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Is belief a choice?

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#1
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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Romans 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

This verse makes it pretty simple as to what we need to do to be saved.  It says there are only two things that we need to do.  One of them being to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and the other one being to believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead. 

I have already confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord.  But I can't understand how we can just believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead.  How is it really a choice to believe something is true or not?  If we can choose to believe something is true, please tell me how, because I want to be saved.  I have a feeling that your response might be to just read the bible, because faith comes from hearing the word of God.  I really don't think that is true though, because I have read most of the bible and I still don't know for sure if it is the truth or not.  A lot of atheists are bible scholars that have read the whole bible through many times.  There are even people who claim that the more they read the bible, the less they believe.  So if reading the bible isn't going to give me faith, then how else am I suppose to get it?  And what does God consider "enough" faith or belief to enter his Kingdom anyways?  Someone can only believe to a certain extent without knowing for one hundred percent.  And to know for one hundred percent, you would have had to actually seen Jesus raised from the dead.



#2
alphaparticle

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I think this is actually a pretty tough question. It does seem to a large extent we can't actually help what we believe- we believe what seems true. How can we really help what seems true to us? I believe if you are open and praying for guidance God will give you the evidence you need that it will, truly, seem like the truth to you.

 

Here are a couple verses that came to mind when reading your post.

 

The first suggests we actually only need very little faith.

mat 17:20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

 

The second is one that has fascinated me for a long time, and has spoken to me personally. Maybe it will help you also.

 

mar 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”



#3
One With Him

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It sounds to me like you do believe, but it also sounds like your human side is trying to keep you from having faith in something it can't see, smell or touch. Jesus asked, "who do men say that I am?" Peter then listed all the people he had heard people call Jesus. then Jesus asked "but who do you say that I am? Peter said, "you are the son of the living God." Jesus told Peter that God the Father had revealed this to him. Look in your heart. The Bible says, seek and you shall find, Knock and it will be open to you. God must listen to a person repenting of their sins. Jesus loves you. I will be praying for you.



#4
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Hello NothingMakesSenseAnymore,

 

I think the parable of the sower represents when people search for God. We can see that there are many obstacles which cause doubt and those who receive the Gospel and accept it  go forwards to produce spiritual fruit from their belief. It is a process with many challenges but so long as you keep your eyes upon Jesus you will not fall away. 
 
Mar 4:14-20  The farmer sows the word.  (15)  Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  (16)  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  (17)  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  (18)  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  (19)  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  (20)  Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown."


I suggest you speak the resurrection as absolute certainty and have no doubt because without it there is no Christianity. The resurrection is the most important event in the history of humankind. Embrace it with certainty it is your salvation. 
 
 
1Co 15:12-14  But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  (13)  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  (14)  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
 
 


#5
Dak

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Romans 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
 
This verse makes it pretty simple as to what we need to do to be saved.  It says there are only two things that we need to do.  One of them being to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and the other one being to believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead. 
I have already confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord.  But I can't understand how we can just believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead.  How is it really a choice to believe something is true or not?  If we can choose to believe something is true, please tell me how, because I want to be saved.  I have a feeling that your response might be to just read the bible, because faith comes from hearing the word of God.  I really don't think that is true though, because I have read most of the bible and I still don't know for sure if it is the truth or not.  A lot of atheists are bible scholars that have read the whole bible through many times.  There are even people who claim that the more they read the bible, the less they believe.  So if reading the bible isn't going to give me faith, then how else am I suppose to get it?  And what does God consider "enough" faith or belief to enter his Kingdom anyways?  Someone can only believe to a certain extent without knowing for one hundred percent.  And to know for one hundred percent, you would have had to actually seen Jesus raised from the dead.


I was kind of like you.

I had said the salvation prayer several times, but I was not sure I was saved.

I had read parts of the Bible too, but I was not sure what to believe.

I was looking for something more -- more than logical arguments, more than doctrines -- and that something more is God himself. Jesus Christ himself.

If you ask me why I believe the things I believe in, I have only one answer, and that is I have found God to be real. Simple as that. I believe in God because I have known God. He has revealed himself to me. (And all the other things I believe in about the Christian faith come easy after this.)

Jesus said:



ESV > Matthew 7:7-8:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."


