What Does It Mean To Believe In Jesus?
"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 NKJV). This verse has to be the most renowned Bible verse, but also the most misinterpreted. What does it really mean to believe in Jesus?
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 NKJV) and "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 NKJV). "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9 NKJV). 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.
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. 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 NKJV). 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 NKJV). 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 NKJV).
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 NKJV). 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 in 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."
Also view: https://www.jesuswordsonly.com/books/733-pisteuo-usage-in-acts-by-luke.html