Monday, March 3, 2014

What Is Entailed in "Believing On (or In) The Lord Jesus"?

Are you one that holds to the conclusion that merely believing in Jesus is enough? If so, how do understand the following words found in the Bible: “You believe that there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder.” (James 2:19) Yes, more than mere mental acknowledgement of the Father's (and, in this case, Jesus') existence is needed. Still, you may want to cling to the one verse that says “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31). Or perhaps you remember the famous one at John 3:16 which states: “everyone who believes in him will ... have eternal life.”

Although God is very merciful, he is also very astute (having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people). He knows the difference between those who have made a real effort to know and obey him and his son as opposed to “foxhole converts” and others that think merely “believing” is some sort of lucky charm or amulet that will protect them from any adverse judgment.

Why then do scriptures such as John 3:16 and Acts 16:31 merely indicate that believing is the summation of our responsibility? That is where research comes in. If you read the original Greek words that were used, you soon come to realize that there is so much deeper meaning in that word than our English language can render in a single word. (So why not use more than one word? The reason has to do with a long-held belief by translators that using more than “exact” wording would mean they were “adding to” the meaning. In actuality, they were withholding from the meaning and thus misleading readers into over-simplistic and wrong conclusions.)

More often now, translators are beginning to realize the importance of conveying the correct meaning by including the intent of the words used. Although there are still issues due to preconceived ideas, the efforts are helping people to finally understand the scriptures in their common, modern language.

Bottom line for this discussion, as noted by the quote from James, much more is needed than mere acknowledgment of God’s existence or even just going to a church once a week. We each are responsible for our own relationship with God. We cannot delegate it to a preacher, minister or priest. 

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