Belief in Jesus




Talk to many Christians today about the gospel, and they would have you think that belief is the whole gospel. But we’ve already seen, there is a lot more to the gospel than that. In fact, the first time the gospel message was shared, belief wasn’t even mentioned!

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

But the emphasis on belief comes from the many other scriptures that do talk about the importance of belief:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24)

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:43)

Notice that belief is not just trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins. It is a belief in who Jesus is and where he came from. Remember that we discussed in the last post, this is exactly the reason the early disciples baptized in Jesus’ name. Jesus established his authority to issue that command in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because he was sent by the Father, and brought with him the Holy Spirit. In other words, being baptized in Jesus’ name is a statement of belief in who he is (the Son), where he came from (the Father), and who he brought (the Spirit). So being baptized in Jesus’ name is the same thing as believing in Jesus. 

This is why Peter didn’t mention belief in the first scripture above -- instead he says baptized in Jesus’ name. Indeed throughout the New Testament, we find that “baptism and belief” is interchangeable with being “baptized in Jesus’ name.” Consider another scripture that doesn’t mention baptism in Jesus’ name, but it does specifically mention belief:

Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. (Acts 18:8)

This idea of belief was revolutionary to the Jews who were first hearing the message of the gospel. The Jews were expected to obey God through works of the law, which included things like making sacrifices to appease God. But because Jesus died as the final sacrifice, we can believe that he appeased God on our behalf.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. (Romans 3:23-25)

The Greek word for believe (pisteuĆ³) is the verb form of the noun for faith (pistis). Believing is simply the act of having faith. Having faith in Jesus means trusting in him for justification rather than the law or anything else. Therefore, continuing in the law or depending on anything else for justification other than Jesus is a lack of faith in Jesus. If we don’t depend fully on Jesus, we have no faith at all.

You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. (Acts 13:38‭-‬39)

And that is why it is through faith in Jesus that we are justified through his sacrifice. 

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:9)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

I love to fly planes. One of the most thrilling ways to fly is sideways and upside down. This type of extreme flying has many considerations that most pilots don’t have to deal with. One of those considerations is that the law requires most aerobatic pilots and passengers to wear a parachute for safety. Strapping on a parachute has become a routine thing for me because I never plan on using it. But I’ve also gone skydiving, which is a completely different experience. 

Ask any aerobatic pilot if he has faith in his parachute, and he’ll probably tell you he does; but he’s only wearing it because the law requires it. He’d never choose to jump out of his plane. A skydiver on the other hand makes a decision to jump because he’s willing to put his faith into practice. 

The same is true for our faith in Jesus. We can say we believe in him all we want. But it’s not until we are willing to completely rely on Jesus that our faith is real. If you are holding on to the law, or religious tradition, or legalism, or anything else that you suppose will save you other than Jesus actions, you do not really have faith in Jesus. Similarly, if you claim to have faith in Jesus, but you haven’t backed it up with obedience to Jesus, you don’t have real faith either. You can say you believe in whatever you want, but until your actions prove it, your faith is not real. 

Jesus Christ... has been disclosed, and through the Scriptures of the prophets, in accordance with the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith. (Romans 16:25-26)

With the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:10)

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him. (Hebrews 5:9)

Those who previously had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:6)

Are you willing to acknowledge, you foolish person, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20)

Faith doesn’t exempt you from doing good works. Rather, faith enables you to do good works!

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