IN JOHN’S GOSPEL, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” In the book of Acts, Paul and Silas tell the Philippian jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” And according to the book of Romans, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Based on these passages, you might conclude that believing in Jesus is all that’s involved in becoming or being a Christian. This is absolutely true, but we must consider context to understand what the Bible means by belief. When Jesus called Nicodemus to believe in him, he was calling him to be born again—to begin an entirely new life devoted to following him.
Likewise, when the Philippian jailer believed in Christ, he knew he was joining a community of Christians who were being beaten, flogged, and imprisoned for their faith. The cost of following Christ was clear. In the same way, Paul told the Roman Christians that to believe in the saving resurrection of Jesus from the dead was to confess Jesus’ sovereign lordship over their lives.
In each of these verses (and scores of others like them), belief in Jesus for salvation involves far more than mere intellectual assent. After all, even the demons believe that Jesus is the crucified and resurrected Son of God. Such “belief” clearly doesn’t save anyone. We all can publicly profess beliefs we don’t hold, but only those who are obedient to the words of Christ will enter his Kingdom. If our lives do not reflect the fruit of following Jesus, then we are foolish to think we are his followers.
Thank God that his salvation is all a work of grace. Ask him to continue to produce spiritual fruit in you by his Spirit.
Platt, David. 2020. Follow Him: A 35-Day Call to Live for Christ No Matter the Cost. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Check out our Bible Study on the book Follow Me by David Platt. It is on Amazon as well as part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.