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FAITH: Belief and Commitment



There is something about belief and commitment that the average Christian misses when they think of these two things.  We have been told many times over the years that if we believe in Jesus that we will go to heaven when we die.  Good people who attend church and read their Bible will say that they believe in Jesus and have been baptized so that makes them all right as far as heaven is concerned.  They will agree that the stories in the Bible are true.  They will say that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected for our salvation.  These same people will shout “amen” when the preacher makes a statement which they know is affirmed in the Bible.  They will argue vehemently with someone about their personal understanding of a passage of scripture when there is a disagreement during a conversation.  These people see themselves as bona fide Christians with a place in heaven guaranteed for them because they believe in Jesus.

But there is a difference in belief and commitment that people need to understand.  The Bible was not written in Old English.  It was written in Greek and it would be good for people to look more deeply into what the Bible is saying about belief and commitment.  The word in the original language is not telling us to have a superficial “belief”.  It is saying that we must have something deeper and that is a commitment.  You can believe in something that you are not committed to but you cannot be committed to something unless you believe it.  So, the first step is to believe.  That is why Jesus told us to go into the world and witness of Him.  A person has to first hear the truth and then apply it to their lives.  However, hearing and accepting the Gospel is only the first step.  

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Then there comes commitment.  It is deeper.  It contains belief but it is a deeper step into what the Bible is saying about gaining salvation and heaven as a result.  The Greek word for “belief” is pistis (noun form) and pisteuo (verb form).  It means adherence to, faith in, committal to, and reliance upon.  One can easily see that this is deeper than our concept of “faith” as it is used today in most evangelical preaching.  The difference is that commitment is deeper than simply saying one believes but then having that person to go on living as they always had while still saying they believe in Jesus as well as what God revealed to us about Him.

Commitment says you believe in Jesus but that it has taken a deeper root in your life because you have submitted to and committed yourself to the truths about Jesus.  You have made those truths in which you believe to be a part of your spiritual, mental, physical and emotional makeup.  

Let me give you a good picture of the difference in belief and commitment.  Several years ago, I was a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and was also honored to serve as the Chairman of that august body for two years.  As a member of the committee, I was required to fly to Nashville on various occasions for scheduled meetings and then for special meetings as needed.  

I always flew Delta Air Lines.  I believed that they could get me there safely or I would not have gotten on the plane.  I knew that they had the planes and equipment to take me safely to Nashville.  I also knew they had the proper personnel and that they were skilled at their job and were more than capable of flying the plane to our destination.  So, because of my belief in the airlines and their ability to safely deliver me to Nashville, I exhibited the first level of commitment by buying my ticket for the trip.  That is level number one of my commitment based on my belief.  

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When the day for the trip arrived, I had someone take me to the airport for the plane ride.  That was an exhibit of a little more of my commitment to the flight.  After arriving at the airport, I would then get my luggage and stand in the check-in line.  A little more commitment to the flight.  The person would ask me for my identification and proceed to get my flight ticket.  Of course, I would comply and present my I.D. which was another step of commitment on my part.  Then I would go stand in line to be checked before I would be allowed to go on in the terminal.  I would comply to their orders and then I would be allowed to put my shoes back on and proceed into the seating area to wait for boarding.  My commitment was getting more serious with each step.  After a period of time the flight attendant would call for people to board the plane according to one’s seating section to which they had been assigned.  

So, after passing by the attendant and having my ticket processed, I would make my way to the airplane and find my seat.  More commitment was needed to do so.  After sitting in my seat, I would buckle my seat belt anticipating my flight which I believed would be successful or I would not have come this far.  Getting serious now!  At this point I could still get off the plane if I so desired.  The next step of commitment which was based on my belief that Delta would get me to Nashville, was experienced when the flight attendant gave all the passengers her memorized little speech about the flight and how to buckle our seat belts.  So, I buckled the seatbelt.  Commitment to the fact that the flight would be successful was really serious now, but I could still get off the plane if I insisted.  

Then one would hear the door make an ominous sound as it slammed shut and was locked.   It was more than likely too late to get off the plane at this point so one would feel a point of release as they gave their precious bodies over to the flight crew.  Soon, one would hear the jet engines revving up and the plane would make it’s way to the runway.  With only a slight hesitation, in order to rev up the engines to full power, the plane would lunge down the runway and after gaining the proper speed it would leave the bonds of earth and lunge into the sky!!  Too late to get off now, you are fully committed to the flight to Nashville!  So, your belief became a reality through your uncompromising commitment.   

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The Christian life begins with belief in Jesus but that belief must issue forth in commitment to be genuine.  Jesus did not die on the cross so people could say that they believed in Him.  He died for us with the expectation that we would be committed to Him; the One who purchased our salvation.  He did not die on the Cross for us to live at the low level of Christianity that most people assume is enough.  We owe Him our complete belief and our unwavering commitment to Him.  And then, He sealed it all with His Resurrection for our justification.  

You should be absolutely certain that what you have is belief backed up with total commitment to Him.  We should make sure we are not fooled by satan but that we understand the difference in belief and commitment.

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 49 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 31 of those years. He can be reached at wfh@williamfharrell.com. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com 

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