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 our mind receives the word of God. In what way we receive His word, 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 of what it means to believe in Jesus. For even the demons believe but do not obey. When we receive God's word, but do not allow it to transform our lives seeing the fruits of the Spirit manifest, we are left with the faith of demons. Even worse, for at least the demons recognize the consequences and tremble. For there are many who profess to be a Christian but are not walking in the Spirit, having no fear of God.
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 start at the mouth, with our tongue making a distinction and our stomach agreeing, spreading through our body giving life to our body. Likewise, our mind is the mouth to our soul and our discernment the tongue, allowing what to pass through; with our heart coming into agreement, influencing what proceeds out of our mouth:
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man..." (Matthew 15:18-20).
You may have heard the phrase, "You are what you eat." Likewise this applies in the spirit. For what we consume in our hearts will influence the nature of our spirit. What we allow to be fed through our eyes and ears can bring forth a blessing or curse upon our souls. This is why Jesus declared:
"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).
"But He(Jesus) answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4).
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 our hearts, putting to death the old man who use to practice sin, and bringing to life our once dead spirit. We no longer have a desire to live in our past sinful desires, but through the process of sanctification by His Spirit, we learn to walk as Jesus walked, living for righteousness through faith. This is when we become 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).
In this life, before receiving the Spirit of Christ, we chased the things of the world to satisfy our fleshly desires being carnally minded in nature, but they never truly satisfied. We were left living in a perpetual state of self destruction trying to fill an empty void within our soul in an attempt to cure sin with sin. This world provides for us a counterfeit hope of peace and joy, being fragile, that can be shattered at any moment by the world. What Jesus wants us to receive from Him is the eternal quench of the soul:
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).
"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13).
It is through this process of truly believing in Jesus that we able to receive His Spirit, the comfortor, Who will help us along the way unto salvation. This isn't the finish line, but only the beginning:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
As a good father who only wants the best for their child, our fear to disobey because of the consequences is a good fear. Just as the fear you receive when you look over a very high cliff. Your natural reaction is to pull back to avoid death. This is the good fear we should have towards our Father in heaven Who truly wants the best for us above all. We live in a fallen world and thus the temptation to sin is lurking all around us. So our obedience to our heavenly Father helps guard us to what brings death to our souls:
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10-11).
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10).
The Word which was in the beginning, through Whom all things were made, that produced the heavens and Earth, became flesh giving us the words of life. By His words we were brought forth and by His words we are delivered out. It logically follows that if we truly believe in Jesus, we believe in every word He spoke. For He says:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (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:
"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
"If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
"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. So it is by our obedience to His commands, through faith, that defines our salvation:
"And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
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 Him to receive him, and He did:
"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).
There is a reason why God orchestrated this scenario to have written in His gospel. It was to demonstrate the richness of His 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 which was lost, to reconcile the world back to the Father. He demonstrated that there is hope even for those who are in the last moments of their lives, and that salvation comes through faith in Him alone.
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.
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).
How did Jesus teach us to walk? He taught us something radical that is foreign to this world, to exhibit a love so great, that it would even extend to our enemies:
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-48).
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:8-10).
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Did you know that Jesus spoke more about hell then heaven? He was very direct in His message, because for this very reason He came to suffer and die on our behalf. For He desires no one to enter that place. This is what He says concerning hell:
"Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).
"There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..." (Luke 13:28).
Jesus tells us Who to fear,
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
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?
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.
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
What do the verses say previous to Romans 10:13?
"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).
It is not enough to live our lives on one Bible verse, though one verse can be effective to bring one soul unto the word. As we can see, the verses previous to Romans 10:13 give more insight into what it means to call on the name of the Lord. It is a condition of what or who we allow in our heart, and the introduction to this sermon goes into detail about what that means.
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (obedience). Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (disobedience)!’" (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 heart and another is to have a form of Jesus, but never fully receiving Him as your Lord and savior; while continuing in deliberate sin, that is to practice lawlessness.
It is all or nothing, white or black, hot or cold. 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:
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).
"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 we say we believe in, know, and love Jesus, but do not obey his commands, we are liars 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).
We must avoid taking a subjective view when examining the Bible, basing it on our own feelings; but rather look upon it objectively. In other words, we must not bring the word of God down to our level to accommodate our lifestyle, but rather allow His Spirit to elevate us up to His word, so we may truly be transformed into the image of Christ.
Just as it is impossible for us to have any part of bringing about our natural birth from the womb, likewise there is nothing we can do to earn the free gift of everlasting life through salvation in Jesus Christ. But just as we need to be obedient to the needs of this life to live, likewise it is by our obedience to His word that keeps us from perishing.
Our works cannot save us, but they can condemn us. It is not that we earn our way into heaven, it is that we obey our Lord.
"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."