For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
When you read this verse by Jesus, what do you think He is saying?
This is the core message of salvation that Christians preach to a perishing world. It is a message of LOVE, of HOPE and of RECONCILIATION. This message says that all you have to do is BELIEVE!
In what? Someone might ask. Reading the verse again, we see that we are told who we are to believe in… In Jesus.
What the verse does not do is tell us how or what we are to believe in and about Him. Are we to believe simply that He came? Or that He came and was crucified? Or that He came and was crucified for our sins? Or that He came and was crucified for our sins and was risen? Or that He came and was crucified for our sins and was risen by the Spirit of God? How deep does this trail go?
If we simply believe that Jesus came at one point in history, is that sufficient to save our souls? If we believe He came and was crucified, but not because of anything we did wrong…is this sufficient belief in Jesus? If we believe that He came and was crucified for our sins, but not that He is now risen…is this sufficient? Do you see where I am going?
As much as I wish it was all very simple, I find that it is not. But the funny thing about Christians is that we teach that it is so simple, all you have to do is believe…but when it comes down to what we believe the whole thing falls apart! We can’t even agree on what we are supposed to believe to be saved…and if we have eternal security or if we are obligated to live by that faith, enduring temptations, persecutions and tribulations until the end (Heb 10:38-39). We can’t agree on whether we are to repent and believe, or believe and then repent, or believe and repent and also be baptized! And don’t get me started on which baptism is required, whether Holy Spirit or water or both, and if water baptism is essential for us to be saved…a whole new level of ‘believing’ is discovered!
And then there’s that lie we tell ourselves and others… “you don’t have to do anything to be saved!” Except of course you have to BELIEVE, and you also have to believe ALL THE RIGHT THINGS. God forbid that you believe that Jesus is love, and you live a selfless life as exemplified by Jesus, but don’t know whether Jesus is God or God’s Son or a Prophet. If you are fortunate to KNOW that you believe all the right things, through the affirmation you get from your Church, you will also know the importance of submitting to all that that same Church (since they all disagree on what is required) tells you to do and profess, in order to keep your salvation.
Of course, they will never tell you that you are working to keep your salvation…but the moment you get to a point of not accepting every aspect of their loaded version of belief, you will see how quickly your ‘salvation’ is compromised! So, you’re Christian and you don’t believe you have to go to a Church building every Sunday… Or you are a Christian and you don’t believe you are supposed to pay tithes… Or you are a Christian and you don’t believe the Bible is infallible… You will soon find yourself pushed out to the fringes of a religion that had less to do with believing in Jesus than it has to do with keeping tradition! And they will tell you you are where you are because you never believed in Jesus in the first place, rather than consider that they may have missed the narrow road along the way (Matt 7:14).
The truth is that what you believe matters! And what you believe will be evident in what you do! So it is paramount that your belief results in a changed reality. And the reality that your belief conforms to (Rom 12:2), whether to Christ or to Culture or to Religion, will show WHO you have believed in. Jesus said that you can tell a tree by its fruit, whether it is good or bad (Matt 7:16-17). He also said that if we do not abide in Him, we CANNOT bear good fruit (John 15:4-5). And those who do not bear fruit will be cut off… (John 15:2). Some people need to be shaking in their boots (Phil 2:12).
Stop believing the lie that nothing is demanded from you, except Church attendance and a profession of faith. EVERYTHING is required of you. Jesus said that unless you forsake ALL, you cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:33). And to His disciples, He told the parable of the servants who, instead of doing the tasks appointed to them to watch over those entrusted to them, they rather did wrong and maltreated them (Luke 12:42-46). Did He say they were never His? Did He say they never believed? No. Somewhere down the line, they dropped the faith. Jesus said that such will be given a portion with the unbelievers… So it is clear to me that to believe and to do are quite inseparable. If we believe in Jesus, we will heed His words and do what He says.
“…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder…” (Jam 2:17-19)
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