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How to Believe

 

It is important to remember that God is the one who grants us faith. He is the author and finisher of our faith. A methodology or a technique can never give us faith. The purpose of the subjects in this chapter is to help us cooperate with the faith God has already given us and learn obedience through trusting and believing from the heart.

New age and humanistic philosophy always lead us to trust in ourselves. We should never do that. We should trust Jesus Christ and Him alone. We simply want to learn what Biblical believing means and how to believe and trust on a heart level.

The Biblical idea of the word “believe” is much different than modern Western man’s definition. Let’s look at the modern definition of what it means to believe. Next, we will look at the Biblical view of what it means to believe. Then we will talk about how to believe.

Webster defines the word believe as “to have religious conviction, to accept as true, to hold an opinion, to consider to be true or honest”. Our modern understanding of the word is this: for a person to acknowledge something as being true would be to “believe it”. Do you believe the earth is round? Do you believe the sky is blue? Do you believe that God is real? If you answer “yes” to these questions, then most people would say that you believe these things to be true.

 
Biblical Belief Illustrated
 

There once was a man who fastened a tight rope across a water fall. As a crowd gathered around, he asked the crowd a question. “How many of you believe that I can walk across the tightrope and not fall?” About half of the crowd raised their hands. The man quickly scaled the ladder leading up to the tight rope. He then carefully placed his feet onto the rope and proceeded to walk across the tight rope with minimal effort. He made his way back to the crowd, climbed down the ladder and bowed his head as the crowd applauded.

Next, the man rolled out a wheelbarrow. He asked the crowd, “How many of you believe that I can walk across the tight rope while pushing the wheelbarrow across the rope?”

After seeing the skill of the man walk the tight rope the first time, over half of the crowd now raised their hands. A particular lady in the front row of the crowd had her hand enthusiastically raised. The man pointed to her and said, “Ma’am, since you believe that I can do this, please now…take your seat inside the wheelbarrow while I push it across the waterfall.”

Again, Romans 10:10 tells us “…with the heart man believes…” The word “believe” in scripture is the Greek word “pisteuo”. The root of this word means to trust.

To truly believe something, we must first accept the idea as true in our heads, but then we must go on to also trust with our hearts. Our modern idea of believing often leaves out trusting with our heart. The Bible doesn’t make this mistake. It is understood in scripture that when someone believes, they are trusting with the heart as well.

Jesus says in John 3, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” To only mentally acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God is not Biblical belief. Many people mentally acknowledge Jesus, but there is no following of Jesus and no repentance in their lives. They are not believing with a Biblical definition of believing which includes trusting with the heart.

In Luke 14:33, Jesus says “You cannot be my disciple unless you give up all your possessions.” If you believe, it will have with that belief complete trust, and the actions that demonstrate that trust will follow. The lady who said she believed the man could push the wheelbarrow across the tight rope, really didn’t believe he could do it, in a Biblical sense. She didn’t believe to the point of trusting whole heartedly. If she did, she could have sat in the wheelbarrow and enjoyed the ride.

Jesus equated believing in Him with following Him and doing what He said (Matt. 7:21-23, Lk. 18:22). When Jesus said to the disciples “Come follow Me,” they left their nets and followed Him. They left everything to follow Jesus and they did it immediately. Did they take their families along? No (Luke 18:28). Did they book hotels for several days ahead to make sure they had a place to stay? No (Matt. 8:20). Did they ask their wives for permission? No (Luke 9:61). Did they wait until they had enough in their retirement account to quit work so they could be full timers? No. One person said to Jesus, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matt. 8:21, 22). The disciples left everything immediately and followed Jesus because they believed. Whole hearted trusting with action defines Biblical believing.

Picture yourself at your job tomorrow afternoon. A beggar looking man in scraggly clothes barges into your place of work and says to everyone, “Please drop everything, quit your job, don’t go home, do everything I say, give your entire life to me, come follow me wherever I go, and do it all right now.” Would you do it? If you truly believed with all your heart that he was God you would. I hope you would. This was the situation presented to the disciples and they followed Jesus because they believed and trusted from the heart.

