At times in life, we need to stop or at least pause and get back to the basics. This upcoming series of devotions places our focus upon the “Basics of the Christian Life, Believe, Belong, Abide, and Bear Fruit.” Today we will begin by focusing on the role of belief in our Christian lives. Ask yourselves, “Who do we believe in?”
John 3:16-18 English Standard Version
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, [a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen
At times in life, we need to stop or at least pause. Maybe my life has become too hurried, busy or stressful. Maybe we have over-committed or made things more complicated than they have to be. Maybe it is the covid virus, their variants, the upcoming snowstorm, or balancing work and home. It just becomes too much.
This can also apply to our spiritual lives. Perhaps we have gotten too distracted, apathetic, too rigid, or overzealous. Perhaps we are trying too hard to be to be too superficial or super-spiritual and at some point, our faith stopped being a blessing, stopped becoming relevant, lost its luster, and turned into a burden.
We need to get back to the basics. That is what we are going to try to do for the next four days or so. Today we are starting a new devotional series focusing on the “Basics of the Christian Life.” In the days ahead we will strive to keep focus on these four significant themes, “Believe, Belong, Abide, and Bear Fruit.”
Today we will begin by focusing on the role of “believe” in our Christians lives.
In Acts 16. the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas are unjustly beaten and thrown into a Philippi prison. The story continues in verse 25, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were physically shaken. And immediately all of the prisons’ doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
The story then relates how the jailer saw the damage, and thinking that the prisoners had escaped, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But the apostle Paul cried out “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here. And the jailer called for lights and rushed in and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and stunningly asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul responded with these words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Belief in John 3:16 is the doorway to salvation.
In John 6:47 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” From the very dark corners, talking in secret with Nicodemus in John 3:16; Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Throughout the length and breadth of scripture we see this same truth. Whether the biblical writer uses the word belief or faith we can see that we are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ.
Belief is what brings us into connection, into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the doorway. It is by grace through faith that we are saved. Without belief in John 3:16 no one will enter the kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:8-10).
With this in mind it puts away all other definitions.
Attending church regularly does not make a person a Christian. Giving money to the church or to people in need does not make a person a Christian. Being from a family or country that calls themselves Christian does not make a person a Christian. Praying, fasting and reading one’s Bible does not make a person a Christian. Being baptized does not make a person a Christian. Saying a prayer or even volunteering within our communities does not make a person a Christian.
All of these things are good and should flow out of the Christian life, but even trying to be a good person does not make one a Christian. We all have sinned against God in many ways and this sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
We are all deserving of death and condemnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23). The only way a person could earn salvation is if they had not committed one sin in their entire life, and none of us have done that. The only way one can become a Christian is by fully trusting in Jesus Christ. As one turns from their sin and believes in God their sins are forgiven and they are made righteous with God.
Some might legitimately ask these questions, why is it saving faith and not saving love or saving obedience or saving forgiveness?
Think about it. If salvation was through any of these it would have been earned, but there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, did everything that was needed for us to be reconciled to God. We are saved by simply believing. God stirs in our hearts, He draws us to Himself, reveals the truth of the gospel, grants us faith and as we believe we are saved.
A saving faith or belief is more than just believing historical information. It is more than just believing that Napoleon lived or that World War II was a real event. It is putting 1000% full trust in Jesus Christ for today and for eternity.
It is a belief that puts one´s entire life into the hands of Jesus Christ. Forsaking all and making Jesus Christ our first love, only hope and our greatest treasure.
This type of saving belief always and forever starts with God. Scripture shows us time and again that we are not wise nor mature enough to believe in ourselves, we cannot of our own finite devices believe in anything or anyone on our own. Our criteria are too fallible. Without the Spirit’s leading, man will always view the gospel as foolishness. It is only through revelation that we come to believe.
Matthew 16:15-17 is an important passage as we seek to understand how one comes to salvation in Jesus Christ. At one point Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
This is God-given faith, saving faith, personal faith. Not just believing that mankind has sinned, but that I have sinned. Not just admitting that Christ has paid for sin, but Christ has paid for my sin. Not just believing that Christ is Lord but genuinely submitting to Christ as my Lord. Not just knowing that one can be saved by believing in Jesus, but genuinely believing in Jesus and being saved. A saving faith is made up of our knowing, agreeing, applying, experiencing John 3:16.
Biblical faith has the same components. One watches evidence of the love of Jesus Christ at work in the lives of others around them. Through God’s Word they then begin to learn about who the Jesus of John 3:16 is and what He has done. The Holy Spirit then comes and convicts us of our sin and convinces us of the truth of scripture’s claims that mankind can be saved through Jesus Christ.
We then personally apply the truths of salvation through Jesus to our life by putting 1000% of our faith in Him, not in ourselves. This is belief, knowing, agreeing, applying, experiencing who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
Once one believes in Jesus Christ, the work of God takes over in one’s life and it cannot ever be revoked. Those who are believers are given the Mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Their minds are renewed (Ephesians 4:17-24). The Holy Spirit now intercedes, intervenes, guides, ministers the believer into all truth.
In Christ they are saved. They are bought by His blood. They are forgiven of all sin (Colossians 2:13). They are declared righteous before God (Romans4; 5:1). They are redeemed and ransomed (1 Peter 1:18-19). They are justified by faith (Romans 5:1-11). By their faith and belief, they are promised eternal life (John 3:16-18). They are adopted as God’s children (Galatians 3:26-4:7). They are a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are born again (John 3:3).
They are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 8:1-4). They are sealed by His Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). They are given a new nature (Colossians 3:10). They are in Christ, and He is in them. They are renewed in the spirit of their minds and are created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
The Spirit of God dwells in them (1 Corinthians 3:16). They have been given direct, unlimited access to God (Hebrews 4:12-16). Their inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). They have been granted repentance, a turning of their hearts away from sin and towards transformation thru Christ.
All of that happens when one believes in Jesus Christ John 3:16, but that is just the beginning. Belief is not only the doorway of salvation it is the pathway that carries us through every day of the Christian life. Faith brings grace at the point of salvation and at every other point of the John 3:16 Christian life that follows.
In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, let us pray,
Dear God, thank you for sending your Son to come to Earth to live the life I could not live, be the example I could not achieve, and be the sacrifice for my sins. I believe in You. I ask for Jesus to be the Lord of my life and I commit my life to you. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.