Friday, September 21, 2007

What I Do vs. What I Believe, Part 1

A Distinction Without A Difference

"Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?"

So ended the first session of The Truth Project, a DVD-based worldview study from Focus on the Family which we are beginning at our church. Dr. Del Tackett, who incidentally is one of the most effective and inspiring teachers I've ever heard, concludes his first lecture with this haunting question; and I've been pondering it ever since.

It reminded me of a thought that first came my way about 15 years ago, in a course taught by one of my favorite college profs, Dave Hershberger. He opined, "We don't need to live what we believe. We already do. We can tell exactly what we really believe by how we live."

At first I thought he was loony; but after about 5 minutes of raising and answering objections in my own mind, I concluded he was absolutely right. …and brilliant.

About 10 years later I read John Piper's Future Grace, with its central thesis that sin gets its power from the pleasures it (falsely) promises us and so the way to fight for holiness is to believe the promises of superior satisfaction from God. That book literally changed my life. (Someday I would like to write about the five books that have changed me the most and why. Interested? Stay tuned. Maybe I will.)

Suddenly, I saw that the key to fighting sin was not the gargantuan effort required to deny myself pleasure and "Just say no" to sin. Sure, the Bible exhorts us to say no, but a more biblically complete approach requires us to say "yes" to the promises of a far surpassing joy and fulfillment that God offers in His word. So once again, I was pointed back to the ultimate question: "What do I really believe? My feelings? The siren song of sinful desire? The culture? Or God's word?"

For example, Dr. Tackett suggested that if he himself really believed all that the Bible says about the fatherly nature of God and the power of prayer, he wouldn't have a problem NOT praying. The difficulty would be getting himself to stop praying!

I think he’s right. Do you? I think his question is one that’s well worth asking.

Do you really believe that what you believe is really real? …about God? …heaven and hell? …the Bible? …the final judgment? …the gospel?

Prove it. Live it.

(coming next week: why we tend not to live what we say we believe)


Anonymous said...

Conviction ...

Anonymous said...

I get Del Tackett's emails - his biblical view of the world vs the worldview of the world is right up your alley! I am so glad to hear that you will be studying his stuff. Please tell me about it. Do we really believe what we say we believe...our actions answer for us. Thanks, Josh!