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  • What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?

    What Does it Mean to Believe in Jesus?

    By Larry Johnson

    Recently I was reading a post on the Rapture Ready Bulletin Board where someone was attempting to argue that God is not a merciful and loving God. After several replies from other forum members this person apparently realized that he was getting nowhere with his argument and he signed off saying “you guys enjoy your delusion.” My reply to that post was “the delusion is yours, not ours.” That started me to thinking that there might be “Christians” who really are living a delusion. I think “deception” would be a better word to use here for I’m thinking of those who believe they are “Christians” because someone told them that they would be “saved” if they would say a prayer, or confess sin, or promise to follow Jesus, or accept Jesus as their Lord, etc. but they were not presented a full explanation of the Gospel message. Or maybe they were presented the Gospel but failed to completely understand the way of salvation. In other words they are really trusting in what they did instead of trusting in the Gospel. These “Christians” are content to believe that all is well in their relationship with God, when, actually they have been deceived and their faith is misplaced meaning they are not genuine Christians. Another group that I am thinking of are those who, like myself, had a salvation experience but for some reason are doubting their salvation and cannot find a lasting comforting assurance of being saved. For many years I struggled with a lack of understanding of “what believing in Jesus means” therefore I lived in a miserable state of uncertainty about ever being saved.

    I was “saved” in church at age 13 & baptized. Several years later I started to question whether or not I really was saved. After about 7-8 years of living without any assurance of salvation I found myself in a state of fear and misery. I had no peace. I went to the alter at church several times to make sure that I was saved. I repented of my sins, I confessed my sins, I accepted Jesus as my Savior & Lord, I committed my life to Christ, I confessed Jesus publicly, I said the sinners’ prayer, I believed in Jesus, I believed He was God’s only Son who was virgin born, I believed He died for my sins, I believed He was raised from the dead, I believed He went to heaven, I believed He is coming back someday, I promised to serve Him the rest of my life, and I believed all the things that I was told that I needed to believe. Each time I went to the alter I was looking for some kind of “sense” of assurance of being saved; I would feel saved for awhile but soon the doubts & fears returned and the misery started all over. I still had no peace.

    I began to question myself about whether or not I really repented, or if I really commit my life to Christ, or if I really accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, or did I really commit to serve Him, or did I really believe in Jesus. I questioned all of the things that I had done to get saved. One of the bible verse that I was trusting in was Romans 10:13 “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I had heard that preached as part of a salvation message many times. I would reason with myself that since the bible says it then if I called on Jesus name that I would be saved. Then God showed me that Romans 10:14 explains verse 13 as it says “how then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Therefore, meaning that I have to “believe” before I call on His name. The real question, then, became “what is the meaning of “believing?” I was confused that Acts 16:31 says “ believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” but then James 2:19 says “You believe that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” So, my understanding of “believe” was at the center of my confusion.

    During the time that I was seeking the truth about being saved I talked to my Sunday School teacher and to our pastor about believing in Jesus. Through them I found some good books to read about how to have assurance of salvation. The books were written by well known Christian authors like Dr. Harry Ironsides, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, and Dr. John R. Rice. I read those books over and over and over. Each book referred to scriptures about salvation; some I had already heard and some were new to me. I found myself saying a sinners prayer many times, each time finding relief from the fear & misery for awhile. But the relief would last for only a brief period of time and the misery would return only now it was becoming more of a fearful dread or a sense of doom. I thought that I would never know if I was saved.

    To make a long story a short one I’ll get right to the point. After several years of living in this miserable condition I finally just gave up on everything I was trying to do and, out of desperation, I turned to God for help. One night as I lay down in bed to try and get some sleep I looked up at the ceiling and said a simple prayer “God, will you show me what I need to know about believing in Jesus?”

    The next night I got the big family bible and opened it to the Gospel of John. That was the first time I had ever read in the bible except at church. As I started to read John 1:1 immediately I recognized that God was showing me the truth about His word and about Jesus that I had not seen before. This time was different because I was seeking answers from God Himself and I turned to Him with the attitude that He was my only hope and that I desperately wanted whatever He had for me.

