Believe? or Obey?

To be saved you must believe that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) There are many scriptures that echo this message. The confession that Jesus is both Lord and Christ is the “Rock” on which your faith must be built. (Matthew 16:15-18)

You must believe!

  • Mark 16:16
  • John 1:7
  • John 1:12
  • John 3:16-18
  • John 6:29
  • John 8:24
  • John 11:25-26
  • John 12:36
  • John 14:1-4
  • John 20:31
  • Acts 16:31
  • Romans 10:9

The list above is by no means comprehensive. There are many other scriptures that reinforce the axiom that you must believe to be saved.
Matthew 7:21-27 sheds light on this topic. Jesus begins my telling us about people who desire to enter into heaven.  These people appear to believe in Jesus. They identify him as Lord saying “Lord, Lord.” (Matthew 7:22) The scriptures above tell us that if we believe we will be saved, but these people in Matthew 7 were not saved by their apparent belief. Jesus said they were, “workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:24) These people were not allowed into heaven because they did not truly believe. We must be careful to truly believe.

What does true belief look like?

In Hebrews 3 and 4, the writer explores the concept true belief. Beginning in chapter three the writer recounts the story of the Children of Israel on their way to enter the promised land of Canaan.  (Numbers 13 & 14) The people did not believe that God could give them the land. They saw the mighty works of God; he brought them out of the land of Egypt, he fed them with manna, he led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Even though they saw all of these miracles they refused to enter the land because they did not believe he could give it to them. Hebrews 3:19 confirms that the people rebelled because of unbelief. “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:19) The writer of Hebrews goes on to conclude that the children of Israel did not enter the Promised Land because of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:6) The children of Israel were disobedient because they did not believe that God could give them the land of promise.

Obedience is the natural conclusion of true belief.

If you really believe that Jesus is both Lord and Savior then you will be obedient to Him. The test of belief is obedience! Jesus told a parable that is recorded in Matthew 21:28-30. It concerns two sons that were each told to go and work in the vineyard. The first son told the father that he would not go into the vineyard to work, and yet later he changed his mind and went and worked. The second said that he would work but never did. Simple words are never enough. You must have obedience to back up your belief! Jesus sums this up for us nicely in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” You say you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? True belief is accompanied by righteous action for the Lord!

Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. – Hebrews 4:11

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