“Whoever Believes In Him” Part 4 of 5
Jesus says that "whoever believes in him" will be saved. "Whoever" is the promise that all who come in true repentance will be accepted. "Believes" means we are totally convinced that Jesus is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do. And our faith is "in Jesus,"; there is an object to our faith.
As you stand at the fork in the trail, with the easy trail to the right around Frater Lake and the more difficult path to Coyote Rock to the left, it does you no good to stare at it and do nothing else. Coyote Rock will still be there whether you see it or not; but if you're going to make the hike, if you want to see the view and enjoy the beauty, you must make a decision. While God swings the door open, you must walk through. You must respond, and spiritually that response is the act of going through the gate. It is called “conversion.”
Remember our verse. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
“Whoever” is a wonderful word. Jesus stands at the gate and opens his arms to all who would come. He wants “all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). “Whoever” enters through the gate will be saved. No one is beyond Jesus’ ability to forgive and to save. No one who enters the gate will be refused.
I am not sure if you feel this way, but many people think their sin is so great that Jesus can't save them. They think that it's fine if God saves someone else, but he can’t save me; I’ve sinned too much.”
If you feel this way, then you need to clearly hear the good news of this verse. If you cry out for forgiveness, if you believe in Jesus, then no matter what you have done, you will be forgiven. Jesus’s death on the cross is sufficient to cover the sins of all who come to him. The gate can swing open for every traveler who stands before it, no matter what they have done. Whoever wants to walk to Coyote Rock can take the hike.
But what does it mean to "believe" in Jesus? Being a follower of Jesus isn't just about believing certain facts about him, like the fact that he exists. Believing in Jesus means that you believe that Jesus is who he says he is -- the Son of God -- and that he did what he said he would do -- pay the penalty for our sins and forgive us.
Biblical belief means that you no longer trust in yourself but rather you have moved that trust out of yourself and “into” Jesus. Biblical belief means that you are no longer primarily self-sufficient, trusting yourself to take care of your sin. Biblical belief means you embrace Christ-sufficiency, that he did on the cross for you what you could not do for yourself. Biblical belief is throwing yourself into the merciful arms of Jesus, believing that he will catch you. Biblical belief is trusting Jesus for everything: forgiveness; salvation; life. Biblical belief is accepting that Jesus is who says he is and that he will do what he said he will do.
Also, remember that the verse says we must believe "in him." Some people think that by being spiritual they will somehow move into a relationship with God. Their spirituality can look like Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, or whatever feels right to them. They think the key to opening the gate is a spiritual mindset. This simply is not true. The right post of the gate is Jesus. Our belief is not in our spirituality or philosophy or religion; it is “in him,” that he has done what was necessary to grant us access to a relationship with God.
God's love makes it possible for the gate to open. The latch is undone by Jesus, and Jesus alone. "Whoever believes in him." That's the key to Jesus opening the gate for you. Has he?
- Did you have any trouble believing that God could forgive you, with everything you have done wrong? What convinced you otherwise?
- How would you define the word "believe," and you can't use words like "trust" and "faith"? If you are talking to someone that was not raised in the church, these words are confusing and they probably wouldn't understand.
- What are some of the false objects of faith? What do people believe in other than Jesus? How will you help them see these "objects" haven't built a true gate?