Believing God

Would you behave any differently if you were truly convinced that I AM?

When I was asked that question by the Living God I immediately knew He was not asking me if I believed IN Him (whether He existed or not), but rather if I BELIEVED Him…

  • Did I BELIEVE He was Who He said He was?
  • Did I BELIEVE what He said?
  • Did I BELIEVE He, alone, was God?
  • Did I BELIEVE He was actually running things, that He was in charge, that He was in control?

And, as a result, did I live accordingly? Did I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? Did I truly trust Him? Did I lean on Him with all my weight? Did I come to Him for… everything?

To believe in (a) God is quite different from BELIEVING God

Every man, woman and child can be associated with one of just two groups, based on his or her reaction to any declaration that begins with, “God says…” (“Thus saith the LORD”, “It is written…”, “Jesus said…”, etc).

Group 1 is by far the largest and most popular group and is comprised of those individuals whose responses range from:

  • “Nonsense! That’s ridiculous!”
  • “You are a nut case!”
  • “There is no God!”
  • “Did God really say…?”
  • “Was it actually God that said…”
  • “He may have said that, but what did He really mean?”

Group 2 members are easy to identify. They are the ones who respond like hungry laborers to a dinner bell, and thirsty travelers to a cup of water.

While a person from Group 1 is busy determining if he or she can possibly be in general agreement with such outlandish claims, a person from Group 2 responds with, ‘Tell me! Tell me! What did He say?’

Everything will be revealed… so hear it!

And He (Jesus) said to them (his disciples), ‘Does one bring a lamp to be put under a basket or under a bed? Should it not be put on a lampstand? For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, and nothing secret that will not be discovered. If a man has an ear to hear, let him hear.’ And he said to them, ‘Take heed what you hear; that measure in which you are measuring is measured to you, and it is increased to you who hear. For whoever has it, it shall be given to him; and whoever does not have it, from him shall be taken even that which he has.’ Mark 4:21-25

This passage has been explained to mean all kinds of things over the years, where not hiding your lamp has something to do with being religiously courageous (e.g., proudly telling others where you go to church), where taking heed what you hear is some kind of warning about being cautious about which religious TV, video, radio, podcast or pulpit personalities you listen to, follow, etc., and where it will be given to him who has is a justification for heaping up treasures unto yourselves here on Earth… all so you can get more!

But what did He say? Jesus had just explained to His disciples the parable of the Sower and the Seed, revealing to them the Seed is the WORD of God. The WORD of God is the LIGHT; the light of truth, the light of men, the light of the world. God had brought the SEED, the WORD, the LIGHT, the LAMP to the world, not to be put under a basket or bed, but on a lampstand.

He told His disciples, the lampstands (Who were you thinking the lampstands were?), that their ears were given to them for HEARING that WORD of God. He told them everything would be revealed, so HEAR it!

That measure in which you are measuring… is measured to you. He said that the ATTENTION that you pay to that WORD is the ATTENTION that the WORD will pay to you!

Whoever has… The seeds sown in the good ground are those who HEAR the WORD, RECEIVE the WORD and YIELD fruit: some thirty fold, some sixty fold and some an hundred fold! 

Whoever does not have it, from him shall be taken… Every branch that beareth not fruit shall be cut off…

It is all about the hearing…

But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. Deuteronomy 29:4

Why is hearing so important?

The heart of this people has become hard, their hearing they have dulled and their eyes they have shut, lest they shall see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand in their hearts and turn to me and I would forgive them. Acts 28:27

Do you hear what I hear?

Whoever has an ear, let him hear… Matthew 11:15, Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23, Mark 7:16, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35, Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, Revelation 3:6,13,22

What did Abraham hear? God told childless Abraham that he would have an heir:

…your son who proceeds from your loins, he will be your heir…Look into Heaven and count the stars, if you can number them. So your seed shall be. Genesis 15:4-5

What did Abraham do with what he heard?

Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23

Note what is NOT written concerning Abraham…

  • It is NOT written that Abraham, upon hearing this astonishing declaration, first checked with his wife to see if she thought it was okay to believe God…
  • It is NOT written that Abraham first had long discussions with God in order to find a compromise between the ludicrous and unreasonable claim God was making and the more pragmatic, logical, scientific and evidence-based approach that could be taken by he and his wife…
  • It is NOT written that Abraham first doubted God and then, after years of exhaustive study, he eventually came to believe…
  • It is NOT written that Abraham first discussed what he should believe with his priest, pastor, counselor or psychiatrist…
  • It is NOT written that Abraham wrote the whole thing off as deception, seeing as how God no longer spoke directly with men, at least not like He did back in Bible days, because now God chose to work through politicians, doctors, scientists and credentialed experts…

As I reflect on the words men speak and witness the lives they lead it is apparent that they do not believe God regarding much of anything. And, from their actions, they certainly don’t believe that He is in control, at least, not directly.

People who would vigorously nod affirmatively when asked if they believe in the theological notion of the Sovereignty of God (yet another popular religious phrase which never appears in the Scriptures) are the very ones who will turn to anything but God alone to explain the world around them and resolve their problems.

If men believe God to be in charge of anything (if they even acknowledge God to exist), they live their lives as though they believe God must be governing from a place far, far away with His mind clearly on something other than mere mortals. So distant and so removed is He from their day to day activities, it is not unreasonable to believe He has busied Himself with other tasks and left the job to someone else. Perhaps He has abandoned mankind altogether? Or perhaps He has delegated the whole operation to others to handle, as He is busy. Regardless, it is up to man to solve his own problems. “After all,” they insist, “God gave us a mind!”

In their minds, the God of all creation, the I Am That I Am, is not all that, at least not anymore. He may have been at one time, back in the old days, back when He interacted directly with men. Back when men may have needed Him. But everything changed, men grew wise in their own eyes and their inventions, and their imaginings of technology and science and governance replaced their need for God.

Man now believes that he is in control of things. And if he, personally, isn’t in control at the moment he knows that there are others out there who are in probably in control of things. They must be, after all, for we are all in this together. Therefore, we have (or someone has) it all under control.

Unbelief or Idolatry?

For those that want to have their cake (for display purposes, only) and eat it, too (’cause that’s what cakes are for); for those who do not believe God but need to selectively appear to others as though they do, there is a sophisticated exercise they can perform:

It is called idolatry, the clever replacement of God, public or private, with idols of one’s own choosing.

This is not your father’s idolatry, mind you. There will be none of that silly bowing down before papier maché-constructed faces with plates full of fruit. This is much more sophisticated… it is much better suited to today’s science-based and evidence-based minds.

In this neo-idolatry a nebulous, impersonal god may be acknowledged to have some form of interest in or governance over certain aspects of the lives of men (perhaps unobservedly and imperceptibly so) and elects to work indirectly through people and circumstances. This god mystically expands and contracts to suit the needs of the moment.

It is a rather brilliant belief system as it permits one to quasi-believe in any god of one’s own imaginings while still loosely or directly assigning causation and/or credit to one’s institutions of choice. In other words: one doesn’t have to BELIEVE God to believe in (a) god.

If the god I believe IN (for today, at least) wouldn’t harm a fly, I can ascribe all fly-harming events to the devil, or to the {insert object of hatred, here} (e.g., the Left, the Right, the Government, the useless eaters, the 1%, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, White people, Black people, etc).

In the event my primary belief lets me down, where it doesn’t provide satisfactory explanation(s), I can hold a backup belief. An example might be that my envisioned god, who wouldn’t harm a fly, may have just allowed a fly-harming event to occur because {fill in reasoning, here}. Or maybe that nasty fly really deserved it! Of course, should it ever be necessary, I can always deploy the ultimate backup belief: the occurrence of the unfortunate fly-harming event was probably due to bad luck (the fly was in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Regardless, I can go on doing whatever I was going to do anyway and still feel good about my so-called faith (aka, my idolatrous belief system) because I have a trite explanation for events that might otherwise have demanded my serious consideration. 

When things go well, my pet god be praised (along with members of the academy, mom and dad, and whoever else I may benefit from by flattering)!

For example, when someone suffers an illness, after recovery the expanded god team is sent the credit and praise for this person’s restoration to health. That team may include, but not be limited to, the medical facilities, prescribed medications, my General Practitioner, three Specialists, hospital nursing staff and Auntie May’s chicken soup.