Seek Jesus himself, and you will find him. That I promise you. Then things will begin to make sense to you again.

Perhaps you can find encouragement from my own testimonies that I posted here in Worthy?

123906-dp-five-glorious-years-of-loving-jesus

125028-dp-searching-for-god-on-my-own

~

#6
chloe_fantastic

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I can only share my personal experience. Yes, belief was a choice I made.

 

I have something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Untreated, it's very difficult, sometimes impossible for a person with this disorder to control their thoughts. I was diagnosed with this at 11 years old. Part of the treatment for this disorder is teaching a person to be very mindful of the thought life, and taking the time to examine the thoughts to see if they're valid or true or profitable or what have you. When a thought is found to be untrue or invalid or whatever, the idea was to consciously discard that thought and consciously replace it with one that was true, valid, etc  All this is an act of the will. It isn't about emotions or feelings or anything subjective. I had to be taught to consciously choose what I think. This was all before I became born again, so I was well-acquainted with the idea that it didn't matter what I "felt" like, or even what I "thought", or any other wishy-washy thing. I could choose.

 

Now there is a flip-side to this: John 6:65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." NKJV

The one and only reason I could choose was because God gave me that choice. If you've heard the Gospel, He's extending that choice to you as well. I'm praying that you take it.



#7
shiloh357

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The OP highlights the Church's failure in the area of discipleship.  People make a profession of faith, but then they are left flounder.  This is particularly a problem for someone who comes to know Jesus, but remains living in the same environment with no discipling influence.   They often end up confused and frustrated because they have no way of dealing with the challenges their preivious culture poses to their new found faith. 



#8
Dak

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The OP highlights the Church's failure in the area of discipleship. People make a profession of faith, but then they are left flounder. This is particularly a problem for someone who comes to know Jesus, but remains living in the same environment with no discipling influence. They often end up confused and frustrated because they have no way of dealing with the challenges their preivious culture poses to their new found faith.


As I am a representative of those who were left to flounder, I totally agree with you, Shiloh.

Something good can come out of this failure though; in fact, it can be considered a blessing. And that is those who have unfairly struggled (that is, compared to those who have had good churches and have received good discipleship), and have succeeded in their struggles, come out of their trials very strong in their faith. They also know God intimately, having spent so much time with him. And they also know much of the real situations in the battlefields, having been there themselves, and therefore can understand the lost very well. In short, they become members of the Special Forces in God's armies.

I can only speak for myself, of course, but I think there are other believers out there who would say the same thing.

~

#9
other one

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The OP highlights the Church's failure in the area of discipleship.  People make a profession of faith, but then they are left flounder.  This is particularly a problem for someone who comes to know Jesus, but remains living in the same environment with no discipling influence.   They often end up confused and frustrated because they have no way of dealing with the challenges their previous culture poses to their new found faith. 

once again we are in total agreement



#10
gray wolf

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There have been some good thoughts here.  I can't really add much, but I was a little troubled by your view of the Bible, that reading it would create more problems.  I don't think this is the case at all.  When it is read with an agenda or preconceived notions, of course it will not be effective.  But if you approach it with an open heart and mind,  the sky's the limit. 

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,

and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 

so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11



#11
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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 Yes, belief was a choice I made.

 

The one and only reason I could choose was because God gave me that choice. If you've heard the Gospel, He's extending that choice to you as well. I'm praying that you take it.  

How do I take it?  You are saying that if you have heard the gospel that God has given you the choice to believe.  If this is so, since I have read the gospel, how do I make that choice to believe?



#12
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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The OP highlights the Church's failure in the area of discipleship.  People make a profession of faith, but then they are left flounder.  This is particularly a problem for someone who comes to know Jesus, but remains living in the same environment with no discipling influence.   They often end up confused and frustrated because they have no way of dealing with the challenges their preivious culture poses to their new found faith. 

What are you saying here exactly?



#13
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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I think this is actually a pretty tough question. It does seem to a large extent we can't actually help what we believe- we believe what seems true. How can we really help what seems true to us? I believe if you are open and praying for guidance God will give you the evidence you need that it will, truly, seem like the truth to you.

