“…whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” — John 3:16
I have recently discovered that the word “believe” means entirely different things to different people. I get to have many spiritual conversations with many different people. Nearly every person I talk to believes there is a Heaven and a Hell. If I can, I try to steer the conversation into which one of those two places that they believe they are headed. Just about every person I talk to believes that they are headed for Heaven. Here is my favorite question to ask them when we finally arrive at this point: “Why are you going to Heaven?” Take just a few moments to answer that question in your own heart and mind before you read on.
You can absolutely know everything that you need to know based on the answer to this question. Let me tell you some of the wrong answers: “Because I’m a good person.” “Because I try to help people.” “Because I grew up in church.” “Because I got baptized.” All of these answers are performance based. There is an answer that gets close and may or may not be correct…it depends on the person’s definition of believe. The answer is…”because I believe in Jesus.”
As far as Christianity is concerned, there are two types of believing. The first is the surface level of believing “in” or believing “that.” One might say “I believe that Jesus died for my sins.” Another might say “I believe in the fact that Jesus came to Earth and gave His life for me.” This is the exact same kind of belief that demons hold. James 2:19 says “You believe that there is one God, Good for you! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” This is really scary to me. Especially in light of the fact that I thought for years I was good to go because I had said the “sinner’s prayer” and believed that God sent Jesus to die for me.
The second type of believing is believing “on.” This is where one places their entire life on the truth of Jesus and His Word. This is where you start to do crazy things like “deny yourself, pick up a cross, and follow Jesus.” (Luke 9:23) This is where you begin to follow His way because He says “I am the way.” You begin to live by the truth of His Word because He says “I am the truth.” You begin to live the life He wants you to live because He says “I am the life.” You begin to forsake all other ways because Jesus says “no one comes to the Father…except through me.” (John 14:6)
Think about it, the teenage boy that says “I believe in God,” but then has sex with his girlfriend on the weekend is correct. They believe that God exists, but they are not believing “on” Him and His Word. I can pick on this teenage boy because I WAS him! This goes the same for someone who will steal from another. I don’t care if it is money or answers from a test…if you steal, you may believe “in” God (that He exists), but you are not believing “on” Him. You have not put your complete trust in Him. I am not condemning you to Hell. If anybody has experienced the extended grace and unbelievable patience of God, it is me. I am just saying that true saving faith makes a difference in how you behave, how you act, and how you live. It is a continual process of cleansing and growing. I just don’t want you to be deceived. If you have been “saved” for years and you are still flirting around on your spouse, cheating people out of money, looking at pornography, having sex outside of marriage with no guilt or remorse, and you rarely, if ever read His Word to seek His will for your life…you need to really evaluate whether or not you’ve had a true conversion experience that will actually save you from Hell! The Word “believe” means to believe “on”…not believe “in” or believe “that.” (If you are feeling exceptionally nerdy, google the Greek work “pisteuo”)
I heard a preacher tell a story one time about a tightrope walker who was about to walk across Niagara Falls. He asked the audience “do you believe I can do it?” They all screamed and hollered “YES!” He then pulled out a backpack harness where someone could sit on his back while he did it. Then he asked “who is willing to let me carry them across?” Nobody was willing.
Jesus is the tightrope walker. He, and He alone can carry you safely to Heaven. If you are like me, you couldn’t even balance yourself on that tightrope…you would most assuredly fall to your death if you tried to cross on your own. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about it. I just strap myself on to Him and put my complete trust in Him.
Your answer to the question in the first paragraph is VERY important. Your answer has GOT to be “because Jesus made the way by giving His life for me on the cross. I have surrendered my life to Him. He died for me, so I live for Him.”
That…is saving faith!