 
The Activity of Believing
 

Let’s transition now and talk about actually how to believe. Before you read the rest of this chapter, I urge you to find a quite room with no distractions. Turn off the phone from ringing and make sure you have at least fifteen minutes with nothing to do or no one needing your attention. The rest of this chapter is meant to be read slowly while practicing the thoughts that are introduced. If you read the rest of this chapter only as an observer and not as a participant it will defeat the purpose of what’s been written.

From our previous chapter, we know that it is foundational to have the fear of God by believing the inevitable coming consequences of sin and secondly, to believe the gospel. As we start to talk about how to actually believe these things Biblically – wholeheartedly and with trusting, an easy example will help us.

Let me ask you, are you sitting in a chair or on a couch while reading this? If you are not in a chair or on a couch already, please sit in a chair or on a couch. You probably were not conscious of the chair you are currently sitting on until I pointed it out to you. Furthermore, I’m sure you were not even thinking about the fact that the chair you are sitting in is holding you up and is suspending your weight. Even though you were totally unaware of the chair holding you up, you were trusting that the chair would do so. In fact, you were so trusting in the chair to hold you up, that you sat in it comfortably with no concern or fear that you would fall. You performed the action of sitting and staying in the chair because you believed the chair would hold you up and you did all of this unconsciously.

What I want you to do now, and you may have already started doing it, is to become conscious of the chair holding you up. In other words, I want you to simply realize what is already true about the chair. This is a very important point about how to believe. I want you to take a moment and realize that the chair is holding you up. It is already true and you don’t have to make it happen. Whether you believe it or not, conscious of it or not, the fact that the chair is holding you up is a reality. It was already a reality even when you weren’t thinking about it or focusing on it.

Stay with me because we are building up to a point. Let’s look at a second analogy. Imagine a relative or a friend calling you on the phone and telling you that they wanted to give you a gift of five thousand dollars. Let’s say that they told you that they had already deposited the money into your bank account for you earlier this morning before they called you. The money is there in your account. You now have five thousand dollars that you didn’t have yesterday. Let’s say that you now hang up the phone and you decide that what they said on the phone was true. If you believed the fact that there is now five thousand dollars deposited into your account, you would begin to feel different inside. Can you imagine such a scenario and how you would feel different inside? The key is this: because of the phone call, you realized it was true. After realizing that you have an additional five thousand dollars in your bank account, you may begin to dream about how you are going to spend it. You might think about how thankful you are for your relative or friend. Because you believed the phone call and realized in your heart it was true, you may even start writing checks on the five thousand today – yet you haven’t seen the money, the bank has not confirmed it, nor have you seen any statements from the bank.

At the moment you move over in your heart to realize that the money was in the account, you’ve believed from the heart and with trust. Your realization that the money has been deposited into your bank account affects and changes your experience and actions. Before the phone call even came, the money was already deposited into your account, yet you didn’t realize it or believe it. Once you got the call and realized it was deposited, you began to feel different inside. Even though it was true that the money was in the account that morning, until you got the phone call and realized it as true, it did you no good. Your experience changed because of only one thing – your realization that it was true.

Realization is an important part of believing and trusting. Realization is key because Biblical believing is never making something true that is not already true. It is never forceful. Believing and trusting the things of God are simply realizing that they are already true. With the chair illustration, we realized that the chair had already been holding us up. With the bank account illustration, we realized that the money had already been put into our account.

Let’s take one benefit of the good news we’ve already discussed and apply it. You are clean before God. Because of the blood of Jesus, when God sees you, you are white as snow. You have a clean slate and you’ve been washed. Let’s take this one truth of the gospel and learn how to believe it and trust in it.

Just like the chair and just like the money in the bank, God has already finished his work for us on the cross. It is already done. He has already poured His love out for us. We are already forgiven. These things are applied to us and received by us by realizing them and therefore believing them. As we realize that they are already true, we believe and trust, therefore we receive them and enter into the experience of them. Just like when we realized the five thousand dollars was already in our bank account, we began to experience it as so.

