What Does It Mean to Believe In Jesus?
Even the demons believe and tremble...
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
This verse has to be the most renowned Bible verse, but also the most misinterpreted. What does it really mean to believe in Jesus?
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
When we receive the word of God, whether audibly or through reading, it first comes into our mind. This is where the belief starts, when your mind consumes the word of God. But this is where the differences are separated from someone who acknowledges the truth, and someone who obeys the truth.
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!" (James 2:19).
You can see a clear distinction in what it means to believe in Jesus. For even the demons believe but do not obey, but rather tremble.
Where the transformation happens is when we allow what comes into our mind to be digested into our heart, so that the word of God may spread through our spirit giving us life, just as the foods we consume spread through our body giving life to our body.
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).
Like a person who's body is starving, their temptation for food grows stronger as time passes. Likewise, when we fast in the spirit from the word of God, sin becomes a stronger temptation. Just as eating food subsides the temptation to eat, in similar manner, consuming the word of God, the living bread Jesus Christ, the temptation for us to sin loses its power.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
When we receive His word through faith, our faith becomes a channel, a portal for the divine Holy Spirit of God to flow into us, giving us a new heart, a renewing of the mind, allowing us to be transformed from this world, being born from above.
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:5-7).
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water(the Holy Spirit) that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).
"having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23).
It logically follows that if you truly believe in Jesus, you believe in every word He spoke. For He says,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35)
He taught us to obey Him:
"If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
"And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
So it is by our obedience to His commands, through faith, that defines our salvation.
There is the example of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. He was at the end of his life hanging on his cross being crucified beside Jesus. But by what he was capable of doing in his position, by faith did he speak out to Jesus from his heart asking for Jesus to receive him, and He did.
There is reason why God orchestrated this scenario to have it written in His gospel. It was to demonstrate His richness of grace and mercy, of His divine love even while He was on the cross suffering in pain, He was willing to reach out His hand of salvation towards the thief on the cross who cried out by faith for the Lord to receive him and He did.
For this very reason Christ came, to save that what is lost, to reconcile the world back to the Father.
Some may say I will just sin until my death bed and ask Jesus to forgive me. To begin with, your death may come unexpected leaving void the opportunity. Besides that, you are making a premeditated decision to choose to live for sin rather than God, and there is no fooling God. He sees the hearts of man and knows all our thoughts. He may say to you if you wanted to receive Me, why not then and not at your end? Do you love your sin more than Me? Is there true repentance in this approach? Or is it just a sinner who wants it both ways? Only God can make this decision, but I would not play games with your salvation, with your eternity. You may become a thief to the cross instead of being the thief on the cross if you take this approach.
"And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19).
Here we can see obedience being equated with belief. You see, we must first believe to come into obedience because we cannot truly obey Jesus without first believing in Him:
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
Apostle James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Our works through faith produce our obedience to God's word, showing that we love Him because we do the things that He asks of us who confess to follow Jesus:
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
There is more than one way to "believe" in Jesus. One way is to believe He existed, another, to believe He is the only begotten Son of God, and another, the true belief, that is to obey His commands through faith.
Likewise, as the word "believe" can be misinterpreted, so can our own subjective view of saying we "know" Jesus:
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:3-6).
Here we can see obedience being the focal point in the faith of Jesus, defining how we truly know Him, by keeping His commandments.
Some may say being saved is as easy as this verse:
"For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”" (Romans 10:13).
You have to ask yourself, what does it truly mean to call on the name of the Lord?
To truly call on the name of the Lord is to truly receive Jesus into your heart(Ephesians 3:17-19) being transformed from this world, having a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2); by being born again from above by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We can know this because of the conditions that must be met spoken of by Jesus and the word of God. He says we must be born from above to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:5). And that whoever is born of God cannot continue practicing sin (1 John 3:9). That he who sins is of the devil (1 John 3:8) and has never seen nor known God (1 John 3:6). That we must walk in the light just as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).
Romans 10:13, and other similar scriptures, can be looked at like a zip file on a computer. Though you may want to believe everything has been compressed into just that one scripture, once you open the file you can see that it is the other way around, that there is more to the word than just at surface level. We must look at all the relatable scripture on the subject to come to a determination. Especially when a verse makes a general statement on the most important topic of the Bible, that is our salvation.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will(obedience) of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23).
So in contrast to Romans 10:13, we can see there is a distinction for what it means to call on the Lord. One way is to truly receive Jesus into your life, and another is to have a form of Jesus, but never fully receiving Him as your Lord; while continuing in deliberate sin, that is to work iniquity. It is all or nothing, white or black. The devil likes to create grey areas of deception to make us feel comfortable, but it is in these shades where we are lukewarm and in danger of being cast out unless we truly repent (Revelation 3:16).
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me" (John 14:21-24).
If you say you believe, know, and love Jesus, but do not obey his commands, you are a liar according to the word of God.
"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”" (Luke 10:25-28).
"Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).
"When the English translations of the Greek New Tes-tament were made in the 1526-1611 period, the “difficult Greek in which the New Testament is written…still held mys-teries for” English scholars. (Nicolson: 224.) One of those mysteries was the Greek word pisteuo in John 3:16. In over 200 instances of pisteuo in the New Testament, not once did the King James Bible render it as obey. (See Strong’s Concor-dance.) However, scholars now realize obey was a common meaning of pisteuo in ancient Greek. Obey certainly was the meaning of pisteuo in John 3:36 (see page 448). Yet, this obe-dience salvation formula is identically repeated in John 3:16."