What Does it Mean to Believe?

April 26, 2023

Believe. This is a word we have all heard before and one that is thrown around quite loosely in our present day. Our culture says, “believe in yourself.” T-shirts have “believe” hand-lettered across them. To many, belief is nothing more than mere hope or speculation: “I believe I can make it to your graduation party this May.” To others, belief means a cognitive acceptance of a set of facts: “I believe what she said. She has never lied to me.”  These many notions of the word believe may lead to confusion. 

What does the word believe mean to the Christian? The New Testament Greek word pisteuo (believe) means to “be convinced of something,” to “place confidence in,” or to “entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ).” The word “believe” is a key concept throughout the New Testament and appears nearly 250 times throughout. One of the most powerful instances of pisteuo occurs in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” More than just an intellectual process, the act of believing involves faith in Jesus Christ and leads to a personal relationship with Him. This concept is the very bedrock of our relationship with God. According to Hebrews 11:6, it is impossible for us to please God without faith. Belief connects us with our Redeemer and allows us to experience the rewards given to those who diligently seek Him. 

Over a third of the occurrences of pisteuo are in the Gospel of John, the 2023 National Bible Bee summer study passage. The entire book of John was written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31). Let’s look at a few of these instances and highlight how vital they are to our life as a believer.

  • John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This verse, one of the most well-known in Scripture, emphasizes the importance of believing in Christ as the only way to eternal life.
  • In John 6:35, we learn that Jesus Christ is the source of true fulfillment and satisfaction: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” 
  • With words of comfort to a grieving sister, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26) Our Almighty Redeemer has the power to give us eternal life and the belief in this is a central tenet of the Christian’s life. We do not have to fear death because we KNOW Jesus has conquered it!
  • In Christ’s high priestly prayer found in John 17, Jesus not only intercedes for His disciples but He also tells the Father that His requests are for those who would believe in His name through the word of His disciples. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) We are unified in Christ by believing that He accomplished the work the Father sent Him to do. 

The act of believing is central to the life of the Christian. Belief is so much stronger than a slogan. It is the means of our eternal life, our complete satisfaction, our comfort, and our union with God. Belief is not just a mental exercise. Instead, it involves complete surrender to God and a willingness to trust Him in every aspect of our life. Belief is not a one-time event. It is a continual action of growing in faith and trusting our Heavenly Father more deeply. Through this process, we develop a deeper understanding of God’s character and His plan for our lives. Join the National Bible Bee this summer as we explore the theme “Believe” and unlock truths found in the Gospel of John!

Written by NBB Alumna: Rachel Sheppard

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