Belief in Jesus is useless, unless…
It's easy to believe, it's harder to do something about it
Language is complicated! Take John 3:16 for example.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
I believe in Jesus. I also believe eating too much McDonalds is bad for you. I believe surfing is the best sport in the world. I believe snowboarding is a close second. I believe the iPhone is the coolest device ever created. I believe my wife can do anything she puts her mind to. I believe in lots of things!
So what exactly does ‘believe in him’ mean?
Believe he existed?
Believe he died for my sins?
Believe he rose from the dead?
Believe he is the Son of God?
Belief is a pretty vague word, particularly if it’s the requirement for eternal life. Perhaps a more helpful translation is the word ‘faith’.
Belief and Faith
Imagine you’re pushed off a cliff and you’re falling to your death. However as you’re falling, you see a branch about the width of your forearm sticking out of the cliff beneath you. Two scenarios may follow:
1. You believe in the branch. You believe it is strong enough to hold you. You believe that if you grab hold of the branch it will stop you from falling. You believe that there is no other way to escape hitting the rocks beneath you than by grabbing hold of the branch. And yet in spite of all your correct beliefs about the branch, you enjoy the thrill of falling so much that you never actually grab hold of it and so you fall to your death.
2. You have faith in the branch. You see the branch, reach out your hand and grab hold of it. The branch saves you.
I know lots of people who believe in Jesus. I know a lot less people that have faith in him. Faith is about action. It’s about grabbing hold of Jesus and putting your trust in him as the only way to be saved. Believing different facts about who Jesus was and why he died is useless if you never actually grab hold of him and trust in him for your salvation.
Next time you tell someone that all they need to do to become a Christian is believe in Jesus, make sure they know what you mean. What you say isn’t always what’s heard, and what you mean isn’t necessarily what’s understood. Language is complicated!