“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM
“. . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31 KJV) LORD. JESUS. CHRIST.
Believe. What exactly does that mean?
Billy Graham gave the best answer I’ve heard:
The word “believe” in the Bible means more than simply agreeing in our minds that something might be true. It means “trust”—that we believe so strongly in God that we are willing to commit our lives to Him and live the way we know He wants us to live.
Suppose you were walking along a path and you came to a bridge which crossed a deep canyon. You might look at it and believe that it would hold you, and you might even see other people walking across it so you know it would hold your weight. But so far, your “belief” in the bridge is only in your head. When do you really believe the bridge will hold you? You only really believe it when you are willing to commit your life to it and actually walk across it.
It is the same way with Christ. Yes, we can believe that God exists, but God wants us to come to know Him personally. And He has bridged the gap between us by sending His Son to remove the barrier of sin and become that “bridge.” To believe in Christ is to commit our lives by faith to Christ—to trust Him personally as our Lord and Savior.
You might wonder why I’m bringing this up on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Let’s just say that the subject is very fresh on my mind for two reasons: 1) We’ve been going through the book of Galatians in Sunday School recently. 2) I’ve seen the results of denominations who add and add and add to the requirements of accepting the Gospel. It is sad. The exact opposite of having freedom in Christ.
Our preacher son Matt often approaches a passage by talking about what a text does NOT say. Let’s do that for a minute here. John 3:16 does NOT say “whoever believes in Him, goes to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night while wearing a long skirt, long hair and no jewelry if you’re a lady and long pants, a shirt and tie and no beard if you’re a man, shall not perish.” Acts 16:31 does NOT say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and never dance, put up a Christmas tree, swim in a swimming pool with members of the opposite sex, kiss before your wedding day, watch television or play a game of pool, and you shall be saved.” I’ve searched and searched and those add-ons are just not there.
In Galatians, Paul is particularly displeased with the Jewish Christians who are continually trying to insist that the Gentile Christians follow their Jewish requirements — circumcision, not eating meat that was offered to idols, observing all the Jewish feast days, etc. — that ones they had adhered to before they accepted Christ. Over and over again, Paul said no. Don’t add to the requirements of the Gospel.
Galatians 4:8-11 – “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (NIV)
Galatians 6:14-15 – “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” (NIV)
Read the whole book when you have time. It’s very convicting for all denominations to be careful about making the Gospel and the requirements of salvation something they were never intended to be.
Granted, there are plenty of actions mentioned in the Bible that are ultimately harmful and oftentimes cause our relationship with God and others to suffer — getting drunk, never reading our Bible, being difficult to live with or work with, lying, cheating, stealing, etc. etc. etc. But, the fact remains that according to God’s Word, we are saved when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord . . . . above all else.
Jesus . . . God’s only Son.
Christ . . . the promised Messiah.
This Thanksgiving I am eternally grateful for my salvation.