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Sunday, February 23, 2014

19. Spiritual Land Mine #7: Believing -- and not just believing in -- Jesus Christ (Part 1 of 3)

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the 19th examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

It's Simple.  Really.

His name was Naaman.

Naaman the Aramean was a commander of the armies of Ben-Hadad II, the king of Aram Damascus, in the time of Joram, king of Israel.

He was also a leper.

When Naaman came to the prophet Elisha desiring to be healed, he expected the cure to be both difficult and expensive.  Yet when Elisha told him to go bathe in the Jordan seven times, "he turned and went away in a rage" (1 Kings 5:12), feeling insulted and put off by so simple a prescription. Fortunately, his servants were able to convince him to give the "too easy" remedy a try.  Naaman humbled himself, did the simple thing he was asked to do, and was healed.

It's called the Nehushtan (or Nehustan, in Hebrew; נחושתן or נחש הנחושת)  -- a sacred object in the form of a snake of brass upon a pole.

The Bible informs us that when the Israelites set out from Mount Hor, they had to detour around the land of Edom (Numbers 20:21,25).  Frustrated and impatient, they complained against Yahweh and Moses (Num. 21:4-5).  Consequently, God sent "fiery serpents" among them.  For the sake of repentant ones, Moses was instructed by God to build a "serpent of bronze" that was used to heal those who looked upon it (Numbers 21:4-9).  The Jews themselves say it was not the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up to it, they figuratively looked up to the Lord, who healed them.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
Compare their disease and ours.  Sin bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

Compare the application of their remedy and ours.  Just as they looked and lived (and often by means which human reason never would have devised), you also shall not perish...if you believe.

Looked at in a larger sense, you are to build your hopes upon Jesus Christ and His promises of eternal life (Mark 16:16).  For "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).  Jesus says again:
"Verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my words, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:21). 
So, the real question is this:

Do You Believe Christ?

I'm sure that since you were a small child, you've believed in Christ.  You've seen pictures, paintings, drawings and sculptures of the Lord; you've read His words and maybe even felt His spirit as you've sung about Him.

But there's a vast difference between "Believing in Christ" and "Believing Christ."
"The first Article of Faith specifies that we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We often think that having faith in Christ means believing in his identity as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.  But believing in Jesus' identity as the Christ is only the first half of it.  The other half is believing in his ability, in his power to cleanse and to save -- to make unworthy sons and daughters worthy." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News, p.10).
It is one thing to believe in Christ (in that He is the Son of God) and another to believe Him (that He yearns to be closer to you, for you to hear His voice, be cleansed every whit by Him and, ultimately, to see His face).
"How do we identify true believers? Amid the cries "Lo, here is Christ; Lo, there," can we sift out those who truly believe from those who use gospel language without envisioning what the words really mean? It is one thing to believe Christ is the Son of God in some figurative way and another to believe that his Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ", p. 294)
Come follow (who?), the Savior said?
"If we believe only in Christ without believing Christ, then we are like people sitting in cold, dark houses surrounded by unused lamps and heaters, people who believe in electricity but who never throw the switch to turn on the power. People like this often pretend to themselves and to others that merely believing in electricity makes them warm and gives them light, but they still shiver in the dark unless they turn on the power. Though the appliances may all work and the wiring may be in good order, until we accept the power itself, beyond merely believing in the theory of power, we cannot enjoy the warmth and the light. This is why genuine faith in Christ-active acceptance of his power and not just passive belief in his identity-is and must be the very first principle of the gospel. No matter how much of the gospel one learns or even believes as a theory, until we accept the reality of our own salvation, we have not yet turned on the power." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News, p.12)
So how do we turn on the power of faith, and start believing Christ?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Land Mine #7....

1 comment:

  1. Great post! What role does sacrifice have in obtaining faith, revelation, dominion and standing before God? What does turning on faith look like. I look forward to your next post.