Believe in Jesus for Everlasting Life
My brothers Antonio and Matthew have been challenging me for a while to define the content of saving faith. I once had an idea of what it was but I have come to view my former approach as an uncertain checklist. I do not want to have a checklist to answer this question of "What is the content of saving faith?"
I think one of the best and most provocative issues that has been brought forth on this issue is the faith of children. How much can a child know about my checklists?
Anyway, I really feel like "Believe in Jesus for Everlasting Life" is a pretty good description of saving faith according to the Scriptures. It defines what is different between myself and my Roman Catholic relatives (they don't really trust Him for their eternal well-being, although they believe a lot of the things that I think are important in my checklist). However, as I have read about this issue, the statement "Believe in Jesus for Everlasting Life" leaves something a little up-in-the-air for me. Here's what: when I see that statement, my mind zeroes in on the "Jesus." I ask: who is this? All Christians would agree that He is more than just a name. So I start to list things about Jesus that come to mind... and then I wind up with a checklist all over again!
This is the mental exercise I have been going through in the last few months.
A couple of months ago, I was drawn to this idea in the first epistle of John:
"Receiving the witness of God which He has testified of His Son."
I have been mulling that over a lot. (Receiving the witness that God has given about his Son.) I tried to apply this idea to many situations, including the faith of children... and the scenario with the man reading the gospel of John and believing in Jesus for eternal life before he reads about the crucifixion and resurrection.
This seems to me to gel with my idea of saving faith. A person who "believes in Jesus" and has saving faith receives that which God has testified about concerning His Son. I don't think there is a person who is exersizing saving faith who does not receive something (on my checklist or not) that God has testified to regarding His Son. He is not going to actively deny the first chapter of the gospel of John if he is receiving the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. A person who is believing in Jesus for eternal life is not going to reject His deity if it has been revealed to Him from the Word of God that this is part of that testimony that God has given about His Son. If the person hasn't heard it yet, then it is not a matter of him rejecting it. But a person who is looking to Christ is not going to reject the testimony God has given about His Son when he hears it.
Now what is the main item that God has testified to regarding His Son? It is found in 1 John 5:11
9If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11)Jesus Christ can guarantee our eternal well-being; He can give us eternal life. This life is in Him, no other. This is the main thing that we must be telling potential converts about. This is not the only thing, but we must, BY NO MEANS, ever, ever leave this out. It is the crwon jewel of God's testimony about His Son.
If a preacher or an evangelist does leave this most important issue out of his presentation, then can a person still be receiving the witness of God which He has testified of His Son? Well, yes, provided that the other things he is being told are true and accurate representations of that witness of God which He has testified of His Son from the Bible. But must he come to the crown jewel of that testimony, which is that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son in order to have that eteranl life? I do believe so.
Q. What must the potential convert know about Jesus Christ the Son in whom he is believing for eternal life?
A. Whatever the Bible says about Him that he can understand and is made aware of. (I am sure this is not detailed and precise enough for some, but it works for me at this point)
There is a testimony God has given about His Son. When people receive this testimony, they have eternal life.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name... (John 1:12)Now tell me where the holes are in my thinking!