Post by Mike Miller on Nov 22, 2013 14:33:35 GMT -5
Hey, Sherri. Great question. It is possible to believe truths about God and even to believe that God is true without having saving faith. James tells us that even demons believe there is one God, but they tremble and have rebelled against Him. I see people all the time who say they believe the Bible. They believe the Gospel message is true. They even believe that Jesus is their only way to be saved. Nevertheless, they reject God's gift of salvation by not "believing in" Jesus. They will not turn from sin (repentance) and entrust themselves to Jesus as Savior. We could say that they "believe" God, but they don't "believe in" God.
The Gospel of John highlights the different kinds of believing very well by showing different stages, if you will, on the journey of faith. John records various episodes during the life of Jesus that demonstrate this very well. An excellent example is in John 4:46-54 when an official with a sick child goes to Jesus and asks Him to heal his son. Jesus assures the man that his son will live, and the man "believed the word that Jesus spoke to Him." He really believed Jesus. In fact, because of the distances traveled and the times mentioned in the passage, we know that the man didn't hurry to get home. He waited until the next day. When he was on his way home, he got word that his son had indeed been healed, we are told that then "he himself believed, and all his household." In other words, the man first believed to some extent that Jesus could heal his son (the first stage of his his faith journey), because he traveled to where Jesus was to ask for His help. Next, the man believed what Jesus said, even though Jesus didn't go to his house (the second stage of his faith journey). Then, when the healing was confirmed, he and his entire household truly believed in Jesus (the saving stage in his faith journey). This must be a different kind of belief than before, since it is stated so plainly after we had been told that he had already "believed the word that Jesus spoke to him."
Therefore, we will meet lots of people who say they believe in Jesus. What many of them mean is that they believe the truth about Jesus. However, they have never really turned to Jesus in saving faith. Real, saving faith is life changing. It happens as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's heart, and it involves repentance and new life. Any belief that is not evidenced by a significant life-change cannot be saving faith.