What Does It Mean to Believe?

Acts 16:25-34 (RSV)
"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's fetters were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, 'Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.' And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, 'Men, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.' And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God."

What does the word believe mean? Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition defines it as taking something as true, real, or good; having confidence in a statement or promise of another person; having religious faith; or supposing or thinking. In this sense, most Christians believe in Christ. They believe that He lived, that He was a perfect Man who sincerely believed that He was the Son of God, and that He died on the cross to save sinners. But the Greek word translated by most Bible versions as "believe" has a much deeper meaning than can be adequately conveyed by this closest English equivalent. The Greek word referred to is pisteo. According to the Greek lexicon within the New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, pisteo means to have faith in someone or something, to have implicit trust. Other Greek scholars of the New Testament have defined this word to mean to adhere to; to cleave to; to trust; to have faith in; or to rely on.

Consequently, when Paul and Silas answered their jailer's plea of what he needed to do in order to be saved by telling him to "believe in the Lord Jesus," they were calling him and his household into an absolute faith and personal reliance on Jesus Christ as Savior. It is the same call to comes to us when we are asked to believe in Christ, to accept Him as our personal Savior, to invite Him to be Lord of our lives.

What do you mean when you say you believe in Christ? Is it just head knowledge? Is it just a casual acceptance that He exists? Or perhaps just an acceptance of His basic teachings as "good ideas" to live by? Our belief in Christ, if we are to have a life-transforming experience and relationship with Him, must go beyond this. It must mean a total faith in Him as our Redeemer. The kind of trusting faith that an infant has in its mother while being cradled in her arms.

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