    God did not disappoint me. As I read through the Gospel of John God showed me the true grounds for having a settled peace with Him. He showed me that all of my efforts of repeating the prayers, confessing sin, making promises to Him, etc. were not faith in Him but faith in myself. God showed me that I must cease from all of my efforts to find the assurance I was so desperately seeking and to just trust in what Jesus had already done. When God’s Spirit opened my spiritual eyes to the truth of the Gospel and I saw that my salvation rested only in the finished work of Jesus at the cross, that my sins were nailed to the cross with Him, and that when He said “it is finished” that He meant that my sin debt to God was “paid in full” with His Blood that He shed there, then an enormous sense of relief immediately filled my troubled soul.

    Basically, God showed me that He wanted me to turn from myself to Him. That I must simply give up on self and transfer my trust to the finished work of Jesus at the cross; that to “believe in Jesus” means to believe that He will do what He says He will do when we place our trust in Him. Believing means that we rely on Jesus, that we leave it up to Him, that put our eternity in His hands, that we just believe Him without questioning Him. You see, my problem was that I thought that I had to do something like say a prayer in order to get God to save me; I was trusting my actions, my efforts, and my understanding based on what I had heard from man, therefore I was very much confused and my faith was misplaced. But, when I turned to God, by reading His word, God’s Spirit showed me the truth of His way of salvation and He immediately cleared up all of my confusion.

    So, for me, the lesson I learned applies to any and all acts of “self” to get saved which fail every time. I like to say it this way: “if your faith is in your faith then your faith is not in Jesus.”

    So, if anyone reading this should make the all important decision to come to Jesus to receive His gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life, please remember to be careful about your faith; be sure your faith is in Jesus and not in anything you do. He doesn‘t need you to help Him; He wants you to trust in Him as the one who paid your sin debt “in full” at the cross.

    If you say a prayer for salvation, be sure you are trusting in Jesus and not in the prayer you just said; your prayer doesn‘t save you; Only Jesus saves.
    If you go to the alter to accept Jesus as your Lord & Savior, be sure you are trusting in Jesus death at the cross & not in your trip to the alter.
    If you promise to follow Jesus; remember you have to receive His free gift of salvation before you can follow Him; He paid for it with His blood.
    If you turn from your sin, remember to turn from yourself to Jesus first, then He will give you power to turn from your sin through the Holy Spirit.
    If you accept Jesus as your savior, remember that before you could do so that God accepted Jesus’ death, as “payment in full” for your sin. Again, be sure your faith is in Jesus and not in your prayer. We are saved by God’s grace through faith and God even gives us the faith we need as a gift. The faith God gives you will be focused on the Gospel message of Jesus and will not be focused on anything you can do or have done. Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”


    Following are some of the scriptures that God’s Spirit used to show me the truth of His Word that I needed so that I could understand the true grounds for having a settled peace with Him.

    John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said to him, “this is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent.”

    John 5:39 Jesus said to them, “search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

    John 5:40 “And you will not come to me that you might have life.”

    John 6:37 “Jesus said “all the Father gives me will come to me and anyone who comes to me I will not turn away.”

    John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “it is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

    And my favorite Bible verse, John14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one can come to the Father except by me.”
    Last edited by Steve53; December 23rd, 2013, 11:33 PM.

  • #2
    Thank You

    I was just on another thread in the welcome forum, saw your link, and clicked on it.

    I am in tears right now praising God! I could have never have written what you wrote, never have put it into words the way you did. But I had the same feelings as you. I believe in God. I believe that Jesus is his only Son. I believe he was sent to Earth to pay the price for our sins. I believe he rose again. I believe he is coming back..

    But I am (or was until right now) constantly doubting. Thoughts that I am not good enough. Or that I need to pray the sinners prayer again just to be certain. And then the next day I will think I did this, this, or that wrong. How could God accept me? And then thoughts that I am a failure, I need to pray again so I can be certain.

    I was placing it, the believing on me, that it was something I had to keep doing. Not that I had to because I had lost my belief or my faith, but like you said, I was putting it on me, on self, faith in myself on having faith in him. It's so hard to put into words but you explained it perfectly.

