By: Henry Knapp
This fall, we are focusing on “The Essentials of Our Faith,” with the intent that as a congregation we would believe all the more strongly on what God has revealed to us as Truth. “Essential” can mean important, crucial, central; but we also intend to use the word to mean influential, impactful, meaningful. The Essentials we are looking at should be essential to our daily lives—knowingly impacting all that we do. Something we firmly and consciously believe in.
Unfortunately, we have a very unbiblical understanding of “belief.” Far too often, we equate belief with the intellectual assent to a certain proposition—that is, we believe something if we think that it is true. Thus, I believe that 1 + 1 = 2, because I think it is true; I believe in God, because I am convinced in my mind that He exists; I believe I can sit in a chair, because my mind knows from experience that (most) chairs hold me.
Biblically, however, belief is not equated with knowledge, but with trust and dependence. To be sure, there is an intellectual quality to belief; one cannot have true belief without knowledge, without the mind’s acceptance. Nevertheless, full, biblical, saving belief is not a function of one’s intellect, but of one’s trust.
And the belief we are to have, the trust we are to exhibit, is not in the existence of God (that’s easy to do), but belief, trust, and dependence in His promises to us (and that’s much more difficult than the “casual Christian” realizes). If you know that God promises the best for us, yet you have a hard time living that promise, then you are exhibiting unbelief, no matter how convinced you are that God exists. Belief is not an awareness of God’s promises, nor even being convinced of their truthfulness. One believes, when one acts in faith, trust, and dependence in light of those promises.
Battling unbelief is not a matter of seeking and knowing truth, it’s a matter of confidently living in light of the promises of God. Thus, reworked from John Piper’s Future Grace,
*When anxious about some risky new venture or meeting…
Battle unbelief with God’s promise of Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not for I am with you, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you.”
*When anxious about being too weak…
Battle unbelief with God's promise of 2 Cor 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.
*When anxious about facing opposition…
Battle unbelief with God's promise of Romans 8:31 - "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
*When anxious about being sick…
Battle unbelief with God's promise of Psalm 34:19 - "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
*When anxious that I might shipwreck my faith…
Battle unbelief with God's promise of Phil 1:6 - "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ."
May you battle unbelief, trusting in His essential promises! “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). To the Praise of His Glory!