What is it a man must believe in order to be saved according to the Bible? If salvation is dependent on faith which the Bible clearly teaches then it is essential to know what it is that the Bible teaches we must believe. This is not a subject that is studied a whole lot for the answer seems so evident – we must believe in Jesus. Yes, that is true, but what does that mean? I will talk about that later in the article but there are other things we also must believe according to the scriptures.
(1) One must believe in God's existence and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. " (Heb. 11:6 NKJV) There will be no atheists in heaven. There will be no one there who displeases God. If you are an atheist you are not pleasing to God and have no hope of mercy in the Day of Judgment. One must believe that God is.
But this passage also teaches it is not enough to just believe God exists but you have to believe he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. You have to believe that your efforts to seek him (learn his will and obey it) will be rewarded provided you do such seeking with diligence. This eliminates the passive believer from salvation. God is not a rewarder of the passive believer but of the diligent seeker.
To the church at Laodicea Jesus said, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. " (Rev. 3:16 NKJV) God requires diligence of his people.
(2) One must believe in God the Father. Here we are talking of a specific God, the Father of Jesus Christ. We are not talking about Allah or the God of some other religion other than Christianity. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life. " (John 5:24 NKJV) Who sent Jesus? God the Father (see John 3:16-17, John 8:16, 1 John 4:14, 1 John 1:3). In Rom. 4 we are told our faith will be accounted for righteousness. “It shall be imputed to us who believe in him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. " (NKJV) Who raised Jesus from the dead? God the Father (more on this later). Man must believe not only in the Lord Jesus but also in God the Father of Jesus.
(3) One must believe the truth, not error. Paul states the case negatively, “That they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth. " (2 Thess. 2:12 NKJV) Why did they not believe the truth? Because they did not love the truth (2 Thess. 2:10) but did have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12). Error, at the time, may seem far more attractive than truth and thus one can deceive himself into taking it for the truth – we believe it because we want to believe it – but, nevertheless, if one is to be saved he must believe the truth, not error.
"Jesus said to those Jews who believed him, ‘If you abide in my word … you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. '" (John 831-32 NKJV) Truth is thus dependent on the word of Christ which is the word of God. “The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. " (John 14:24 NKJV) As Jesus said elsewhere, “your word is truth. " (John 17:17 NKJV) speaking of the word of God the Father. One must believe the truth, the word of God.
To expand on this point in the parable of the soils we are told, “The seed is the word of God. " (Luke 8:11 NKJV) We are then told that those by the wayside “are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. " One must then believe the word of God to be saved. One must continue to believe the word of God and not be like some who he says “believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. " (Luke 8:13 NKJV) Why do those with a noble and good heart keep the word and bear fruit with patience (verse 15)? Because they believe the word and because they do believe it they obey it. Jesus said, “If anyone keeps my word he shall never see death. " (John 8:51 NKJV) One must believe enough to obey if he is to be saved.
(4) One must believe what Jesus says. Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words and does not believe … the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. " (John 12:47-48 NKJV) One will be judged not on the basis of what he believes about the word but by what the word says and that is a very important point that needs emphasis.
What is the practical application? Sincerity is secondary to belief and obedience. One may sincerely disbelief who Jesus is or have doubts about a doctrine Jesus taught but sincerity in such a case will not matter on the last day, the Day of Judgment, for it is the word spoken by Jesus that will count. One must then believe what Jesus says and not what he the man thinks about what Jesus said.
Man is often guilty of doing too much human reasoning on some of the statements made by Jesus and commandments given when he should instead just believe and obey. We reason ourselves into disbelief and disobedience if we are not careful. We end up convincing ourselves the righteous thing to do is to set aside the commandment of Jesus because to obey would cause problems and Jesus would not want that. To obey might offend and Jesus would not want us to offend others. We end up thus disbelieving Jesus and disobeying him and tell ourselves he will be pleased with us all the while forgetting that we will be judged by the words Jesus spoke.
In John 5:47 Jesus rebukes those who do not believe him when he says, “If you do not believe his writings (speaking of Moses – DS), how will you believe my words?" (NKJV) Earlier he had said to this same crowd, “You do not have his word (God's word – DS) abiding in you, because whom he sent, him you do not believe (speaking of himself – DS). " (John 5:38 NKJV) One must believe the things Jesus said which means believe the entire New Testament and not just the words in red in a red letter edition of the Bible (read John 16:12-15 for proof of this statement).
Many are the men who say they believe in Jesus but who do not believe what he said about the new birth having water in it (John 3:5) or what he said about baptism (Mark 16:16). One must believe Jesus, must believe what he said on each and every topic about which he spoke. For me to say I believe in a man but I just do not believe what he said about this or that shows my belief to be what it really is – unbelief. How can I say I believe in you all the while not being willing to accept your word? I really do not believe in a man if I will not take his word as truth.
(5) One must believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. " (Rom. 10:9 NKJV) Jesus’ resurrection is proof that he was the Son of God. He was, “declared to be the Son of God with power … by the resurrection from the dead. " (Rom. 1:4 NKJV) God would not have raised an imposter or liar from the dead. The fact that he raised Jesus’ from the dead is proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be – the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of man. To accept the resurrection then is to accept the truth about Jesus.
Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, while preaching the first gospel sermon ever to be preached said of Jesus that God raised him up (Acts 2:24, 32). In addition to these passages I have counted 15 other passages that state God raised Jesus up from the dead (Acts 3:15, 4:10, 10:40, 13:30, 13:34, 13:37, Rom. 4:24, 6:4, 8:11, 1 Cor. 15:5, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Thess. 1:10, and 1 Peter 1:21). The resurrection of Christ is a fundamental truth of the gospel. As Paul said, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. " (1 Cor. 15:17 NKJV) All depends on the resurrection but the good news is “Christ is risen from the dead" (1 Cor. 15:20 NKJV) and thus “Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead. " (1 Cor. 15:12 NKJV)
(6) One must believe the gospel to be saved. “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. " (1 Cor. 15:1-4 NKJV)
The gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. " (Rom. 1:16 NKJV) It is to be preached to “every creature" (Mark 16:15 NKJV). “He who believes (it, the gospel – DS) and is baptized will be saved. " (Mark 16:16 NKJV) I did not say that. Jesus said it in Mark 16:15-16. It is “the message preached" (1 Cor. 1:21 NKJV) that when believed saves. The resurrection is the proof of the gospel message or put another way proves the gospel to be true.
(7) One must believe Jesus is the Son of God. “If you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins. " (John 8:24 NKJV) Read John 8:24 in context and it is clear the “he" Jesus speaks of is himself as the “Son of God. " He refers time and again to God being his father (John 8:19, 28, 38, 54), makes it clear he came down from heaven (John 8:14, 23, 38, 42), and that God his Father sent him (John 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42).
John wrote the book of John recording many signs Jesus did and said of them that “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. " (John 20:31 NKJV) Simon Peter's confession in Matt. 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (NKJV), is the foundational truth upon which the church is built. It is the thing that must be believed before one can be made into a “living stone" (1 Peter 2:5 NKJV) that is added to the spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5) of God called the church of which Jesus is the Savior (Eph. 1:22-23 and Eph. 5:23).
If Jesus was not the Son of God what difference would his death have made? The answer is none. If he was only a man among men then his sacrifice was meaningless. One must believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God.
(8) One must believe in Jesus. “He who believes in him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. " (John 3:18 NKJV) “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. " (John 3:36 NKJV) “He who believes in me (Jesus speaking – DS) has everlasting life. " (John 6:47 NKJV) I am sure that anyone at all familiar with the Bible realizes many more passages along this line of teaching could be quoted but because I am relatively sure the reader knows that and agrees I want to talk a little bit about what it means to believe in Jesus.
In one of the verses I just quoted we have this, “he who does not believe the Son shall not see life. " (John 3:36 NKJV) Let us be honest with ourselves and with one another. One only believes another person when he is willing to act on what the other person tells him. Here is an example. You and your wife are driving down the road in a place you have never been before and you are trying to follow directions from a map. You are doing the driving and your wife tells you that you missed your turn and you are headed the wrong way. A lot of men are not willing to believe their wife and will keep on driving until they are satisfied not with her words but by their own experience that they are lost (lost because of having made the wrong turn). You only really believe the word of your wife when you do what? When you turn around and go back.
That is the way it is with our belief in Jesus too often. He has given many commands to us. We say we believe in him and trust him and yet we are not willing to do as he says about so many things we find in his word. Why not? Because we are trusting our own thinking rather than relying on Christ to direct our life. In the example I just gave in the prior paragraph the man was only willing to turn around and go back when he found out by personal experience the wife was right and he was wrong. If we are going to treat the words of Christ that way (the teachings of the New Testament) we will be willing to turn around and go back at the Day of Judgment when we find out by personal experience that his way is best but it will be too late then. Jesus demands that we believe in him and what he says here and now, not for the first time on the Day of Judgment.
To trust in Jesus, to believe in him the way he requires us to believe in him, is to trust him implicitly and obey him in all things he commands. It is to say his way is best even though it may seem to be harsh at times when judged by modern day liberal society. It is to let him tell you what to do through his word and not for you to make the judgments based on what seems to be right according to your way of thinking. One could easily take a New Testament and go through it and mark verse after verse that is no longer generally obeyed even by those calling themselves Christians today because men have judged those commands to be too hard, some even unloving by man's standards. It is hard to find a congregation today, just for example, that obeys 2 Thess. 3:6, “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly. " (NKJV) When we make the decisions about what we will believe and obey we displace Jesus as Lord and make ourselves the Lord of our lives. That is not trusting (believing) in Jesus.
To believe in Jesus is to believe his way is best and it is to let him be God and accept our place as but earthen vessels destined to return to the dust from which we originally came through Adam. It is to allow him to take us by the hand through his word and lead our lives for us. As Paul said, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. " (Gal. 2:20 NKJV) We ought to “walk just as he walked. " (1 John 2:6 NKJV)
And, finally, to believe in Jesus is to trust in his promises. He has given many promises of which none are to be doubted as to their fulfillment in our life. The greatest promise of all is, of course, eternal life. We must believe not only in his power to deliver but in his love for us and willingness to do so as taught in his word. We can trust in Jesus if only we will.
For preaching a little different than what you are use to hearing try the audio sermons of Waymon Swain .