HPC – Place and Time Part 3 20/1/19
The Successful Life. What do you believe?
Reading Heb 10:39 – Heb 11:1 – 40
Addiction – addicted, reliance, dependency, craving, enslavement.
I know some of us do struggle with addiction, and I do it want to minimize your struggle in any way, but I do want to thank God for this government – it’s through them that I realized this week that I am fully addicted to the internet. Enslaved. Totally dependent. Completely lost without it. Perhaps this is what I am supposed to be like with God – addicted in every sense of the word.
We have been challenged that one day we will all die – but that every other day we must live. Not just survive, but thrive.
We have been looking at what God calls a successful life!
We have seen that it all starts with what we believe!
Do you believe? Do you believe God? Do you believe that “God made the earth and everything in it”? And therefore everything belongs to Him. Do you believe God at His Word?
Is He a good God or a bad one? What do you believe – and do you really believe it?
Do you believe you have a future in God?
And here’s perhaps the biggest question of all – if you do not believe, why?
If you are not sure what you believe – then look at what you spend your time thinking about and talking about, and fighting for!
It all starts with what you believe – and, it really depends what you are looking for? Are you, before all things, looking for God? Is your heart for God, or just for a better life for yourself – all the things you want?
Over the last weeks God has been asking many questions – questions that are valid to each and every one of us. And all these questions come from that one vital question – what do you believe?
And so I wanted to understand the word “believe” from God’s point of view.
And I wanted to add that I think for those of us with a more Western type culture, this is a very difficult thing to grasp. We compartmentalize everything – we work, have a family, have a faith. Everything separated out. We have a very secular culture and way of thinking – but God has a different way.
A typical dictionary might say something like;
Believe – to accept something is true without proof. Or, to hold an opinion.
But what is the Biblical / God given definition of “believe”. Because I do not think when God is asking me – Mark, what do you believe, He is asking what I just blindly accept without proof, and He is definitely not asking for my opinion.
The first time we see this word “believe” in the Bible is in Genesis 15. God tells Abram (who becomes Abraham) that He will make him into a mighty nation – that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. God tell this to a man who has no children. And then we read;
Gen 15:6 Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it [this] to him as righteousness.
God credited Abram for believing – like says – well done, it’s obvious, I Am God – and the only right thing you can do is believe what I say – to trust me and obey.
And in then studying this word “believe” as used here – I started to appreciate that this is quite a complex word – because it encompasses the idea of “faith”, but more in the sense of being “faithful” or having “faithfulness”. Believing leads to action – faith is an outliving of what you believe.
And this word “faith” is a very interesting word as well – another deeply complex word. It encompasses “knowing” and “trusting” and “hope”.
Do you know God? Do you trust Him? Is your hope in Him and in Him alone? Are you faithful, living out your faith, what you believe in?
This word “faith” also encompasses the idea to “unite” or to “bind”.
Are you united to God, bound to Him?
God made a covenant with Abram, the most binding of agreements – and then He changed Abram’s name to Abraham – the extra “ha” coming from Yahweh. God put His name in Abram’s name – Yahweh in Abraham and Abraham in Yahweh.
Abraham was then bound to God and God to Abraham. Abraham was faithful to God in all his actions – he knew God, trusted Him, hoped in Him, lived for Him – every part of his life and existence was God. It was an all encompassing relationship like marriage.
This word “faith” which is imbedded in the word “believe” goes even deeper. There are two sides to “faith”. On the one side “trustworthiness” – on the other side “trust”.
In the true sense of the word, God is the only One fully trustworthy. This is what He is responsible for. Our side is to believe Him, to trust Him. He has to always be true and trustworthy – we have to trust.
All of these words are embedded in each other – believe, faith, obedience, knowledge, hope, united, bound, trust.
And it goes deeper still. This word “trust” encompasses the idea of total “reliance” or “dependence” on God. Reliance on the Word, the Power, the Love of God. A deep dependence that’s far more than just the physical or emotion, but spiritual.
It’s impossible to separate all these words out – they are all part of one and the same thing – all being a way of life, because there is a God and we not only believe in Him, we believe Him.
Do you believe God exists? Do you believe Him? Do you believe God is who He says He is? Do you believe God can and will do what He says He will do? Do you believe you are who God says you are?
