The more I read the Bible and then read comments by those who write commentaries, the more confusion results. It is no wonder there are cults. I think the church starts cults because one day, you are saved by believing. The next day, you are saved by believing and working. I know many friends who believe in Christ. Some attend church, and some don’t. There are so many churches that it’s hard to tell which one to attend. They are believers, but are they saved?
The answer to Frank’s question hinges on two things: 1) What is believing? and 2) What is the object of saving faith?
Believing is being persuaded that something is true.
When Frank says, “They believe in Christ,” he seems to mean they believe Jesus’ saving message. However, he then asks, “But are they saved?”
Being saved, or born again, requires that we believe the saving message.
But what is the saving message?
John 3:16 tells us. Whoever believes in Jesus will never perish but has everlasting life. That is His saving message. When I’m convinced that whoever believes in Jesus has been saved once and for all, I’m a believer.
A believer is someone who believes in the saving message.
Let’s say that Frank’s friend Jerry believes that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. But he does not believe that John 3:16 is true. Instead, Jerry believes that to have everlasting life, a person must persevere in good works until death. Jerry is therefore not a believer and is not saved (unless he believed in the past and has since stopped believing in the saving message).
Here are ten truths about Jesus Christ that a person might believe, yet not have everlasting life:
- He was born of a virgin.
- He lived a sinless life.
- He healed the sick and raised the dead.
- He walked on water.
- He fed 5,000 men plus women and children with the lunch of one small boy.
- He died on the cross for our sins.
- He rose bodily from the dead.
- He appeared to over 500 people after His resurrection.
- He ascended back to heaven.
- He is coming again soon to establish His righteous kingdom.
Believing those things should lead people to believe in Him for everlasting life (John 20:30-31). However, if we have never believed in the promise of everlasting life, we have yet to become one of the whoever-believes-in-Him people.
Are Frank’s friends saved? I don’t know. He has not given me enough information to answer that question. What is it that they believe? What does he mean when he says, “They believe in Jesus”?
There is a question that can tell us whether or not someone is a believer. It goes like this: “Let’s say that forty years from now you die, having been an alcoholic for the last ten years and having not been to church in over twenty years. Where would you go, heaven or hell, and why?”
If the person says they would go to hell, they do not believe the saving message. If they say they would go to heaven because they believe Jesus’ promise in John 3:16, then they believe the saving message (unless they are lying to you for some reason).
Anyone who is a believer in the sense of John 3:16 is saved once and for all.
Do you believe this?