Heaven Coach

How To Get To Heaven

What Believe Means

March 04, 2017 By: alanpg Category: How To Get to Heaven


What “Believe” Means

There is a great deal of confusion about the word BELIEVE as used in the bible. As usual, there is no real confusion as the scriptures are clear and define themselves.
Believing is most fundamentally a mental exercise. Do you believe it will rain today? You consider the question and for whatever reason you say, yes. You may be right or wrong, but this is what you believe. Do you believe in the Constitution of the United States? In saying yes, you accept the document as something you “BELIEVE IN.”
Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? You decide to answer, yes. Will you follow the will of Christ and do all He requires? You decide to answer, yes. Actually, living for Christ and the gospel would confirm you believe in the way you claimed. Certainly, one who believes in Jesus will do what He says and for the reason He says to do it. In so doing that person receives the blessing of believing, namely salvation.

The verses below from 1 Peter provide a great summary of how God’s purpose was achieved, of how the reconciliation had taken place by the blood of Christ. Sin was covered, Jesus Himself being the propitiation. God’s plan from Genesis 3.15 was to be fulfilled in those obedient to His Son. These verses tell us of the hope we have leading to heaven. There will be trials, difficulties and your faith will be tested and God will know of the GENUINENESS of your faith.

1 Peter 1.1-9

1 To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

The blood of Christ is figuratively sprinkled on our hearts to cleanse us from an evil conscience when we repent and are baptized (summarized in the word “obedience” in 1 Peter 1:2). Only then is one elect, sanctified, consecrated and cleansed, in order to serve the living God! As a Child of God, “In Christ” you live a faithful life and by your faith you will receive the salvation of your soul. Certainly, your faith will be tested and the GENUINENESS of your faith will be known to God. The GENUINENESS of your faith can be seen in what Jesus said in Matthew 7.21 and many other places and it is simply in your continued obedience. Indeed, the world is filled with people who mentally accepted Christ and did no more and thus never had their sins forgiven. Even though, many of these people have a certain devotion to God’s Son they are not “in Christ.” They have no concern about the GENUINENESS of their faith since they were saved once and for all when they believed. This is very sad, since the last verse above emphasizes receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your soul. Of course, the end of a “faith only person” is the same as the beginning that occurred the instant they mentally accepted Christ. God’s concern and Paul’s concern about faithfulness are not needed since each person accepting Christ as their personal savior has a guarantee. That guarantee is just as good as the word of Martin Luther, John Calvin and many others down to the person who taught you this soul destroying doctrine.

This doctrine has found acceptance in many who want heaven, but like the young rich ruler would not be willing to change their life. Believing, meaning “mental acceptance only” is shallow, shallow, shallow and essentially meaningless. God is serious about souls and your belief, your faith must be much more than mental. The belief God expects goes way beyond mental acceptance, way beyond a verbal commitment and even way beyond your well-meaning. The believer will say, what must I do, how must I live?

The young rich ruler of Matthew 19 asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. He had kept the commandments, but Jesus said He lacked one thing. Jesus told him, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The young rich ruler could not give up those things. The problem was Jesus required of him more than he could give up, as it says he had many things. If Jesus would have asked him to become a follower without any other restrictions it would seem he would have quickly agreed. Those who mentally accept Jesus as God’s Son for salvation have been deceived. They are happy with how easy God has made salvation just as the young rich ruler would have been happy. A terrible thing is done when error is taught, souls are ruined, sins are not forgiven and the difficult (Matthew 7.13,14) life ahead has not been revealed.
Abraham believed God, but had to obey Him when it came to Isaac. Jesus, became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him, Hebrews 5.9. So obedience is evidence of one’s belief, we might say the quality of one’s belief. Continued obedience is required to remain faithful. It is not anything you are doing separate from what God requires (like something a person could boast about) – just following His directions.
Jesus, wanted to make this clear and did so in Matthew 7.21.

