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‘Believe in the Lord your God’

From the December 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

We hear the phrase “Just believe” a lot today, especially in advertising. Sometimes it’s linked with “dream” and “imagine,” suggesting we believe in some Santa Clausy kind of thing—sheer fantasy. One “Just believe” poster I saw showed a starry-eyed child gazing into a star-lit sky as if some good might magically fall from the heavens. Mere wishful thinking. 

But in the Bible—both the Old and New Testaments—the Hebrew and Greek words translated “believe” generally refer to a well-founded faith and trust. In the Glossary of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines believing in that biblical sense: “Firmness and constancy; not a faltering nor a blind faith, but the perception of spiritual Truth” (p. 582). (She contrasts that with the opposite usage of the word: “Mortal thoughts, illusion.”)

Truth-based believing is a firm, steadfast conviction of good and a trust in its source, God. For example, in the lions’ den, Daniel was protected because “he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23). Daniel’s believing was a solid confidence in God’s name, or nature—in His goodness, truth, and efficacy. Not “iffy” in the slightest. And when the Ammonites and Moabites called the Israelites to battle, there was nothing “iffy” in King Jehoshaphat’s cry to his people, “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established” (II Chronicles 20:20). This wasn’t blind belief but a firmness and constancy rooted in an understanding of God’s omnipotence. It was intelligent, positive conviction. And it was powerful. All the way marching to the battlefield, the Israelites sang praises to God. And when they got there, they found their enemies had destroyed themselves. 

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