"Easy Believism" - A Misnomer
by Pastor Barry Black
Misnomer: 1. Unsuitable name––a wrong or unsuitable name or term for something or somebody. 2. Calling something by a wrong name––a use of a wrong or unsuitable name or term to describe something or somebody.
Generally when the suffix -ism is placed behind a word, it describes a movement, doctrine, or system of belief. Sometimes it is meant to allude to cult beliefs (i.e., Mormonism, etc.). Obviously, the usual reason for calling the pure gospel of grace (faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life) easy believism is to insinuate that those who adhere to it are cultlike, and have come up with a new, aberrant gospel. So is what some consider easy believism a new view of the gospel? Is it a deviation from the real gospel? Or is it indeed the good news that sinners may have - and thus be guaranteed - eternal life by simple (simple, not easy) faith in Jesus Christ?
Let’s look and see what Jesus said concerning eternal life. We will primarily focus on the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is the only one of the four gospel accounts written for the sole purpose of teaching us how to have eternal life (see John 20:31). The Gospel of John clearly states that the only condition for receiving eternal life (including heaven when we die) is to believe in Jesus Christ. The apostle John uses the word believe 98 times in his Gospel. He never says to “believe and be baptized,” “believe and join a denomination or church,” “believe and repent,” “believe and be sorry for your sins,” “believe and turn from your sins,” or even “believe and pray to be saved.” Only one condition is consistently stated: believe. Why do people (even well-meaning people) add something else? The usual argument is that “It seems too easy to just believe.” But in the Gospel of John believing is the only condition given (cf. John 3:15-18, 36). In John 3:18 it is clear that “he who does not believe is condemned already” (present tense), and in John 3:36 it is clear that the one “who does not believe…the wrath of God abides on him.”
Over and over, the Gospel of John records that the one and only condition for eternal life is faith in Christ. The word believe translates the Greek word, pisteuō. After the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus came to the home of Mary and Martha. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He talked to Martha about eternal life. John 11:25-26 records, “Jesus said to her [Martha], ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.’” After telling her that, Jesus asked a very simple question of Martha. It had nothing to do with Martha joining a church, or turning from or quitting her sins, or professing Christ publicly, or making a commitment, or promising to do better, or walking an aisle, or filling out a card. She didn’t even pray! Jesus simply asked her, “Do you believe this?” She answered in v 27, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Simple? Yes. But not easy.
Would you say that to believe in a man who claimed to be both God and man, died for your sins on a cruel cross, rose again the third day so that you can have eternal life simply by believing in Him alone, is easy? Then why do so many people depend on something or someone else to get them to heaven? Why do so many depend on believing in Jesus and being baptized, or believing in Jesus and joining a particular church or denomination, or believing in Jesus and turning from all their sins? Man by nature is very religious. That is, man by nature wants to do something in order to have peace with God, or maintain peace with God. The prime example is Cain. Remember in Genesis 4 when Able brought an offering as God had commanded? Cain brought of the fruit of the ground what he had grown as a result of his own efforts. The idea here is that he brought something good, something that God had given him the ability to do; but Cain’s error was that it was not what God required.
Salvation is not in human ability. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that very clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” What God has required is faith in Christ alone for salvation (i.e., eternal life). He requires simple faith. However, just because it is simple, does not mean it is easy. It is against human nature and thinking to believe that there is no human effort in salvation. In other words, we cannot do anything to be saved, or to stay saved. If we place faith in anything other than Christ or in addition to Christ, it is not what God requires. Faith alone in Christ alone grant everlasting life. The issue is not easy believism. The truth of the matter is that easy believism is a misnomer. Simple believism is a more accurate expression, though the -ism part gives it a slightly negative connotation. A better expression might be simply believing.
Barry D. Black is Pastor of Joy Baptist Church, Huff, GA www.joybc.org