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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does It Matter What We Believe about God?

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Does It Matter What We Believe about God?

God and Us – Question 11

Does it really matter what a person believes about God? Isn’t it sufficient to just believe in something? Does it matter what are the specifics about the belief?

Often we hear people say it really doesn’t matter what you believe about God as long as it helps you? Or as long as you believe something enough that’s all that matters. Is this right?

1. It Does Matter What We Believe

According to the Bible, it isimportant what we believe. In the New Testament, it is always the object of faith, Jesus Christ, and not faith itself, which is stressed. As far as the Bible is concerned, correct belief is absolutely crucial. The New Testament teaches that right belief consists of several things.

2. Faith Must Be in the God of Scripture

First, faith must be in God, but not just any god. Faith must be placed only in the God of the Bible. Faith in any other object is insufficient. These other gods do not exist. Paul wrote,

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? (Galatians 4:8, 9 NRSV)

There is only one God who exists. This is the God of the Bible. All other so-called gods are mere pretenders.

The Apostle Paul told a crowd in Athens who had built an altar to the unknown God that this “Unknown God” had a name. The Bible says,

Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:22, 23 HCSB)

Paul then preached to them about the only God who exists, the God of Scripture. Thus, it is important that faith be in the right God, not just any god.

3. Faith Must Be in His Son Jesus Christ

Second, faith must be placed in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is impossible to have a relationship with the true God apart from the Person of Jesus. In the beginning of John’s gospel, we read the following.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name... (John 1:12 NKJV)

The key is that a person believes in Jesus Christ. One must receive Him as their Savior. In another place in John’s gospel, we find that Jesus Himself said that those who love Him will also have the love of God the Father.

Jesus replied, “All those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them.” (John 14:23 NLT)

God the Father has a special love for those who believe in Jesus. They become His spiritual children.

To receive God’s forgiveness of sin, the Apostle Paul spoke of the necessity of turning from sin and to the Person of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts records him saying,

“I have had one message for Jews and Gentiles alike—the necessity of turning from sin and turning to God, and of faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:21 NLT).

To get right with God one must turn to Him, through Jesus, and away from sin.

John the Apostle said it about as clear as it can be said. Nobody can have God the Father unless one comes to Him through God the Son, Jesus Christ.

No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23 NRSV)

According to the Bible, anyone who claims to know God, and yet does not believe in Jesus, does not know God. You have to have both the Father and the Son.

4. Faith Is More than Mental Assent

Furthermore, faith in Jesus Christ is more than merely acknowledging intellectually that He existed or that He is the Lord.

James wrote about this type of ineffective faith. He compared it to the belief of demons. He put it this way.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19 NKJV)

The demons know who Jesus is, God the Son, the Savior of the world. But merely knowing these and other facts about Jesus does not do them any good. Indeed, they have no relationship with Him.

In the ministry of Jesus we find the demons actually confessing the fact that Jesus is God the Son.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” (Luke 8:28 NKJV)

They knew His identity as well as the fact that He had the ability to torment them as their Judge. However, this knowledge did not do them any good.

Biblical faith consists of trusting Jesus as Savior. It is not simply acknowledging Him with the intellect.

Conclusion: Right Belief Is Absolutely Essential

According to the Bible, therefore, right belief is essential. It is not enough to believe, it matters what we believe in. Faith must be in God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Summary – Question 11
Does It Matter What We Believe about God?

While it is popular in many circles to say that it does not really matter what a person believes about God as long as they are sincere, the Bible says that it does indeed matter what a person believes. Right belief is essential. There are a number of elements to this.

First, the Bible says that faith must be placed in God. But not any God will do. Faith must be placed in the God of the Bible. He is the only God who exists.

Next, faith must be in God’s Son Jesus Christ. It is not enough to believe in the God of Scripture. Faith must also be placed in His Son. Otherwise a person cannot have a relationship with God the Father or forgiveness of sin.

Furthermore, faith in Jesus Christ has to be more than mere mental assent. The writer James says that the demons know Jesus’ identity.

Indeed, they are aware that He is God the Son, the One who will judge humanity. But this knowledge, by itself, means nothing. They have no relationship with Him.

There must be an acceptance of Christ for whom He claimed to be. To receive Christ as Savior a person must place their trust in Him. Only then can a person receive the forgiveness that God offers. This is what God requires.

Thus, contrary to the statements we often hear, it does matter what one believes about God. Mere faith in God is not enough.

Does a Person Have to Approach God by Faith? ← Prior Section
Can God Forgive Anybody? Next Section →
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