    He did it. He died on the cross for me. It is finished. It was finished before I accepted him as my Savior. All I had to do was to rely on faith in Him instead of faith in myself. I accepted his grace, I truly believe, and so there is nothing left for me to do. He has already done the rest. I was relying on faith in myself instead of faith in Him.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I knew there was a reason I had insomnia tonight. Jesus wanted me to see this so it could bring me the peace I have been so desperately in need of. I truly have that peace now, I have faith in Him. I don't matter. It's Him!!!

    Praise you Jesus!!!

    I am filled and overflowing with His Holy Spirit right now.

    Again, thank you so much for writing this and putting it into words. Reading your story was like reading about myself, the same thoughts, the same doubt. Which I no longer have! I was and have been saved since October of 2010, even though I have sinned since then. He paid the price. My sins are forgiven. I don't have to keep asking him over and over again just to make sure.

    God Bless you and thank you so much for sharing this. I'm sure that your message has helped more than just me. I'm sorry if some of this doesn't make sense. Sometimes I'm not good with words. But after reading that, I TRULY understand.

    Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!!!

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    • #3
      Tiffany - That makes absolutely perfect sense. WHAT a BLESSING!!! PRAISE GOD!!!
      "...earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3b


      Jesus + something = nothing

      Jesus + nothing = Everything

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      • #4

        Comment


        • #5
          Does this thread qualify for sticky status?

          Comment


          • #6
            What a life-changing thread! I needed this too. I believe doubt plauges us all and this was refreshing to my soul.

            I agree this needs to be a sticky!
            How long, O Lord?

            Comment


            • #7
              Fantastic post. Thank you.

              I don't ever question my salvation. Why? I don't know. I just don't.

              But, what I do all the time is whenever I see, hear, read or think about ANYTHING that reminds of something that I did that disappointed my Lord, it brings me to my knees. My stomach knots up and I feel sick.

              I don't doubt that I am saved, I feel assured about God's promise to me. I don't doubt that Jesus loves me regardless of anything I have done (past, present or future). I also am always aware of the fact that I am totally unworthy of Jesus' sacrifice for me.

              But, the fact that I have disappointed the One who died for me, to pay my debt, is a hard pill for me to swallow. I am one of those that can't even look at Jesus on the cross (a picture, a movie) because I sob like a baby. I think about all the suffering He went through and then I am always reminded of the salt I added to His wounds by sinning, the very thing He forgave me for. This is not the character of Jesus or His ways, these are just MY thoughts, the ones that plague me. I know I am TOTALLY forgiven but I just can't make my heartache go away when I am reminded of something that I did that I know would have been displeasing to Him.

              But I will continue to sin because I am a sinner. I never try to intentionly sin but I always do and when that happens the cycle just keeps repeating itself. I know Jesus won't even remember my sins when I am face to face with Him but when that day comes I have always had this burning desire to again drop to my knees in front of Him and break out into a sobbing apology to Him and babble over and over, "I am so sorry, so very sorry!!!". <tears running down my cheek as I write this>.

              With all this craziness in my head, I am always assured of my salvation. Nothing ever takes that away. I believe totally in God's promises that it is about who He is and not about what we do that gives us eternal assurance.
              sigpic


              Is Jesus your co-pilot? If so, then you better switch seats!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by onehappymeg View Post
                What a life-changing thread! I needed this too. I believe doubt plauges us all and this was refreshing to my soul.

                I agree this needs to be a sticky!

                +1

                Comment


                • #9
                  Article

                  God Bless you and thank you so much for sharing this. I'm sure that your message has helped more than just me. I'm sorry if some of this doesn't make sense. Sometimes I'm not good with words. But after reading that, I TRULY understand.

                  Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!!!


                  Tiffany,

                  After posting that article and receiving many responses from readers similar to yours I know that God had a purpose for allowing me to go through that miserable time in my life. This has been an extremely rewarding experience for me as I learn that the Lord is using my testimony to help others. I am one who rarely becomes emotional, but I was wiping tears from my eyes as I read your reply.

