|"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16|
WHAT MUST ONE " BELIEVE " ABOUT CHRIST
ACTS 8:35-37, " Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is : water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
Acts 16:30-31, "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
Acts 18:8, " And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
In each of these passages there is the emphasis on the necessity of faith for salvation. These people heard, and they believed the message they were taught and the message contained what they had to be believe about Christ. Nothing is plainer in the bible than the necessity to believe to be saved. Hebrews 11:6, " But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
While these and other passages teach faith for salvation, neither these nor any other passage teaches salvation by faith alone or faith only. That doctrine is an addition by some religious teachers that God never revealed. But scripture does teach faith and that it makes a difference what a person believes.
Faith in Christ
Everybody believes something. But to be saved from the wages of sin we must believe something specifically. In what are we to believe? More properly, in whom are we to believe? The Bible teaches we are to believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This is a good and all-inclusive answer when we understand what it includes, but to just leave it at that does not tell us what the Bible teaches regarding the faith we must have.
We must not be content with something less than the specific teaching of the Word of God. What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Just what is it concerning Jesus that we are to believe?
By studying the sermons preached and recorded in the Bible, considering the prophecies about him, and the apostolic statements, as well as examples of conversion, we learn what it is we must believe regarding Jesus. When a person truly believes what the scriptures teach, he should have no hesitancy to do what the scriptures command. His reluctance or refusal to obey is evidence that he really does not yet accept the scriptural testimony about Jesus Christ.
Son of God
We must believe that he is the Son of God. Matthew 16:16, " Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 3:17, " This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Luke 22:70, " Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am." This was the Lord's affirmation of his identity as the Son of God. Acts 8:37 tells us the confession the man of Ethiopia made regarding Christ. John 8:24, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that am he, ye shall die in your sins."
Can there be any question in the mind of any honest Bible reader as to the identity of Jesus as far as Biblical revelation is concerned? Those who knew him, his own witness, the words of the Father, the early Christians, all say the same thing. But to accept Jesus as the Christ and Son of God demands acceptance of other significant facts about him.
We must believe that Christ is the Savior and that there is no other Savior (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). John said of him, John 1:29, " Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." I Timothy 1:15 teaches he came into the world to save sinners. This was his mission. We either shall be saved by and through Jesus Christ or we shall not be saved. His name, Jesus, means Savior.
Believing him to be the Son of God demands that we believe the record regarding his birth by the virgin Mary. Matthew 18-19,20-21,22-23 records the fulfillment of the prophecy given by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14. No other one could fulfill such a prophecy.
It is most regrettable that there be those who profess to be Christians who deny what the Word of God teaches about his birth. Just why they would believe the Bible when it teaches he is the Son of God but then deny the Bible when it teaches about him being born of a virgin is beyond rational explanation. So many in the Protestant world deny this Biblical fact. But let it be affirmed without any fear whatever of successful refutation that nobody can honestly claim to accept the Bible and deny the virgin birth of Christ. It is senseless to claim to believe in the Almighty God and then deny what God has recorded just because it does not happen to accommodate someone's fanciful system of modernist theory, or even one's personal experience. Since God created the entire universe, who has the audacity to claim he could not provide the birth of his Son in this fashion?
To believe in Christ demands that one believe that he lived, taught, and preformed miracles just as the Biblical record affirms. Acts 1:1, " The former treatise have I made, 0 Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." John 2:23, " Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did." Peter's preaching at the household of Cornelius included " how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him" (Acts 10:38).
When he taught he did not teach as others taught (Matthew 7:29) because he taught with authority. And well he did because he was Deity in the flesh. All authority belonged to him (Matthew 28:18).
To believe in Christ requires that we accept his teaching about morality and the proper conduct toward other people as well as service to God in worship. It is unreasonable and inconsistent to claim to believe in Christ but reject his Word. Jesus said in John 14:15, " If ye love me, keep my command me us." Luke 6:46, " And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not tile things which I say?" If one does not accept what, Christ taught about salvation, the church, the judgment, and all other matters that he discussed, how can he sincerely claim that his faith, confidence and trust resides in Christ? Matthew 7:21, " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." It matters not what subject is under consideration. That which Jesus taught, and has authorized to be taught, with the application intended, or his faith in Christ is suspect and invalid.
His Death and Resurrection
We must believe not only that our Lord lived, taught, and performed miracles in this life, but that he was eventually arrested, persecuted, carried before a series of trials where justice was mocked, and led to Calvary to be crucified between two thieves as if he was a criminal. First Corinthians 15:1-8 includes these matters along with his burial and resurrection as the fundamental facts of the gospel by which we are saved. In Luke 23:46, " Into thy hands I commend my spirit." Luke 23:52-53, " This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid." As for his resurrection, Luke 24:5-6, " And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee."
We either believe these things or we do not. There is no middle ground. We cannot accept part of them and reject another part. It is either all or nothing. We are not allowed what might be called a "supermarket" kind of faith in the revelation of Christ, that is, we go through the scripture and take what we wish and discard what we happen not to want. Concerning the Bible and its record of Christ, we are not granted the privilege to "pick and choose." We either choose to believe it all or we have picked the path of disbelief and damnation for ourselves.
Faith in Christ demands that we accept the fact that he established his kingdom, the church. It demands that we believe that after his ascension (Acts 1:9) we are assured of his ultimate return, the resurrection of all the dead, and the judgment before God. We must believe that he is now reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. To deny this is to deny Christ and the role the scripture has assigned him.
Of no less certainty is the promised return (Acts 1:11), " Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
All of these things that we have noted briefly, we must accept to be true. This is what it means to believe in Christ. With inspired testimony before us, given through eyewitnesses, proven and verified by the power of God, we should have no difficulty in believing, especially when we realize that our eternal salvation or damnation depends on our response.
In Acts 8, when the Ethiopian believed, he obeyed, being baptized. The same was true of the jailor in Philippi, Lydia, the Corinthians, the people of Samaria, and every account of conversion to Christ. Those who received the Word were baptized on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).
It is no different today. When one truly believe, he will obey, being baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Galatians 3:27; Acts 2:38). Knowing what to believe and what belief requires, we have before us the path to salvation. May it be that each of us will go that way.