True Belief in Jesus ChristPosted: September 24, 2006
Recap of Last Bible Study: Last time, we look finished the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. Some of the authorities at the temple were perhaps shocked by what Christ was doing, and they questioned his authority. They asked for a sign, and Jesus told them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Of course, they didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. He was not referring to the actual temple, but to himself. We looked at some of the OT prophecies concerning the resurrection of Jesus and how after Jesus resurrected, then the disciples remembered these things. We also looked at why Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins, to take the punishment for our sins, and why he had to resurrect, which was to show that the payment was sufficient.
This week we will be finishing up chapter 2. We will be looking at a very serious topic tonight, which is what true belief in Jesus really is. Before we start, let’s talk about what it means to be a believer. What does that mean to be a believer of Jesus?
We are going to take a look at what the Bible has to say about what true belief in Jesus really meant. Let’s look at John 2:23-25.
Verse 23: What’s going on here? Jesus is still in Jerusalem, where he cleansed the temple, and he is performing signs. What kind of signs? We aren’t talking about sign language here. Whenever Jesus did signs, it always showed something. What did it show? It always pointed to him being God. Jesus didn’t just do signs for the sake of doing them, or because they were cool, he did them to show that he was God, so the people could believe in him. So we have Jesus doing these signs, what is happening with the people? Verse 23 says that, “…many believed in His name when they saw the signs he did.” We don’t really know what miracles or signs Jesus was performing, but whatever it was, people liked it. It caused them to react, and it says here that they believed when they saw Jesus performing these signs. Alright! That’s awesome! People believe! Now let’s move on to chapter 3. Oh, wait, there are 2 more verse. Read verse 24-25.
Verse 24-25: Oh. Man, what is going on here? We got these people, watching Jesus perform these miracles, and they believe! But, Jesus, why aren’t you committing yourself to these people, why aren’t you entrusting yourself to these people? What’s going on? I thought all you had to do was believe? What happened to John 3:16?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Hello?! They believe, Jesus! Why are you not committing yourself to them? It is interesting to note that the same Greek word is used for believe in verse 23 and commit or entrust in verse 24. The Greek word is pisteuo, which means to believe or trust. So, basically, the passage is saying these people trusted Jesus, but Jesus did not trust them. Why did Jesus not trust them? Verse 24 gives us the answer, which is because He knew all men. The Greek word for know is ginosko, which means to know completely. Jesus is God, he knows all things and he looked into these people hearts, and he knew that something was missing in their belief of him. That is why he didn’t commit himself to them. This is what John MacArthur says: “Though they believed in Jesus, Jesus did not believe in them; Jesus regarded all belief in him as superficial which does not have as its most essential elements the consciousness of the need for forgiveness and the conviction that He alone is the Mediator of that forgiveness.” Earlier I asked what the point of Jesus performing signs was, and I said it was to show that He was God. This is what I think was happening with the people: they saw Jesus, saw His signs, that was awesome and that’s it. Did they believe Jesus performed the miracle? I would think so. But the point of the miracle, the sign, is not just that Jesus can do these things. The point is to point to that Jesus is God, and if He is God, then what He says is true. What does He say? He says stuff like, “Repent and believe,” “I came to save sinners”, “You will be condemned if you don’t believe in me.” Basically, He was saying, “You are a sinner, I have come to save you, follow me.” Come with me if you want to live. These people weren’t getting it.
Believing in Christ is more than just intellectual. It is more than just believing in facts. An as we can see in verse 24, it is more than just outward attraction to the miraculous signs. Jesus can see through all of this. “..He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
Well, what is true belief? True belief involves two things: Commitment and joy. Let’s take a look at the first one, commitment. Turn to Matthew 16:24-26. Let’s read.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Some people might look at this verse and say, “Oh, this verse isn’t for believers. It’s only for disciples. A true believer of Jesus is a true follower of Jesus. You don’t have one without the other. What is the verse we always use to talk about missions? The Great Commission. What does that say? Go and make believers of all nations. Nope. Go and make disciples of all nations. Disciple, follower, believer, these all describe the same kind of person. So, what does Jesus say to people that want to follow him? There are three things listed here about true commitment. They are denial, cross bearing, and following. The first thing is denial. How do I deny myself? Does it mean I hate myself and I hate being around myself, which is kind of hard. What does that look like? The first thing is you have to deny that you are a good person. You aren’t, I’m not, and we all aren’t. We have to come to the point where we realize we can’t save ourselves, that we are hopeless without Christ.
