The term “believer” was used also at times, and is commonly used today interchangeably with the term “Christian.”
However, I am finding that the using the language of “belief” and “believer” has created a misconception regarding our relationship to God.
Consequently, I looked up the word in the Greek to further research the original meaning behind the term. The Greek word translated as “belief”, “believe”, or “believers” repeatedly throughout the Gospels and Acts is “ pisteuo” which is defined in detail below.
BELIEF, BELIEVE, BELIEVERS
1. pisteuo (
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these."
Therefore, the word is not just intellectual assent, but confidence, trust, reliance upon, not mere credence. The same Greek word is also translated as commit, intrust, and trust. Therefore, a believer is not one who accepts certain truth claims as fact in his head, but is one who trusts, commits, has confidence in, relies upon, Christ. It is not a passive word, but an active word.
God isn’t looking for people to believe He is real and that His word is true. He is looking for people who rely on Him because He is reliable. For people who have confidence in Him, because He is worth their commitment. For people who trust in Him, because He is worthy to be trusted. Moreover, all of these things are good for the person.
Man is made to have this symbiotic relationship with their God. We are made to live, and move, and have our being in Him. That is where we thrive and experience the fullness of the good reality, the Truth that is not an informational fact of knowledge, but a Person that can be known intimately.
It can be truly stated that believing is seeing, because believing is not mere intellectual assent, it is to be fully invested experientially. Moreover, this is why we find when we seek. Seeking isn’t an intellectual exercise, but an act of experience. We seek with our being to connect with God. It does something in us to seek to find God, for we are positioned to find when we are seeking.
This is why I agree with those who say they need an encounter to believe. Or when it is said that a believer who makes a claim of hearing God speaking, or a claim of seeing miracles, ought to be able to demonstrate this reality and not just tell of a past story when it supposedly happened. I have absolutely no contention with this request. Not every Christian would make the claims I am making that God can personally talk to us, and that we can say what He is saying, and that we can do miracles like Jesus did. Many Christians would want to see this evidenced as well.
There are people on the earth today that are moving in extraordinary revelation and extraordinary healing power. This ability is not relegated to a few, but so many Christians do not know who they are. We have identity crisis, and we do not live like we have God living through us because our idea of that is something different than the fullness of what being in Christ really means. We trust in what we see with our physical eyes, instead of living out of our new identity. We really, myself included, are not much different sometimes than those who do not believe in God at all, because we make claims we do not live because our belief is head deep instead of heart deep.
Some would object instantly and think I am making some kind of attack against the authenticity of their faith in Christ. I assure you I am not. I am speaking of myself as much as of any one else in Christ. Jesus often told the disciples they had little faith, and yet they lived right there with Him. They saw the miracles, but their faith continued to rest in their natural reality rather than the supernatural reality.
They shook with fear as the storm raged in the boat while Jesus slept. They woke him, begging Him to do something. He stands and speaks to the storm to still and it obeys Him. Where was their belief? It was in the natural circumstance of a storm. Where was Jesus’ belief? It was resting soundly in the reality of God where there are no storms raging. He didn’t need to stop the storm to rest; He calmed the storm for the disciples. He was already resting confidently secure in a heavenly reality. He made that reality manifest for the disciples to see it once again in their natural circumstances.
Jesus said that we could bring that Kingdom reality (the supernatural heavenly reality) to the earth. The Kingdom is not a matter of word, but rather a demonstration of the power of God. Jesus demonstrated that power by calming the storm. There really isn’t any reason for people to believe at this high level of experiential belief when there is no demonstration of His Kingdom. Believing is seeing, because when you experience it, you will see.
I do not expect sight before experience. I write to help clear out some of the misconceptions out there about God’s Kingdom. I do not expect my words to persuade the sort of belief of which I speak. I hope that they can come to remembrance when the time comes that experience occurs to help aid in the transition that may follow once someone has seen the demonstration of God’s Kingdom.
Thus, I do not aim to pressure anyone to intellectual assent or experiential belief. I am confident that His words are true that any who seek after the truth will find it. From what I observe atheists are looking for truth, real truth, something solid and sure and right. I applaud that resolute determination not to be swayed by anything less.