Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Believing Over Against Our Unbelief
Immediately the boy’s father cried out and began saying, "I do believe; help my unbelief."
Question 104 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What are the duties required in the First Commandment?” It gives the answer, “The duties required in the First Commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honouring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended; and walking humbly with him.” Last week we considered the important duty of fearing God. This week we examine what it means to believe God.
It is a hard thing to have someone say to us “I don’t believe you.” The reality is that a person may be justified in not believing us or he may be sinful. The fact is sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong, sometimes we are truthful and sometimes we lie. You and I are sinners. We should NOT be believed all the time. However, such is not the case with God. The Christian must believe God. He must believe that what God says is true, trustworthy, and will certainly come to pass. Man’s Fall in Adam was precipitated when Eve was deceived by the serpent into not believing God. In the temptation, Satan directly contradicted God’s warning of the punishment of death for eating the forbidden fruit. The serpent boasted “You shall not surely die.” Moreover, we do not have to guess as to why Eve listened to him. The Scriptures declare that Eve was “deceived” by Satan’s lie (1 Tim. 2:14). In other words, Eve sinned when she believed Satan rather than believing God.
What a monstrous sin it is to not believe God! God is the omnipotent, omniscient, and completely sovereign ruler of the universe, who is truth itself, who cannot lie, neither can He be overpowered. Whatever He says ought to be believed: fully, immediately, and with complete and utter confidence. There can only be two reasons to not believe someone: either the person is mistaken or he is lying. Hence, to not believe God is to call into question one of His perfect attributes: either He is not all-knowing and all-powerful, or He is not true. Both of these conclusions are blasphemous insults to God, yet such is the sin of not believing God.
Contrarily, when a Christian rightly thinks of God (as God and as his Savior) he will believe Him. He will believe God because he knows that whatever God says is true and it is right. Therefore, he will not only believe God, he will trust God. When I really believe that God is all-powerful and all-good I will trust God in everything, for I will know that God is going to do what is best for Himself and for me. Consequently, all of my hope will be in God, the one who is all-powerfully working all things for His glory and my good.
Furthermore, as I consider these truths, how can I do anything but delight in and rejoice over this God? I will necessarily be zealous to see all of God’s will come to pass, for I will know that His will is the perfection and blessedness of all that is good and right. I will call upon this God in any trouble. I will praise and thank Him in any good. And I will strive to obey Him fully, immediately, and continually for I will know that this is the best thing I can do with my existence. Seeing that He is the perfection of all goodness and blessedness, I will make every effort and preparation to please this God, and I will sorrow and mourn over every way in which I offend Him. Thus, my whole design and focus in every breath of my life will be to walk humbly with Him.
So why do we Christians who do believe God fall short of these logical and necessary consequences of believing Him? The ultimate reason is that we do not yet believe Him as we should. At the very root of every single sin is a sinful remnant of unbelief. However, if we have any real faith at all, we can know that God by His grace has given it to us and He by His power and love will keep us to the end. May God grant that we would believe Him more, and like the father of the demon-possessed child, may He help our unbelief!