If I truly believed God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do – I would have no fear. If I truly believed I am who He says I am – I would have no self image problems or insecurities or confusion of identity and purpose.
Look at these two verses;
Heb 10:39 We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Faith and hope and salvation – certainty, confidence and assurance and boldness as those who do not shrink back.
You have got to “believe” to be that radical. You’ve got to have a firm identity and belief in God.
We do not believe in fairy tales. Ours is not just a matter of opinion! We are not just blindly accepting something as true without proof.
We are absolutely sure and positively certain in what we believe – because we believe in God, and the evidence. Which also include countless miracles for thousands of years.
We believe that He created all the universe at His command – He spoke it into existence! And despite what anyone will try and tell you – everything in the universe has design and purpose. And if something has design and purpose, then someone designed it – it was created, for His purpose.
Heb 11:6 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.
This reward is sharing in the result of God’s plan – because we have been a part of bringing His plan to be.
It is impossible to please God without faith – without believing Him – not just believing in Him.
Hebrews 11 is all about people of great faith. People who knew God and trusted Him and lived faithful lives – lives of obedience, of action and purpose. And their entire purpose was God.
And they lived the most amazing lives – while fulfilling God’s purposes. Even if it ultimately cost them their lives.
Heb 11:8 – 10 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign county; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to a city with foundation, whose architect and builder is God.
Abraham did not know where he was going – but he knew God! He believed God, he trusted God, he was fully reliant on God, bound to God, his whole identity was in God – and, he knew what he was looking for. A spiritual city! The things of God, not the things of this earth.
As an aside – there’s this beautiful word picture here – living in tents that have no foundation – and looking for a city which has a spiritual foundation. Our permanence is not of this world.
When Abraham started out, believing God, he did not fully understand where God was leading him – but he knew where he was ultimately going – that was his focus. And so he stepped out in faith.
He understood this life is lived for a greater purpose.
Heb 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Heb 11:14 – 16 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
He has prepared a city for you!
What is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of your life? Why do you exist? What are you working towards? What is the ultimate goal? Why do you live every day? Have you found what is worth dying for – that you may fully live?
Heb 11:39 – 40 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Them back then, and us now, we will all receive together one day. Through the generations we all have our part to play to the greater end. And that end is only the beginning.
This life is an awesome gift. But God has planned something better! God has had a plan right from the beginning to the very end! This life is not what this life is all about. It is because of the life to come that this life has any meaning – and so we have to live this life for that life. We live this life for Him, not ourselves.
You are either living to fulfill God’s plan, or your own!
What is it you believe? What are you looking for? Do you believe God exists, do you believe you were created to work His plan that you might be fully rewarded when His plan is complete. Do you believe you have a future in God?
If you want to know what you really believe – look at what you spend your time thinking about, talking about, dreaming about, and doing.
If you knew that Christ was coming back in the next 10 years – how would that change how you live today? Say it’s not 10 years – say it’s 5 years – 5 months! Say it’s 15 years – what difference would that make? Maybe it’s tomorrow. Maybe it’s before the end of this day!
The whole point is every one of these days is to be lived because of that day. What are you living for?
In understanding the word “believe” – we have to understand that belief is our actions. It is not just head knowledge – it is a lifestyle. What you believe is what you do. Look at what you are doing, and you’ll know what you believe.
Rom 10:9 – 10 If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Friends, Jesus did rise from the dead – the evidence is overwhelming. But Christianity is not an academic exercise. It is a radical belief in a radical God – it is a radical lifestyle. And believing is a matter of heart – belief is spiritual.
You are made in the image of God. You are before all things a spiritual being. God is spirit, and we believe in spirit. And God is trying to win your heart!
What is a successful life to God? To believe in Him, to believe Him, to trust Him, to be bound to Him, to Hope in Him, to be fully reliant and dependent on Him – to live for Him, even if it means dying for Him.
Well, that’s where it starts!
But then there is an even more excellent way!
There is something even greater than faith.
1 Cor 13:13 (MSG) One day we will see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us to that perfect union with God; trust (believe have faith) in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Of these three things, faith, hope and love – the greatest is love.
Love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all you soul, and with all your mind.
The most successful life is to love God.
Which brings it to a most important question – do you worship God because you know of Him – or do you love Him because you know Him?
Do you believe you have a future in God that starts today? To what are you addicted?