“…everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Since our eternal destiny is determined by one thing (which of God’s Books bear our name)… we should be really clear about what it means to “believe in Jesus.”
It is not what most people think.
Most people think that believing in Jesus is synonymous with accepting the facts about Him. That He came from God. He was a good person. He was a wise teacher. That He died on a cross (for our sins). And that He was raised from the dead.
All these things are true statements. They are facts that form the foundation of Christian faith. So what is the problem with just accepting these facts as true?
Just this… Faith that saves us, Biblically speaking, is NOT in believing the facts about Jesus… true faith is believing in the Person of Jesus. The facts are meant to lead us to trust in the Person – it is the Person Who saves us (and not just what He has done for us).
What is the difference?
Let’s take a famous figure that almost everyone knows… Bill Gates.
It is entirely possible to accumulate a staggering amount of knowledge about the man (enough to even make you an expert on his life) without ever having met the man, personally. Facts about… do not make for a relationship with… Though you may impress your friends with your knowledge about Bill Gates, you do not really know him!
But what if you really were Bill Gates’ good friend. You could pick up your phone, at any moment, and give him a call. And he would have your number on speed-dial in his phone. You could talk with each other regularly. Share stories and experiences about your lives. Consult with each other. Share a meal together. Spend time together. Go on trips together. You could be open and honest with each other because you knew each other and were committed to your friendship together… and that, because of your bond of friendship, nothing could ever come between your relationship with each other.
Jesus calls no one to simply know about Him. He calls every person to know Him. To give Him the respect and honor that He deserves, because of Who He is… AND what He has done for us. He calls us to friendship. To mutual sharing. To be with Him. To share a life (and family) together. And to whole-heartedly embrace His purpose for our lives.
Jesus did not come just so He could hand out free tickets to get into Heaven. He came to get Heaven into us by imparting Himself into our lives… through a meaningful and lifelong relationship with Him.
This is what it means to “believe in Him.” It means that we see the Person of Jesus as the One Who deserves the gift of all that we are – and all that we can give. That He absolutely deserves the fullness of surrender… our lives, for His.
In that moment of true belief, everything changes. We are no longer condemned for our sins. We have eternal life! We belong to Him – and He makes it His passion to lead us, guide us, and bless us in this life… and in the one to come.