Salvation: What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?

What does John 3:16 say?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Today’s question is: what does it mean to believe in Jesus? It’s an important question since our eternal destiny hangs on the answer.

I was inspired to make this course after substituting in a Sunday school classroom. I asked the kids how they knew they were Christians, and they said that they believed Jesus died on the cross.

Does that sound right to you? What’s wrong with it?

Jesus dying on the cross is just a historical fact. Our salvation doesn’t hang on whether or not we believe the historical record. Jesus dying on the cross happened. There were people there watching it happen who were mocking Him. They didn’t become Christians. They didn’t become followers of Jesus. They believed He died on the cross. They saw Him die.

Yes, we absolutely believe the facts about Jesus. He is God. He took on a human form. He lived a perfect sinless life. He died on the cross. He resurrected back to life. He ascended into heaven. We believe the facts. But as James points out, even the demons believe in God and Jesus. They know all the facts. They aren’t saved. Believing in Jesus must mean more than just knowing the facts.

James 2:19  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Read the verse below. There are two words used seemingly interchangeably. They are different words but used as if they are the same thing. What are they?

John 3:36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

It seems like it should say, “whoever believes has eternal life and whoever does not believe shall not see life.”

But instead, it equates obeying with believing. When we believe in Jesus, we obey Him.

Salvation is for those who obey.

Hebrews 5:9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.

The Spirit is given to those who obey.

Acts 5:32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

And how can we obey? Because He took away our sin. He gave us His life by the Holy Spirit. He lives righteously. Read a couple of the verses again from 1 John 3.

1 John 3:5, 8 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, which is sin! Jesus appeared to take away our sins. That’s not just forgiveness; it’s setting us free from our slavery to sin. We’re free!

Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We’re slaves to doing what is right! That’s you in Christ Jesus by the power of His resurrected life in you. Let’s believe in Jesus and in all He did for us!

Lesson Point: Believing in Jesus doesn’t just mean knowing and believing the facts. We believe in what He accomplished for us, freedom from sin, so we can be at peace with God.

Challenge Question: Do you believe in Jesus? Can you believe not just in the facts, but in the truth of what He accomplished for you?