Do You Really Believe?
We have often heard that faith or belief is the way to success, wealth, achievement, and happiness. In the human and everyday world, we may have faith in our abilities, faith in our spouse, faith that we will have a job tomorrow, faith that we will be in good health tomorrow, faith that we can pass a test in school, or faith that we will be able to reach a certain destination in our travels. We all exercise faith every day.
Sometimes faith becomes very self-centered. Believe in yourself! says the school teacher. Confess your faith! says the Health and Wealth televangelist. Believe in a Higher Power! says the AA proponent. Have faith in your own conception of God! says the modern theological liberal. Whatever you believe in, have faith with all your heart! says the illogical contemporary young person. At this point, we arent interested in this ordinary faith that is often a humanistic and man-centered feeling of faith and confidence. The really important question is whether our faith is centered in the right thing or person. What is the object of our faith? What kind of faith will take us to heaven? This all-important faith must be in the right object.
First, a little background. Jesus Christ came to this earth to die for us and remove our sins from our soul so that we might be forgiven and thereby enter the eternal presence of God! Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). The Bible says that the way that we relate to Jesusour only way to heavenis by faith! Faith is an attitude of trust, reliance, and confidence. It is a belief or trust in certain facts and a certain person. Lets discover what God says about faith!
We must believe the right thing.
Notice a few of the facts that we must believe in order to be accepted by God and go to heaven:
1. We must believe in God. Most people believe in some idea that they call God but this is probably not the God of the Biblethe true and living God. The true God is not represented in the polytheism (many gods) of Hinduism or Mormonism, the impersonal god of Buddhism, the defective god of Islam, the nature gods of the earth and animistic religions, or the faulty but popular conceptions of God of many ordinary people. God has revealed His own nature and character in the Bible. Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Examine 1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Acts 17:22-32; Romans 1:16-32 and you will see something of the true God who exists. We must believe that God created all thingswhich means that evolutionary theories are lies (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17).
2. We must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus is not only a man, but He is the anointed and chosen one (which is what Messiah and Christ means) of God. He is the very Son of God! These [miracles] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31; cf. 1 John 5:13).
3. We must believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I make known to you . . . the gospel . . . by which also you are saved . . .that Christ died for our sins . . . and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; cf. Romans 3:23-26; John 3:14-16). We must believe that Jesus died for us on the cross and that God raised Him to new life.
4. We must believe that Jesus is the Lord. Not only is Jesus the crucified and risen Son of God, but He also is the Lord, the Ruler, the one with all authority in heaven and earth! (Matthew 28:18). If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the death, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Romans 10:9-10). When we believe in Jesus as our Lord or Ruler, we will submit to Him in all that He requires (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21).
5. We must believe that Jesus was truly man. Not only was Jesus the Son of God and Lord of life, but He was also truly human. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God (1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 7-11; John 1:14). This means that Jesus was both man (1 Timothy 2:5) and God (John 1:1, 18; 20:28).
6. We must believe that Jesus is the Savior. The apostle Paul wrote, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Since He saves those who are in sin, He is called Savior! The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). Only through Jesus Christ can we be saved from sin, death, and hell!
7. We must believe in Gods love for us. While God is absolutely holy and thus requires us to be holy, and God is just and righteous and requires us to be righteous and will pour out His wrath on those remaining in sin (1 Peter 1:15; John 3:36; Romans 1:18), we must also realize His love for us in Jesus Christ, and the mercy and grace He gives to us because of Christs death on our behalf. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [means of forgiveness] for our sins. . . . We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:10, 16; cf. John 3:16).
The Nature of this Faith
Not only is it vital that we know something about the object of our faiththe facts that we must believebut it is also necessary for us to know about the nature or character of this faith. We not only must believe in facts, but we must believe in a personGod Himself and Jesus Christ, His Son! Not only do we believe that certain facts are true (cf. John 20:31), but we believe in or into the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). We rely on God to save us. We trust in Jesus to take away our sins through His blood. We depend on the grace of God to accept us. Our faith is in the person of God Himself! We trust in Jesus Himself! I know whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12).
Consider this. Suppose that there is a chair before you. You may have a belief that the chair looks attractive and sturdy. This is a factual belief or faith. You may also trust that the chair could hold you up if you sat on it. This is a trusting faith. But there is a third aspect to faith. If you would actually sit in the chair or commit yourself to the chair, you would be demonstrating a submissive or obedient faithor we may call it a faith of commitment. You not only have an objective belief in the reliability of the chair; you not only have a trust in the worthiness and reliability of the chair; you now are committing yourself to the chair and placing your whole weight on the chair!
Likewise, we must not only believe in the reliability of the Bibles statements about God and Jesusthat God exists and is a great Rewarder, that Jesus is both man and the Son of God, and that He is Savior and Lord. We must actually commit ourselves to God in Christ Jesus. We must be willing to submit to Him and obey His will in all things.
Jesus said, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). Jesus asks, Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46). He declared, 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 will enter (Matthew 7:21). Faith and obedience are two aspects of the same thing. Trusting in Jesus and submitting to Him must be combined. Genuine faith will express itself in a full yielding to His will, His Word, and His ways!
Faith is Absolutely Necessary!
The faith that we have been discussing is absolutely essential to be saved. Jesus said, He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned (Mark 16:16). Do you see this? If we believe, we will be saved from sin; if we do not believe, we will be condemned. It is that simple! Christ also said, He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
True faith in Jesus Christ will bring the forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43), justification and the peace of God (Romans 5:1), salvation from sin (Romans 1:16; Acts 16:31); and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). If we fail to believe in God or trust in the sin-sacrifice of Jesus, we will die in our sins (John 8:24), suffer eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), and be consigned to the lake of fire in hell (Revelation 21:8).
In view of these serious and sobering truths, we call on you to read the Word of God diligently, for in this way your faith will be engendered and grow (Romans 10:17). Place all of your faith and trust in a gracious and merciful God, and rely on Jesus and His saving death to rescue you from the guilt and condemnation of your sins! Remember this: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Express your faith by confessing Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) and being baptized into Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-5; Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Determine to live by faith or walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Live in holiness and obedience to the entire will of God contained in the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). By faith, God will make you a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).