This is the follow up to Belief v. Believe where I discussed the difference between a belief in God and believing God. I apologize for the post in between, but I couldn't resist tossing a little Kudos to the ESV and the ESV Bible Blog for acknowledging my post on Bible Translations. So, how do you believe God? What does it mean to believe God? If you believe God, what should you believe?
First, these are not theological questions I am asking and attempting to answer. I will leave the theological questions for another day, time, writer, blogger, preacher, priest, or, better yet, you. These are very practical questions, with a surprisingly practical, if sometimes complicated, answer. Answer: You believe God's Word/word.
For the time being, I see three ways this can be expressed. There may be others, and I have no intention of trying to limit God, but these three seem obvious (which is probably why they are so often difficult).
First, believing God's Word. This is often complicated because there are so many competing interpretations and teachings about scripture that it can be a mess trying to sort them all out. I'm certain this was never intended, and it is quite an effective tactic of the enemy. However, there is an ultimate authority on the matter who we have available to us for guidance, the Holy Spirit. Does this mean we can never be wrong theologically? Absolutely not. I find that I am wrong frequently. But, yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit will always get you back on track, even if you have to learn a few lessons along the way. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
John begins his Gospel this way: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." This is quite a remarkable statement because the "Word" John is talking about is the Greek word logos, which is God's inspired and written Word (the Scriptures). So, the entire Word was completed before a single Hebrew letter was written down, before there were humans to write. The entire manuscript or scroll of human history was completed before it began. The Word is not just what a bunch of Jewish guys wrote down a long time ago, it is one of the many expressions of the living God.
Just as Jesus is God in human form, the Word is God in creative form. The declared word of God is the most powerful thing in the universe. God speaks things into existence. God's prophets determine the destiny of nations. A simple word of knowledge or wisdom can heal bodies and change lives. God's creative word is responsible for our very existence.
The Bible is not inerrant because of how accurate Hebrew scribes were and are, or how historically accurate it is, or because the human authors were inspired by God. The text we have is a way for God to reveal Himself to us is a way we can comprehend, and we can barely do that. The Word is inerrant because it is God, one of His infinite number of expressions. I look forward to the day when we no longer are limited by language and are better able to appreciate the magnitude of this.
The second and third way to believe God is to believe the rhema of God, also translated "word." The rhema is the "word" given to you by the Holy Spirit. A scripture recalled at a precise moment, an instruction regarding a particular matter, a prompting to pray for someone or something, or a word of wisdom or knowledge for someone, are all examples of God's rhema. I have found that it is in trusting God's rhema that I learn the most.
The Holy Spirit is a miraculous teacher, truly a wonderful counselor. How better to illustrate a theological question than through on-the-job training. Very often the Holy Spirit will answer questions by walking you through the answer. Is this a divine teaching method? Was the question presented in anticipation of the circumstance? Can you miss the question/answer? I'm sure the answer to all of these is "yes," but the only way to know for sure is to believe God's word to you.
Thirdly, and similarly, you should believe the word God has for you through someone else. God will give you a word for someone else, why shouldn't He give someone else a word for you? Admittedly, this can be dangerous, and John warned us to try the spirits whether they are of God, but the body of Christ is purposefully intertwined, and no individual part can operate better than the whole. In fact, I believe there are many instances where God purposefully gives an answer you need to someone else specifically to make us all co-dependent. I think this is especially true for family relationships (husbands and wives, parents and children, etc.).
This is hard, I know, because you're not entirely sure you can hear God clearly for yourself, and now you've got to trust that someone else can. This is absolute faith and surrender. I'm not suggesting that you blindly take people at their word every time they tell you the word is from God, but this is where the Holy Spirit will counsel you...if you let Him.
In short, believe His Word (the Bible), His word to you, and His word for you from others. Why? Because you will find that His Word/word is worth believing.