Belief isn’t just understanding, it’s trusting the thing you think you understand enough to actually act on it. Belief is recognized by activity, not debate. Intellectual understanding is the beginning of belief but not the culmination of belief.
In John 6, Jesus is teaching some paradigm shifting stuff and people who were following Him are changing their mind. When He gets into the nuts and bolts of this new Kingdom He is unfolding, the shift is too much for some people to believe to the point that they give their life to it. As they are leaving, He looks at the 12 that are walking closest with Him and asks them if they are going to leave, too? They tell Him they aren’t, as they have no place to go, and that they “have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (v. 69)
They tell Him that they have come to “believe” and to “know” but those words aren’t restating the same thing as they have slightly different meanings. The word “believe” actually contains two ideas within its definition. One of the ideas to describe the meaning behind that word include the idea of intellectual faith and another is the idea of saving faith by trusting in Jesus. Trust is different from agreement.
The intersection of faith is within the word “believe.” We don’t believe until we trust. When we step off the cliff into a life given over to the Father as our protector, provider and promoter, then we believe. For as long as we do it ourselves, even in His name, then we only agree.
The word “know” is derived from the idea of intimate experience including feelings and perceptions. It’s an experiential learning where the ideas that you might agree with are actually experienced. Where we trust the Truth to be True for us and act in faith in reliance on that Truth, we’ll actually believe and where we actually believe we’ll know because we experience. Where we offer our faith, God offers His faithfulness and our faith is strengthened by the experience with Him. Where we sacrifice, He resurrects and multiplies.
That’s why, in part, James 1:22 says to be “doers” and not just “hearers.” It won’t get “in” us until we trust it enough to move beyond studying for a quiz and make it a jump off of the cliff. We won’t trust it if we don’t trust Him and we won’t trust Him unless we die to us. Are you going to leave, too?