What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
What Does it Mean to Believe in Jesus?

By Larry Johnson​

Recently I was reading a post on a Christian Forum 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 altar 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 altar 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. I even doubted if God existed or if the bible was true.

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 I would never know for sure that 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 to the God I wasn't sure existed. My prayer was something like this, “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, I realized that the Holy Spirit was working in my spirit to convince me that the words I was reading were the truth. By the time I read the first chapter I knew without a doubt that God is real, and that Jesus is who the bible says He is. 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 the Holy 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 on 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 we 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, the Holy 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 does not need you to help Him; He wants you to trust in Him as the one who paid your sin debt “in full” on 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 does not save you; Only Jesus saves.
If you go to the altar to accept Jesus as your Lord & Savior, be sure you are trusting in Jesus death on the cross & not in your trip to the altar.
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.”


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Lynn

Well-Known Member
guru03, I hope that you read the article at the link posted by John 14:6. There is great wisdom to be found there. I know, because I needed to read it for myself, and it was extremely helpful.
 

ReadyforSupper

Well-Known Member
I've known, without a doubt for 38 years that I'm saved and I took a lot away from this article. I, too, pray you've read this Guru! We all learn from each others experiences, as we're all of one Spirit!

Sent from my LG-MS770 using Tapatalk
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
guru03, I hope that you read the article at the link posted by John 14:6. There is great wisdom to be found there. I know, because I needed to read it for myself, and it was extremely helpful.
Please note that John14:6 is now ldonjohn. I requested the name change after discovering that another member had John 14:6 as his member name.
 
IdonJohn: Thank you so much for sharing. I personally am still struggling with this. I tend to have scary moments when I think, "Am I really saved?" or "Is my faith really in Christ alone?" and it's so tempting to re-pray the prayer of salvation over and over, as I've done in the past. I'm praying that God will open my eyes to the truth, what I need to understand.
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
IdonJohn: Thank you so much for sharing. I personally am still struggling with this. I tend to have scary moments when I think, "Am I really saved?" or "Is my faith really in Christ alone?" and it's so tempting to re-pray the prayer of salvation over and over, as I've done in the past. I'm praying that God will open my eyes to the truth, what I need to understand.
LittleGreyCoconut,

I understand, but I have found that many Christians struggle with doubts.

God does have an answer for you somewhere in His word. My struggle ended when I saw that I was looking at what "I" was doing instead of looking at or trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

I'm including a link to a website where you will find several articles about doubt, salvation, justification, assurance, etc. written by Dr. Erwin Lutzer. The articles are very long but if you are looking for help with doubting I believe reading them will help you.

How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God? - JASWiki

Also, you might find reading about William Cowper, a Christian songwriter who struggled with doubting his salvation up to the day he died. One of his hymns is "There is a Fountain."

Another good article is "How to Come to Jesus" by Dr. John R. Rice. You shouldn't have any trouble finding either article, Cowper or Rice by doing a search.

The main thing is to focus on Jesus & not on self. Hope this helps.

ldj
 

Lynn

Well-Known Member
LG Coconut, here is a link to a book that I highly recommend by the late Dave Hunt. Half.com: An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith by Dave Hunt (2000, Paperback)(9780736903134): Dave Hunt: Books The paperback version can now be purchased for under a dollar + shipping. (Many of the really worthwhile books have come 'way down in price :hehheh)

Many times over the years, I also have struggled with doubt. Quite possibly certain temperaments or dispositions may have more of a problem with this. Even if this is true, it doesn't mean we have to stay there, in a state of confusion/doubt. Either way, I think it can be used of God to help others who are going through what we've struggled with in the past. The book linked above has been a great help to me. I've also bookmarked one of the links that ldonjon posted and his article describing his own experience with previous doubts was helpful as well. But, after all is said and done, the 'best' book to read is, of course, God's Word. I personally love the gospel of John, Colossians, Psalms and Isaiah. All of these particular books have many passages that bring true assurance to a troubled heart. Just keep reading it and ask God to give you the assurance that only He can give. May God bless you, as you seek to find His lasting peace.
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
LG Coconut,
But, after all is said and done, the 'best' book to read is, of course, God's Word. I personally love the gospel of John, Colossians, Psalms and Isaiah. All of these particular books have many passages that bring true assurance to a troubled heart. Just keep reading it and ask God to give you the assurance that only He can give. May God bless you, as you seek to find His lasting peace.
AMEN!
 

MikeD

Well-Known Member
LittleGreyCoconut, believe me when I say, I understand your concerns. We've all been there! I know I have. However, I never had a solid walk and relationship with Jesus until I allowed myself to STAY IN GOD'S WORD DAILY!! Without that, I was a mess. Reading God's word and STAYING in prayer will make all the difference in your life. His Word will build a foundation NOTHING can shake. The moment I allow myself to move away from God's Word that doubts and struggles begin all over again.

Not sure where to begin in the Bible? Ask Him! He'll guide you in all truth! God has an "invested" ownership on YOUR life that ensures His guidance is there and ready when you need it.

Troubled in your belief? Bury yourself in His Word. You'll be amazed at all He can do through His Word - to you and for you!!
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
Larry, this is wonderful. I appreciate your writing it. Thank you.
Thank you, Carol.

When I think back to that miserable time in my life I can only thank God that he didn't give up on me.
I really was confused, afraid, hopeless, lost, miserable, and blind to the truth of God's Word. If I could imagine a blind person suddenly being given the ability to see that would describe what the Holy Spirit did for me that day as I read from the Gospel of John. I literally stepped out of darkness into light. It really was a lasting life changing experience for me.

