Apparently 75% of Americans say they believe in God. Source of statistic here. Sounds like a lot until you realize that 100 % of Satan’s henchmen believe God exists, for they rebelled against Him!
James writes in 2:19 – You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
Therefore, the frank acknowledgement that there is a god is insufficient. One obvious problem needing clarification is just who is this god that people identify? Wouldn’t it be more useful if pollsters helped responders spell out just what KIND of god they believe in?
Let’s assume, for the purpose of this blog, that we have clarified and agreed upon the one and only true God. A problem remains. Is it enough to believe that this God is real?
No! And if that answer bothers you, then good! But don’t despair if you suddenly fear that your belief alone is insufficient. Read on:
I, myself, was assured this morning that I am a Christian and not someone akin to the demons. For it IS a frightening assertion that belief alone in the existence of God does not make one an adopted child of the Father with all rights and privileges in his Kingdom. Many people followed Christ during His public ministry, but very few were ‘His sheep’. Why did they seek Him? Food that doesn’t run out, replenishing buckets of water, healing, political solutions, purpose and identity come to mind.
John Piper, whose teaching continues to edify my faith, proclaims that valuing God for what He can do for you is not what it means to be a Christian. That is a perverted version of ‘believing that God exists and is almighty’. Saving faith is treasuring Christ more than anything He can do for you or give you.
Trembling like you might upon hearing this narrow definition, I often ask myself, “Am I a real Christian, then?” For I DO appreciate all that Christ HAS done for me and promises to do.
But the Holy Spirit gifted me this morning when I was listening to one of Piper’s sermons. God brought to mind my attitude toward God as a teenager attending church with my family. During my junior year of high school I fell into the horrible and frightening pit of binging and vomiting – bulimia. No amount of resolve broke the cycle. Sunday after Sunday, I prayed in that same pew that God would remove this problem. I knew enough about God’s previous miracles to believe that He actually could deliver me from this nightmare. But He didn’t and I’m glad. For I wasn’t seeking Him, just what He could do for me.
A couple of years into married life, the VERY bad news about my rebellion against God confronted me in a gospel-proclaiming service so unlike the pleasant, but anodyne church of my teen years. If I thought the bulimia was my biggest problem……… (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I did – I used to smugly boast: ‘My only sin is overeating!’)….. THE frightening and very real fact of God’s wrath against me was a categorically different crisis.
Both Mike and I gratefully grabbed the gift of pardon and adoption when offered the only remedy – Christ’s substitutionary death and life for us.
Did God then remove the bulimia? No, not right away. That deliverance did come a few years later when I was carrying our first son. But more remarkable than that, God has undertaken to open our eyes to the wonders of the gift of salvation and all that awaits us. I revel and marvel daily that before the creation of the universe, the Triune God planned for me to be one of His adopted kids with full rights and an inheritance and a future of endless joy far greater than the happiness inherent in freedom from food addiction.
The apostle John says in 1:12 – But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.
John Piper explains that it takes a miracle from God to change our desires. We can’t make ourselves savor anchovies if we’re wired to gag every time we pop one in our mouth! Only the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power removes the lure of cheap delights and creates hunger for the Bread that never perishes, Jesus Himself.
So, if you have ANY interest in Jesus or in reading your Bible, take heart. That’s a permanent holy gift planted in you by our loving Father. Thank Him for it and pray that He would cause your enjoyment of Him and His presence to grow, surpass or replace anything that either this world offers or He offers. Treasuring Him over His gifts is the goal that promises both to glorify Him and satisfy us.