Matthew 7.21

21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Throughout the scriptures there is clarification in terms of those acceptable to God and acceptability requires action, specifically obedience.

Romans 2.13

13 for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;

How Badly Do You Want Heaven?
This Is Really What We Are Talking About
Believing God Or Believing Men/Women

The strange thing about the mental acceptance of Jesus as God’s Son is that many people will NOT do what Jesus requires for salvation, for forgiveness of sins and to eventually achieve heaven. Specifically, repent, be baptized and live faithfully. Apparently, their belief was very shallow, or in reality someone told them believing mentally was all they needed. Such a doctrine is so pathetic, so alien to the scriptures, so deceitful and so costly to souls. Yet, this is the pattern of the vast majority of the so-called “Christians.” They are so-called “Christians, because the Lord does not add those to His body, the church if they believe only. A person must have their past sins forgiven and that does not take place in mentally accepting Jesus.
Believing is the starting point of being in Christ. Jesus revealed the relationship between belief and salvation before His death in verses like John 3.16. However, He did not reveal what must be done to receive the blessing. He could not, since He had not yet accomplished what the Father sent Him to do. Jesus told the apostles He would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to guide them into all truth. Indeed this occurred and after Peter in Acts 2 described Jesus as Lord and Savior, as the one they crucified they were cut to the heart and asked what must we do? Peter, did not say believe on Jesus and you will be saved. Peter did not mention believe, since they already believed based on Peter’s revelation of Jesus and their question as to what they must do. They could not even ask about being saved, since they very well did not understand what they needed to be “saved from.” Instead for the first time in a very concise way Peter tells them what they must do and what they are being “saved from.” They will receive the forgiveness of sin. They must repent and be baptized. Later, the Eunuch would ask Phillip if he could be baptized (after Phillip explained the gospel to him) and Phillip says if you believe with all your heart, you may. If you assemble all the conversions of the New Testament, you will see this same pattern. Believing is the starting point, but not where forgiveness of sins is received. It is not what gets you into Christ, where one becomes a son of God. Paul, struck from His horse and coming in contact with Jesus, now realizes Jesus (whose followers He was persecuting) is indeed who they claimed He was. Then a certain Ananias came to Saul and told him what to do and why.

Acts 22.16

16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Those who believe, will in obedience to God have their sins forgiven God’s way, in baptism. Obeying God for the reason He says to do something is not a work that one can boast. Do you really believe that Paul would have his sins forgiven had he not been baptized?

A consequence of thinking that a mental acceptance only of Jesus as God’s Son will provide you heaven was the apparent necessary inference to create complimentary doctrines. Many such as John Calvin would develop new doctrines based on believing mental acceptance of Jesus was all that was needed for salvation.

Note: It is hard to categorize the beliefs of Luther and Calvin as they varied from time to time and they were not always in agreement. They were both instrumental in the Protestant reformation and largely responsible for the many different doctrines of Protestant religions even though much of the “modern” evolution they might not accept. The keystone of their beliefs was wrapped up in the “believe only” concept and from that it seems to me everything else flowed. They would also hold to a need for repentance and Calvin for repeated repentance. Their concept of God as the source of all goodness led them (especially Calvin) to have God in some way elect certain individuals (for salvation). They were right to see God as being the absence of evil and perfect goodness, but wrong in thinking humankind could not make unselfish choices for goodness. Abraham certainly choose to do good despite difficult circumstances. We cannot emphasize enough that a central element of God’s purpose was to have people choose Him of their own free will.

