Belief and Action
“Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” John 12:35, 36.
In this passage we see that “walk” and “believe” are parallel concepts. They go hand in hand.
What does it mean to “believe in the light”? It means to watch the Light – Jesus (John 8:12; 9:5), trusting Him to the extent that desires and lifestyle come to reflect not personal understanding and will, but the Light (Psalms 123:1-2, Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Corinthians 3:18). “Trust in the LORD, and do good” (Psalms 37:3).
What does it mean to “walk in the light”? The Bible shows that walking in something means living according to the principles or requirements of it (Leviticus 18:4, Isaiah 57:2, Jeremiah 6:16, Micah 2:11, Luke 1:6). To “walk in the light” is to live life in total reliance on (that is, fully believing) the Light’s direction and enabling power. Jesus says, “follow me.” Does following Jesus involve commandment keeping? Most certainly it does, for Jesus always travels in perfect accord with his Law (Matthew 5:17-18). His “way” is His Law (Psalms 119:1-5).
Principle: man’s life will have true meaning, significance and purpose only to the degree to which his life conforms with the principles of the Universal Pattern, the Law of God.
This is just the way things are are in Creation. We understand the above principle as it plays out on a much smaller scale in the realm of writing. Marks on a paper express meaning and purpose only to the degree by which they conform to pre-existing patterns. “⌠∟ↄḯ᷉ ᶼ ᶶ ϠΔ¤ŧƔ ƺ ǀ ↄḯ᷉ ᶼ ᶶ” is a collection of marks not conforming to any meaningful pattern – a scribble having no significance. “lksjdfn iwne tvix” is a lot of marks conforming only to letter patters – it expresses only the meaning of individual letters. “To egg recapitulated never” conforms to letter and word patterns – it expresses the meanings of individual words. “We must read the Bible” is a group of marks conforming to letter, word, and sentence patterns/principles. As it fulfills three pattern levels, it has the significance and purpose of a complete thought. As humans, we were made to conform to the pattern of God’s character, the Law of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Son is our example as He now bears the form of perfected humanity (Colossians 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:5). He will “write” us so that we have true significance and power of expression – he will conform us to his Pattern – if we will fully surrender to him like clay in a potter’s hand (Jeremiah 18:1-11).
When one has truly received/believed Christ Jesus, he has “received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). In other words, act in faith that Jesus will enable you to accomplish what He requires! Is Jesus asking you to seek employment? Then start making applications as best you can, trusting Jesus to give you a work to do as He sees fit. Is Jesus asking you to stop smoking? Then throw out your cigarettes and join a stop-smoking class, trusting Jesus to give you the supernatural strength needed to stop. Is Jesus asking you to quit watching a favorite show and spend the extra time with Him in the Bible? Then believe in Jesus, and you will be saved! By faith choose to turn off the TV, become more socially involved, log off the internet, get a Facebook account, go to college, eat less, eat more, study the Bible more, get a job, quit a job, move to a mission field, stop sleeping around, learn more about using computers, keep the house clean, romance your wife, learn to cook healthy food, take your sons rock climbing, give up dating, or go on a date as Jesus Christ directs. God is seeking to lead you, and you better believe it! You had better act on his Word, relying on His promises of ability and success as you surrender yourself in order to fight for Him. No need to fear. He will only lead you to know and live by the wonderful principles of His Word as you seek to know his will therein.
Consider the gospel story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26, Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27). The ambitious man had kept, to the best of his knowledge, all the commandments from his youth. But Jesus told him, “one thing thou lackest.” There was a component of the gospel the young man was missing. In his commandment keeping, he had been leaning on his own understanding of the Law, and had never actually trusted/believed in the LORD (Proverbs 3:5). God was not the first component in his definition of the good news! His commandment keeping had not been a walk in the Light, it had been a walk in the sparks of his own kindling (Isaiah 50:11). Jesus invited him to become a true traveler in the Law of the Lord, not just a wannabe.
Jesus’ invite: “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
This was not the way the rich young ruler naturally wanted to keep the commandments. But had he chosen to believe Jesus anyway (i.e. sell all and follow Him), we have no reason to doubt that he would have experienced a miraculous, God-given change of heart to the salvation of his soul much as Zacchaeus did (Luke 19:8-9). The necessary commandment keeping that was “impossible” for the rich young ruler on his own would have been “possible with God.” It would have been possible if the young man had believed and walked with Jesus.
Dear reader, if you will ask Jesus in sincerity what you must do to inherit eternal life, and if you will live expectant of His answers at all times, you can be assured that Jesus will make clear to you (via the Spirit, the Word, and providence) how, specifically, you must believe/follow Him in any given situation.
For the rich young ruler, believing Jesus would have meant surrendering his earthly financial kingdom and becoming a poor traveler with a band of missionaries. For Abram, it meant moving to a promised land to become “a great nation,” receive a great blessing, and be made generally rich and powerful (Genesis 12:1-4). You may not yet know what belief will look like for you today. You may not have spent time with Jesus today. In this case, ask Him to reveal Himself – Eternal Life – to you right now. He can’t wait to. Spend some prayerful time in his Word. Then make following what He reveals your lifestyle for the rest of the day. Do this every day (Psalms 95:7-8, Hebrews 4:7). As you behold Jesus and believe/follow Him daily, you are saved (Numbers 21:8, John 3:14, Psalms 121:1, Isaiah 40:26-31, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:28, Luke 8:12, Romans 8:1, Acts 16:31). All enduring, true believers will finally end up rich, powerful, and in love forever in the Promised Land. Hallelujah!
1) Behold Jesus, then
These are the fundamentals of “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).
Belief and Rest
Choosing to believe in Jesus is closely connected with rest. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you [believe/rely on me]…and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29). The psalmist said, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him…Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him” (Psalms 37:5, 7). Death is described as a rest or sleep in the Bible (Job 17:16, John 11:11, Revelation 14:13). This sounds strange in light of John 11:26 – “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” How does death/rest factor into the second fundamental of the gospel, belief? Well, whoever lives and believes in Jesus will have eternal life, but then eternal life is resurrected life, and one must first die to be made alive (Luke 9:23, 1 Corinthians 15:31, Colossians 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). To believe is to enter into death to self, and life in God. Paul wrote, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour [action] therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:9-11). To rest in saving faith is to rest in Jesus, our work being His and His work being ours. While the wicked are the living dead (Romans 6:23, Ecclesiastes 9:3, Ephesians 2:1), the faithful (believing) are the dead living (Collosians 2:13, Romans 6:8, 2 Timothy 2:11, Romans 6:4). To believe is to die to self so as to be made resurrection-alive in Jesus all by the power of the gospel.
1) Behold Jesus, the source of true life, then
2) labour to enter into that rest (death to self) according to Jesus’ example of belief in order to
3) be made resurrection-alive in Him.
These are the fundamentals of the gospel.
According to the Bible, the broad outline of mortals’ overall experience is as follows.
1) We live life
2) We rest in the dreamless, thoughtless sleep of death*
3) We are resurrected by the power of God (the gospel) to receive either eternal life or death
*See Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Psalms 6:4-5; 115:17; 146:4, Isaiah 38:18, 1 Timothy 6:15-16.