What Does It Mean “To Believe”?

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John 3:16-18 (KJV)  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.  [17]  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  [18]  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36 (KJV)  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The word “believeth” or some form of the word “believe” is found in the Scripture some 312 times. Most of these occurrences are found in the New Testament. That isn’t because God didn’t require faith to save the Old Testament Saint – for the Scripture says

Genesis 15:6 (KJV) {Abraham} believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Believe is absolutely necessary for salvation to occur. But what does it mean to “believe”? Last time we saw a well known Rabbi and Politician by the name of Nicodemus come to Jesus by night. As Nicodemus addressed Jesus the Lord told him:

John 3:3 (KJV) … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

How can a person be “born again” in his own effort? He cannot. Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that New Birth is not something that we as humans can work out. New Birth is a gift of the Spirit of God. So how does one go about being “Born Again”? You must BELIEVE. But WHAT does it mean to BELIEVE? How does GOD define belief? We see in our text

We Must Believe In God’s Narrow Gate

John 3:16 (KJV)  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. 

Everyone is familiar with this text. Many of you have it memorized. But have you ever really EXAMINED the text? These are Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. What do we read in His words?

For God so loved the world

God loves the world. He made the world, but the world walked away from God. Like a prodigal son the world took the grace of God, the good He daily bestows, and walked away from the lover of our souls. God loves this world. This is amazing not because the world is so BIG, but because the world is so BAD. God through His Son seeks to save the world. God does not rejoice in judging and condemning, but in giving of life and love. How did God show His love?

that He gave his only begotten Son

How is God going to show love for His world? He gave us His Son. He gave us Jesus. Jesus is the only begotten Son. He was born into this world of a virgin. Jesus Christ is and has always been Infinite God. The Bible declares that He is the Word of the Lord:

John 1:1-3 (KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  [2]  The same was in the beginning with God.  [3]  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ was with God from eternity past. But God sent His Son into this world. By man came sin into the world, and only by man could the debt for sin be paid. Jesus was co-equal and co-eternal with God from eternity past. When Jesus prayed He asked the Father:

John 17:3-5 (KJV)  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  [4]  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  [5]  And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Eternal life is only found when the belief we have is certain in Christ. We believe that He and He only is the “only begotten Son of God”. God the Father “gave” His Son to the world so that we can receive Him as Lord and Savior. He is the ONLY Begotten. There is no one else you can believe in to be saved.

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  [6]  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  [7]  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  [8]  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  [9]  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  [10]  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  [11]  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus humbled Himself by coming to this earth. He lowered Himself into the pool of humanity and, being perfect and sinless, died in our place on Calvary. He is the ONLY MEANS by which salvation can be secured.

I read in a Christian news article the other day that a large Church hosted a Muslim Ramadan. During Ramadan – the holiest month of the year for the Muslims – commemorates when “Allah” presented the Quran to Mohammed, the Prophet of their faith. Now certainly every person has every right in America to worship or not worship the god or goddess of their choice. Our First Amendment guarantees this right. But for a professing Christian Church to celebrate a holy day of another faith smacks of idolatry. The Muslim faith does not teach that there are many ways to Allah, and the faith of Christ does not teach that there are many ways to God. As Jesus spoke to Nicodemus and to us He was very clear that “believing” is only “believing” when it is HIM. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten!

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Christ never presented multiple pathways of belief. He said “you must believe in the Only Begotten”. God only gave ONE WAY to Heaven, and that is faith in His Son. Shame on any Church or Christian who would say otherwise, for it is no more than hypocrisy. Jesus said in another place:

Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)  Enter ye in at the straitnarrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  [14]  Because straitnarrow is the gate, and narrowcompressed is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The Way unto salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. There are many false prophets and many false paths, but Jesus presented Himself as the ONLY Way. One of His most famous sayings was:

John 14:6 (KJV) … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

To “believe” unto salvation is to believe that Jesus Christ is the unique and only way to be saved.

John 3:17 (KJV) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him MIGHT be saved. 

God sent His Son to this world that we MIGHT be saved. Each person has a choice. Nicodemus had a choice. He could believe what Jesus was saying, or go back to his old life of living by the laws of Judaism.

I am certain that Nicodemus was a “good” man as men are measured. I am certain that Nicodemus was a better man than I am. I am certain that there are people in other religions that are better people than I am. Yet whether I am better or they are better morally or otherwise does not make the difference. You see, unless I am “Born Again” I cannot see the Kingdom of God. And the only way I can be “Born Again” is to believe Jesus. He said:

John 3:18 (KJV) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

God says “Believe in My Only Begotten Son and you will be saved”. Believe that Christ is the Only Way to salvation. Repent and turn to Him and you shall be born again.

To “Believe” Is To Turn And Follow Jesus

John 3:19-21 (KJV)  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  [20]  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  [21]  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

In this section Jesus levels an indictment against Nicodemus. You see, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3:2). He wanted to come and talk to Jesus, but he didn’t want anyone else to know that he came to talk with Jesus. Nicodemus are like many “secret agents of the Church”. They hide their faith in Christ. But such faith is not faith. You may come to Jesus by night, but you need to follow Him in the light if you are saved. What does the Scripture say?

1 John 1:5-7 (KJV)  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  [6]  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  [7]  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Those who love evil and darkness do not come to Christ because they love evil and darkness. When we come to Christ He reproves or rebukes our ungodly deeds. The Christian who has believed in Christ believes ALL of God’s Word, not just the parts we like. We follow Jesus openly. We are not ashamed of Him – we love and promote Him. We live in Him and through Him. Jesus said:

Luke 9:23-26 (KJV)  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  [24]  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  [25]  For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?  [26]  For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Jesus expects His Children to openly and willingly follow Him. Nicodemus would later be saved. How do I know? Because later on when the Pharisees began to plot to destroy Christ Nicodemus spoke up:

John 7:50-51 (KJV)  Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)  [51]  Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

The Pharisees turned their anger on Nicodemus, but he stood his ground. And much later when Christ was crucified – when He died on that bloody Cross – the Bible tells us that Nicodemus was part of the funeral detail that took our Lord from the Cross.

John 19:39-40 (KJV)  And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.  [40]  Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

The person who is born again is not ashamed of Jesus nor of His Word. We cherish Him. We love His Bible. We praise God daily for His great mercy.

To Believe Is To Represent Christ In Your Life

Following His teaching of Nicodemus we read that:

John 3:22 (KJV)  After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

When Jesus moved into Judaea people started flocking to Him and leaving John the Baptist. This caused the disciples of John concern. Their Master was the most popular for the longest time, but now …

John 3:26 (KJV)  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

Was John troubled by this? No, for John understood what every born again believer must believe. Life is not about ME, it’s about JESUS. John told his disciples:

John 3:27-30 (KJV) …. A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.  [28]  Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.  [29]  He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.  [30]  He must increase, but I must decrease.

We are nothing, but Christ is everything! We are of the earth, but Jesus is of Heaven. We receive Christ’s testimony to be born again. We believe in HIM, not in ourselves. We have no blessing outside of Christ. John then said:

John 3:35-36 (KJV)  The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  [36]  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The way to salvation is ONLY through faith in Christ. Let us follow Him. Let us celebrate Him. Let us love Him, and share Him with others.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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