The question of why we believe is a very intriguing question to attempt to answer. For each person the answer varies and there are several influences that affect what each individual person, believer and non believer hold as the truth. Fundamentally we believe what we are taught and I will attempt to explain my reasoning for this in how I came to believe what I believe.
The first influence that had the most effect on me is what I was taught by my family. Parents are tasked with the paramount responsibility to teach their children as they grow and the parents adversely teach their children what to believe. For me I was raised in a God fearing home and was faithfully made to attend a strict Church of Christ local body. My parents instilled into me the basic theology of that denomination and because my parents taught me that as the truth I believed it. I was taught that I was not “saved “ until I was physically immersed in water and to fear God as though he was going to punish me when I sinned. Such beliefs I regarded as the truth because I had the upmost respect for my parents and trusted that what they taught was the truth. Although I no longer hold to the theology of the Church of Christ I do not completely discredit the teachings of my parents. It was my dad who first introduced me to the Lord and savior Jesus and instilled in me the need to study God’s Word.
The second influence that has had a great effect on my belief is our culture. I have lived most of my life in deep east Texas and if anywhere is considered the Bible belt it is here. In the area where we live it is the norm to get up every Sunday and put on your best and drive to a building where others have done the same and attend a service, then drive to a local restaurant or back home for the Sunday meal. This is expected in our culture. It is largely the norm to “attend” a church rather than be church. I too believed this. I thought that because everyone around me was attending a weekly meeting and hearing a pastor speak of God’s Word and at times were briefly emotionally moved but by noon the hunger pains had subdued that emotion and left shaking hands and patting the pastor on the back, we were doing what was right. I am not insinuating that all local bodies of believers see corporate worship this way but what I was taughtwas that’s all you had to do was just show up and do church. It was expected of me. I was not to go too far outside of my comfort zone and as long as I did not miss too many Sundays in a row I was ok. I was not taught directly that this was what to believe but it was what the culture around me was doing and I therefore looked at it as what to believe.
The last influence I will address has had the greatest impact on my life and has drastically affected the first two influences I mentioned. This would be the personal reading, praying through and study of God’s Word. Although I was taught what to believe by my parents and shown by the culture I live in, when I stopped relying solely on others to tell or show me what to believe my eyes were opened. When I began to seek God and his will for me in His Word I found complete truth to believe in. 2 Timothy3:16-17 says “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training up in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good deed”. I saw that God’s Word is perfect and if we dig into it we discover truth. I discovered that not all that what my parents held as the truth was not what I saw in God’s Word. Through studying I saw that issues such as baptism and fearing God that I was taught conflicted with what I read in the Bible. By simply reading and seeking God in His word I discovered also that the culture I was immersed in was in conflict with God’s Word. This culture is weighted in evangelism but severely lacking in discipleship. This culture taught me to admit, believe and confess but left out the go. It was not until I read over the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 where he says we must pick up our cross and follow Him. It was as though I had never heard this before. No one told me to go, only admit, believe and confess. These words of the Savior completely changed what I believe.
There are many influences that effect what we believe, but when we allow the Holy Spirit to take the scales off of our eyes to see truth in God’s Word we see clearly what to believe.