If you believe this mental acceptance of Christ is all you need, then very likely you also accept Calvin’s other teachings – his five points (or TULIP) or some of them. You accept that your salvation is guaranteed or as often said, “you are once saved, always saved.” You cannot be lost no matter what you do, it is some special security for the believer – very attractive. You are “so deserving,” well not really as God (you are taught) picked you and you had little to do with it. You are taught the Holy Spirit in some way acted directly on you to bring you salvation. The Holy Spirit’s role is defined by Jesus as the One who will lead the apostles into all truth. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit did! Your acceptance of concluding the Holy Spirit acted directly on YOUR heart to save you requires you to:
First: Ignore the true mission of the Holy Spirit or expand on it
Second: Reject the fundamental concept of God’s purpose that God wants only those who choose Him of their free will
Third: Reject the gospel as God’s power to save (Romans 1.16) and preaching the gospel as God’s way of presenting the message of salvation (1 Corinthians 1.18), 1 Corinthians 15.1-4.
Fourth: Find some verse(s) in the bible that can be used to teach that the Holy Spirit indeed does operate on an individual’s heart to force them to believe mentally in Jesus as the Christ.

One verse the deceiver’s like to use is in Acts 16, where God opened the heart of Lydia.

Acts 16.13-15

13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.
14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

The heart referred to is the mind and therefore the Lord opened Lydia’s heart (mind) and broadened its conceptions. God’s power to save is the gospel (Romans 1.16) and Paul as always presented the gospel message to Lydia. “To heed the things,” implies that Lydia was to take action upon what was said by Paul. God works through His word, which was delivered by the Holy Spirit. The gospel message opens the minds of every person who loves the truth. That message urges people to respond to it in obedience. God was not acting in opposition to His own purpose forcing Lydia to act, but opening her mind to something different. That is what the scriptures always do, but all do not heed the message – Lydia did!
God always depends on the preaching of the cross to move one’s heart just as Peter in the first preaching of the gospel of Christ resulted in opening the hearts of those who heard and chose to obey.

Acts 2.37

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Titus 3.4,5

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

The idea of regeneration is a reference to birth or re-birth and carries the same idea as John 3.5 of being born again of water and renewal of the Holy Spirit signifies the change or transformation that takes place. That is, you are saved or as Romans 6.3,4 says walking in newness of life having died to your sins. People always come in contact with God’s mercy via the word of God – that is, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. They hear how their sins can be forgiven by the washing of regeneration and then the transformation takes place and they walk in newness of life.

1 Peter 1.22,23

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever

Whenever there is a reference to God or the Holy Spirit providing salvation it is always in relation to the gospel message delivered by the Holy Spirit (obeying the truth through the Spirit). Jesus made salvation possible by His death, burial and resurrection and this is the gospel message and no one is saved without it and no one is forced to obey the message. Paul was especially chosen by God to bring the gospel message to the Gentiles. God “knocked” Paul from His horse, blinded him and thus very powerfully got his attention. He did not save Paul at that moment, but Ananias came to Paul who told him what to do to be saved. Paul needed to do that which is now available as a result of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Paul would shortly refer to what he did in Romans 6.17 as obeying that form of doctrine – that is obeying the gospel.

These teachers of Protestantism all left the scriptures by defining salvation to only include mental acceptance. There is a great deal of circular logic in their thinking. It is taught that since the Holy Spirit chose you, there can be no mistake and therefore you are once saved in your predestined, “forced” acceptance of Christ and forever. One might wonder how mentally accepting Christ led to all these other doctrines and I do not know. However, there is such careless use of the scriptures to get to Luther’s faith only concept that others also began to loosely interpret (we might also say privately interpret) God’s word and to this day the carelessness continues. God’s word fits together perfectly always consistent with His purpose and the doctrines of Luther, Calvin and others cannot withstand even the simplest of inquiries.

Predestined – The Meaning Defined by God

People understand God or they do not. The ones that do, do not take pieces of scripture from “here and there” and create their doctrines. One apparent place many went in the early days of these doctrines of Martin Luther, John Calvin and others was to several verses that used the idea of predestination. Since they did not understand God, His purpose from all scripture they assumed that this meant PEOPLE were predestined. Then choosing a few verses where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to conversion they determined the Holy Spirit worked on the hearts of individuals to save them. The whole of the scriptures teach something entirely different. It turns out individuals are not predestined, but GOD’s PLAN TO SAVE WAS PREDESTINED. The most fundamental thing in relation to creation is that people of their free-will choose God. The idea of predestination is discussed in various places in Heaven Coach. It is terribly straight-forward and not confusing. In brief, let’s look at two verses that are used to teach that God chooses you instead of the other way around.

