For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus rejected the claim that everybody is going to heaven because of what His death accomplished. The inclusivist says Jesus Christ’s death applies to everyone regardless of what they believe. But Jesus repeatedly said personal faith is a requirement for heaven. In John 5:24, He said, “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.” John 6:40 says, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life.” In John 11:25-26, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Over and over again, Jesus said belief in Him is the link to eternal life.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? It does not mean to agree intellectually to a set of facts about Jesus, like you believe in Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, or John F. Kennedy. People say, “I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for the sins of the world. I believe He rose again on the third day.” Guess what? You can believe all of those things and still split hell wide open when you die. Satan and his demons believe all those things, too. In fact, they believe it more than you do because they were there. So what does it mean to believe in Jesus for your salvation? It means you trust in Jesus alone. You depend on that and nothing else–not your works, not your baptism, not your church membership. You trust in Jesus alone.
That is what Jesus said in John 3. Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus, a respected Jewish leader, what it means to be born again. Jesus said, “It is by believing in Me.” He used this illustration in verses 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.” In Numbers 21, the children of Israel were disobedient to God, so God disciplined them by sending fiery serpents. They begged for relief, and Moses went to God on their behalf. God told Moses to make a serpent out of bronze, put it on a pole, and lift that pole high. If people would look at that bronze serpent, in an instant they would be healed. This was an illustration of a far greater truth that one day the Son of God would come to heal us of our spiritual sickness. God offered Christ as the provision for our salvation, but in order to be saved we have to exercise faith.
You and I have a desperate need. God has abundant provision to meet that need. And our faith is the bridge that bridges the gap between God’s provision and our need. We have to exercise faith in order to live. Notice it’s not the quantity of your faith that matters; it is the object of your faith that matters. Only when we realize we cannot heal ourselves and look one time at the Savior will we live for all eternity. Then Jesus added in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Intolerant Christ” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
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.