                  Your reply does make sense to me. I searched for many years for the truth before I found that the focus of my faith & belief was in myself instead of being in Jesus. My life changed forever that day and today I still have the peace of knowing that my salvation is secure only in the blood of Jesus.

                  Just thought I would share something else that the Holy Spirit showed me about “believing” as I was reading the Gospel of John. John 3:16 is probably the best known bible verse, but just before v. 16 is another verse that actually helped me to understand what believing is all about.

                  I call this “How simple it is to believe, from the Gospel of John.”

                  John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him shall be saved.” Jesus was comparing His death on the cross to the serpent being lifted up on a pole in Numbers 21:7-10: “Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. (God sent serpents to bite and kill them because they complained that God sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die from starvation) And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looked upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. The person who was bitten by the serpent knew he was going to die unless he obeyed God and looked at that serpent on the pole to be healed or to be saved from death. That “look” was a look of faith in desperation knowing that the only hope for being healed was by looking at the serpent. They were believing that God would heal them by doing what He told them to do.

                  Jesus was saying that He was going to be lifted up, nailed to the cross which was then lifted up, in the same way the serpent was lifted up, and the lost sinners’ “look in faith” to the cross is “believing, saving faith.” The “object” of your faith, not the amount of your faith, is what matters. One look, one glance in helpless desperation at the cross is your hand of faith that takes hold of the outreached hand of Jesus as He bids you to come to him to receive His gift of forgiveness.

                  Larry Johnson


                  Following link is to a short story I wrote for one of my granddaughters. Thought I would list it just in case you might want to read it.


                  http://rr-bb.com/showthread.php?1888...bout-the-cross

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                  • #10
                    I can tell you that The Lord has definitely used your testimony to help me. I will still repent when I sin, but I will NEVER again doubt my salvation! Words can't describe how different I feel knowing that, and how continually amazed I am at how much Jesus loves me, loves all of us. I'm sorry you spent so many years in the same condition I was in, believing in Jesus but still doubting your salvation. Believe me, I know it feels miserable. But I'm also so thankful to God that he was able to use you to share your story to help so many others.

                    It is a wonderfully freeing feeling that I have now in KNOWING that it's not about me having to continually go back again and again, pray the same prayer, just to be certain. It is all about HIM and what HE has already done. Because it is a CERTAINTY that I will sin again, and Jesus knows that. So I will do the very best that I can while in my earthly body and strive to live a life that I know The Lord wants me to. But when I mess up, I know that I am forgiven, and I am still His child. NOTHING will ever change that.

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                    • #11
                      faith

                      Originally posted by tiffanybw View Post
                      I was just on another thread in the welcome forum, saw your link, and clicked on it.

                      I am in tears right now praising God! I could have never have written what you wrote, never have put it into words the way you did. But I had the same feelings as you. I believe in God. I believe that Jesus is his only Son. I believe he was sent to Earth to pay the price for our sins. I believe he rose again. I believe he is coming back..

                      But I am (or was until right now) constantly doubting. Thoughts that I am not good enough. Or that I need to pray the sinners prayer again just to be certain. And then the next day I will think I did this, this, or that wrong. How could God accept me? And then thoughts that I am a failure, I need to pray again so I can be certain.

                      I was placing it, the believing on me, that it was something I had to keep doing. Not that I had to because I had lost my belief or my faith, but like you said, I was putting it on me, on self, faith in myself on having faith in him. It's so hard to put into words but you explained it perfectly.

                      He did it. He died on the cross for me. It is finished. It was finished before I accepted him as my Savior. All I had to do was to rely on faith in Him instead of faith in myself. I accepted his grace, I truly believe, and so there is nothing left for me to do. He has already done the rest. I was relying on faith in myself instead of faith in Him.

                      Thank you so much for writing this. I knew there was a reason I had insomnia tonight. Jesus wanted me to see this so it could bring me the peace I have been so desperately in need of. I truly have that peace now, I have faith in Him. I don't matter. It's Him!!!

                      Praise you Jesus!!!

                      I am filled and overflowing with His Holy Spirit right now.

