John 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
This is a foundational truth for us as believers. We’ve looked at it from many different angles and today I want to focus on “whosoever believes in Him” – what does it mean to “believe in Him”? You experience salvation through faith, through believing in Jesus, not through your performance. Faith (believing) is important but what does it mean to believe in Him?
Romans 10:9-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Your mouth and your heart need to be linked in order for salvation to be activated in your life. If you’re just saying some words and going through some kind of wordy confessional thing or prayer, you will not be saved. Salvation is received because of heart belief and mouth confession, or acknowledgement. Believing on Jesus is more than just words and it’s more than just actions; it’s a heart issue which leads to a transformed life. Going to church, baptism and even being born into a Christian family cannot bring salvation. It’s not the result of trying to live a good life and be a good person, either. What brings salvation is believing in Jesus – faith in Him.
Even Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. So what’s in your heart? If there is faith in your heart it will reflect in what comes out of your mouth; there’ll be an overflow and you will declare Jesus as Lord – you’ll acknowledge that He is who He says He is.
We got to believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, literally, and that it was for our justification. This means that we’ve been made “just as if we’ve never sinned”, or in Biblical words, righteous; perfect right standing before God. Salvation is believing that God raised Jesus from the dead (physically, not figuratively) to justify us; make us perfect in His sight – just as if we’ve never sinned. Jesus made us right with God through His sacrifice and victory. We cannot make ourselves right with God through our actions, performance or best efforts. We are made right with God through faith in His work for us. Being born again, being a Christian, being saved means that you are made right with God. A Christian is not trying to be right with God because the Christian has been declared right with God because of their faith in (reliance upon) Jesus and what He has done for us. Righteousness is something you receive, and when you receive it, it makes you born again. As a believer, you are 100% right with God, 100% of the time.
Acts 13:38-39 New King James Version (NKJV)
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Through faith in Jesus, not your personal holiness, you are justified from all things (made perfect; just as if you’ve never sinned). Through faith in Christ, you are cleared and freed, absolved from every charge against you. You’re made and declared innocent in Him because of faith in Him and not because you’ve tried to obey the law of Moses and do what’s right. Right belief makes you righteous.
The old covenant was all about what you needed to “do” in order to “be”. The new covenant is about believing and believing makes you a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the more you realize who you are in Christ, the more you’re going to start to transform and become more like him in your actions. But the actions of holiness are not the roots of your salvation; your best efforts to live Holy are not the roots of your salvation – they cannot save you! Your giving or generosity are not the roots of your salvation. All of this is a fruit of salvation. It is produced by salvation but cannot produce salvation.
The more you realize what happened to you when you believed in Jesus and received salvation, and the more you see yourself for who you are now in Christ, the more you will start to experience the fruit of salvation in your life.