Romans 8:29

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:30

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

We know God cannot be partial to one person more than another. He is not a respecter of persons.

Acts 10.34,35

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Romans 2.11

11 For there is no partiality with God.

James 3.16,17

16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

It should not be surprising that God, who is perfect in judgment, perfect in fairness could not in His nature be partial to one person over another. This is perfectly consistent with requiring people of their own free will to choose Him. So, God’s plea is to diligently seek Him with all your heart.

Acts 17.26,27

26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

Jeremiah 29.13

13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

It should be no surprise that those who seek Him are the ones who are rewarded.

Hebrews 11.6

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

People choose God of their own free will, God does not choose them. Yet, some verses SEEM to indicate God is choosing people. There is one simple way to reconcile all God says on this subject and it identifies who He predestined, whom He foreknew, whom He called and there will be no disagreement or conflict with any scripture or with God’s purpose. God is not talking about individuals, but about a group. That group is the spiritual church, the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. God’s predestined plan is for a certain group and thus they are the predestined object of His plan. He predestined, He foreknew, He called by the gospel those who obey His Son. So God could say THEY, this predestined group are all sons of God as it says below by faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you (the qualified group) as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (“In Christ”).

Galatians 3.26-29

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

These are indeed conformed to the image of God even to the point of obeying that form of doctrine representing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Ephesians 1.3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
note: “us” above is collective, a group that God planned to be reconciled by their choice to obey the gospel
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Those that are saved are “IN CHRIST.” So the predestination that Paul is talking about only occurs to those in the collective group of “in Him” as opposed to the group who are “not in him.” God, before the foundation of the world predestined the plan. People like to use these “predestined verses” to say people before their conversion were predestined, when in fact the group predestined are those who are “in Christ.”

As would be expected, all of scripture being from God fits perfectly together, always aligned with God’s purpose. Those who do NOT diligently seek God frequently accept and embrace the easiest path presented to them. This has evolved to be accepting Christ as their personal savior and then waiting to receive their crown.

I Will Take God At His Word – Fine, But
You Ought To Understand What God Means

God is serious about His word and carefully, perfectly delivered it so you can understand it. He defined the meaning of words and has revealed in great detail what it means to believe. The scriptures define the meaning of baptism as an immersion – not sprinkling. The language (Greek) meaning is clear and means to dip, plunge, immerse. Then in examples – they were baptizing near Aenon because there was much water there and the Ethiopian Eunuch told Phillip here is water what hinders be from being baptized and Phillip responds if you believe with all your heart you may. They get out of the chariot and both go into the water and Phillip baptizes him.
Also, baptism is described as a burial as one goes down into the watery grave (dying to sin) and arises as a new creature in Christ. When Jesus was baptized (to fulfill all righteousness), “He came up immediately from the water.” How could anyone believe baptism was sprinkling? You will either take God seriously or you will not. A person believes that they have entered into a relationship with Christ by mentally accepting Jesus as God’s Son. They did not believe God to reach such a conclusion, but some person (or many people). There is great disrespect for God in avoiding what He delivered so carefully as the truth.
The first covenant is filled with examples of God requiring various things and they needed to be done exactly as God directed. Cain did it his way, Nadab and Abihu did it their way, Naaman wanted to do it differently than God specified, but finally reasoned his pride was not as important as being relieved of the leprosy. We learn over and over again that God is serious about what He says. How many people accept sprinkling for baptism, how many people accept mentally accepting Christ and expect salvation? If you substitute your meaning for God’s directions then you can expect to be rejected as was Cain and Nadab and Abihu. God says what He means and means what He says. In the end we go against the scriptures because of pride, and prejudice in what we believe keeps us searching until we find a way to justify our current belief.

