Tuesday, March 12, 2013
What does the word “believe” mean to you? What does it mean to believe in something?
For many of us, to “believe” means to mentally acknowledge or agree with something. Believing is, mostly if not entirely, a matter of the mind.
Many unfortunate translations of the Greek in which the New Testament was written fail to properly render many instances of believe in its various forms. A classic example of this is in probably the most well-known verse in the Bible.
John 3:16 is, in most Bible versions, translated something like this: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s the New American Standard Bible, one of the English translations that usually stays close to the NT Greek.
Young’s Literal Translation captures the meaning of the Greek much better: “For God did so love the world, that His Son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.”
“Is believing in him”: Believing is an action verb, and the word tense, a common one in the NT Greek, indicates ongoing action. Believing in him is the ongoing action, the active lifestyle of believing in Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. This is what I like to call “be-living” in Jesus Christ.
Be-living is not merely agreeing with facts about Jesus Christ, such as His eternal being as God, birth to a virgin, miracles, teachings, suffering, death and resurrection. We do have to affirm these as the facts that they are, because this is the foundation of our be-living; we have to know Who and what we are be-living in and for. This is the very important first step, but it’s only the first step.
To be-live in Jesus Christ is to be-live with our whole being. Heart, mind, soul and strength, will, thought, spirit and body, are to be-living in and for Jesus Christ.
In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus tells us that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. To be-live in and for Jesus Christ is to love Him and to love others in His Name.