Friday, July 6, 2012

What We Believe

In the Debater world there is this philosophy that works off the idea that it doesn't matter what you (as a person) believe, it only matters what the facts state. Now, for debate this is perfectly reasonable, if we tried to have a formal debate about, for example, the Criminal Justice System, then our own personal beliefs on the matter shouldn't be taken into account if the Facts disprove them. If we have empirical studies that prove X number of people are having their rights taken away from them, it is absurd to think someone could come back with, "Well. I believe you are wrong!" And sit down. It doesn't work that way. In this instance, it truly doesn't "matter" what you believe.

Facts are facts.

However, there is another aspect of our lives that the belief is all that matters. Christianity holds its foundation in faith and our belief is vital. Yes facts prove Christianity, yes archeology proves it, but we still must hold our beliefs.

A.W. Tozer once said, "What we believe about God is the most important thing about us."

Hebrews 11:6 reads: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Faith and belief are vital to our walk with Christ. Many times through the Bible we see "Faith" written in accordance with the core of our beliefs.

I do want to point this out though, they are similar but NOT the same. Let's see how:

Webster's 1828 defines them separately as-

Belief: "A persuasion of the truth, or an assent of mind to the truth of a declaration, proposition or alleged fact, on the ground of evidence, distinct from personal knowledge."

Faith: "In theology, the assent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed. Simple belief of the scriptures, of the being and perfections of God."

As we can see here both are known as "an assent of mind". In other words, in both cases your mind agrees. You set yourself in the ways taught to you. You have "assented" to the idea(s).

The difference we see is in the latter part. Belief comes through a "declaration, proposition or alleged fact, on the ground of evidence". To believe you must have evidence. Which if you think about it is fascinating because how many times do we say "I believe" without having proof of said belief? I found this happened quite a few times this year during debate rounds. One debater (even myself on occasion) would say "I believe" this or that and then never prove it with evidence.

How about Faith? The difference with faith lies in the ideal that you see "the truth of what God has revealed". It is specific, pointed to our "Faith", pointed to God. In the end both of these words coincide with each other and both should be held in reverence.

Let's equate this to our current day and age. Many people speak out and say they believe this or that. They say that their faith lies in something other than God. We do not want to be Bible thumpers but we do need to call them out. If you are having a conversation and hear phrases such as those, ask for the evidence. What evidence is there, spiritually or physically to prove their assertions? This is vital to any discussion.

1st Corinthians 15:14-17 Is incredibly powerful and speaks on this issue:

"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (14-17)

Let's look back at the debate analogy. If we state a fact, but do not prove it's truth, it is nothing. It is useless. Just as Paul says, if we have been saying how Christ was raised, if we have been speaking about the resurrection, but it never actually happened, it is useless. Indeed he goes so far as to say our faith is FUTILE (Adj: Incapable of producing any useful result; pointless).

What's the good news? It DID happen. The Resurrection happened, Christ was risen from the dead, those who were dead in sins can now be saved by His cleansing grace. Our faith is NOT futile for we have the evidence, the proof, the facts are on our side. We should go forth boldly for the Gospel knowing that no matter what anyone says, we do have faith. We have belief and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and when the time comes it will all be proven to be the truth. I exhort you, please do not let slanderous words or deeds weaken your faith. God is on your side.

Romans 8:28-31:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

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