Kurieuo wrote: ↑
Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:13 am
In John 3:16 is says that whosoever believes in Jesus should not perish, but have everlasting life. Many of us (Christians), including myself, will even say that belief is all one needs to have or do. And yet, what we mean by these words is rarely unpacked, and until they are such words carry very little meaning.
What does it mean for us to BELEIVE
in Jesus? That Jesus is God? He died on the cross as the ultimate sacrificial lamb in substitution of humanity? That one simply believes a Jesus existed, whoever he is, and in whatever he did? What if somone merely intellectually acknowledge Jesus and what he did, but then their heart remain unchanged and far from God
-- is such a person "saved"?
On that last question, I'm sure (I'd hope) many Christians would agree that such a person who carried mere belief that Jesus existed and died for their sin, and yet their minds didn't much care about Jesus at all -- that such a person is not really a Christian in Biblical terms. Yet, don't they fulfull the requirement of John 3:16 since they would believe in Jesus and God as such? So then, it would seem there is something more involved in "belief".
And that is, a change in conscience towards God, the strong desire to turn toward God, to turn to Christ and place one's trust in Him in however manner one does or is capable of doing such. This we read in Acts 3:19 where it is said "repent and convert...
" Repent means "to turn" and/or "change one's mind". Indeed, I love the passage in Romans where Paul explains, '"For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
That is, unless, and until, one understands that "belief" (pisteuo
) actually has a deeper meaning that reaches to the depths of our heart, that is, the belief is being persuaded of, a turning towards to the point that you will trust in -- well, I think such people have a very superficial understanding of "belief" in John 3:16. It is a transformative belief, one's whole countenance is changed, such that they desire Jesus and God. Thus, they "believe".
So then, I turn to the question of why don't Atheists just believe
? Really, I'm not as concerned to answer whatever their pet-peeve might be against belief in Christ and/or God, or why they claim to have an absent of belief in God. Rather, I feel this misunderstanding of the Christian message -- that all one needs to do is believe
(without truly understanding what such means) -- leads to many just dismissing the Christian message out of hand.
For a reasonable and all-loving God who wants us to believe in Him, all such God needs to do is SHOW Himself to the world. Isn't this what all Atheists generally ask for? To put myself in the mind of Atheists, if God is all-loving then God should simply show Himself in a manner we can all see and touch. Then ALL will believe
and then ALL can be saved! But silly Christians believe in some HIDDEN God, who demands belief in Himself, while at the same time playing a game of hide and seek which (we are told) has enormous ramifications for those who don't end up believing for they'll burn in Hell for eternty. What a nice and loving God you Christians have. He sounds like a cruel God, and I don't really care much for such a stupid God even if you're right.
To be honest, I'd largely agree with Atheists who'd complain like this. If all one needs to do to be saved, and all that matters for us, is simply believe that God exists
, merely believing Jesus "died for our sins" (religious language which too requires some unpacking), then God manifesting Himself to all of us is all that'd be needed. Yet, God doesn't do that, therefore the God Christians claim to believe in, who is meant to be all-loving while allowing many to be tortured for eternity because He hides away, well such a God doesn't exist!
As I see, a lot of this wrong-think comes down to a misunderstanding on "belief" in the Christian message. It is a misunderstanding about just what exactly God desires from each of us. It isn't that we merely believe, but rather God wants our hearts. God wants us to freely choose and turn towards Him, and many do turn towards God because their hearts are open, even a great deal of people turn to God/Christ because their hearts have become very broken and they see nothing to lose. And to many such, God responds with grace and love in personal ways only such people could explain.
Now a world wherein a righteous God sets up a throne and rules sovereignly over His creatures (as God should), well, what room is there for our free decision to actually reject God? Some would argue it is impossible to reject God in such a world, indeed at least one couldn't reject God entirely
. In our world, where God isn't visibly present to us in our every moment, it seems to me our hearts have a lot of room to move within. We each have a freedom to explore our evil desires without God looking over our shoulder, or to do good out of some goodness of our hearts. We each have freedom to either seek God (and I believe all such will find God), or we can bury and reject God utterly and completely.
It's likely also not a matter of God should have created a world where He was directly present and not hidden from view, but that God actually created both types of worlds. Many believe God did create a world with creatures within to whom He is clearly viewable in His kingdom as Lord (angelic spiritual beings and a heavenly kingdom). In this kingdom God is acknowldged by all, nonetheless some envied God, wanted to be God, and so the story goes many angels were cast out of this kingdom. Yet, God also
created a world, our world, wherein He could test the hearts of more free beings, beings God created to see whether they would FREELY
pursue, acknowledge and love Him, or whether such would prefer to bury any knowledge of Him in complete denial.
Which free being are you in this world?