Deny also means to give up all rights and live for God. We longer live our lives for ourselves, as if we are in control. We give up ourselves, and live our lives solely for God. It means when you make decisions in your life, your first question isn’t, “Well, what do I want do?” Your first question is, “What does God want me to do?”
The second thing is to take up your cross. Dying to self is one thing, taking up the cross is another. What do you think that means? Some people interpret that to be life as being hard, like, school is your cross, or AP Chemistry or IB, that’s my cross or my broken car is my cross, or whatever. There was only one thing that the disciples were thinking about when Jesus said, “take up your cross.” The cross is where people die. Taking up your cross meant walking to their death. We don’t live in a society where there is much persecution for being a Christian. But, everywhere else in the world, if you are a Christian, it is hard and tough, and there is a possibility of death. Taking up your cross means that you are willing to die for your faith. More importantly, it means you live a life that is willing to be persecuted. If you really believe, you will be willing to die for it.
The third thing on what commitment is is to follow Jesus. John Macarthur says that following Jesus is submitting to Jesus as Lord, and that becoming a pattern of life. It means obeying what He says. How are we going to obey what Jesus said? It’s all here. We have to be in the word to be following Jesus. The true disciple, the true believer is marked then by self‑denial, cross bearing and loyal obedience.
If you truly believe, you will be committed to Jesus. That was something that was missing from the people who “believed” in Jesus when they saw the signs. They weren’t willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. They just wanted to be amazed at the miracles, and just continue on with how they were living. But, true belief will result in true commitment. Along with commitment, a characteristic of a true believer is joy in Jesus. Why joy? Because if I just said, “You’re life is a commitment, you got to commit. Take up your cross and follow. You have to be willing to die.” If that’s all I said, it makes us sound like we are just soldiers in an army. The way I want to parallel that true belief in Jesus involves commitment and joy is with marriage. Everyone will agree that marriage is a commitment right? But it that all that is required in a marriage? Commitment? I have to love you. It’s my job. I have to take care of you. That’s what I signed up for. I have to be with you. It’s what I’m supposed to do. That will not result in a happy marriage. There has to be joy in it. Of course I love you, who else would I love? Of course I want to take care of you, because I love you. Of course I want to be with you, there is no one else I want to be with. That will result in a happy marriage. You have to have joy.
It’s the same thing with Jesus. Of course I want to deny myself and let you lead my life, you are God, who else would I follow? Of course I would will be willing to die for you, life is not worth living if I have to deny you. Of course I want to follow You, how else can I live my life? Along with commitment, true belief involves having joy in Christ. It means He is the most precious person in this universe, and you treasure Him above all other things. Let’s turn to Matthew 13:44. Let’s read it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The treasure is Christ, and when this man finds it what does he do? He sells all that he has and buys that field. That’s it right? Look at the couple of words before that. For JOY over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. He gives up everything for Jesus, and he does not do it grudgingly. He does so with joy. Don’t miss this. We have to be committed but we do so with joy.
I know what some of you are thinking. How in the world is that going to happen? Start with prayer. We have not believed in You as we ought, we have not been committed to You as we ought, we have not had joy in You as we ought. We have be asking God to help us to do this, because we will not be able to on our own. We also have to be in the Word. God reveals Himself in the Word, and if we aren’t in it, we won’t be able to see who God is.
I pray that all of us will have true belief in Jesus. I pray that we will show our belief in our commitment and in our joy in Jesus.