In my line of work I often get to brief military capabilities of the future. Most of the time those proposed capabilities are unproven or not demonstrated. We make assessments and predictions based on projected performance, analysis or educated guesses. So I get challenged when I suggest a given capability will give the military what they need for success. They just don’t believe because they haven’t seen it. My typical response is “just push the I BELIEVE button.” I could present a very persuasive argument about the technical maturation based on ongoing research and analysis or… I could show them examples of similar previously demonstrated capabilities or… I could give a lecture on the application of practical and quantum physics that support said technology… I think you get the idea. I have tried all those and I can tell you that the argument doesn’t work. There will always be those that aren’t convinced based on the evidence. What works best is when I have built a trust and confidence with the group participants over time and they can easily “push the IBELIEVE button.” Call it trust and confidence based on them knowing who I am. Do you know it works the same way with God and the Kingdom of Heaven? Under the old covenant our relationship with God was based on us doing. We were given a law that defined our relationship. Our side of the bargain was to obey the law. God’s side of the bargain was to bless or curse us based on our compliance. Under the new covenant things are very different. God does it all. Check out Hebrews, specifically chapters 8-10. Jesus became our substitution so we could receive what He deserves and He received what we deserved. Our only obligation is to believe. Yep that is it. Believe. Jesus says it plainly
John 6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
This drastic change in relationship is the difference between law and Grace. Under law it is all about our works. It is all about our “doing.” Under Grace it is about God’s works not ours. Under law it is all about our doing to demonstrate belief. Under Grace it is all about believing in what He has done. But still we as humans seem to think we know better. We can’t accept that God has done all that He says He has done. We want to add something to what He has already accomplished. Likewise we don’t believe what He says because we haven’t seen it. It is very much a “prove it” relationship. Under Grace we are told to lead with believing not proving.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)
I have friends that say things like “that isn’t real” or “that’s not real life” or other kinds of things when I talk about trusting God and Him providing through His power of Grace. In their defense, based on their experience, these kinds of statements are probably true for them. If you have never seen anyone healed you might say that God doesn’t heal people today. If you haven’t seen someone delivered from addiction you would say that it is our responsibility to get well not God’s. If you haven’t seen someone set free from reoccurring sin you would say they aren’t trying hard enough instead of seeing the power of a transformed, born-again experience. The list goes on and on. I could probably provide a persuasive argument based on research and documented evidence (apologetics) but I can tell you that doesn’t work. My words won’t persuade them. This is what works:
Mark 9:23-25 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (ESV)
Only God can increase your belief. You have to “push the I BELIEVE button” with God. This requires that you actually trust Him and believe in who He is. The enemy attacks at the very root of that pursuit. He says that God is mean and angry. God says He is love, He is good and merciful. Which will you believe? God says He loves you unconditionally. God says He is Provision. God says He is Grace. God says He gave His only Son Jesus who finished it all on the cross. God says we are empowered by His Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. God says a lot about who He is. We tend to read the Bible as an analyst looking for what God’s position is on a particular topic instead of looking for who He is, what is in His heart, what is His nature. This analytic approach to God is like my military capabilities audience. They don’t believe and for the most part can’t be convinced. If we, however were to seek we would find. If we were to knock He would open the door. If we were to ask it would be given to us (Matt 7:7). What should we be seeking? God Himself, who He is not His position on a topic. When we know who God is we develop trust in Him. When we trust Him we can believe in what He says without hesitation. We can believe in what He says because of who He is. If you are a born-again child of God, He has already written His nature, His laws of love on our hearts (Heb ch 8, 10). When we believe in Him we unlock the door to His nature which is already resident in our hearts. It isn’t something you learn. It is something He does. We begin to think with the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). We begin to see as He sees. Our entire paradigm shifts. We become like children again amazed at the wonderful works of God. We are no longer held captive by our human reason or wisdom. Paul addresses this very issue to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:21-25). Hear the voice of God in these verses:
Jn 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “ Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “ My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (ESVST)
Can you “hear” the intimacy? Can you feel God’s heart? He is crying out for us to believe in what He says beyond what we see. He declares that believing what God says is not optional. It is our very life…
Matthew 4:4 MSG Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
We grow in faith when we hear about the goodness of God in Jesus. He is the concrete evidence of God’s love for us. In knowing His love we know to trust Him so we can believe Him as we know Him. It is a beautiful picture of our intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven.
Romans 10:17 (ERB) Hence, our faith, cometh by something heard, and, that which is heard, through a declaration of Christ.
Our experience is limited only by our believing. In God’s Kingdom, in our Grace relationship believing is first. From believing flows the abundance of Grace. One quick and easy example. Say you get angry at one of your co-workers on a regular basis. You know in your heart that this anger isn’t right. So you have two options: 1. Try and not be angry because you know being angry is wrong. You dedicate all your effort to being nice to this person no matter what happens. I bet you get angry within the first 5 minutes you are at work. If not outwardly, inwardly you have contempt towards them because you are so busy trying not to be angry at them. 2. Believe what God has says. He says you are a new creation with a new nature. He says that the Holy Spirit is in you. He says you are led by the Spirit if you are a child of God. He says that He is in you and you are living His life and He is greater than anything in the world (including anger). He says that He is love. He says that He loves even this co-worker. He says that He died for this co-worker. He says He died for you so you could love this co-worker. Now just surrender to what He has said and ask the Holy Spirit to love this person through you. Now believe it is true without doubting. God loves you so much that He absolutely will deliver on His promises. God cannot lie. I bet you go way beyond anger and arrive at love for this person. Take a chance and push the “I BELIEVE” button. Believe that God provides for you not to prove His love but because of His love. That is who He is, believe it. Yay God! Lance