1. Discussion Questions
  2. Is it reasonable to believe the Bible?
  3. Knowing is not believing
  4. How did we get the Bible?
  5. Do you know why God gave us the Bible?
  6. How To Read and Correctly Interpret the Bible
  7. Bibliography of New Testament

KNOWING IS NOT BELIEVING

KNOWING VS. BELIEVING

There is a profoundly important difference between knowing and believing. The difference is pertinent to what I want to bring into focus here. Let me explain.

To “ know” is to be cognizant or aware of, to comprehend, to understand, to recognize, to identify.

To “ believe” is to accept as true, to credit (somebody) with truthfulness, to trust in, to have confidence in a statement or a promise of (another person), to have faith.

To “ know” is definition in the head; to “ believe” is believing in the heart.

From “ Is it reasonable to believe that the Bible is the word of God?” you have good reason to “ know” that it is reasonable to believe that the Bible is the Word of God. You are now aware of the historical evidence and understand the genuineness of the documents. You recognize the validity of the reasoning.

  • Is it your desire to accept the Bible as being true?
  • Are you willing to begin putting confidence in what it says?
  • Will you take a step of faith in that direction?

According to the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament:

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Remember – “what you believe determines your behavior!”

Will you believe the Word of God – not merely an intellectual assent, but in a hearing and trusting form of believing?

Simply put – Will you believe God?

Through appealing to your intellect and reason, you have been shown the validity of accepting the Bible to be the Word of God. Unfortunately, it is not possible to believe the Bible’s spiritual good news unless God enables you to do so, because Satan is blinding the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “…The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4)

Even Jesus’ disciples did not comprehend the Scriptures and they had personally heard Him teaching, and saw Him performing miracles, signs and wonders. It was not until after His resurrection that He opened their minds to understand.

“…then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”
(Luke 24:45)3

You need the Holy Spirit to believe spiritual truths.

“The man without the Spirit does not accept those things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”4 (I Cor. 2:14)

The good news is that Jesus said if you ask God for His Holy Spirit, He will give Him to you. Then you will be enabled not only to know, but to believe. Jesus said:

“How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:13)


I encourage you to take a moment to ask God, the Father, to give you His Holy Spirit so that you may see, hear, and believe Him. Then, as Paul writes, the Holy Spirit will renew your mind and begin a process to transform your life according to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for you.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”(Romans 12:2)

When you ask God to give you His Holy Spirit, He will. Do not be concerned about your doubts, they are normal and to be expected. If you ask Him – “God, would you please send your Holy Spirit to me so that I can believe in my heart what you have said in Your Word?” He will!

At that point, the dynamics of knowing and believing will work together as enabled to do so by God’s Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul describes this good news:

“If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

To confess is to acknowledge, to profess that which you know in your head and hold to.

To believe is believing in the heart and trust in what you know.

To confess and believe Jesus Christ and trust in Him as the Lord of your life is only through enlightenment enabled by God’s Spirit. The result is salvation, eternal life. Indeed, this is good news from God!

KNOWERS BUT NON-BELIEVERS

 

Following are examples of those who knew God, but did not believe Him, and of others who did believe Him, and the consequences of their believing or not believing.

Do you recall the story about Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis? What was their sin? What did they do that brought about expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind?

Was it the eating of the forbidden fruit? Not really.

Was it disobeying God’s instructions to “not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden . . . or you will die”? Not really. That was the result of their sin.

Their sin was that they did not believe God! Instead of believing God, Eve believed the serpent when he said, “You will not surely die.” Their behavior, their act of disobedience, the eating of the forbidden fruit, was determined by what they believed. They believed the serpent rather than God.

Did Adam and Eve believe in God? Yes. Did they know Him?  You bet they did!

Did they believe God? No! Not as it related to the forbidden fruit.

Do you believe in God? You do? Good. But there is more to it than that. Consider this scripture: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.” (James 2:19)

The critical question (the answer has eternal consequences) is, Do you believe Jesus?”

I am not being facetious when I say that to believe that Jesus is the Son of God simply qualifies one as an agent of the devil. You may recall that in the Gospels Jesus is greeted several times by persons possessed by evil spirits, agents of the devil. They recognized and identified Jesus and not only called Him by name but cried out loudly that they knew Jesus to be the Holy One of God, the Son of God.

“In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ’Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!’” (Luke 4:33, 34)

“When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. ‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’”
(Matthew 8:28, 29)

To believe Jesus is the Son of God is good. But as with Adam, Eve and these demon-possessed persons, there is much more to it than that to be a Christian.