There is diligence required in accepting verses such as John 3.16 and Acts 16.30,31. Again, nothing is complicated here. The complication comes because some people have worked so hard to destroy God’s clear meaning by defining the entirety of the gospel message in such verses.

So much of the bible is related to telling Christians how to live to remain faithful. It is amazing how anyone can be confident in a single mental thought saving them once for all time. In fact, in their “believe doctrine” God acted directly on their heart resulting in their belief. They did not even believe on their own. Nonetheless, they are saved for once and all times regardless of how they live. It is ridiculous and totally in opposition to scripture.
Paul knew nothing was easy for those in the churches (those who obeyed the gospel) and was concerned about their faithfulness. Thus, he continually warned them to remain faithful telling them to work out their own salvation in fear and trembling.

People believe what they believe regardless of the truth and there are two interesting reasons:
1) Pride in what they were taught and accepted and perhaps have promoted to others
2) Population of those “faith only” believers is “influentially large.” Millions, billions of people and surely, “we” are right – look at how many believe this teaching. Likewise there are Catholics and Muslims with equivalent masses of people and they all think to some extent their “numbers” provide a certain confidence in their belief systems.
Here again is where the distinction of truth and error is important. Pride is never a good reason to do something and an attitude God greatly rejects. The size of the organization as suggested is a very poor reason to believe something. Each of these very large numerical religions within their ranks vary in many of their fundamental beliefs. Thus, the obvious distinction is truth versus error and that happens to agree with God’s criteria, namely, having a love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2.10).
In terms of the “believing” of the Protestants, they need to make the distinction of believing Martin Luther or believing the scriptures and as long as they think they are the same they will never know truth from error.

Martin Luther’s Private Interpretation

One can almost understand how Martin Luther came to think that believe was only a mental acceptance and resulted in salvation. Catholicism was full of man-made and ever changing rules and was associated with violence for those who resisted. Some priests before Luther, like Jon Hus were burned at the stake for opposing Catholic teaching.

Note on Jon Hus: Jon Hus was burned at the stake July 6, 1415. He opposed the Catholic Church on their doctrine of indulgences as a means to raise money promising help for those in (non-existent) purgatory. He stood strongly against the violence of Catholicism saying the scriptures were clear, “asserting that no pope or bishop had the right to take up the sword in the name of the Church; that a Christian should pray for his enemies and bless those who curse him.”

Martin Luther does not find the Bible to be supportive of the voluminous nonsensical, selfish and meaningless doctrines of Catholicism. Essentially, there is nothing in Catholicism with biblical support. He finds the scriptures to be simple in relation to salvation – the opposite of Catholicism. Unfortunately, he still maintained some of the ideas of Catholicism (or variations of them) in relation to their practices. Regarding forgiveness of sins, he kept the idea of infant baptism (to handle the Catholic invented original sin or the soon to be Protestant inherited depravity) and baptism by sprinkling. Instead of looking to all the verses in relation to salvation he became satisfied with one word, faith, but belief only faith. Faith for him was equivalent to believing. Forgiveness of sins, certainly in truth essential to salvation is always tied to baptism of a believer. Repentance is also necessary as is a life lived in accordance with God’s commands. In his apparent excitement to get rid of the rules and regulations of Catholicism he rejected the clear gospel message for just a part of that message – believing. Believing actually can stand alone for salvation if it is understood in the bible sense. That is, if the believer is one who will do all that God says (and does it) as a result of their belief. The first thing to do is to get into a relationship with Jesus by obedience resulting in the forgiveness of past sins. Those who believe in Jesus as the Christ obey His gospel that is, repent of their past sins – putting those sins out of their life forever. In obedience, they are baptized to have their past sins forgiven in the perfect analogy to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. They obey the gospel that is, they obey the death burial and resurrection of Jesus in baptism as Romans 6.3,4 indicates.

