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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

“Does it matter what I believe? If I love Jesus, isn’t that enough?”

I think the best answer one could give would begin by turning this question into a statement: “What I believe matters because loving Jesus is enough;” or, “Love for Jesus matters for what I believe.”

The problem this question exposes is that as God has put within mankind the knowledge of Him, and mankind must acknowledge He is there; however, mankind does not want to bow to anything above him. Man would rather take something from below him and worship that instead. The difficulty lies in the attempt to place something from below into the place above, between him and the Highly Exalted One who deserves all worship. One wants to believe, only not “Him.” One wants to believe, only one does not want to do what He says.

The other problem this question exposes is that one wants to be as religious or devoted to the object of worship as possible, only one feels threatened by the doctrines associated thereunto. What must one know in order to believe effectively?

Jesus actually addressed our question in His conversation with the disciples in John 14. Here Jesus plainly says that believe does matter and that belief is connected to love for Him. In the previous chapter Jesus has been talking about the glory of the Son of Man and the glory of God that is to yet to come in the Son of Man and He gives a new commandment to the disciples, that they love one another as He has loved. The way they carry out that command of love speaks as a testimony of their discipleship. So, if one were to ask “does it matter what I believe about others? If I love Jesus, isn’t that enough?” Jesus would plainly state that if you loved Him, you would love others; therefore, what you believe matters. To whom does it matter? It matters to Jesus.

After Jesus warns of Peter’s denial, Jesus speaks words of comfort and goes directly to the subject of belief. Jesus explains that belief in God matters and that belief is directly connected to what one believes about Jesus. In addition, that belief is closely connected to future events: a place is being prepared for those who believe and Jesus will return. So, if one were to ask “does it matter what I believe about God, and what is come? If I love Jesus, isn’t that enough?” Jesus would plainly state that if you loved Him, you would believe what He says about God, and what He promises He will do in terms of preparation and return; therefore, what you believe matters. To whom does it matter? It matters to Jesus.

Jesus hears Thomas’ question about where Jesus is going and how “we” will know the way to follow. Also, Philip chimes in about being content to simply see the Father. Jesus teaches that one’s relationship with God matters and that belief is directly connected to the Fatherhood of God. The words and works of Jesus speak plainly of the Father, so what one does with those words and works is directly connected to that belief. So, if one were to ask “does it matter what I believe about Jesus, the Fatherhood of God, and obedience? If I love Jesus, isn’t that enough?” Jesus would plainly state that if you loved Him, you would come to the Father through Him; therefore, what you believe matters. To whom does it matter? It matters to Jesus. It matters so much that how you talk to Him touches one what you believe.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Does what one believe about the Holy Spirit matter? Is loving Jesus enough? Jesus seems to think that what you believe matters, because His Spirit is the Spirit of truth that the world cannot receive. What you believe matters because the Holy Spirit is His abiding presence in the believer after He is no longer seen. What you believe matters to Jesus because when the Spirit comes, knowledge becomes intimate: that He is in the Father, and you are in Him and He in you.

What you believe about what God says matters. Again, love for Jesus is tied to what you do with what you hear from Him. The one who has His commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Him and the one who loves Him is loved by the Father and the Son . . . and He will disclose Himself.

If anyone loves Jesus, he will obey what He says, so what you believe matters.

If anyone does not love Jesus, he will not obey what He says. Why? Because the Father says so. If you don’t like what the Father says, then maybe something needs to be adjusted in what you believe about God and His Word and you obedience to it.

God has given each one a conscience and each conscience is fully functional, or it is shut off.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit is given to teach and remind us all things He has said, so ignorance is not bliss.

If you want peace in your heart, it will not come from the world, but from what you believe and how you love Him.

Examine yourself: what do you believe and who do you love? Do you believe what is written and hate yourself enough to repent of your sin and ask Jesus by faith to save you and create in you a clean heart?

Consider this from Charles Spurgeon: “You may know a great deal about faith, but the only saving faith is belief concerning Christ. To know doctrine will not save a man. You may hold all the creed, and be orthodox, and then be no better than the Devil; for I suppose that the Devil is a very sound theologian. He surely knows the Truth. A firm belief in what is preached to you is well enough in its way, but to believe a doctrine as such cannot save you. Many persons believe thoroughly in themselves. The doctrine of self-reliance is preached in many quarters nowadays. Your belief must not be that you can force your way to Heaven, but you must believe Christ, for anything else is an unsaving faith.”

Should you love yourself and your sin more than Christ, then listen to scripture:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. “[1]

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” [2]

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[1]New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Co 6:9.
[2]New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Re 21:8.

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