In the message "The Father's Will" we saw that not all who do great things for God will enter Heaven, but "only he who does the will of My Father" (Matthew 7:21). We further saw that the Father's will is "that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life" (John 6:40). We are given the gift of eternal life because of our belief in Jesus, not because of ANYTHING we do; "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).
Salvation can never be earned, it is a gift to those who believe. However, we must understand what it means to believe and what changes will occur when we believe. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder" (James 2:19). A saving belief is much more than just acknowledging God's existence or even the existence of His Son - even the demons believe this!
Belief in Jesus in never simply an intellectual understanding. Belief implies a humble surrender. We will never "look to the Son" unless we first recognize our eternally lost condition due to sin; and we will never truly "believe in Him" for salvation until we accept our complete inability to save ourselves. A drowning man will never reach up for help until he first understands and accepts his need to be rescued.
To be rescued, we must believe so completely that we abandon all other "rescuers" and cling to the only One who can truly save; "any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33). Giving up everything cannot save us, but true belief gives up all other sources of hope. It also reveals the trivial nature of our worldly attachments and creates an understanding that everything belongs to Him. We see our life as lived for Him and desire to do ALL for His glory.
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? ... In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
Belief must produce a change in our life or we know it is not a true belief - it is nothing more than dead intellectual understanding! At the moment we truly believe, we are "marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1:13), and we become "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Belief creates change through the work of the Holy Spirit!!
If we lack the evidence of a changed life, we must not focus on creating the change. This type of change becomes self-righteous "filthy rags." Rather, we must return to the cross and place ALL our trust in Jesus, believing He has paid the penalty for our sin and has granted us passage through the narrow gate to eternal life. As we completely turn over control to our Heavenly Father, fruit and good deeds will abound. Our life will be forever changed, but only when we begin with a belief that saves.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God's Daily Word Ministries