I was reading through John 6 this morning. I couldn’t help but notice how many times the word “believe” appeared in the text as Jesus spoke to the people.
So, I did a quick search on the word “believe.” I discovered that the Greek word often translated “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament is used about 250 times. In the Gospel of John, it appears about 100 times.
Did you get that? The person who reads the Gospel of John will encounter almost half of the instances where “believe” is used in the entire New Testament!
When we are told that belief is required to get to Heaven, we realize just how important it is that we understand what it means.
John 3:16 (CSB): “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
So, what does “believe” mean?
The biblical understanding of belief has three components:
- A message that is presented as truth.
- A determination that we believe (with our mind) that the message is truth.
- A determination that we trust (with our heart) that we will rest in that truth and act on it.
For instance, imagine walking on a trail through the woods with a friend. After a while, you come to a clearing. In front of you is a vast ravine with a suspension bridge to the other side.
Your friend steps onto the suspension bridge while your feet stay firmly planted on the safety of the trail. Your friend looks back at you and sees the reluctance in your eyes. So, he begins the three-step process I just mentioned.
First, he presents what he believes to be truth to you. He shows you that he is standing on the suspension bridge and feels perfectly safe. He then proceeds to walk farther away from you as he jumps up and down on the bridge. “It’s completely safe!” he says.
But that takes you to step two: Do you believe in your mind that the bridge will hold you up? You observe what your friend has presented as true but you have to determine for yourself if you believe what you are seeing.
Let’s say your friend asks you, “Come on! This bridge is perfectly safe! You believe it will hold you up, don’t you?” You pass step two by saying, “Yes, I believe it will hold me up.”
But you are still standing on the safety of the dirt path.
You have passed step two. Your mind believes that the suspension bridge is safe but you haven’t acted on it. What your mind believes is doing you absolutely no good. That’s where step three comes into play.
Step three only occurs when you take that first step onto the bridge and rest your weight upon it. Step three moves from believing (with your mind) something is true to trusting (with your heart and by your actions) that something is true. Trust means that you are taking action based upon what you believe.
This is how we are to understand the word “believe” in Scripture. So many people think that if they read the Bible and believe what it says in their minds, then they have done enough. But that’s not true! If all they are doing is believing the truths in their mind, then they have only gotten to step two. Biblical belief only occurs when they move to step three and trust.
I could ask you, “Do you believe in Jesus?” It’s quite possible that you could say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus” and still not be saved. If you’ve only arrived at step two, and believe the facts about Jesus, you are not yet saved.
In order to be saved, you have to make it to step three and “trust” in Jesus. You have to take that step of faith and rest completely in what you believe to be true, trusting in Jesus and in Jesus alone to save you from your sins and God’s wrath.
I want to encourage you to think about these three aspects of belief when you see the word “believe” in the Bible. Take time to do a personal assessment to see if you are truly living in step three in regard to your relationship with Jesus and what you say you believe in the Bible. Remember that biblical belief requires all three steps:
- You are presented with what is claimed to be true.
- You make a determination that you believe (with your mind) that the claims are true.
- You take a step of faith and trust (with your heart and by your actions) that you will rest in that truth.
A very good analogy. I think I will use that 🙂 I really like the entire message and I really Love Love Love the book of John.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks. I also love the book of John.
I see, so believing in Jesus is a matter of a series of pragmatic steps. 1,2,3 salvation. Not really…
Salvation happens ultimately when we place our trust in Jesus. But, before we get to that point, we have to hear, understand, and believe the claims of the Gospel. Only then are we prepared to place our trust in Jesus.
Or, as the Bible says it (in multiple steps):
Romans 10:14-15 (CSB): “How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? …”
Right, so your idea of salvation is all head knowledge. All pragmatic and cerebral. No heart. No openness to the Spirit. 🚫
No. That’s not at all what I’m saying. If you go back and read what I wrote, you’ll see that trusting in Jesus is what is required for salvation. But people can’t trust in Jesus until they hear the message of the Gospel, understand it, and believe it to be true. Only then are they able to trust in Jesus for salvation.
Yes, I read it. And again, reading the gospel. Learning what it said. All head stuff. Do you know how many times I’ve read the gospel? Joined a bible study? Do you know there are people in this world that never opened a bible but still believe in Jesus and know him in their hearts? Saying people can’t trust Jesus until they read the gospel is totally inaccurate.
Stephen, I believe we have reached an impasse. I’m unsure how Romans 10:14-15 can be reconciled with your most recent comment. But thank you for commenting.
We started on a impasse. The problem is your thinking is too small and limited. Everything is practical and pragmatic and through a lens of read it, study it, believe it. That is not how faith works at all. Well, maybe it does for some people, but there are just as many who arrive by a different route. My advice is to open your mind a bit. Look at things from a different view. Peace to you.