Many among us are under the impression that believing Jesus to be the Son of God and believing that He did all the things recorded about Him in the Bible makes one a Christian. That is not so. That is knowing who Jesus is; that is identifying and recognizing Him. Christians are those who believe in Him and believe Him, who trust Jesus in what He said and what He did, who trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Peace and joy in this world and eternal life after death is given to those who not only confess Jesus is Who He said He is, but believe Him – believe what He said – a trusting form of believing. That means to credit Jesus with truthfulness and to have confidence and trust in His promises and statements.

An example of this is found in the story of the “royal official whose son lay sick.” He begged Jesus to come to his home and “heal his son who was close to death.” Jesus told him, “You may go. Your son will live.” The scripture continues, “The man took Jesus at His word” and his son was cured. (John 4:46-53)

That is what “believing” is. It means to take Jesus “at his word” – to believe Him.

Do you recall when Jesus was tempted three times by Satan in the desert?
(Luke 4) The devil offered Him the world, but did Jesus believe Satan? No!

Who did Jesus believe? He believed the Word of God. He took God at His word and quoted God – that is, the Scriptures that were inspired by God. He believed God and not the devil!

The Bible is the Word of God – it is the truth – and it says what it means and means what it says. The Scripture says that “anyone who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar.” (I John 5:10)

KNOWERS AND BELIEVERS

 

Noah believed God and built an ark to save his family. By his belief, he became an heir in righteousness with God.

Abraham believed God when God told him he would be the father of many nations and through his seed, redemption would come. “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6) (Ref. Romans 4:3)

Moses believed God, confronted Pharaoh, and led God’s people out of Egypt. He now enjoys glorious splendor in God’s kingdom. (Ref. Hebrews 11:24; Luke 9:30)
The Apostles believed Jesus and became the foundation of His church.
(Ref. Eph. 2:20)

Paul believed Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and was transformed form a persecutor of Christians to the Apostle of Jesus who took the good news of God’s grace to the Gentiles.

I believed God at age 43 and He transformed my life from conflict and tension to peace, joy and hope by assuring me that I will have eternal life! “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

WHY DID YOU COME TO EARTH, JESUS?

It certainly seems reasonable that you ought to know the purpose and intentions of someone before you consider believing and trusting him, even when you know his credentials are what he claims them to be. So, Jesus, why did You come to earth? – Here are His answers:

To fulfill prophecy (Matthew 5:17, 18)

To be a model, an example for us. (John 13:5; I Peter 2:21)

To tie the past to the future and thereby give us hope.
(Acts 2:25-28; Romans 5:2, 15:13)

Not to call the righteous but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)

“To seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

“While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

To pay the atoning penalty for my sins and ours thereby redeeming us.
(I John 2:2; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:24, 25)

To die as a sacrifice, as our “ Passover Lamb.” (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7)

“For judgment I have come into this world” (John 9:39)
Jesus will be the judge of the moral status and final destiny of mankind, however, judgment (condemnation) is not the primary objective that Jesus came.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.” (John 3:17-18)

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness . . . For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. (John 12:46, 47)

“I have come that they (us) may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This is the primary purpose Jesus came!
So you might believe God and have eternal life. (John 5:24)

In your search for truth -- true truth -- you can believe –- consider the profoundness of Jesus’ statement that He is the truth!

“I am the way – the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

The New Testament writers recorded eighty times when Jesus prefaced His remarks with the words, “I tell you the truth . . .”

Jesus came for you! When you believe Him you will have eternal life!

“I tell you the truth. He who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)

WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?

As with us, Jesus too has a question to ask.

One time near the end of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, when His notoriety was at its peak, He asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20: Mat. 16:15)

What is your response to Jesus’ question – “Who do you say I am?”

  • A person who truly walked the earth nearly two thousand years ago?
  • A holy man Who was a friend of the oppressed, the poor, the sinners?
  • An apostle of God, sent to do the will of God the father?
  • The One sent by God the Father to tell the World of God’s will for us to show us how we ought to live?
  • A Man Whom God sent with miracles, wonders and signs as His credentials?
  • God – made man – sent by God the Father to bring eternal life to those who believe Him?
  • The One sent by God to suffer and die to pay the atoning penalty forthe sins of those who will accept that payment as a free gift?
  • The chosen One of God, His Son, Who came to save you, to give you eternal life?
  • The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Who died that you might have eternal life and have it to the fullest?
  • Your Christ, your Messiah, your Lord, your personal Savior Who gave His life to give you eternal life if you will believe Him, trust Him and accept this gracious gift He is offering you?

Is your answer, “ All of the above”? Mine is.

Occasionally, someone will confidentially tell me that he will believe God one of these days, but not now because he has lots of garbage in his life which needs to be cleaned up first. If that describes your present frame of mind, there will never be a more opportune time to believe Jesus than right now. Acknowledgement of being a sinner and unable to get rid of all your garbage (there is always more to take out) is a step toward receiving Jesus as your personal Savior. Before you will accept a savior, it is logical that you must admit you need saving.

