve never felt anything, you’re not exiled from God. He’s still there with you. To experience the holy spirit, you have to have an open mind. And just like believing, you have to want to experience it. And to be sincere. Nothing can exile you from him. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) If you can’t think of any experience; remember everyone has felt God at least once in their lives. At birth: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
The apostle Paul, who wrote many of the new testament books and letters, was not always a Christian. He was born a Jew, more specifically, a Pharisee. The Pharisees despised Christians and were blinded by the law of the old testament ways. Paul set out to Damascus, Syria to find Christians and bring them to Jerusalem for punishment. On his way, A spotlight from heaven shines on him (Saul) [Paul’s birth name] during his travel and the voice of Jesus asks “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4) God strikes him blind and his traveling companions must lead him to the city. These events lead to his total repentance and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. God also heals him of his blindness. After his conversion, the same zeal and single-minded dedication Paul had against Christianity transforms into a hyperactive-like quest to spread the gospel worldwide.
Experiencing God doesn’t always have to be supernatural. Look at the natural beauty and wonder of the world God created. Everything is so mathematically precise. The golden ratio, which is the mathematical number 1.618 and can be explained as a spiral is found everywhere, from seashells to flowers, to the human body. It’s no wonder the golden ratio is referred to as God’s fingerprint. Physicists like Michio Kaku, admit to intelligent design. Kaku has stated, “I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence. Believe me, everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore. To me, it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.” If you want the experience, it will come to you.
So why believe in The living God, the father, the most high? Why not believe in a different deity?
“Aren‘t all religions fundamentally the same and superficially different? No, they are fundamentally different and at best they are superficially similar…you take a look at other world religions and see where these 4 questions are dealt with: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. These 4 questions have to be answered in two ways: every particular answer has to correspond to truth either through empirical form of measurement or through the logical reasoning process. And when those four answers are put together they must cohere and not be incoherent. So the two tests correspondence and coherence, I guarantee you only in the Judaeo-Christian worldview will you find these four questions answered with corresponding truthfulness and with the coherence of a worldview. Let me take just one example and I don’t say this too slight but this is a fact and we have to deal with it…In the quran, it is the only historical acclaimed document that denies that Jesus Christ was actually crucified or died on the cross, denies that. The Greek historians say he died on the cross, Roman historians say that, Pagan historians say that, Jewish historians say that, and Christian historians say that. The Quran is the only one that says it appeared to him that he died but he didn’t actually die on the cross so historically it is making an affirmation that is really historically untrue. I got into a discussion with Sheikh Hussein of the leading Shiite cleric in Damascus…at the end of it Sheikh Hussein looked at me…and he said you know professor I think the time has come for us in the Islamic world to stop asking if Jesus Christ died and to start asking why…Origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. The Judaeo-Christian worldview is not the only one that claims exclusivity [that it’s the one true faith] but it’s the only one that takes those four questions with corresponding answers that are truthful and coherent answers that stand the test time and the ultimate answer of the resurrection from the dead that gives you hope and meaning.” — Ravi Zacharias
“There are three sources of belief: reason, custom, inspiration. The Christian religion, which alone has reason, does not acknowledge as her true children those who believe without inspiration. It is not that she excludes reason and custom. On the contrary, the mind must be opened to proofs, must be confirmed by custom, and offer itself in humbleness to inspirations, which alone can produce a true and saving effect. Ne evacuetur crux Christi.” — Blaise Pascal
Do your own research. Study the most perfect person who ever walked this Earth. Learn what he said, what he did, and how he lived. Read the new testament. Study what the apostles said about him. Understand it, elaborate on it, and meditate on it, as the bible says.
The concept of believing, for even the most devout believers, is a constant struggle. The constructs of the world are all too convincing that the present moment is all that matters, is and ever will be. Although, the constructs of the world can also be a stark reminder of the warnings and prophecies of belief, or lack thereof. It’s easy to think that if an opportunity is missed, that that type of opportunity is lost. If you miss out, you’ve lost so much. Those who believe can rest assured that the right opportunity will come at the right time and be taken. This takes faith. Belief walks hand in hand with faith. To quote Miracle on 34th street, “Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.”