                      Again, thank you so much for writing this and putting it into words. Reading your story was like reading about myself, the same thoughts, the same doubt. Which I no longer have! I was and have been saved since October of 2010, even though I have sinned since then. He paid the price. My sins are forgiven. I don't have to keep asking him over and over again just to make sure.

                      God Bless you and thank you so much for sharing this. I'm sure that your message has helped more than just me. I'm sorry if some of this doesn't make sense. Sometimes I'm not good with words. But after reading that, I TRULY understand.

                      Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!!!

                      To have faith in Him is to totally rely on Him.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        to this whole thread. Praise God!! I needed it too.
                        "Even so, come Lord Jesus, come. Even so....come and take Your Bride away. How my soul longs to be with You, my Lord! Even so, even so, come, Lord Jesus, come!" (Rev. 22:20)...Terry MacAlmon Music Ministries
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by onehappymeg View Post
                          What a life-changing thread! I needed this too. I believe doubt plagues us all and this was refreshing to my soul.
                          I agree this needs to be a sticky!
                          ldonjon's post helped me, too. Even though I was saved many years ago and realized it was Jesus who paid for the sins that I was confessing at that time, over the years, Satan has had an opportunity to keep me from having the peace and assurance that God wants each of us to have. I was just like Tiffany, always praying 'one more time' just to be sure. It's not about me and my prayers, it's about Him and His finished work on the cross on my (and everyone's) behalf. I also think I thought that somehow I had to 'keep' myself saved. Not so, no way. I could never do that. He is the One who does the keeping, and He can be totally trusted to do just that. God's justice is perfect, thereby requiring that His mercy and sacrifice must also be. Jesus is the perfect Sacrifice. Nothing I ever do could contribute one more thing (except more sin). The joy that each of us felt when reading this man's post is the joy and sense of freedom that our Creator meant for us to have. Satan doesn't want us to have joy, but rather doubt, despair, depression, you get the picture.

                          In addition to the verses from the Gospel of John that ldonjon posted, I also find much comfort in Col. 2:14 [He] 'having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us which was contrary to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross'.
                          I think it would be good to keep this thread going, as so many people come here to read only, and most likely if these posts are kept in a sticky folder, many more people will be spiritually blessed. And that's a good thing.
                          sigpic
                          -Lynn

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                          • #14
                            Right On !!!

                            Great post Larry! It has always concerned me about the way many "Christians" perceive the meaning of "belief". There is a big difference in "head-belief" and "heart-belief". Just as the scripture you quoted said "even the demons believe", - - head-belief isn't enough.
                            The act of baptism represents that a person dies, is buried and resurrected with Christ. It's the "dying" part that people struggle to accept.
                            Paul explained it in:
                            1Co 15:28 "And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
                            and then he says in ICol 15:31b "I die daily"!!
                            It's one step to believe in the reliability of a parachute, but the real test is leaping out of the plane. Total Trust = Faith...

                            Does that end our responsibility / commitment? No, it doesn't. Jesus said:

                            Joh 15:12-17 "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another."

                            And it says in: 1Pe 1:13-16 "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." How can we do that? The answer is we can't but Jesus IN us CAN

                            As Jesus tells us in:
                            Joh 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

                            There is a southern gospel song I love entitled "He made a change in me"!! And He Did!! I don't turn away from sin and turn to righteousness because its something I HAVE to do, it's what I WANT to do, because it's not my nature any longer, I have Christ's nature within me!

                            As a small boy I watched a chalk artist give a presentation on "The narrow way vs. the broad way". The "narrow way was depicted as a narrow, rocky, path on the side of a mountain. A climber some distance up the path, had lost his footing and was holding on for dear life, but a hand appeared below him and held him up, so he could regain the path. That image has always stayed with me. Of course, at times we slip and fall, but He is always there to restore us.
                            As it says in: Heb 13:5b "for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
                            Unlike other men, His promises are true.
                            I feel so blessed to be in a family of believers that "Get it"!! It's all about Jesus, Praise His Holy name!

                            God Bless,
                            1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed!

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                            • #15
                              Amen, Dan!
                              Another good post in this thread.
                              sigpic
                              -Lynn

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