To receive the free gift of eternal life, tell God you need saving and that you will trust in, that is believe in, Jesus as your Savior.

As confirming evidence may I present the Apostle Paul’s testimony as “exhibit A” In writing his first letter to Timothy, Paul reflected on his past. He said:

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.”
(1 Timothy 1:3-16)

One time the father of an epileptic son asked Jesus to cure him if He could. Jesus said, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” I can readily identify with the father’s reply. He said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” With that, Jesus performed the miracle and cured the man’s son. (Ref. Mark 9:14-27)

I hope that through sharing with you that which I have learned and now believe, that you also will believe God and have eternal life. “But,” you may say, “I have doubt.” Having doubt does not imply not having faith. In fact, doubt gives one the opportunity to grow in faith.

Will you take a step of faith and believe God? Believe Jesus?

If you will allow me to be so presumptuous, I would like to help you reach out and take a step toward believing God. Please reflect for a few moments on your desire for peace, joy, and hope. In your heart, isn’t that what you are really seeking?

To believe is believing in your heart. Do you want to respond in your heart to God’s prompting? Do you sense Him knocking at your door? Do you want to open it?

When you profess Jesus as Lord, no special words need to be said. No whistles will go off. But that will be the beginning of a life-changing process. It happened to Paul, to me, and to millions of others. God will give you His power to believe if you ask. Will you say – “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”?

Believing Jesus is not skating on thin ice; it is standing on a solid foundation. As I stated earlier, the solidness and firmness of the foundation of your beliefs will determine their ability to withstand and reject subtle and misleading influences. It is not the amount of faith you have that supports you; it’s the foundation; the object of your faith. It is the “rock” of the Word of God.

Unlike the generation of our parents, we live in an age when it seems everything that has been tied down has come loose. At times it seems our feet are planted firmly in mid air. Even our traditional, religious, denominational teachings have been changing, sometimes dramatically. However, God and His word do not change. The Word of God is a solid, immutable foundation.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we may be a kind of first fruits of all He created.” (James 1:16-18)

Believing the Word of God is to accept a new birth. Through “ the word of truth” your mind will be renewed and your life will reflect a new peace, joy and hope. Believing is a life-changing attitude in your heart. To believe Jesus is to hear Him, trust Him and ask Him to be the Lord of your life. Jesus clearly tied it all together when He said:


“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on a rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck the house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49)

When you “hear” Jesus and believe Him, even though you have doubts, you will have a “foundation on a rock.”

It is all in what you believe, and what you believe determines your behavior.

BELIEVE!

“What is there about the Bible that believing it evokes such provocative and rebellious reactions?”

  • Is it because it contains statements that are disagreeable or seemingly too harsh?
  • Is it because it requires an act of submission to One in authority?
  • Is it too much to ask that it be accepted as the ultimate source of truth?
  • Do we not want a moral GPS to tell us what is true north to point us toward the path our lives ought to take?
  • Or is it just because we want to sing along with Frank Sinatra – “I did it my way”?

QUESTION: If Jesus is the only way, do you really want to know?

Perhaps the most provocative statements in the Bible deal with the exclusivity of Jesus as being the ONLY way to God, to heaven.

In Joe Stowell’s book, The Trouble With Jesus (Moody Press) he wrote:
“It was becoming clear. In post 9/11 America, God was back but Jesus was not. Which means that when we say that God is back, it is important to ask, ‘Which God?’ The god of Islam? The god of Hinduism? The gods of the New Age? The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their Seed, the promised Messiah called Jesus, Who came to our planet to befriend and redeem a fallen race? Saying that “God” is back in the mainstream of our national life really means that it is now respectable to celebrate many gods in America. The secularism that we thought had dissolved in the heat of September 11 has instead been eclipsed by the emergence of an updated version of paganism.”

Believing God, believing His word means to believe Jesus is the only way. Jesus is not politically correct. Jesus is not inclusive but rather exclusive. Believing Jesus will not make you popular. Many “Christian” leaders disagree with Jesus wanting to allow for multiple ways to God, or multiple gods. As Stowell wrote, “If we dare to stick up for Jesus by affirming His claims, we are considered to be arrogant, intolerant, and divisive.” But here is what Jesus said:

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)

“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:22-23)

You have a choice: Either Jesus is telling the truth or He is a liar. What will it be? And the following scriptures make a “One-Way” Jesus clearly the only way:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11)

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:1,2)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:6-9)

That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Rom 10:9-13)

In my life, the most shattering experiences have come as a result of misplaced trust in certain individuals, including myself. Yet, the greatest joy and happiness has come to me when I humbly submitted to, trusted in and placed my faith in believing Jesus and making God’s Word my magnetic north, pointing me His way. I wholeheartedly recommend that you do the same.


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