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Self-Examination: Do I Believe God, or Just Believe in God?

Many people acknowledge the existence of a being higher than themselves. Certain recovery groups acknowledge that, without a power higher than themselves, the recovery process can’t begin (although a person may acknowledge a doorknob as a higher power, if they so choose). But there is a distinct difference between believing God and believing IN God. Believing in God is merely an acknowledgement of His existence. Those who want God on their terms usually fall in to this camp. James, the brother of Christ, wrote about these people “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder”(James 2:19). The Demons acknowledged that Christ was the Son of God, they freaked out whenever they saw Him! Yet they were still in open rebellion against God. Throughout our existence, many humans have done this very same thing. It’s not enough to acknowledge God’s existence. We have to believe Him. Genesis 15:6 says “Abraham believed God, and He credited to him as Righteousness.” This word believe in Hebrew is אָמַן (aman) which means to confirm, support (Strong’s Concordance). It means that Abraham confirmed what God had said to him, Abraham literally did what God said, took God at His word, and wholeheartedly pledged to stand upon God’s word. Abraham didn’t merely offer God lip service, He was rooted in and stood upon God’s word. This is further confirmed when God told Abraham to sacrifice “his only son whom he loved” (Genesis 22:2). Abraham had another son, Ishmael, from his wife’s concubine. God is not ignoring Ishmael, but Ishmael was born outside of God’s plan for Abraham: Abraham and Sarah tried to make the plan happen on their own, and Ishmael was the result. Isaac was the son of God’s promise, the miraculous son who God had intended for Abraham’s blessing to the whole world. What did Abraham do? He did just as God said: he took Isaac to the place where God had told him, built the altar, prepared Isaac, and was beginning the sacrifice when an Angel stopped him (this was all a precursor of what God was going to do through His own Son, as well as a test of Abraham’s faith). Abraham knew that God would still fulfill His promises through Isaac. He trusted God completely. He wasn’t perfect, He still sinned, but He trusted God. So now the core of it: do we believe God, or do we just believe in Him? If we believe God, then we shall trust Him, no matter the cost or sacrifice. We shall trust Him to the end, standing upon His word and promises. If not, we’re just acknowledging His existence. Some day every tongue will confess and every knee will bow. Those who bow now, before the time of judgement, will take Him at His word and do as He says, here and now and not in some more secure time. This is all important! We can’t get this wrong! James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

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