Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
–Acts 16:31

In 1 John 5:13, John said, “These things I have written to you who believe.” The way to know whether you’re really saved or not is whether you have believed.

What does it mean to believe? Over and over again you see the word “believe” in the Bible. In Acts 16:31, Paul said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” In John 11:25, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” And John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Belief is the way we channel God’s grace into our lives. But what does it mean to believe? Belief is not intellectual assent to a set of facts about Jesus. It’s not agreeing that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for the sins of the world, and that He rose again on the third day. We think if you believe intellectually all the right things about Jesus, then you can be saved.

Did you know some of the greatest professions of faith in history were made by demons? In Matthew 8:29, the demons said to Jesus, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God?” In Mark 1:24, a demon said to Him, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” The demons knew the truth. In James 2:19, James said, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Demons know the truth about who Jesus is, but are demons going to be in heaven? No, “believe” is not just believing the right things about Jesus.

The word “believe” means to trust in, to cling to, to put your whole faith and trust in. The best illustration I know of what “believe” means is in John 3 when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus wanted to know how he could be sure he had eternal life. Jesus talked about the importance of being born again by believing in the Son of God. Nicodemus didn’t understand that, so Jesus used an illustration that Nicodemus was familiar with. He said in John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Nicodemus recognized the story. It came from Numbers 21. The children of Israel were being disobedient to God, and they were bitten by fiery serpents. So they begged Moses, “Intercede with God; save us!” Moses went to God, and God said, “This is the way of salvation. Make a bronze serpent, put it on a pole, hold the pole with the serpent up in the air, and tell the people if they will look at the serpent, they will be healed.” God’s message was “Look and live.” All those Israelites had to do was to acknowledge they were dying and by faith look at God’s provision that was lifted up, and they would be healed. That’s the illustration that Jesus used of what it means to believe. Whoever recognizes his need for salvation and trusts in Jesus to provide that salvation, whoever believes in Him, shall have eternal life.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Eternally Secure” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.