Every day I thank God that he gave me parents who took me to church every Sunday when I was growing up. Yes, I was confused about how to be saved, and when I gave up on myself trying to get saved I knew where to turn to look for the truth.

If you would be interested in reading a short story I wrote for one of my granddaughters I have included the link below. It is a 1 page story about the cross; "Do You See the Nails?" It is here at RF.

https://www.raptureforums.com/forums/threads/do-you-see-the-nails-revised-version.85783/
 
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Pebbles

Well-Known Member
As others have already said, thank you for posting this! I've gone through that too...wondering if I was really saved, but God is good and does show the way!
 

UCT

Well-Known Member
Incredible how God works. I began praying just two days ago for a better relationship with Jesus as something just wasn't "feeling" right. Like this person, I would constantly pray to be saved, always feeling the need to make sure I was always ok. Like many others, I always want constant reassurance of things. With Jesus, you have to TRUST in him and his finished work. It's a very complicated task for most, especially if you have assurance issues. That is the biggest obstacle to overcome and this article hits home with some great advice.
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
Just noticed that the link in post #7 no longer works. I'm listing a new link below. The link is to 8 articles on the John Ankerberg website. The articles are from his show where he has Dr. Erwin Lutzer as his guest and they discuss salvation issues like doubting, assurance, justification, and eternal security. The article "How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God?/Program 3" is the one I would suggest for anyone who is desperately seeking assurance of salvation as I explained about myself in my testimony. The articles are very lengthy but are worth reading for anyone who really needs help in the area of doubting their salvation.

All 8 articles:
https://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.php/How_Can_You_Be_Sure_that_You_Will_Spend_Eternity_with_God?

How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God?/Program 3:
https://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.p...t_You_Will_Spend_Eternity_with_God?/Program_3
 

mbrown1219

Heaven's Stables
So glad you caught that so that our readers only don't get stumped! They would not have been able to tell you and this is too important of a thread to have that roadblock IMO.
 

Lynn

Well-Known Member
Just noticed that the link in post #7 no longer works. I'm listing a new link below. The link is to 8 articles on the John Ankerberg website. The articles are from his show where he has Dr. Erwin Lutzer as his guest and they discuss salvation issues like doubting, assurance, justification, and eternal security. The article "How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God?/Program 3" is the one I would suggest for anyone who is desperately seeking assurance of salvation as I explained about myself in my testimony. The articles are very lengthy but are worth reading for anyone who really needs help in the area of doubting their salvation.

All 8 articles:
https://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.php/How_Can_You_Be_Sure_that_You_Will_Spend_Eternity_with_God?

How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God?/Program 3:
https://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.p...t_You_Will_Spend_Eternity_with_God?/Program_3
This evening, I read a couple of the articles at this last link (program 3), and Dr. Lutzer's remarks are excellent! Even though I know that I am trusting only in the finished work of Christ, it is still a good thing to read an article or two that refresh my understanding, so that I'm sure to stay on track when opportunity comes for witnessing to others. Often, even though people are saved themselves, when it comes to articulating to another person a clear gospel message so that they understand, we can sort of stumble around, if we aren't careful.

Thank you, Don, for checking on the links in your earlier post and updating them. Greatly appreciated. :thumbup
 

ldonjohn

"God said it, that settles it!"
Thank you, Carol.

When I think back to that miserable time in my life I can only thank God that he didn't give up on me.
I really was confused, afraid, hopeless, lost, miserable, and blind to the truth of God's Word. If I could imagine a blind person suddenly being given the ability to see that would describe what the Holy Spirit did for me that day as I read from the Gospel of John. I literally stepped out of darkness into light. It really was a lasting life changing experience for me.

Every day I thank God that he gave me parents who took me to church every Sunday when I was growing up. Yes, I was confused about how to be saved, and when I gave up on myself trying to get saved I knew where to turn to look for the truth.

If you would be interested in reading a short story I wrote for one of my granddaughters I have included the link below. It is a 1 page story about the cross; "Do You See the Nails?" It is here at RF.

http://www.raptureforums.com/forum/evangelism/85783-do-you-see-nails-revised-version.html
For some reason the link to the story about the cross does not work. New link below:

http://www.raptureforums.com/forums/threads/do-you-see-the-nails-revised-version.85783/

Don
 

Andy C

Well-Known Member
LittleGreyCoconut,

I understand, but I have found that many Christians struggle with doubts.

God does have an answer for you somewhere in His word. My struggle ended when I saw that I was looking at what "I" was doing instead of looking at or trusting in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

I'm including a link to a website where you will find several articles about doubt, salvation, justification, assurance, etc. written by Dr. Erwin Lutzer. The articles are very long but if you are looking for help with doubting I believe reading them will help you.

How Can You Be Sure that You Will Spend Eternity with God? - JASWiki

Also, you might find reading about William Cowper, a Christian songwriter who struggled with doubting his salvation up to the day he died. One of his hymns is "There is a Fountain."

Another good article is "How to Come to Jesus" by Dr. John R. Rice. You shouldn't have any trouble finding either article, Cowper or Rice by doing a search.

The main thing is to focus on Jesus & not on self. Hope this helps.

ldj
Here is the article/sermon by Dr Rice. Thanks for suggesting it, it was a great read. How blessed we in Christ are to have assurance of salvation.

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Books, Tracts & Preaching/Printed Sermons/Dr John Rice/come_to_jesus.htm
 
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