Taking someone at their word. Accepting what they say. Believing and acting on what someone has told you. This lies at the very heart of relationship. Being able to trust what someone tells you: it is an indication of what sort of relationship you have. Good or bad.
God expects us to take him at his word. He is after all God Almighty. He is not amused when we don’t. Taking God at his word means we trust in what he says; refusing to heed what he says, means we don’t trust God !
Many people can believe that what God tells us in the Bible, and especially the teaching of Jesus Christ, is all very moral and good. But believing that to be the case and acting on it are two different matters. Many people take Jesus for a good teacher, but few actually take on board what he teaches and obey it.
And that is what counts. Belief means TRUST and OBEDIENCE in the Bible. It does not mean some vague idea of agreeing about the theory; that is just the first step. You have to act on it.
We find in Genesis chapter 15 God’s promise to Abram about a son and heir, indeed about a great nation descending from him. That looked impossible to Abram at the time; naturally speaking it was a very remote possibility. His wife had never fallen pregnant in all their years of marriage.
But verse 6 says this – a verse incidentally repeated by the apostle Paul in his letters in the New Testament because it is so fundamentally important to the Christian spiritual life:
AND HE [ie Abram] BELIEVED IN THE LORD AND HE [ie the Lord] COUNTED IT TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
We too must believe ie trust in what God tells us in the New Testament. When God says DONT BEAR FALSE WITNESS ie don’t tell lies, then don’t. If you do, then you are doing the opposite of being righteous – that’s called evil.
Yes it is evil to oppose what God tells us. It is to side with self and Satan against the good God would have done.
To believe in God is not some vague agreement with the notion that he is there. To believe in God is to do as he says. It is to trust that what he tells us is for the best. When we act on it, whatever the circumstantial problems which may arise as a result with other human beings, we can know nevertheless that God is with us, and that God will act for us.
When God tells us to be baptised, for example, then we should. Not perhaps; not some day later when we have the time. But immediately.
When God tells us to love him above all others, then we must take him at his word. And let us remember, like Abram, that when we do take God at his word, he has promised to bless us.
See, for example, Matthew 19, verse 29