 

 

I have prayed many times for faith



#14
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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It sounds to me like you do believe, but it also sounds like your human side is trying to keep you from having faith in something it can't see, smell or touch. Jesus asked, "who do men say that I am?" Peter then listed all the people he had heard people call Jesus. then Jesus asked "but who do you say that I am? Peter said, "you are the son of the living God." Jesus told Peter that God the Father had revealed this to him. Look in your heart. The Bible says, seek and you shall find, Knock and it will be open to you. God must listen to a person repenting of their sins. Jesus loves you. I will be praying for you.

I have been seeking, i have been knocking.  I just want to know how to get the faith that is required to be saved.



#15
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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  there are many obstacles which cause doubt and those who receive the Gospel and accept it  go forwards to produce spiritual fruit from their belief. 

 
 

 
 
 

 

How do you accept it?  And what does accept it actually mean?



#16
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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Jesus said:


ESV > Matthew 7:7-8:

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."


Seek Jesus himself, and you will find him. That I promise you. Then things will begin to make sense to you again.

 

I have asked for alot of things and have not recieved them.  I have seeked and seeked for answers to questions that I can't understand and am still confused.   



#17
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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There have been some good thoughts here.  I can't really add much, but I was a little troubled by your view of the Bible, that reading it would create more problems.  I don't think this is the case at all.  When it is read with an agenda or preconceived notions, of course it will not be effective.  But if you approach it with an open heart and mind,  the sky's the limit. 

 

I don’t think anyone picks up the bible and starts reading it with a purpose or “agenda” other than to find truth. 



#18
NothingMakesSenseAnymore

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For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,

and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud,
that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 

so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

What is he talking about when he says "my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth". 



#19
gray wolf

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I always took it to mean whatever God says, which would include His written word. Anybody else have any ideas?  A similar verse is 

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.  
Certainly his words in Scripture are included here.

Edited by gray wolf, 07 December 2013 - 10:09 AM.


#20
WillfromTexas

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Belief is a choice.  That's what free will is all about!  We all have a choice to believe what the Bible says, believe Jesus died for our sins, and believe he was raised from the dead.  If God forced us to believe then we wouldn't have free will.  What God does is give us faith to believe once we've made the choice to follow him.

 

Personally I believe if you are sincere when you say the sinner's prayer, and accept Jesus as your savior, accept the gift of forgiveness, then you are saved.  What you do with this gift is what is important.  We follow Jesus for what he has done for us and strive to be like Jesus who is our example.  All God wants is your thanks, recognition of Jesus work, and an honest desire to follow him.  We don't follow God out of fear but because we love him and appreciate what he has done to deliver us from damnation.

 

If you've confessed Jesus as your savior then you are saved!  Jesus did everything that needed to be done to get you to Heaven.  Many don't accept Jesus because they think it is too simple.  They think- that's it?!  Don't I have to read the Bible every day?  Don't I have to do this or that?  The answer is no.

 

Does this mean we can live like those who aren't saved?  Once again the answer is no.  We have a higher calling not to live like the world does.  We prove our faith and what we believe by our lives.  When we share Christ, help the poor, love our enemies, read the Bible, and try to avoid sin it shows we are Christians.  It isn't the thing that gets us to Heaven but it's evidence we believe what we believe.  I help that stranger because Jesus lives inside me and is what he wants me to do.

 

Your faith will grow the longer you stick with your faith.  I'm 42 now and have been a 'true' Christian for around 20 years and it's still a learning process.  When you first start it's easy to be swayed by the world and nonbelievers because you're ignorant of God and what the Bible says.  Through time your faith grows and all the things people say don't matter. 

 

There's nothing that could ever be said or done that would take away my faith in Jesus now.  Which goes back to your original question is it a decision.  It is even a decision to this day but I know so much now about God and Christ it's an informed decision.  Every Christian could walk away tomorrow and worship the devil but we don't because we know it leads to destruction.

 

John 5:23-25

Amplified Bible (AMP)

23 So that all men may give honor (reverence, homage) to the Son just as they give honor to the Father. [In fact] whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, Who has sent Him.

24 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the person whose ears are open to My words [who listens to My message] and believes and trusts in and clings to and relies on Him Who sent Me has (possesses now) eternal life. And he does not come into judgment [does not incur sentence of judgment, will not come under condemnation], but he has already passed over out of death into life.

25 Believe Me when I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the time is coming and is here now when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it shall live.

 






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