The "Steps" of Believing


      John 20:30,31, "Any many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name", John 20:31.  Notice the steps that bring salvation as stated in these verses. 


      The first "step" is "these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God."  This is a "head belief" that makes a person aware of God's goodness in sending Jesus Christ to provide a way of salvation.


      The second "step" is "and that believing, ye might have life through his name".  A lot of people say, "I believe in Jesus, so I must be saved".  Not necessarily.  Salvation is believing that Jesus has the power to wash away my sins.  Sins are something we can't see.  We can't touch them, or feel them, we just know sin is in us.  We are helpless to do anything about our sinfulness, but we have learned from the preaching of the gospel that Jesus can forgive and cleanse us of sin.  When we step out by faith, believing in Him as our personal savior, He forgives us of our sins, and accepts us on His righteousness.


      Rom. 10:13.  "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved".  Everybody that calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, but notice they call on the name of the Lord.  They are calling on one who has power, because they don't have any power.  As long as a person thinks they have the power to deliver themselves from their sinfulness, they won't call on God.  A lost person must come to the place to know they have nothing at all to give to God.  They must see they are completely blackened with sin, with no light at all, full of sinfulness, within and without, from top to bottom, from side to side, a total sinner, without any help or hope at all.  Then, and only then will they say, "Lord, only you have the power to cleanse me".


      Before a person will call on the name of the Lord, they must believe that He is able to give them victory over sin.  Before they believe, they must hear, and before they hear, somebody must be sent, Romans 10:13-15.  The messenger reveals to them their standing before God, how desperately wicked and sinful they are in the sight of God.  Then they turn to the one who can save them, confessing that they cannot save themselves.  They confess with Peter, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."


      John 3:1 tells about Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night.  This man knew that Jesus was a man sent from God, because he saw the miracles Jesus did.  This is the very first part of coming to know Jesus as his personal Saviour.  But he is not saved at this point.  All he knows is that Jesus is a man sent from God.  There are a lot of people who know Jesus came to this earth from God.  These people know and accept the historical facts concerning Christ the chosen one of God.  But this doesn't make them saved.  They do believe to a point, but this kind of believing ends with the soul still lost. 


      Acts 10:1,2 tells about Cornelius, who was a devout man, one that feared God with all his house, giving alms to the people and continually praying to God.  He was lost.  The physical evidence of his life would cause many people to think he was saved, but he wasn't.  So it is today.  There are some people who have all kinds of physical evidence they are saved, but they might not be.  There are others who don't have that much physical evidence who are saved.  For example, who would have considered that pious, office holding Judas was lost and loud-mouthed, bragging Peter was saved?  We must learn to look on the heart, not on the outward actions.  We must remember that the fruit of the spirit is given in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  These fruits are on the inside, not the outside.  It is very true that these fruits will appear in the body, but a lost person can have a type of love, a type of joy, a type of peace, a type of longsuffering, a type of gentleness, a type of goodness, a type of faith, a type of meekness, and a type of temperance.  Are we able to tell the difference between the love, joy, peace, etc., that a lost person has and the love, joy, peace, etc., that a saved person has?


      Galatians 1:6-9 tells about a false gospel.  It is not another gospel, but the same gospel.  Paul means that the same words are used to speak of the false gospel and the true gospel.  If a person obeys the false gospel, they will never be saved, for there is another believing in the heart that they haven't followed.  There are those who constantly declare if a person believes in Jesus they are saved.  Is this scripturally correct?  Can a person believe in Christ and still be lost?  Yes, they can.  The question must be asked, what do they believe about Christ?  They can believe like Nicodemus and Cornelius and still be lost.  But when they believe to the saving of their own soul, that is another matter entirely.


What makes the difference?


1.   Luke 18:9-14 - the story of the Pharisee and the Publican.  The Publican recognized that he was a sinner before God, and the Pharisee didn't.  Both knew there was a God, but the Pharisee felt he was good enough to come before God while the Publican felt he could never be right with God.

2.   Luke 23:39-43 - the thief on the cross.  This man was guilty, just like the other thief, but this thief came to see himself as guilty, and asked forgiveness.

3.   John 4:1-30 - The woman at the well believed she ought to worship God, yet had no fruits in her life for she had been married five times and still had no husband.  When she realized, by the preaching of the gospel, she confessed her lost condition and her wickedness to God Himself, He gave her eternal salvation.

4.   Acts 10:44-48 - When Cornelius heard the preaching of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, he and his household was saved, and the Holy Spirit fell on them as He did on the Day of Pentecost, so Peter and the other Jews would believe that God had saved a Gentile!