“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8,9)
Faith is not stagnant, but constantly growing in our lives. It makes an eternal difference what you believe. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and that He has risen from the dead, you will be saved and inherit eternal life. Those who don’t believe are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18) But, faith also develops as we mature in Christ.
It matters not just what we believe, but also how strongly we believe. We are saved by what we believe, but sanctified by how strongly we believe. Our whole lives are a process of integrating what we encounter in Scripture with the thoughts which we have believed in the past, which were usually truth mixed with error. As we study God’s Word and apply it to our lives, His Spirit slowly replaces wrong doctrine with right doctrine. So, for example, we believe that Jesus heals people today through praying for them. If we have seen people get healed when someone prayed for them, and especially if we see them healed after we have prayed for them, we believe more strongly in answered prayer for healing. As our thinking is renewed (Romans 12:2) it brings life to our souls and transformation to our whole existence. We are all in the process of thinking more clearly and believing more strongly the Truths which are revealed in scripture.
Our beliefs also grow as they are tested in the nitty gritty of life. There is a radical difference between our faith before we are tested and after we are tested and come out the other side. Before I had my heart surgery I believed that I didn’t need to be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6,7). But, in the course of surgery I learned with my heart that it is prayer which makes the difference between fear and anxiety. Those verses came alive to me and were integrated into my life. I learned that there is really nothing that I should be afraid of, that God is in control and I can trust Him with every situation. We are all in process, becoming like Him. So the more that we are tested in life, the more that we can integrate what we believe with life. Because Jesus is the Truth, if we continue to seek Truth, we gradually learn to live out what Scripture says – our beliefs are rooted deeper and integrated more completely in both our thought patterns and in our life experiences. Scriptures goes from our heads to our hearts.