The chair was holding you up, even before you realized it. Jesus paid for the sins of entire world, but most people do not believe it and therefore they do not receive the benefit of it. One more time, because of what Jesus did on the cross, all things in God are already finished, we just have to realize them in our hearts. This is faith.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Take some time to examine the fact that you are already clean before God. This is currently your condition. You may want to say it out loud a couple of times. Be sure to focus only on this one reality. Distractions will come. Let them go and turn back to looking at the fact that you are already clean in God’s eyes. Just like you realized that the chair was already supporting you, realize that you are already clean before God. Don’t try to make it true, just very gently let down to the fact that it is already true. Very gently let your heart flip over to agree with the fact that this is real. This is a very simple letting go in your heart to what is real. If you stay with it long enough and keep looking at what is already true concerning this reality, you will begin to trust it as true with your heart. It may take time. Looking at this and spending time realizing it may need to become a frequent activity and a theme in your life for a season.

 
The Closed or Open Heart
 

There is another picture that describes what the heart does when it believes. Think of your heart as it were a fist. The closed hand in the shape of a fist is like a hard, unbelieving heart. It is tight, bound up, not open, rigid, and not yielded. What would you have to do to your fist in order for it to be open, soft, and able to receive something? With a closed fist, we relax the hand in order for it to become open. The action the heart takes when it trusts and believes is very similar to relaxing. In the same way, we are to relax into what it is we are believing, in order to believe it. We could easily say that when we truly realize that we are clean before God, we have relaxed our heart into that reality. It is very much a letting down action. It’s like sinking into a warm tub of water. In the inner-man we are to let down to, sink into, realize, and gently yield to the reality of what is already true in God.

 
The Object of Our Trust
 

In the previous chapter, “Two Foundational Pillars”, we talked about several truths contained in the gospel message. Let’s go ahead and list them again briefly here.

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, you are no longer guilty in God’s eyes (Heb 9:14).

You are free from having to live under the Old Testament law (Rom 3:28).

God has already come to you and is with you and will never leave you (Heb 13:5).

You are in Him and He is in you (I Cor. 1:30, Col 1:27).

You have life eternal (Rom 6:23).

God has chosen us before the foundations of the world

(2 Thes. 2:13).

You are right before God and clean before God. We have all of the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

God’s loves us. You are the object of His love, kindness, and affection (Eph 2:4).

You are a son or daughter of the King (Rom 8:14).

You are a member of the family of God. You are part of a huge family with many brothers and sisters all over the globe, made up of those who are alive and those who have already died in Christ (Mark 10:30, Heb. 12:1).

Your spirit and the Spirit of the living God are one (1 Cor. 6:17).

You have been set apart for God and His purposes (Eph. 2:10).

Jesus is our source of spiritual food and water. His life is satisfies our souls (John 6:35,51).

 
All of these things are already true in God. You are invited to believe them. Have you taken the time in your life to realize that all of these things are true for you? You now have plenty of enjoyable homework that will last for several months.

This is by far not an all inclusive list. There are many other truths contained in the good news or that are a result of the good news.

As we do the activity of realizing and trusting in the eternal realities listed above, we are actually trusting in Christ Himself. Because Jesus is the truth, all of the eternal realities are in Jesus.

For example, the fact that we are clean before God is a truth that is only in Jesus Christ. The fact that we are the object of God’s kindness and love is a truth that is only in Jesus Christ. You can realize, believe, and trust in any of the above eternal realities and it will bring you into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Look at the list above as a spring board into the Kingdom. As you engage in the activity of trusting in any particular eternal reality, and as your heart lets down to realize and therefore experience that particular reality, you will find yourself in agreement with God. As you are in humble agreement with God, and while you are setting your mind on things of the Spirit, you will suddenly find yourself in fellowship with the Lord Himself.

 
You Are a Son
 

Let’s look at the eternal reality that you are a son of God. Feel free to substitute the word “daughter” here if you are a female. As you sit in stillness to focus on this one reality and spend the time necessary to truly realize this as already being true about you, the Holy Spirit may encourage you in other things that are related. You may begin to experience things such as: belonging to your Father, God’s possessive and jealous heart toward you, being truly cherished, being known by your Father, having a special place in your Father’s house, etc. All of these things are very personal and intimate between you and the Father.

