Some people say we must believe that Jesus is the Christ, without necessarily believing in Him for eternal life or any other kind of salvation.
By contrast, we argue that when you believe that Jesus is the Christ—i.e., the Savior—you must have some understanding of the kind of salvation He brings. To believe in Jesus as the Christ is to believe in Him as the One who gives eternal salvation.
Adam and Eve could have lived forever with God. Instead, they brought death into the world. It was understood that the promised Messiah would take care of that fundamental problem.
Here are two passages which strongly suggest that people understood the Messiah is the One Who brought eternal life.
The first example will be familiar to readers of this blog:
Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:25-27).
Jesus asked Martha if she believed Him when He promised that whoever believes in Him “will never die” (i.e., have eternal life). She answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ.” For Martha, it seems that the title “the Christ” was shorthand for the One Who gives eternal life through faith. Imagine if someone came to you and said, “Do you believe that I am the chief diplomat, chief executive and chief administrator of this country, and commander-in-chief of its armed forces?” You could answer, “Yes, I believe that you’re the President.” The title “President” summarizes those descriptions.
But here’s an even earlier example, from John 6:
Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).
Peter did not want to leave Jesus because He believed Jesus was “the Christ” who had “the words of eternal life.” That is what the Christ does—He preaches words of eternal life, and He gives eternal life to believers.
When you tell people that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, what kind of salvation do you say He came to bring? Eternal? Or something less?