Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what does it mean to believe?

I've been challenged lately in what believe actually means. Is it just giving mental assent to something? Or is more than that?

Most of the time in our society, the word believe mean just giving mental assent to something. It's little more than saying you agree with a statement about something. It makes believing in something pretty easy. There is nothing required of you to believe in something the way the word is commonly used today.

But, a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that in Scripture the word believe means so much more than that. Over and over Romans 4 uses the phrase "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." When you read the story of Abraham's life in Genesis beginning in chapter 17, you see that the belief of Abraham was not just mentally saying it made sense. Abraham believing God meant that he took action on it.

(I make no claim to be a Greek scholar, but this study challenged me on how I understand and use the word believe in my own life.) The word translated "believe" in Romans 4 is the Greek word "pisteou" and is verb. A verb implies that there's an action involved. If an action is involved, then believe has to mean more than just mentally agreeing that something it right. There has to be an action that flows from that mental agreement. When you read through Scripture and the various places that the words believe or faith are used, it becomes clear that action is a part of those words - that they require us to do something.

So, maybe this is something to think about. What do we typically mean when we use the words believe or faith? Does it involve any action on our part or can we just sit back and say we agree? Should there be a change in how we understand the meaning of these words?

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