Over the centuries certain English words have changed their meanings. Gay is a prime example of this and, in our day, it is now related to homosexuality! When such changes occur with key Biblical terms, especially if they are related to salvation, it becomes of the utmost importance to know what words or phrases changed and how we should understand them now. It could make a salvation difference — a difference between God’s Paradise kingdom (Rev. 2:7 cf. 21:4) and eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46)!
Believe In The Lord Jesus
The perfect salvation question was asked by the Philippian jailer — What must I do to be saved (Acts 16:30)? The answer to his question is vital to understand for salvation’s sake, but in our day this has been distorted and neutralized into a mere, easy and powerless, mental assent (consenting to the historical facts about Messiah). Paul and Silas answered:
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
What did believe in the Lord Jesus mean back in first century Christianity? That is the question and its answer is vital, not what a secular dictionary says about the meaning of believe today. By comparing scripture related to salvation with that scripture (Acts 16:31), we will find the original answer and vital truth.
Believe In The Lord Jesus = Acts 20:21
Just as 2+2 = 5-1, to believe in the Lord Jesus also = Acts 20:21. In Acts 20:21, Paul answered:
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
So sometime after Acts 16:31, Paul equated his answer to the Philippian jailer to his statement in Acts 20:21 — turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. That was Paul’s answer to our present day enigma. Problem solved. We now know what Paul meant by believe in the Lord Jesus. To believe in the Lord Jesus, therefore, includes:
- repentance (turning from evil ways)
- faith (trust) in the Lord Jesus
Repentance, therefore, is a necessity for initial salvation (getting born again). By comparing scripture with scripture, repentance is shown to be turn from evil ways (Mt. 12:41 cf. Jonah 3:10), though there is not a hint of repentance by just reading Acts 16:31. Repentance, therefore, is included in the meaning of believe on Jesus. It was originally understood that way! That is how the jailer took it and how Paul and Silas meant it to be understood.
Furthermore, the focus is on the Lord Jesus. He is the Savior. He is our hope. It was his blood that was shed for us. Our faith must be in JESUS and not another, including Mary too. That focus on Jesus too is included in believe in the Lord Jesus. It is now much more clear as to the original meaning of Acts 16:31, but it even becomes more clear with 1 Thess. 1:9!
1 Thess 1:9 = Believe in the Lord Jesus
Referring back to the conversion of the Thessalonians, Paul wrote:
For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9)
Compare the above scriptures, we now know that believe in the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31) = turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21) = turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9). That is just like this mathematical equation, 2+2 = 5-1 = 4.
Again, repentance is mentioned, but this time with the words, turned to God from idols. Then the faith in the Lord Jesus of Acts 20:21 is described in 1 Thess 1:9 as, serve the living and true God. It takes submissive faith to follow JESUS, here and now, to have the one and only salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Mental assent to the historical facts of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is a DEADLY DISTORTION. That is not meeting the conditions mentioned in Acts 20:21 and 1 Thess. 1:9. The so-called Free Grace teaching of our day is demonic. To have Lord JESUS as your Savior and eternal life, you must turn away from your idols (sins) and have a faith in JESUS (as the sole object of your faith) that will follow and obey God. See also Heb. 5:9; 1 John 2:3,4; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; etc. In light of these words of life, do you really believe in the Lord Jesus as it was understood in Acts 16:31?
Gal. 5:24 = Believe in the Lord Jesus
Believe in the Lord Jesus is even referred to here:
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:24)
As 2+2 = 5-1 = 4 = 3+1, how to belong to Christ Jesus also = believe in the Lord Jesus, but to belong to Christ Jesus you must crucify the sinful nature (flesh) with its passion and desires. That is another way of referring to repentance, which coincides with Acts 20:21 and 1 Thess. 1:9.
The POWERLESS and WORTHLESS Counterfeits
Anything other than the proper scriptural understanding of believe in the Lord Jesus will not bring about the radical spiritual transformation in a person’s life. People with such a false profession merely have empty words. In contrast, if acted upon, the truth will set one free from his sin addictions, as occurs at the real point of being born again (John 3:3-7). Such powerless gospels in our day are called:
- free grace
- easy believism
- oppose Lordship salvation
- believe babies are born again at infant baptism (as in Catholicism and the Lutheran church)
By comparing scripture with scripture, we can ascertain what believe in the Lord Jesus meant nearly 2,000 years ago when preached by the Lord’s followers – one that will give needed results.