Romans 6.3,4

3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

And then,

Romans 6.17

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. Hebrews 5.9.
Indeed, we find forgiveness of sins associated with baptism and there is NO OTHER WAY to have your sins forgiven.

1 Peter 3.21 directly ties baptism to salvation.

1Peter 3.21

21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Galatians 3.26-29 associates being a Son of God with Faith and that includes baptism.

Galatians 3.26-29

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

So we have a world of so-called Christians who look at verses like John 3.16 and Acts 16.30,31 and say they will take God at His word and “believe only” for salvation.

John 3.16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Acts 16.30,31

30 ………. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Of course, the apostles knew sins were not forgiven in believing Jesus was the Son of God. This was the first step and no need to proceed if a person did not get past this admission. In fact, having announced this to the Philippian jailer, they continued to explain what was required.

Acts 16.32-34

32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

He rejoiced having believed, but we see that believing included baptism.

God defines salvation in the framework of believing and carefully defines what it means to believe. How interested are people in salvation? How in the world can a person say they follow Christ and then not do everything He says? The very first thing to do is to get your past sins forgiven and get into a relationship with Jesus that is, to be, “In Christ.”

Luther so disliked the book of James that he thought it should be removed from the bible. Of course, James directly refutes the idea of faith only and that is consistent with all scripture. Luther needed to remove the entirety of the New Testament and just keep a couple of select verses. Clearly, God is not pleased by less than a life of obedience. Can a person love God without obedience, well yes in word, but not in fact? God makes this clear that if you love God, you will keep His commandments.

James 2.14-24

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

This is so clear in terms of our discussion on what it means to believe as are all the scriptures. You need to make the distinction to follow Luther, Calvin or the many who follow in their steps like Billy Graham and your local “pastor” OR follow God as defined in the scriptures. The scriptures were accurately delivered by the Holy Spirit and you either speak as the oracles of God or of your own private interpretation. If as a Protestant you can make the distinction it will be because you love the truth and you will find 90% plus of what you have been taught is in serious error.

Does John 3.16 Mean I Believe and I Receive Salvation?

All that has been discussed above should tell any person who loves the truth that the answer is very clearly, NO!
One should seek to understand God as He has revealed Himself. As you better understand God, it becomes clear that God is looking for certain persons, you might say high quality individuals in terms of humility, selflessness, courage and dedication to to His Son. A mere mental acceptance would never suffice. God asks a lot and the world in accepting an instant mental acceptance of Jesus is totally inconsistent with God’s purpose. Some people look at this mental acceptance as the hidden secret that they have discovered – isn’t it wonderful that God only requires saying you believe in His Son and you will certainly receive heaven. If the scriptures taught that it would be fine, but in no way is such an idea taught. When you initially believe you receive nothing, except very importantly you are on the right path. As mentioned forgiveness of past sins is what you should be seeking. The whole of reconciliation that God described in Genesis 3.15 was to remove the sin so humanity could have this relationship with God. Now, God describes what is required for sins to be forgiven and the Christian “so-called” world will not obey because they have a better, simpler way.

The defenders of “faith only” have invented many defenses, but all go against the simplicity of the gospel.
One of those ill-conceived inventions is the idea that a person can do nothing to save themselves. They call this doing works, but in many cases where works are used in the scriptures it is a reference to the works of the law. Also, they use a verse like Ephesians 2.8,9.

