What Does it Mean to Believe?

The Bible repeatedly tells us that faith (or belief) in the Lord Jesus saves a person from their sins. If faith is a condition for salvation it is important to understand what faith is. What does it mean to believe and how can we do it?

What Does it Mean to Believe?

Faith is objective

Religious belief has descended into a sea of relativity. There are no rights and wrongs, only opinions. I believe in God and you believe in nothing, but we’re both right, and since I have my truth and you have yours, we can happily get along.

Not quite. We don’t treat faith like this in any other realm. If I believe the earth orbits the sun and the Eiffel Tower is in Paris and someone else says they don’t believe these propositions, then one of us is wrong. There are right and wrong beliefs, whether geographical or spiritual.

Faith is not unintelligent

The Bible says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). On the issue of origins, we all exercise faith. Either we believe God, or we believe the theorising of man. Either God made it all or the Universe created itself. However, the latter is akin to saying that Tesla hit the road without Elon Musk. Everything that’s made – including Tesla and planet Earth – needs a creator. Just like the Bible says: “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible”. And yet, when it comes to origins, ‘the Big Bang’ suggests that physical matter made itself – that is impossible. Faith is not unintelligent. When it comes to creation, we all believe someone. Who do you believe? God? Or man?

Faith is based on reality

The Bible says, “These [signs] 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). When the Bible says we need to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved it assumes the need to believe a few basic facts first. Without accepting these facts, we cannot be saved. The Bible goes out of its way to prove the validity of its claims. The ultimate fact that authenticates Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and the only Saviour of sinners is that He died and rose from the dead.

Furthermore, we need to know some facts about ourselves. Before anyone is saved, they need to know that they are sinners and heading for judgement in hell. They must know that God will not accept them as they are and that their good works are like rotten rags (Isaiah 64:6). Without understanding these realities an individual’s faith will be misplaced.

Many people today sincerely believe that going to church will make them a Christian. This belief has no biblical basis, so they are sincerely wrong.

Faith is more than facts

The opposite mistake to avoid is to reduce faith to intellectual assent. Faith is not merely head knowledge. The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). The devil himself knows the facts about God, but he is not saved. A drowning man might know the buoyancy factor of the life ring and the muscular density of the men throwing it to him. However, this knowledge is useless to him if it remains in his head. He must act on it and get in the ring. Far better to be a man who knows nothing about the life ring but simply responds to the call to “get in” and “be saved”.

Faith is an action

When the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31), it means we must depend entirely upon Him and entrust our eternity to Him. It entails relinquishing control of our lives and abandoning any hope of saving ourselves. Just like the disciple Peter, who cried “Lord, save me”, when drowning in the Sea of Galilee (Matthew  14:30), every guilty sinner needs to realise they cannot save themselves and must rely wholly on the Lord Jesus for salvation.

Faith is simple

The Bible says, “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Just as a child has implicit trust in its parents, we must have similar faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s not about trying to believe, praying a certain prayer, or our faith being strong enough. Rather, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). To be saved you must simply take God at His word.

Repent of your sin today, rest in Christ, and you will be saved; heaven will be your home. You have God’s word on it.


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