What Does It Mean To Believe?

What Does It Mean To Believe?

What Does It Mean To Believe in Jesus and what am I supposed to believe?

The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, plus, NOTHING! Our good works are the result of our salvation, never the cause of it! See Romans 4:3; 10:9, John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9.

In other words, the moment we truly believe we are saved. Then, your good works will follow. If they don’t, then you never truly believed with your heart. That is what James meant in James 2:23-24. Intellectual assent is not heart knowledge.

Justification is a legal term, it means we have been declared righteous, it happens the moment we truly believe. Sanctification is a life-long process.

There are many people who say things like, what does it matter what people believe, as long as they are sincere in their faith? Allow me to illustrate.

A few years ago in Chicago, 7 people died from taking what they thought was Tylenol. The capsules were actually filled with cyanide. They never did catch the people who did it. Were they sincere in their belief that what they were ingesting would help them? The answer is,”Yes.” They were sincere.

Unfortunately, what they believed was wrong, their faith was misplaced, and they were sincerely wrong. It cost them their lives.

More than 85% of people polled say they “believe in God.” Believing that God exists doesn’t make you “godly” anymore than eating at McDonald’s makes you a hamburger!

God’s promises in time and eternity are contingent upon us believing in Jesus. 

Mark 9:23-24,  “And Jesus said to him, ‘If You can, all things are possible to him who believes.'” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and {began} saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Mark 11:23, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be {granted} him.”

John 3:14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 8:24, “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am {He}  you shall die in your sins.”

The most common answer I receive when I ask people, “How do you know you are a Christian? Inevitably the answer is, “Because I believe in Jesus!”

  • Hindu’s believe in Jesus + 330 million other gods!
  • Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet.
  • New Ager’s believe in Jesus too. Almost everybody believes in Jesus.

The Bible says that all you have to do to get into heaven is to believe in Jesus! But the Bible also says that even the demons believe in Jesus and you won’t see them in heaven!

So what does it mean to “believe in Jesus” and what am I supposed to believe?

First of all, there is a huge difference between believing “in” Jesus and “believing” Jesus. Intellectual ascent is not biblical faith.

Why is getting this right so important? Because our salvation is equated with believing.

Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

Acts 16:30-31, “… and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.'”

The question is, what does the Bible mean when it says “believe?”

The Gospel of John is where we find the word “believe” more than any other book of the Bible. Its 96 times to be exact.

The Greek word we translate “Believe” is found in Strong’s Concordance # 4100. The word is pisteuo (pist-yoo’-o). It is used as a verb and it comes from the same root as the word “faith.” It means: to believe in, to trust in, and to rely upon.

Double checking for accuracy I looked up the word “believe” in the Zondervan Biblical encyclopedia. It said, “See faith.”

In Hebrews 11:6, the Bible says,

“And 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 seek Him.”

This is from Matthew 9:28-29,

 “And after He had come into the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?'” They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘Be it done to you according to your faith.'”

The question becomes, “What does it mean to have faith?”

The Zondervan Biblical Encyclopedia shows the Greek word, “Pistis” for the word faith:

  1. conviction of truth with the included idea of trust.
  2. fidelity, faithfulness.

So, what does it mean to have faith?        

I Cor. 4:1, “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is required that those  who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

Who are the epistles written to?

Eph 1: 1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”

Gal. 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Matt. 25:21, “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

Ravi Zacharias said,

“In the Hebrew language there is no word for faith apart from the idea of faithfulness. And in our being faithful to Him we find the purpose for which we were designed in a greater way, that is not bondage that’s liberating. Our faithfulness to Him is the key to unlocking the treasure of all that He has given to us!”

What does it mean to be faithful?

Hebrews 5:9, “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”

Acts 5:29,  “But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.”

I Th. 1:6-8, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do  not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

I Pet. 4:17, “For if it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'” And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

I John 3:22, “… and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

To believe, to have faith, to be faithful, and to obey are all different words for the same thing.

You cannot believe without having faith, and you cannot have faith without being faithful, and you cannot be faithful without being obedient.

John 14:15-16 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

“Faithfulness (obedience) is the result of faith, never the cause of it..”

Faith takes us beyond intellectual assent—it’s a conviction. The difference between a preference and a conviction is: a preference is something you can change your mind about. A conviction is something you’re willing to die for. 

What am I supposed to believe?

John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

John 10:30, “I and the father are one.”

John 14:9, Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 20:27-28, “Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Col 1:15-19, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

The tight rope walker