C.S. points out a major issue in study Bibles and commentaries:
So, I just received a new study Bible, and I am curious about the thoughts being presented in it regarding John 3:16. It states that in the New Testament, belief denotes more than intellectual assent to a fact. I don’t necessarily agree with that; isn’t faith just belief that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ in Whom we have eternal life when we just believe in Him and Who He is? Furthermore, it states “the word pisteuō means adherence to, committal to, faith in, reliance upon, trust in a person or object. This involves not only the consent of the mind, but an act of the heart and will of the subject. Whosoever believes in him is equivalent to whosoever trusts in or commits himself to him (Christ).” Any thoughts regarding this would be extremely helpful, thank you!
I am amazed at how willing some people are to transform what God’s Word says into what they think it should say.
Let’s apply that consistently in the Bible. I’ve picked 8 verses. According to this unnamed study Bible, for someone to believe in Jesus means that he “commits himself to Him.”
Matthew 21:22: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, being committed to your prayer, you will receive.”
Matthew 24:23: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not be committed to them.”
John 11:26: “And whoever lives and is committed to Me shall never die. Are you committed to this?”
John 11:27: “She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I am committed to You in the sense that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Romans 4:3: “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham committed himself to God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Romans 14:2: “For one has committed himself to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.”
Galatians 3:9: “So then those who are of commitment are blessed with committed Abraham.”
James 2:19: “You are committed to the idea that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons are committed—and tremble!”
If this is true, then justification is not by faith alone. It is by commitment alone. In this way of looking at it, faith in Christ has nothing to do with believing in Him. It has to do with committing yourself to following Him faithfully for the rest of your life.
If believing in Jesus means committing to Him and not believing in Him, then it would not matter if you believed in works salvation or not. In fact, it would not even matter if you believed that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior. It would not matter if you believed that salvation will be lost if you commit a big sin. If believing in Him isn’t about believing, then an atheist could be born again by committing his life to following Christ.
What that study Bible and many preachers today wish us to believe is that believing in Jesus does involve believing some facts about Him, but it also involves a volitional commitment to serve Him for the rest of our lives. But it can’t mean both. Either it means commitment, or it means believing.
When Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” He either was asking if she was convinced that what He had just said was true (John 11:25-26a), or He was asking if she was committed to do whatever it is that He had just told her to do. But He had not told her to do anything. He just stated what He promised to be true.
The same is true in John 3:16. The Lord Jesus was not commanding Nic to do certain tasks for Him. He was making a promise that whoever believes in Him will never perish but has everlasting life.
John 3:16 is beautiful in its simplicity. I rejoice in all who clearly proclaim the free gift of everlasting life to whoever simply believes in Jesus, apart from works, commitment, dedication, or surrender. Everlasting life is to whoever believes in Him, not to whoever behaves in Him.