About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
When you first became a
Christian you repented of your sinfulness and then you believed in
Jesus. Repenting and
believing, so to speak, are two sides of the same Christian coin.
You can't fully believe without recognizing your need to believe,
and, there's no use repenting if you aren't going to believe.
Once you initially repent and believe, and that can take time,
you will receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus, and that may or may not
happen the moment you first believe.
Believing in Jesus and
receiving His Spirit are two separate and distinct actions that may or
may not take place simultaneously. Acts
8, for example, records some Samarians believing but they did not
receive the Holy Spirit until a later date.
Acts 10 records Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit the moment
they first believed. There
is no set formula with these things.
Concerning believing, we
should know that it is more than giving mental assent to the reality of
Jesus. Mental assent alone
saves no one. Besides, it's
not what the Greek word "pistis" that is translated into our
English New Testament as "believe," "faith," and
"trust" means. Pistis
simply means "trust." So,
when Jesus tells us to believe in Him, He is telling us to trust Him
with our entire lives, which includes our salvation. Trusting
Jesus for your salvation and not for your entire life is not what Jesus
means when He asks us to believe in Him.
The thing that frightens
me about this is that our present-day Evangelical Christian gospel in
many respects has weakened the meaning of believing in Jesus to simple
mental assent to His reality. That
being the case, Jesus cannot give His Spirit to one who does not exhibit
Biblical belief, that is, trusting Jesus with one's life. That's
problematic because Romans 8:9 states that if you do not have God's
Spirit, you do not belong to Him. Also,
if our gospel suggests mental assent will save you, we deceive the one
who believes he is saved when in fact he is not saved.
Believing in Jesus is an
action, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that we do.
Receiving the Spirit into our lives is an action that Jesus does.
Jesus' two titles, Lord and Christ, makes this clear.
Jesus being Lord (God) implies that we offer ourselves to Him as
an act of trust. Jesus,
being Christ (Saviour) implies that He offers Himself (His Spirit) to us
as an act of grace.
Believing in Jesus and
receiving His Spirit are two separate and distinct actions.
Without the believing there is no receiving and without
receiving, there is no salvation.