WHEN FAITH IS UNBELIEVING
If you were around at the time Christ walked the shores of Galilee and heard Him, would you have believed Him? What about if you grew up with Him, would you have believed Him? Statistically, if had grown in the family home of Jesus, where you would have witnessed first-hand the most perfect life ever lived, you probably would not have believed what Christ was claiming!
John 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Amazingly, the very half-brothers of Jesus did not believe Him! Imagine that! They grew up with Jesus. They saw Him up close. They would have known He was different. In fact, they even believed that He could do miracles!
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do." John 7:3
Fancy that! They grew up with Jesus and had the unique privilege of seeing the only sinless life the world has ever hosted. They witnessed His miracles. They saw Him pray. They were reminded of His supernatural birth every time they walked past the chests of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Yet they didn't believe Him!
Belief is eternally critical. The Apostle John sums up his gospel by telling why he wrote it-.
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Even though the half-brothers of Jesus believed their brother was different and that He could do miracles, they didn't believe in Jesus Himself. To believe in Jesus is to place your trust in Him as your worship-worthy Saviour. It is not merely to pay mental assent to something.
The Apostle Paul wrote that right belief was absolutely essential for salvation. Unless you believe correctly, you will not be saved-
and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
We notice the wonderful insight that the Apostle gifts to us: right belief is steadfast belief. It is a belief that we must "hold fast to." To put it another way, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians-
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News...
Colossians 1:23 (NLT)
The only kind of belief that is genuinely able to save, is not a belief that Jesus was different, or even that He was a miracle worker - it is the belief that results in trusting surrender to Christ as Saviour and Lord. Remember John 3:16? Remember what Jesus said was the only way to have everlasting life in that verse? Whoever believes... Do you believe? It'll be obvious if you do because it will be the kind of belief that is steadfast. It'll endure. It'll grind it out as well as triumph. Notice what the Bible says about this belief in First Corinthians 15:2- it is continually fueled and fed by the preaching of the Word - hold fast to the Word I preached to you. This is why the message of belief is not our appeal to those outside of the Church. Because steadfast, enduring, immovable belief is the only genuine belief it is absolutely imperative we give ourselves regularly to hearing and heeding the preaching of the Word of God. Little wonder the New Testament commands to believers not to forsake gathering together each week for the assembling of the church.
As a postscript, at least two of the half-brothers of Christ, who John goes out of his way to tell us "did not believe", were graced by the resurrected Christ with the gift of belief. One of them was James and he wrote that only steadfast was 'perfect' faith-
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The other was Jude who wrote that the only kind of saving faith was the kind of belief that kept itself in the love of God-
But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
For heaven's sake, keep believing!
Father, help us to believe. Guard us against those things that seek to attack our faith. Help us to fuel and feed our faith in You. Give us increasing reasons to believe. May we walk as worthy believers and be used by You to help others to come to saving belief. As we meet Sunday by Sunday and Wednesday by Wednesday in our home groups, strengthen our belief in You and Your Word. Give us a burden for those who do not believe. Help us to pray for the lost more effectively. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ps. Andrew