Jesus said: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 NKJV) I thought I had a firm understanding of these verses. To me I considered these ‘milk’ verses, easily understood and digested but of immense value. God used my wife this morning to show me just how wrong I was.
We were discussing our morning devotions and Connie shared with me something God had revealed to her. When we talk about believing in Jesus, most of the time we are talking about the existence of Jesus. Do you believe Jesus existed? Sometimes when we say we believe in Jesus, we are saying we believe what Jesus said about Himself and what others in the Bible said. Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God?
Now, to answer these questions are pretty simple. Did Jesus exist during the time He was said to have? The evidence is pretty substantial. There is proof from various sources including historical writings from Rome with no connection to Scripture. So how is this applicable to this Scripture? If we believe in the existence of Jesus we will have eternal life? This seems a little simplistic to me; after all, many Atheists, Muslims, and Jewish people can all agree that Jesus existed.
The second way people view this simple question, “Do you believe in Jesus?” is this: Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God? This question seems to fit a lot better. If you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then you can accept His sacrifice for your sins. And if you believe Jesus is the Son of God then it is inferred also that you believe in God. So if we believe Jesus Christ is who He says He is, then we shall have eternal life! But wait; there is a problem with this one too. Even Satan and his fallen brethren believe Jesus is who He says. They have known since the beginning. I look back on some of my darkest days, before I turned my life over to Christ. During that time I was following lies and dark practices. Even during those times, I can see that there was a part of me that understood who Jesus is. In the back of my heart I felt the glimmer of His truth; I just refused to see it out of shame, fear, and pain. With this being said, I’m not so sure that believing Jesus is the Son of God is what Jesus is expressing here.
So if Jesus is not talking about believing His existence or His divinity in this verse what could He mean? This was the revelation God shared with Connie and she shared with me. We need to believe in Jesus. Trust in Him and rely on Him without fear. Believe in His ability to follow through on His promises. Lean into Him when we suffer through tribulations knowing that when we are weak, He is strong. If we believe in Him and trust in Him we will have eternal life. Think of this when you look at the word ‘believe’ in other verses. Try replacing the word ‘believe’ with the words ‘trust in Jesus’ or ‘have faith in Jesus’
Jesus said Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him (trusted Him), “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV)
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me (have faith in Me) to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 8:16 NKJV)
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe (trust in Me).” (Mark 5:36 NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe (have faith in Me), all things are possible to him who believes (trusts in Me).” (Mark 9:23)
Lean into Jesus, and trust Him as you go about your day today. Know that the love of God goes with you. And whenever you feel the stress of life getting to you, take a breath and ask yourself one simple question. Do you believe in Jesus?