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To Believe Or Not To Believe ?. . . That Is The Question

To Believe Or Not To Believe? . . . That Is The Question

     No, that’s not Shakespeare, although it may sound a bit like something he penned many years ago.   His particular quote which comes from “Hamlet” is: “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. . . . ”   Upon reading the entirety of this narrative, I’d say it is quite profound.   Space in this article will not permit the printing of the whole soliloquy, but the final words of the oration are: “be all my sins remember'd!
     As ole’ William points out, if we “be” (if we live), and are here any amount of time (reach the age of accountability), we are going to sin.   The Bible stated this fact in Rom. 3:23 long before Hamlet was written. If we live long enough, we will realize some of these “natural shocks” due to our sins.   In anticipation of those who would arrogantly claim to be without sin, 1John 1:8 reminds such they are self-deceived and have no hold on truth. Another warning is 1John 1:10 to those who deny they have been tainted by sin, in so doing, are accusing God of being a liar.   Who would be so bold?   You’d be surprised.  
     Sadly, there are many who claim to not believe. Some have even been so deluded in mind to imagine they don’t believe that God is. The Holy Spirit, in Psa. 14:1 & Psa. 53:1 had the psalmist declare that those who fail to believe in God or who make proclamation of this are fools. So, to “not believe” is to be a fool. Those who have Bible faith are those, according to Heb 11:6, are those who not only believe God is, but also believe that He rewards those who “diligently seek Him”.   This, is why the Spirit had the penman of the Hebrew letter warn them not to “cast away their confidence” in Heb. 10:35. If they no longer believed, they also no longer would have hope.
     Sadder still, there are those who firmly believe in God, yet because of being misinformed, or for other reasons, either do nothing, or religiously do the wrong things. We have biblical examples of each of these. In Jas. 2:19 we read of the devils who “believe and tremble”. Yet, as spirit beings, they are no longer able to do anything with that belief.   In Gal. 1:14 the Spirit had Paul write and tell how, when he followed “the Jew’s religion” when he was known as Saul, he was “exceedingly zealous”.  In Acts 26:9-10 we read of some wrong things Paul did “contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth”. He imprisoned many Christians, and spoke against them when they were to be put to death. Could any argue that there was a lack of belief in either case?
     Does the fact that some refuse to believe, or that some believe erringly change God’s Promises to mankind? One can clearly see from Rom. 3:3-4 that question is asked and answered. “God forbid:” And, in Heb. 10:23 we are also reminded that God Who Promised is faithful. We are also told in 2Peter 3:9 that “the Lord is not slack concerning His Promise”. In that same passage we see it is not His desire that “any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”   What is that promise? From 1John 2:25, we know the Promise of God is “eternal life”.   But to whom? Is this promise to those who believe men and men’s teaching? I think not! Matt. 15:9 makes it quite clear if the commandments of men are taught and followed, vain worship results. Would they not also render vain belief?   This is exactly why 1John 4:1 instructs to “try the spirits whether they are of God”. Therefore, it is not only important to believe, but what one believes is of great significance as well.  
     God has also addressed this in His Word.   In 1Cor. 1:21 the Spirit had the apostle Paul write that the world by its own wisdom did not know God. This verse also shows what means God provided so man could believe. Here it is called the “foolishness of preaching”. It is foolish to the world because the world does not believe it.   Only God’s Word is to be preached as we see from 1Pet. 4:11 and 2Tim. 4:2.   The Spirit made it clear in Gal. 1:8-9 that an apostle, an angel from heaven, or any man preach anything else but the pure gospel of Christ, is to be accursed. Those who believe and follow that false teaching are also accursed.   Paul was directed in Rom. 1:16-17 to write to show that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”.   The preaching of the gospel is also how the righteousness of God is revealed to man.
     Notice the “eth” at the end of believe in the KJV. Some want to abandon the KJV Bible for many reasons.   This may be one of them, but this particular grammatical aspect is very important.   The “eth” on the end of a word means an on-going and continual thing. Mark 16:16 is one passage that uses this. He that believeth (continues to believe) and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not (does not continue to believe) shall be damned. Notice also that one cannot “just believe”.   Baptism “into Christ for the remission of past sins” is part of one’s obedience to the gospel, God’s Word.   Do you believe that God’s Word is good? Jas. 4:17 tells us if we “knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”.
     To believe or not to believe? . . . that is the question. What’s your answer? Look into the Word of God. Believe it! Follow it! Then take it to others so they can know, believe and follow it.   This is how the church grows and remains strong.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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