There is a difference between believing something and believing in something.
I believe that eating healthy is good for me, but if I believed in eating healthy, I would have consumed far fewer Big Macs and many more salads. If I believed in eating healthy, my eating habits and lifestyle would change.
Without a doubt, eating healthy would create a healthier me, but I will sit down with a bag of chips far more often than I do with a handful of mini carrots. I eat much more beef than I do fish. And when I do eat fish, it is almost always breaded.
One can believe the facts, but believing in them is different. Believing in something influences our decisions, simply believing something does not.
Many people claim Christianity, yet their faith makes little or no difference in their lives. Do they believe God, or do they believe in Him? The difference has eternal consequences. Believing that Jesus died for our sins is far different from believing in His shed blood to wash your sins away. One is the acknowledgment of a fact; the other is life-changing.
Some claiming Christianity think that God is a genie. Prayer is equivalent to rubbing the lamp and using one of your wishes.
This belief that God will give us all of our heart’s desires is based on John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
People either forget the “in my name” part of the verse, or the end of every prayer is “In Jesus’ name. Amen.” When “In Jesus’ name” is used to ensure our receiving of blessings from God, we have reduced its meaning to the abracadabra of a magician.
Let me explain. Assume I decide to take a two-year vacation. However, I need certain things done. I want my house payment, utilities, car payment, and other bills paid while I am gone. I authorize my son to use my money to pay these bills. He is paying these bills on my behalf. He is paying these bills in my name.
When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are asking Him for something He desires, something God already wants to happen.
How do we know what God wants? He tells us. For example, God wants everyone to acquire salvation (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, praying specifically for a person’s salvation is a prayer we can confidently do “in His name.”
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). When we read, in the Scripture, that God desires something, then we can pray in His name. Bringing the Scriptures to our prayers is how we pray by faith, by having faith in His Word.
Earlier, I mentioned that believing in something will influence our decisions, and we also saw that Romans 10:17 tells us that faith goes back to the Bible.
When we believe in God, His Word will change our lives.
When we read that God commands against sex outside of marriage and we are in such a relationship, we will either get married or discontinue the sin.
When we read that God wants us to study the Scripture, our hearts will cause us to pick up our Bible regularly.
When we believe in God and read that He wants everyone saved, our hearts will have the same desire, and we will talk to more and more people about His salvation.
When someone claims Christianity and believes God, they will accept the fact that God hates pride, but that belief will not get them to change. When someone believes in God, his heart will ache until he stops the sin.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com