As you taste and experience these things you will actually be tasting and experiencing the living God Himself and how He sees you and feels about you in “real time.” When I say “real time” I am saying that you won’t be remembering what you’ve read or heard concerning how He feels about you, but you will be in His presence and experiencing how He feels and thinks about you in this very moment. This is truly wonderful and it is a critical need for us all to know the Lord in this way.

I understand that this all may be very foreign to you and it can be difficult to understand. But as you learn to trust and spend time doing the activity described in this chapter, you will become very familiar with your heart and what going on in the spiritual places.

As you practice this activity you will be developing spiritual discernment. Not only will you be training your senses for what is going on spiritually with yourself, but you will also be developing a skill set to be much more sensitive to spiritual realities and spiritual dynamics in general.

Let me remind you also that this takes time. Especially if you have not done much of this kind of activity, it will take longer. Don’t get discouraged. The Holy Spirit, who is called our Helper, will definitely be helping you.

The wonderful thing about believing and trusting with the heart is that the more you do it, the more ground you gain. Even if your capacity and ability to believe and trust is the size of a thimble, if you practice and use what you do have, your faith will increase and God will give you more capacity and more depth of heart. Your capacity may be small in certain areas and with certain particular truths, but that’s perfectly OK.

The activity described in this chapter of how to believe is critical. Plenty of Christians have very little experience of the Lord, but have plenty of concepts. All relationships are experiential and a thing of the heart. A relationship with God is no different. You can read a book and hear teachings for years about how wonderful your spouse is and how much they love you. But until you experience and taste of their heart toward you, you really don’t know them, you only know things about them.

Spend plenty of time with learning to realize and trust. You may want to go back and read about the exercise of how to believe a few times. You are training your heart to yield and to let go. Once you get good at letting go and believing, you will gain ground in believing all of the truths in God.

Trusting and believing is a heart action. Trusting is much more than having an idea that things will be OK, or an idea that someone will take care of us, or even an idea or thought that some particular outcome will happen. As we engage in realizing and trusting a moment in time, we can maintain that posture of trusting all throughout the day. We will talk about abiding or continuing to walk in trust in a later chapter.

 
What Comes From What
 

Believing and trusting in God in the Biblical sense is the foundational activity we are to do as Christians (John 6:28, 29). Everything flows out of it.

Picture a funnel with the large opening at the top and the very small opening of the funnel at the bottom. Out of the top of the funnel flow our words, our actions, and our choices. The opening at the top of the funnel is big because we have many words, actions, and choices. As you travel down the funnel and it gets narrower, we can see that our many words, actions, and choices come from a more limited amount of attitudes, emotions, and thought patterns. As you travel down to the smallest part of the funnel, we can see that our attitudes, emotions, and thought patterns come out of a very small number of things we are believing and trusting in at any one point in time.

To summarize:

Our many words, actions, and choices

come out of:

A more limited number of attitudes, emotions, and thought patterns

which come out of:

A very few number of things we are believing and trusting in at any given moment.

For example, if at the bottom of the funnel we believe and trust that food will provide us with comfort, then it will affect our attitudes about food, and ultimately the many choices we make during the day to eat a lot of food or a little.

If at the bottom of the funnel we believe that people and relationships will cause us pain, then we will have attitudes and emotions that people are negative or that we don’t have time for people in our life. We then will make choices of isolation and probably only maintain shallow relationships.

If we believe that bad things tend to happen to us as an individual and that we are basically sabotaged with everything we do in life, then we will have attitudes and emotions of negativism, self-hatred, and fear. This will lead to choices of passivity, self-protection, and prevention.

The point is this: The scripture says in Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” We want to target the bottom of the funnel. The bottom of the funnel is where we believe from the heart concerning the core issues of life. If we are believing God and the truth of the gospel, then it will affect everything else in our lives.

If we believe the gospel that we are clean before God, that He earnestly desires to be with us, and that the God of all creation is in love with us – then we will eagerly open our hearts and emotions to Him. As the living Spirit of God fills our hearts and we are closely relating to Him as a result, we will experience the vitality of His life, power, joy, and strength. We will find ourselves full of His love for others, and fear and anxiety will not drive our daily choices.

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