About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Believing And Receiving


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. 


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