WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE IN JESUS? WHAT IS SAVING FAITH?
Ephesians 2:8 tells us that saving faith is a gift from God! Peter tells us that the faith that God gives us is more precious than gold (1 Peter 1:7). Faith is part of God's wondrous gift of salvation. What is salvation? I suggest going back and reading my blog entitled "Going Up" from April 15, 2020 which describes what happens when someone is saved – or "born again". And according to the Scriptures, in order to be born again one must believe in Jesus.
So, What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What is the gift of faith that God gives? You see, we all have faith of some kind – we trust the doctor to prescribe the correct medicine; we trust the pharmacist to fill the prescription with the right pill; we trust the pill to heal our bodies. We trust every time we turn on the faucet for clean water. But this kind of faith is not the saving faith that leads us to God and unites us with Him now and forever in heaven. WHAT IS THE GIFT OF FAITH THAT GOD GIVES FOR SALVATION?
TRUE SAVING FAITH that God gives is an all-encompassing faith that includes the following:
This is where MANY fall short. MANY people want to go to heaven when they die. MANY want to escape the corruption of this world and have their best life now. MANY want a Savior to get them out of bondage and free them from pain and suffering. SOME are even intellectually convinced of the Gospel message and they like the wholesomeness of Christianity, but they have never committed their lives in saving faith to Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior and Lord. Over and over again the Bible reveals that it is only FEW that entrust their lives to a King to rule and lead them wherever He wants them to go.
TRUE SAVING FAITH that is a gift from God includes both trusting Christ as Savior for life in eternity AND trusting Christ as Lord for life here and now. These do not happen on separate occasions; and I am not speaking of "Lordship Salvation". I have heard people say: "I believe in Jesus as Savior; I just haven't made Him Lord yet." No. We do not make Jesus Lord. Jesus IS Lord. Remember, saving faith is a gift from God – and God's gifts are good and perfect. TRUE SAVING FAITH that God gives provides the faith to fully embrace Jesus not only for entry into heaven someday, but also the faith to fully embrace Him for the life that we live here and now on this earth: we will go wherever He leads; we will do whatever He tells us to do; and we fully trust Him for the journey no matter how many mountains or valleys, sunny days or storms…
There can be several reasons people refuse God's gift of saving faith in Jesus: There is the fear of where Jesus will lead; the fear of alienation from family or to be ostracized from peers; or for some the very real fear of persecution for simply being a Christian. In John 12:42, many of the religious rulers believed intellectually that Jesus was God's Christ, but they refused to entrust their lives to Him because "they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God".
There is also the fear of having to give up a current lifestyle; or maybe some just don't want to give up their current sinfulness. Our fallen sin nature doesn't want to give up control (unbelief) – we want what we want when we want it (lust) -- and we want to do things our own way (pride).
Some say they will trust Christ when they understand everything about the Bible. Well, that will never happen! How can a human, finite mind obtain a full understanding of the infinite mind of God? Some refuse God's gift of saving faith because to do so would mean they have been wrong in their religious thinking – and personal pride keeps them from true saving faith.
The truth is that God's way of salvation is a narrow way -- and there are not too many that find it. In Matthew 7:13-14-Jesus said: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are MANY who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are FEW who find it." These verses tell us that there are many on the broad road of religion! They may have cleaned up their lives and gotten religious, but they are on the road to destruction. The narrow way is a hard way! [Read the Sermon on the Mount!] We cannot walk the narrow road that leads to life without Christ leading us and strengthening us on the journey…the journey that will eventually lead us to His Father's house in heaven.
We have a picture of this with Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The Israelites wanted a Deliverer to lead them out of bondage and make their lives better here on earth. They wanted out from under Pharoah's hard yoke of slavery. But they didn't trust the Deliverer for the journey, and they ended up wandering and eventually dying in the wilderness. Only a few had true faith!!! Joshua and Caleb are two that had real faith in God and His Word! They knew they had to face giants in the land; but they also knew God would enable them to overcome! They trusted God and His Word.
Saving faith takes God at His Word and believes Him – even when the way is hard and there are giants in the land. We trust; we follow; we obey; we grow; we persevere; and we glorify God now and forever.
In my April 15, 2020 Blog, we looked at Jesus conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Let's back up real quick and look at the verses just before that in John 2:22-25-"22…when He [Jesus] was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. [NOTICE, JESUS' DISCIPLES BELIEVED THE SCRIPTURE AND THE WORD JESUS SPOKE TO THEM.] 23Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, when they saw His signs which He was doing. 24But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25and because He had no need that anyone bear witness concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man."
In verse 22 we see Jesus' closest disciples believing the Scriptures about Christ and the word He taught them. They were fully convinced that He is the Christ (God's divinely appointed eternal Savior) and they joyfully placed their trust in and reliance upon Christ fully embracing Him for their daily life now and their life in the hereafter. And that is what they did – but we know that these were few in number. There were only 120 in that upper room in Acts 1:15!
However, in verse 23, we see MANY believing in Jesus because they saw all the signs and miracles He did. Jesus spoke to tens, maybe hundreds of thousands during His ministry on earth! MANY knew He was from God because of the miracles He did, but they did not see or believe that He is the Christ proclaimed in the Scriptures; AND BECAUSE JESUS KNEW THEIR FAITH WAS NOT THE TRUE SAVING FAITH GIFTED FROM HIS FATHER, HE DID NOT COMMIT HIS LIFE TO THEM! They didn't want Jesus, they wanted miracles; they wanted healed bodies and full bellies; they wanted release from Roman oppression; they wanted to live their life the way they wanted – with nothing but smooth sailing. They saw that Jesus had the ability to do that for them. But Jesus is God, and He is not anyone's genie or errand boy.
And so, the question must be asked: DO YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS? DO YOU HAVE TRUE SAVING FAITH? Do you believe the Scriptures and the words which our Savior has spoken to us? Even though you may not understand everything, do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and that believing you may have life in His name – here and now – and forever? If you have come to believe this, ACT ON IT! TODAY if you are hearing His voice, do not harden your heart! Don't wait until you understand more. TRUST CHRIST TODAY. Tell GOD that you believe in His Son as the Savior and Lord that HE is; and that you desire to give your life to HIM today, tomorrow, and forever to do with as HE pleases for HIS glory and the building of HIS eternal kingdom! Call upon God to save you and cause you to be born again: to wash you of your filthiness/sin; to give you a new heart; to give you a new spirit and to place His Holy Spirit in you to transform your life from the inside out (Ezekiel 36:25-27). YOUR LIFE WILL BE TOTALLY TRANSFORMED! [Which leads us to another Blog to come: What is the evidence that you have been truly Born Again?]