To believe is to obey

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

THIS Lenten season, the profound meaning of John 3:16 once again comes into mind, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

This timeless message is confounded by many other declarations in the Bible. Asked by their jailer what must be done to be saved, Paul and Silas replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). On the other hand, St. Paul writes, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Truly then, believing in Jesus brings forth salvation. This salvation is by grace through faith not from our selves but as a free gift of God, and not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Why not by works? The verse itself tells us so; salvation is an undeserved gift that is freely given. Otherwise, people will brag to have obtained it on their own merit, and not on the merit of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.


In addition, from a hardened sinner to a repentant soul, man may not have much good works to show on his track record very much like that thief who was nailed on the cross beside Jesus who, by his belief in Christ shortly before he died, was saved. Yet, even if one has become good in the sight of men for most of his life, his righteous acts, just like anyone else’s, are just like filthy rags in the presence of a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). The Bible is clear, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We must therefore believe Jesus as our Savior. But after that moment of salvation, we must also continue to believe him as the Lord of our lives.

Can one accept Jesus as Savior, then break all the commandments of God, and still be saved? Can a Christian profess with his mouth that he believes in Jesus, and then continue to be a sexual pervert, a robber, a murderer, a liar, or an idolater and be assured of his salvation? Of course not!

1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19 and Revelations 22:15 all talk of the same theme, “that the unrighteous will never enter nor inherit the kingdom of God. Hebrews 6:4-8 declares as impossible the renewal of those who were once enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and who have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, but who fell away. They are in danger of being cursed, and in the end, burned.

Thus belief in Jesus is not only a mental acceptance or an oral utterance. Belief in Jesus requires a belief in his person, and a belief in what he taught. As he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Timothy 2:19).

In Christ, what counts is faith, expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6). And what does it mean to love him? In his own words, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). John wrote further, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1 John 2:4) and “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

Given these, may we, during this holy season and beyond, allow God to make alive in us his memorable words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” May we come to understand that to believe is not only to accept and to say. To believe is also to obey.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 13, 2014.


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