Believing and Believing Not – What is the Difference?
In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus gives parting instructions to His disciples regarding their commission:
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Notice what Jesus says here. If we believe (and are baptized), we shall be saved. In every generation, some want to reinvent the vocabulary of spiritual things and the word “saved” has come under assault as being antiquated and not “with it.” All controversies are put to an end, however, because Jesus used this term and applied it in such a way as to insist it is necessary to be “saved” as the only alternative is to be damned. What does it mean to be “saved.”
The word “saved” here is the word “sozo.” In its simplest form, it means to be “safe.” Safety is a big issue in our world right now. We want to be safe in our homes and in our persons. We want to be safe from the pandemic and safe from the rising violence and crime in our streets, etc., etc. How do we get saved? Jesus tells us we must believe to be saved. The word belief means to “lean with the whole heart and personality” upon – (in this case) Jesus. We must believe certain vital things about Jesus, who He is, and what He means to us and that belief must be so profound as to radically affect change in our life and character.
Suppose we are going to believe something about Jesus; what exactly are we going to believe? Some believe Jesus was a good man. Is that enough? What we are to believe (to be saved) is based on something called “the gospel” that Jesus mentions in the same passage. What is the “gospel?” The word used there means “good news.” It would be good news if your favorite politician got in office – is that enough? Just to be positive? Paul defines the gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-4
[1Co 15:1-4 KJV] 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
So we want to be safe, and Jesus says that to be safe, we must believe the gospel. According to Paul, the gospel is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose the third day. Wait a minute? Sin? Even Christians today are ambiguous on the subject of sin. What does the word sin mean? It is a Greek word “hamartia,” which means “to miss the mark.” The word picture is that of an arrow fired at a target that misses it altogether. The idea of sin suggests a standard that we fall short of. Wait a minute! No one has a right to judge, isn’t that true? What is right and true for one person is unique to every individual, right? That is what we’ve been taught for generations now – be faithful to YOUR TRUTH. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. We call that subjectivism.
The idea of sin completely negates subjectivism by suggesting a higher presence, a transcendent intelligence that all men are subject to, whether they want to be or not, and that all men are judged by whether they “hit the mark” or not. This Higher Intelligence (called God) expects us to believe certain things and gave us the historical Jesus and the esoteric indwelling Christ that we might come to faith and believe because if we don’t believe, we are damned. Damned? That’s an antiquated concept, is it not? You won’t hear about that in the seeker-sensitive church.
Some reject this thinking saying, “because Christ died for all – all are saved.” Is this true? Jesus’ statement contradicts that. Even though He died for all and rose again, we still must believe SPECIFIC THINGS about Jesus and commit our lives to those propositions of faith – or we will be damned. Damned in what way? Damned to an eternal hell that burns forever with no reprieve. This is clearly taught in scripture.
So let’s ask the question – do you believe what Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Do you accept that sin (defined as contradicting in your character the moral demands of a transcendent being you are accountable to who is identified as the Judeo-Christian God?) Do you believe that this God sent a being in human form 2000 years ago called Jesus that He identifies as His son to die a death that in this Being’s eyes paid for your transgression and made available to you a way of escape – THROUGH believing? Do you believe that 2000 years ago, this God-sent person named Jesus was executed and then came back to life by the power of God three days later? Are you willing on this Being’s terms to commit your life and dedicate your heart and the remaining of your days to finding out how to love and live and cooperate with this Being? If so, then pray this prayer with me:
“Dear God, I want to be a part of your family. You said in Your Word that if I acknowledge that You raised Jesus from the dead and that I accept Him as my Lord and Savior, I would be saved. So God, I now say that I believe You raised Jesus from the dead and that He is alive and well. I accept Him now as my personal Lord and Savior. I accept my salvation from sin right now.
I am now saved. Jesus is my Lord. Jesus is my Savior. Thank you, Father God, for forgiving me, saving me, and giving me eternal life with You. Amen!”