In John chapter four we see a very interesting exchange between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Afterwards she went and told the people in her town all about Him. There is a great lesson to be learned from what happens next.
Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what He said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42 HCSB)
Who have you believed? Have you believed Jesus, or someone who talks about Jesus? It is a distinction and a question worth our consideration. Often we build our beliefs on what someone else says. We read books, browse websites or listen to sermons and then base our beliefs on that.
I am thankful for teachers and preachers who faithfully expound on the Word of God. Books and curriculums which help us walk through the bible and through life are a blessing too. However, even they are no substitute for hearing God’s voice directly and for knowing Him yourself. Remember what happened when the Samaritan woman went and told people about Jesus–it drove people to Him, which is what all preaching,teaching and witnessing to others should do.
If we base our beliefs on what other people tell us, we will always be getting their particular bent. They may be sincere and loving and have our best interest at heart, but they are only going to be able to tell you what they know in the way they understand it and through the lens of their own personal interpretations and experiences. It is a shaky foundation to be sure, even if everything they tell you is right, because what happens if you see them fall into sin? If they let you down? If you get upset with them? The beliefs you got from them may stand or fall with them.
For our beliefs to be secure and built on a firm foundation, we need to hear directly from God Himself. How do we do this? By the study of His word and by prayer. Get into the bible directly. Open it up and read and study it without laying someone else’s book or curriculum on top of it. Ask God to reveal His truth to you through the Holy Spirit Who was sent to lead us into all truth. Spend time in prayer and in silence, talking to God and listening to Him.