When an earthquake and its aftershocks devastate a city, razing most of the buildings to the ground, and a quarter of the inhabitants are killed, and most of those who remain alive are suffering harm in some form or another, physical or mental, all the religious types start in with the fly-harming event explanations.

To be fair, in order for anyone to have a chance to believe God they would have to first acknowledge what God has said…about Himself…about the world around them…about anything…about everything.

Start at the start

God is Who He is. Settle this issue once and for all. You either believe God or you don’t. If you say you do, beware the deceptiveness of idolatry. Don’t replace what God has said with something you feel is more palatable, more believable, less offensive or will cause less controversy. Stop making excuses for Him.

God instructed Moses to tell all of Israel:

There shall not be another god for you apart from Me! Deuteronomy 6:7

The Psalmist declared:

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Psalm 113:5-9

Who is in control of all things? In the message God gave to Amos the herdsman we read:

Is there evil in the city the LORD Jehovah has not done? Amos 3:6

Just how many gods did you think were running things?

And He will say: ‘Where are their gods, the mighty ones those upon which they were trusting?’, for they were eating the fat of their sacrifices and they were drinking the wine of their drink offerings; let them arise now and let them help you and they shall be protectors over you. See, therefore, that I AM The Living God, and there is no God apart from me; I am putting to death and I am making alive; I am striking and I am healing, and there is none who escapes from my hands. Therefore I have lifted my hands over Heaven and I have said: ‘I live to eternity.’ I shall sharpen the point of my sword like lightning and my hand shall seize on judgment; I shall return a reward to those hating me and I shall finish my enemies. Deuteronomy 32:37-41

There is only one of Him, and He is in charge of everything!

I am LORD Jehovah, and there is no other. Outside of me there is no God…I formed light and I created darkness; I made peace and I created evil! Isaiah 45:5,7

Who are you trusting in?

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in men… It is better to trust in the LORD than to put your trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9

…and again:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Do you believe?

…but there are men among you who do not believe’, for Jesus himself knew from the first who they were who were not believing and who he was who would betray him. And he said to them, ‘Because of this, I said to you that no man can come to me unless it has been given to him from my Father.’ John 6:64-65

Has it been given to you? Then…

Do not fear; only believe. Mark 5:36

Jesus told Nicodemus:

For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world that he would condemn the world, but that he would give life to the world by him. Whoever believes in him is not judged, and whoever does not believe is judged already, because he does not believe in The Name of The Only Begotten Son of God. This is the judgment: The Light has come into the world and the children of men loved the darkness more than The Light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does what is hateful, hates The Light and does not come to The Light, lest his works should be convicted. But he who does The Truth comes to The Light, so that his works may be revealed, that they are performed by God.  John 3:16-21

He told the crowds:

Enter the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is spacious which leads to destruction, and many are those who are going in it. How narrow is the gate and strict the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it! Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus said to his followers:

…And if the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. And if you had been from the world, the world would have loved its own; but you are not from the world, but I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I have spoken to you, that there is no servant greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they have kept my word, they will also keep yours. They will do all these things among you because of my name, because they do not know him who has sent me. If I did not come speaking with them, they would have no sin, but now there is no covering for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also.  John 15:18-23

John wrote:

Do not love the world, neither the things that are in it, for whoever loves the world does not have the love of The Father in him. For everything that is in the world: the desire of the body and the lust of the eyes and the pride of temporal life, these are not from The Father but these are from the world. The world is passing and its lust, but he who does the will of God continues for eternity.  1John 2:15-17

Jesus told Pilate:

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting that I would not have been delivered up to the Judeans; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.  John 18:36

In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus had said:

If a person is not born again, it is impossible for that one to see the Kingdom of God…If a person is not born from water and The Spirit, it is impossible that he shall enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born from flesh is flesh, and that which is born from The Spirit is spirit. John 3:3,5-6

Paul told the believers in Rome:

For The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in The Spirit of Holiness.

And to the believers at Philippi he wrote:

But our business, our concern is with Heaven and from there we look for The Life Giver, Our Lord Jesus The Messiah. Philippians 3:20