The key is the belief of salvation. That is faith in Jesus alone, that saved us from irredemption. It is our faith that gives us God’s love and grace. One question many ask: Why did Christ have to die for us to be saved, for us to receive God’s love and grace? The answer to this question could be an essay in itself, I believe Blaise Pascal explained it well: “The reason why. Types. – They had to deal with a carnal people and to render them the depositary of the spiritual covenant. To give faith to the Mes-siah, it was necessary there should have been precedent prophesies, and that these should be conveyed by persons above suspicion, diligent, faithful, unusually zeal-ous, and known to all the world. To accomplish all this, God chose this carnal people, to whom He entrusted the prophecies which foretell the Messiah as a deliverer and as a dispenser of those carnal goods which this people loved. And thus they have had an extraor-dinary passion for their prophets and, in sight of the whole world, have had charge of these books which foretell their Messiah, assuring all nations that He should come and in the way foretold in the books, which they held open to the whole world. Yet this people, deceived by the poor and ignominious advent of the Messiah, have been His most cruel enemies. So that they, the people least open to suspicion in the world of favouring us, the most strict and most zealous that can be named for their law and their prophets, have kept the books incor-rupt. Hence those who have rejected and crucified Jesus christ, who has been to them an offence, are those who have charge of the books which testify of Him, and state that He will be an offence and rejected. Therefore they have shown it was He by rejecting Him, and He has been alike proved both by the righteous Jews who received Him and by the unrighteous who rejected Him, both facts having been foretold. Wherefore the prophecies have a hidden and spiritual meaning to which this people were hostile, under the carnal meaning which they loved. If the spiritual meaning had been revealed, they would not have loved it, and, unable to bear it, they would not have been zealous of the preservation of their books and their cer-emonies; and if they had loved these spiritual promises, and had preserved them incorrupt till the time of the Messiah, their testimony would have had no force, because they had been his friends.Therefore it was well that the spiritual meaning should be concealed; but, on the other hand, if this meaning had been so hidden as not to appear at all, it could not have served as a proof of the Messiah. What then was done? In a crowd of passages it has been hidden under the temporal meaning, and in a few been clearly revealed; besides that, the time and the state of the world have been so clearly foretold that it is clearer than the sun. And in some places this spiritual meaning is so clearly expressed that it would require a blindness, like that which the flesh imposes on the spirit when it is subdued by it, not to recognise it. See, then, what has been the prudence of God. This meaning is concealed under another in an infinite number of passages, and in some, though rarely, it is revealed; but yet so that the passages in which it is concealed are equivocal and can suit both meanings; whereas the passages where it is disclosed are unequivocal and can only suit the spiritual meaning.
So that this cannot lead us into error and could only be misunderstood by so carnal a people. For when blessings are promised in abundance, what was to prevent them from understanding the true blessings, but their covetousness, which limited the meaning to worldly goods? but those whose only good was in God referred them to God alone. For there are two principles, which divide the wills of men, covet-ousness and charity. Not that covetousness cannot exist along with faith in God, nor charity with worldly riches; but covetousness uses God and enjoys the world, and charity is the opposite. Now the ultimate end gives names to things. All which prevents us from attaining it is called an enemy to us. Thus the creatures, however good, are the enemies of the righteous, when they turn them away from God, and God Himself is the enemy of those whose covetousness He confounds. Thus as the significance of the word enemy is dependent on the ultimate end, the righteous understood by it their passions, and the carnal the babylonians; and so these terms were obscure only for the unrighteous. And this is what Isaiah says: Signa legem in electis meis,* and that Jesus christ shall be a stone of stumbling. but, “Blessed are they who shall not be offended in him.” Hosea, 14. 9, says excellently, “Where is the wise? and he shall understand what I say. The righteous shall know them, for the ways of God are right; but the transgressors shall fall therein.” The law had to be established before grace could be enacted.
The love and grace of God doesn’t mean that you’ll be given God’s promises if you choose not to believe. 2 statements prove this. The first commandment: thou shalt not worship strange gods before me. This means you can’t put anything or anyone before God in your life. Not any other deity, not any worldly possession, not any other person. Put in a different way: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) In order to do this, you must believe that God even exists, and that you want to serve him. The second statement is the most famous bible verse. You could even say it sums up the whole bible in on phrase: “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] [a]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
If you truly are unsure, you have nothing to lose. If you believe, and it turns out that the bible is true, you have everlasting life in paradise. If you believe, and it turns out there is nothing out there, you’ve still lived a noble, virtuous life. Which is still an accomplishment. “For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) If you want to know whether or not God exists, seek and you shall find. And remember: “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me].” (John 20:29)
“Heaven and earth [as now known] will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
One final note about faith and belief:
“The amazing thing about the human conscience is this: That even if you don’t believe what I’m saying, you believe what I’m saying. That even if you reject the truth of what I’m saying, there is rooted inside you a conviction which you can suppress with the years, but which is there nonetheless which is telling you that these things are so. And this truth is the truth which the scripture will not let us forget, that there is a last day.” — Derek Prince
Pascal’s Pensees: The Misery of Man Without God
The Amplified Holy Bible