Ephesians 2.8,9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The works here could be a reference to the works of the law, but let’s say it was just works in general. Certainly we are saved by Faith and that can never be separated from obedience. That includes what God required of Abraham or as defined for every person living under the New Covenant as defined in Galatians 3.26-29 and many other places. It is ridiculous is to use this verse to say you can do nothing in relation to your salvation. Matthew 7.21 should clear that up. Yet, look at what people claim from Ephesians 2.8,9. Namely that one’s salvation could be boasted if there was something they had to do. There is nothing, I can invent to do that will save me – very true. However, how in the world can one boast of doing God’s commands? When you do God’s commands in relation to salvation, in relation to how you live there is no boasting that is possible. How incredible is it to think that doing the will of God is something that brings honor to me and therein I can boast. We love God in our obedience and that obedience includes doing things, in fact a failure to do them results in a failed life. What things should you do? One should do all things that God commands, and live in the way God directs.
When you understand God, you see Him saying if the righteous barely are saved, or Paul indicating how careful he must be or he will lose out on salvation. In general, the right attitude is doing everything you possibly can for the cause of Christ and then realizing you could be doing more. Then we have those who think salvation was so easily found, acted on (mentally) and then guaranteed – it truly amounts to serious, careless error leading to a failed life.

Even in the most conventional way, if you ask a person if they believe in you and they say yes does that imply loyalty, that they will follow your directions? I think if that person did not follow your lead, your instructions that it would be fair to conclude they did not believe in you. God, knows the heart of each person, so He knows their intentions. God also expects that “believer” to move beyond intentions to obedience and in fact ties the promise of salvation to obedience. God cannot lie and has associated each person’s success to living for Christ and the gospel. At the “end of the day,” at the end of your life you will succeed or fail as a result of your dedication to Jesus as Lord. Your attitude will be one of doing all that He said and for the reason He provided as was delivered by the Holy Spirit.
Here is what Jesus said about saving your life and it is a summary of the dedication you need in the simplest and most challenging manner.

Mark 8.35,36

35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

How do you lose your life? Stop living it for yourself, for your desires, for all the things you want and live for Christ and the gospel. This is quite a dramatic change and begins with obeying the gospel and must continue as Revelation says, “be faithful unto death.”

This understanding of the word BELIEVE does not require some special technical understanding of how God is using a word, but the emphasis is on how the concept of believe is used by God. God has defined it such that those who love the truth will find the correct meaning. In the case of defining believe, that understanding is consistent with common sense. That is, valued believing includes commitment and follow through. As always, the word of God is consistent and perfect in terms of God’s purpose. Believing and acting on that belief is a free will choice and reveals those who love God.

The Effort to Avoid Obedience

The scriptures are clear in the commands for becoming a child of God, having your sins forgiven. Sins are forgiven in the process of baptism. The defense that is mounted to preserve the doctrine of mental acceptance only for salvation is desperate. Their leaders use the thief on the cross who Jesus told that this day he would be with Him in paradise to claim baptism is not required. Of course, Jesus could and did forgive sins while He was on earth. More importantly, the doctrine of Christ was not in effect until the death of the testator.

Hebrews 9.16,17

16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.

God points to obedience as central to salvation, whether it be Hebrews 5.9, or Romans 16.25,26, or 1 Peter 1.22,23, or 1 Peter 4.17,18, or Matthew 7.21 and many, many other places in addition to the conversions of the New Testament (see list further down this page).

God’s clarity on this point can be seen in Hebrews 3.18.

Hebrews 3.18

18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

How sad, how pathetic the teaching of believing mentally only for salvation is to the souls of people who generally are seeking to do the right thing. They “run into” the deceit of this doctrine, the propaganda and indoctrination of Protestantism.

They also look at 1 Corinthians and claim Paul taught baptism was unimportant because the following verses.

1 Corinthians 1.12-17

12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

So, in an effort to reject the clear commands of God in relation to baptism, these deceivers say look, “Paul was not sent to baptize.” The reference here does not deny the essential nature of baptism, but that the one performing the baptism did not matter. After all, Paul said a person was not baptized in the name of the one doing, performing the baptism, but in the name of Christ. The very fact that they were having this conversation was because they were baptizing people as part of the conversion process. Paul said his mission was to preach the gospel, which requires baptism for remission of past sins. Jesus made baptism essential, really we can say made obedience essential.

Can You Imagine Anyone Denying the Necessity of Baptism?

Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared various times, especially to His apostles. In His latter appearances as recorded in Matthew and Mark, He provides an overview of their mission and in both cases baptism is essential. Before, He completed His mission the revelation was limited, but now the final revelation from God begins and will continue through much of the first century, while being confirmed. These last direct revelations of Jesus are very clear revealing His authority and the mission of His apostles.

Matthew 28.18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Mark 16.15,16

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Jesus is emphasizing:
 His authority
 Making disciples
 Observing all things as commanded
 Baptism
 Believing

Although He does not specifically mention believing in Matthew 28.18-20 it is implied and taught throughout the scriptures and by now the apostles know the requirement of accepting Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus, also ties together believing and baptism as essential for salvation. Jesus tells the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for what He had earlier promised them that is, the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth (John 16.13). That revelation begins in Acts 2 as Peter preaches the first gospel message. As might be expected people are told what they must do and what follows in the book of Acts and throughout the letters to the churches is a consistent pattern in relation to salvation. You can see that pattern below in the Conversions of the New Testament:


Final Comment:

One might think of the Protestant denominations as basically good and fundamentally consisting of those who follow the scriptures. Some Protestants being evangelical in their efforts, others just being “social and/or ceremonial.” The evangelical may be worse than those who just attend with some participation, because they teach error converting others to their doctrine. Ironically, you do not see much fervor against Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists and others, but more of acceptance or co-existence, although not agreement. However, against God’s people, those “in Christ” they “denounce” with references calling them a sect, evil persons, legalistic with disdain, and the animosity is always present. Yet, the persons they frequently denigrate follow the scriptures precisely and obey the God of the bible in every way. One might think that they would say, they go too far, take too seriously the word of God, and are inflexible. However, some of the rhetoric is downright evil. The reason seems clear as they do not like the insinuation they are not Christian. Add to this they are ineffective in the defense of their teachings and they are frustrated with the truth. When people come from a strongly confident position in their belief it can be pretty devastating, overwhelming to realize they may be wrong, undeniably wrong.
Instead of having a love of the truth, they in pride fight to uphold the inventions of Luther, Calvin and so-on. As in all religions, it is the people, the members that have been misled and for many centuries. The Lord’s people have no interest in participating in hatred, animosity against those who believe differently. Those who are God’s children realize that hatred, animosity are NEVER acceptable to God. God’s people preach the word and will discuss differences with anyone, anytime without any animosity. The goal of God’s people and their designated mission is to seek and save that which was lost, a mission identical to that of God’s Son and consistent with His requirement for His Body. In fulfilling this task, God’s children are relentless in the mission, but not overbearing. They seek opportunity to teach, but if there is no interest they move on. The fields are white with people needing the truth and as long as there is interest the effort will be given. Just as quickly as there is a request to move on, we will move on, albeit with sad hearts.

Matthew 10.14

14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.

This is the wisdom that comes from God (albeit related to the “limited” commission) and is what happened when there was preaching of the gospel. Of course, there were times when those hearing were not cordial in rejecting the message. Paul frequently was attacked on some occasions and even stoned and left for dead.

Paul would say about himself:

2 Corinthians 11.23-27

23 … in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—

Why did Paul receive such treatment? Of course, it was because of preaching and specifically preaching Jesus. It was a message not liked by the Jews and not liked by the world who had created their own god’s. Like today, people do not like the message because it contains a certain way to live and frequently in opposition to the way a person wants to live. It contains a dire ending for those who oppose God and “I (in pride) will not be threatened.” You are dealing with God when you are exposed to His word and not some person – realize this!
In our current topic of, “what BELIEVE means” the scriptures are opposed to what many millions have been taught. This is particularly serious when a person is so deeply committed to a belief that is in direct opposition to the truth. Often, the very foundation of a person’s life is associated with what it means to believe in Jesus. It is easy to see why there is such resentment and frequently bitterness when “faith only belief” is so easily refuted. However, those who love the truth more than what they currently believe will embrace God’s way. The truth is irresistible in its perfection to those who love it.

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