I can’t believe in Jesus Christ. I just can’t. In my human, rational mind I cannot conceive of a supernatural God-Man who was born of a virgin, lived without ever sinning – not even a small lie or selfish thought – and then came back to life after being executed on a Roman cross. Then, I’m supposed to believe this God-Man is in heaven right now (which I cannot verify by any human means) and will someday come back and judge the living and the dead – which means everyone who ever died will come back to life and all stand before him. How does that work? What about the people who have decomposed, been incinerated or blown to bits? Does everyone just re-materialize, or is there some soul or spirit that’s part of the equation? Nope. I can’t believe in Jesus Christ … at least not on my own.
In Matthew 12:38-42, we encounter two examples of unbelief versus belief – the people of Nineveh vs. the Jews of Jesus’ day and “the queen of the south” who came to hear Solomon vs. Jews of Jesus’ day. In both cases a contrast was made showing that the Ninevites and the queen of Sheba (as we know from 1 Kings 10) demonstrated belief in something, which, in both cases, was something less that the very “Son of Man” who was standing in front of the Jews and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and who claimed to be their long-awaited Messiah (whom they rejected).
Then, in Matthew 12:43-45 we encounter an example of sort of false or incomplete belief. This is a bit less straightforward, but it seems to mean in Jesus’ story that a person had an evil spirit cast out of of them, and then, presumably, they exercised some level of believe in the power of the person who freed them from being demon possessed (a ministry which Jesus had been performing), but that it was not a real, abiding faith. The result was they got their life “put in order” but they were devoid of the Holy Spirit of God, and thus the demon returned with “seven other spirits more evil than itself” and then that person was worse off than before.
Now, back to my statement that I cannot believe in Jesus Christ on my own, much like the Jews who listened to and observed Jesus didn’t believe in him. In my last post I highlighted how God has to give us a new heart in order for us to bear good fruit, but that is actually out of order in relation to what is being discussed here. Before fruit there is faith; and faith, like a heart of flesh that can know and love God, is a gift from God and is requisite for belief – true belief – in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Apart from the unmerited gift of faith being given by God to us, we cannot believe. We will not believe. The Bible says we are blind, deaf, foolish, ignorant, and ultimately spiritually dead, so of course we will not and cannot believe. Our salvation is wholly dependent on God to make us alive, seeing, hearing, knowing and believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, through whom we are able to be reconciled to a holy and just God.