Back in question 39, we learned that only those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus the Christ will be saved. In our last question, we learned that repenting “involves sorrow for sin, leading one to hate and forsake it because it is displeasing to God.” But what does it mean to believe in Christ?
When we talk about believing in the Bible, there are three words we use to point to the same idea. The first, of course, is “believe.” But the other two are “faith” and “trust.” Often times in our Bibles, we’ll read different verses using these three different words. But all three are directing us to do the same thing. So what does it mean to believe, or to trust, or to have faith in, Jesus the Christ?
According to the answer above, true belief involves two things: knowing and trusting. First, in order to believe in Jesus the Christ, a person needs to actually know about Jesus the Christ! More specifically, they need to know the gospel (good news). We could talk endlessly about everything the good news means, but the simplest version is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, ...he was buried, ...he was raised on the third day...”
In order to believe in Jesus and be saved, a person needs to actually know what Jesus did to save us. They need to know that he paid the death penalty for our sins. And they need to know he rose from the dead as proof that he really was the Christ, the Son of God. There’s no way in the world someone can believe this “gospel,” this good news, if they’ve never even heard it! But that’s not all they need to know.
According to the answer above, sinners seeking salvation also need to know that Jesus is their “only hope.” It’s not enough to know that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. A person must also understand that Jesus is the only one in the universe who can save them from the dreadful curse of sin and death. No other “god” and no other person can save them. And they certainly can’t save themselves. As Peter tells us in Acts 4:12, “Salvation (being saved) is found in no one else, for there is no other name (the name of Jesus) under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
But it’s not enough to simply know that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. It’s not enough to know he’s our only hope. We need to actually put our trust in him to save us! Imagine that you were flying in an airplane. The pilot makes an announcement to everybody on board: “I have some bad news – we are about to crash! Please put on your parachute, jump out of the plane, pull the cord to open your chute, and you’ll be saved.” Would it be enough to simply know that information? No! To be saved from a fiery wreck, you need to put on the parachute and actually jump out of the plane!
In the same way, it’s not enough to know that only Jesus can save us. Our hearts need to believe, to have faith, to truly trust in him. Our hearts should trust in Jesus to save our souls from sin as much as we would trust in that parachute to save our bodies from splatting into the ground! The Bible doesn’t say, “Know the good news about Jesus and be saved.” It says, “Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved.”