Available as a free download here in ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’, I listed the top ten teachings that Jesus spoke on. In covering the top ten out of 83 different subjects, I am now looking at the most common topic, which is to – Believe.
There is a choice to be made in this life
To believe – the most fundamental principle of our faith. We are encouraged to ‘believe’ 35 times in the gospel accounts. There is a choice to be made in this life. Will we believe or will we not? There are those who will and those who will not. Even after taking that initial step of faith to believe, we are faced with innumerable situations when we are faced with the decision of whether to continue to walk in belief or not. Will we believe that God’s Word stands forever even in our difficult situations? Will we believe that God will be faithful to supply our needs in times of lack? Will we believe that God is our healer in times of sickness? The list goes on.
Belief becomes faith when it is strong
The words faith and belief are used interchangeably in the Bible. Belief is considered to be a firmly held opinion, often formed logically, whereas faith is a strong religious belief. Belief becomes faith when it is strong, so belief builds faith. Faith removes the worry and paves the way for optimism. The Bible says that faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but at the same time are true. It is centred on trust. Faith is the realisation of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen, Heb 11:1.
Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life, John 5:24. In the Strong’s dictionary, the Word ‘believes’ here in the Hebrew πιστεύων (pisteuōn) is to ‘have faith’, to entrust.
Do not be afraid, only believe
When Jesus was by the Sea of Galilee He had crossed over by boat to the other side. He was attracting a great deal of attention and a great multitude gathered to Him. At this moment one of the rulers of a synagogue, called Jairus, came to Him. When he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” Jesus agrees to go with him, but along the way gets held up healing others also begging for relief. Someone came from Jairus’ house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard this He turned and said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
These words echo through my heart, for these are the words He continues to speak to us through the ages – Do not be afraid, only believe. Fear is the polar opposite to faith. Fear is our bodily response to a belief that God will not come through for us. Ultimately fear is sin – it is disbelief – which leads to death.
Like us in our daily lives, Jairus had a decision to make. Will I believe the report from my household and tell Jesus not to bother. Or will I believe what Jesus has said and what Jesus can do. His faith was greatly rewarded. Jesus continues to Jairus’ house and raises the little daughter back to life. He got his daughter back.
To the father of faith
Going back to the father of faith – Abraham. In Genesis 15, the childless Abram was in a crisis. It was considered a total anathema to not have an heir in those days. But the word of the Lord came to him saying, ‘Do not be afraid Abram I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ He was then told to look toward heaven and count the number of stars. God said, ‘So shall your descendants be’. The word goes onto say that Abram, ‘believed in the Lord and He (the Lord) accounted it to him for righteousness.’
Henry says – Abram firmly believed in the Lord, that is, he believed the truth of that promise which God had now made, resting upon the irresistible power and the unbreakable faithfulness of Him that made it. Has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?
Those who would have the comfort of the promises must mix faith with the promises. In Rom 4:19-21, Paul magnifies this faith of Abram and makes it a standing example. He was not weak in faith; he did not stagger at the promise; he was strong in faith; he was fully persuaded. The Lord works such a faith in every one of us!
God counted it to him for righteousness; that is, upon the score of this he was accepted of God. Abram just prior to this had struggled with unbelief (Gen. 15:2). But coming off a conqueror, he was crowned and honoured.
The dependence upon God’s promise of grace and glory, in and through Christ, is the whole gist of the new covenant. It gives us a right to all the blessings contained in that promise. All believers are justified as Abram was, and it was his faith that was counted to him for righteousness.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
What does our faith mean to us?
The word in Strong’s – accounted or credited In Gen 15:6 of ‘he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness’, is to reckon, calculate, impute or make a count. The source of the word is the consideration of a great number of elements, which results in a conclusion. God added up everything that Abraham’s belief meant to Him and computing it all together determined that it was equal to righteousness.
If God added up everything that our faith means to us and computed it all together what would the conclusion be? May we all shout out that our faith means everything to us. Not that we can have any righteousness in and of ourselves but that only which is in faith in Christ, But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 1 Cor 1:30.
Faith-Vision Look away from sordid surroundings. Turn your eyes to behold Me. Turn away from lack of beauty Only My face to see. Turn from the imperfections in you, And of those around you that you see Then you will have faith-vision, To see all you can do and desire in Me. In your impatience, My unfailing patience; In your unrest, behold My calm; In your lack and limitation, My perfection; Always present My healing balm. Looking at Me, you will grow like Me Until men of you say, That you have been with Jesus; That you walk with Him today. As you grow like Me, you will be enabled To do the things I do, And yet even greater works than these Oh realise this is true. From that place of abiding, Realise this very hour. That you are not limited But endued with an all-conquering, all miracle-working power. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank for You for Your gift of faith. I declare that my faith means everything to me. May my life reflect this in all I think, speak and do. Help me to constantly turn my face toward You that men may say of me – that I walk with You today. In the name of Christ. Amen.