Friday, July 2, 2010

Words are Cheap

On a recent episode of Larry King Live, the host interviewed pop singer Lady Gaga. Acknowledging her Catholic roots, King asked, “What are your feelings toward the church and religion in general?” Lady Gaga answered, “in terms of religion, I'm very religious… I believe in Jesus. I believe in God. I'm very spiritual."[1]

“I believe in Jesus.” Simple words. Ask most Hindus in India, and they will say, “I believe in Jesus.” Children in Sunday school sing, ”I believe in Jesus.” But words are cheap. What does it mean?

The New Testament speaks of various degrees of belief, like there are degrees of karate belts. Some believe for a while, but then stop. (Blue Belt) Some believe, but various concerns of life take precedence over that faith and it gradually dwindles. Some believe and their life produces a “crop.”[2](Black Belt) Some are said to have weak faith. “Accept him whose faith is weak…”[3] wrote Paul. Others are described as “lacking faith” and still others have a faith that needs to grow.

And then some don’t believe at all. (White Belt) Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe in Him at first.[4] John writes of some Jews who did not believe, “even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence…”[5]

Secondly, it is critical what we believe about Jesus. Mahatma Gandhi believed Jesus was a good teacher, but not the Son of God. I remember reading D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion describing some as having “mere intellectual assent” toward Jesus. Like I believe in Napoleon. That totally ignores the what.

According to the earliest record of Christianity, we are to believe that Jesus died and was raised from the dead and that true believers will be raised also;[6] we’re to believe all that the Old Testament prophets wrote about Him[7]; that He is the Messiah, the Holy One of God[8]; we’re simply to believe that He exists and rewards those who look for Him[9]; we’re to believe the Good News[10], and that Jesus is the actual Son of God[11]! This is the what of believing.

Belief in Jesus is not subjective. When Lady Gaga goes on stage, she sings a song with mostly pre-arranged, fixed lyrics and melody. Likewise the Bible says our faith rests on a specific objective content.

That content of belief is the message regarding Christ.[12] Paul writes to the early Christians about the faith they were “taught.”[13] That means faith based on a specific teaching about Christ. Paul refers to the “deep truths of the faith.”[14] These deep truths are the historic teaching of the church. They include doctrines taught from the very beginning about who Jesus is and what His mission is. The content of faith is not up for debate.

Believing in Jesus is not mere intellectual assent or self-defined belief. It is a commitment of the total life to a Person. Francis Schaeffer wrote, “To believe Him… every moment, one moment at a time, this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality.” [15] That’s black belt faith! Words are cheap for Lady Gaga or for me and you except our faith be rooted in His truth.

With Paul, can we say “I know whom I have believed…?”[16] May our belief conform to a biblical standard, and not our own ideas.



[1] CNN Larry King Live, Interview With Lady Gaga, Aired June 26, 2010
[2] Luke 8:11-15 (All references from the New International Version)
[3] Romans 14:1
[4] John 7:3-5
[5] John 12:37
[6] Romans 10:9,10, 1 Thessalonians 4:14
[7] Luke 24:25
[8] John 6:69
[9] Hebrews 11:6
[10] Mark 1:15
[11] John 20:31
[12] Romans 10:17
[13] Colossians 2:7
[14] 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:6
[15] Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality, p. 108
[16] 2 Timothy 1:12

Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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