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Risen Grace: All-In Belief

“He is risen from the dead!” His friends were trying to convince him, but Thomas just wasn’t buying it. He had watched Jesus die — and that was a fact, plain and simple. But before I continue writing about Thomas, let me tell you a story about all-in belief. A few weeks ago, two of

“He is risen from the dead!” His friends were trying to convince him, but Thomas just wasn’t buying it. He had watched Jesus die — and that was a fact, plain and simple. But before I continue writing about Thomas, let me tell you a story about all-in belief.

A few weeks ago, two of my crazy church friends, Linell and Eric, jumped off a perfectly good bridge at Victoria Falls in Africa and experienced a 4-second free-fall before a bungee strapped to their ankles stopped them from plummeting into the Zambezi River 425 feet below. By the way, that’s nearly four times higher than the Genetti in downtown Williamsport.

Taking that leap required a level of all-in belief called fiducia. If you’re not sure what that means, keep reading.

Linell and Eric began talking about bungee jumping at Victoria Falls long before they boarded a plane in New York City and headed for the dark continent to attend the wedding of a dear friend. I am certain they did plenty of internet research, including checking out the safety record of the company that runs the attraction. That information created in them an initial level of belief called notitia.

Notitia is the Latin word for information or data. Belief develops as we gain information. Even though my friends had not personally seen Victoria Falls or the bridge over the Zambezi, they had enough information to believe that all of it existed and that they could jump. Notitia advances belief, but it is far from fiducia.

The next level of belief is assensus, which is the Latin word for intellectual assent. Linell and Eric paid for their tickets and got in line — a clear demonstration of this level of belief. However, believing at the assensus level did not change their lives. Did they believe? Yes. Was that belief important? Most certainly. Did it cost them something? It did. But buying a ticket and standing in line on a bridge is not life-changing.

A life-changing experience requires a level of all-in belief known as fiducia, the Latin word meaning to trust personally or to rely upon fully. And that’s what they did when they leaned forward and jumped off the bridge — they fully relied on the bungee to protect them. It didn’t cost them something; it cost them everything. Three weeks later, the two of them are still basking in the glow of their accomplishment. They’ll never be the same again.

Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. I’m not sure how he missed it, but when the other disciples told him that Jesus was risen from the dead, he didn’t believe them. The information he received from his closest friends regarding the resurrection had no impact on him. He was determined to not believe.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” I know plenty of people like Thomas. They are determined to not believe. I am amazed at how much information humans can have access to and still not believe. Some people believe the earth this flat. Others believe we have never landed on the moon. Even with all of the empirical evidence available to them, they choose to not believe.

A week later, Jesus poured risen grace on the doubting disciple by allowing him to touch the wounds in His hands and side. At that moment, Thomas believed — and he was all in. It changed his life. Church tradition tells us that Thomas went on to preach the gospel in India where he was martyred, giving up his life for His Lord and God.

But Jesus says something rather interesting to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

My friends, Jesus was talking about you and me and everyone who has believed the good news of the resurrection without ever seeing the evidence given to Thomas. He calls us blessed for believing without seeing. Do you believe in Jesus?

If so, what kind of belief do you have? Is it notitia? Do you have the information that Jesus once walked on this earth and that He did amazing things? If so, you’re on the right track, but that level of belief will not change your life.

Is your belief assensus? Have you come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God? That intellectual assent is a great step in the right direction, but James 2:19 reminds us that even the demons believe that much.

Life changing belief requires us to be all in. It is more than the gathering of information and the giving of intellectual assent. Like Linell and Eric and Thomas, fiducia requires that we go all in. When we do, our lives are changed forever.

Fiducia is an act of the will, a choice. Jesus said to Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.” Linell and Eric didn’t have to jump. Their belief could have carried them all the way to Africa and to the very rim of the gorge, but without the dogged determination to go all in, their lives would have remained unchanged.

The fiducia question is the Lordship question. Have you given Jesus Christ full control of your life? You have the information, and maybe you have even given Him your intellectual assent, but the vital question is this: Have you fully placed your trust in Him? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Are you all in? If not, it’s time to jump. It won’t cost you something — it will cost you everything. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:24 –

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

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