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. Do you believe this?”
If you were to die tonight and appear before the Lord Jesus Christ and He asked you the same question He asked Martha, what would you say?
Before I tell you what Martha said, let’s consider the possibilities.
A person could say, “No, I don’t believe that.” Many people are quite willing to admit that they do not believe that Jesus Christ gives eternal life to all who trust in Him.
Some do not believe in the deity of Christ, the sinfulness of man, or life after death. Obviously they don’t believe Jesus gives eternal life to those who trust in Him.
Others believe in Jesus’ deity, their own sinfulness, and life after death, yet do not believe that eternal life is available just by trusting in Christ. They feel that we must add something to what He has done. This something might be confession of sins to a priest, penance, turning from sins, promising to be good, attending church, trying to obey the Golden Rule, etc.
Some of the above people define saving faith to include these things. Make no mistake. Such people do not believe that Jesus gives eternal life to all who trust in Him–at least not in the biblical sense of trust or belief.
The second possibility is that a person could say, “Yes, I believe that.” At least that seems to be a valid possibility. I know I am a sinner. I know that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for all my sins, paying the full and complete price. I know that I am trusting in Him alone to give me eternal life. And, since He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him, I know that I have eternal life. Yes, I believe those things Jesus asked Martha.
However, some today say that it is impossible to be sure if we believe the things Jesus asked Martha. I was in a debate in April at a leading evangelical seminary. My opponent was a professor at the seminary. He suggested in the debate that it is impossible for anyone today to be sure that they believe in Christ. He suggested that saving faith is a unique type of faith–unlike regular faith. This type of faith cannot be determined by asking if I accept certain propositions about Christ and His Gospel, he argued.
The third possibility, then, is that one might answer, “I don’t know if I believe that or not.”
Let’s get back to Martha. Did she answer no, yes, or unsure? Here are her words: “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27). She said yes! Not no. Not maybe. And notice what she affirmed. She said that she believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world. According to John 20:31 anyone who believes that, in the sense John means it, has eternal life.
How did Jesus respond to Martha’s answer? Did He rebuke her for claiming to know that she believed in Him? Did He tell her to look to her works for some evidence that she might believe? No, He did not. The Apostle John gives no report of Jesus saying anything more to her at that point. Obviously if the Lord had rebuked her for her answer John would have reported that. Clearly the Lord accepted her profession as genuine–just as He had earlier accepted the profession of faith of the man born blind (John 9:35-39).
If Martha and the man born blind could know that they believed in the Lord Jesus, so too can anyone!
Do you believe that the Lord Jesus is your Messiah, your Savior, the One who came into the world to take away all of your sins, past, present, and future? If you do, you have eternal life and can be absolutely certain that you do.
“Do you believe this?” Only two answers are possible if we understand the question clearly: yes or no. I stand with Martha and the man born blind and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe.” How about you?
For a fuller discussion of this passage, the reader is encouraged to see pp.37-43 of Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation by Zane C. Hodges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House and Redenciï¿½n Viva, 1989).