Friday, November 17, 2017

Two Kinds of Belief

What must a person do to be saved? The answer from Scripture is clear enough: Believe in Jesus! Some of the most familiar words of Scripture are found in John 3:16 which says whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have eternal life. Similarly, John 3:36 affirms that whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (see also John 5:24; 11:25; 12:46; 20:31; Acts 16:31). But what does it mean to believe in Jesus? In the Gospel of John, we read about belief numerous times and learn that there are at least two kinds of belief: belief that is superficial and belief that is genuine. I will cite an example of each from John’s Gospel.

First, an example of superficial belief. In John 2:23-25 we read, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” In these verses, a number of people are said to have believed in Jesus’ name, and yet Jesus didn’t entrust himself to them because he knew what was going on in their hearts. Jesus knew that their belief was superficial. The people who had believed in Jesus’ name had done so because they were enthralled by the signs (miracles) he had performed, but their belief was not genuine.
Thus, it is necessary to ask, “What is the nature of true belief?”  

We can look at the account of Jesus’ healing the official’s son in John 4:46-54 as an example of true belief. In this passage, an official comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his son who was extremely ill. Jesus told the official to “Go!” and that his son would be healed. In verse 50 we learn that the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. In other words, the official trusted that what Jesus said would happen, namely, that his son would be healed, would indeed happen. The official believed in Jesus (John 4:54)! We can conclude that true belief is trusting in Jesus.

We return to the question, what must a person do to be saved? The answer remains the same: Believe in Jesus! We understand that believing in Jesus is more than mere intellectual affirmation of the truths about Jesus. True belief is placing our full trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. 

Blake Gerber

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