About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Faith Or Another Gospel
If I had only one message
to speak, I’d talk about “genuine faith”, and here’s why. Many
Evangelical preachers I heard as a youth taught that you needed to
simply believe in Jesus as your Saviour in order to be saved.
They’d often ask you to repeat a short prayer to bring about your
salvation. They proceeded to
teach that at some later date you were to make Jesus your Lord, which
they called “entire sanctification”.
Borrowing Paul’s words, I “might” go as far as to call this
“another gospel”. In
addressing this issue we need to understand how the New Testament
defines the word “believe”, and what it says about making Jesus your
To understand the gospel
we need to know how New Testament writers defined the words “faith”
and “believe” because they are vital to the gospel.
It’s a mistake to understand first century Greek words with our
21st century English definitions, something we often do.
I won’t elaborate on
how these two words have evolved over the centuries because I’ve done
that in other articles. I’ll just say that most of us view the words “faith”
and “believe” today as “giving mental assent to something”.
For example, if I say “
If you just preach
“believe in Jesus to be saved”
you might get the following response. “Okay, that’s easy enough. I
believe in Jesus. So now I’m saved. Thanks.
See you later”. Just
because someone has given mental assent to your admonition to believe,
is he saved?
The words “believe”
and “faith” in the New Testament are translated from the Greek word
“pistis”. I’ve given
reasons in other articles for why I define “pistis” as I do, so I
won’t get into that now. First
century people understood “pistis”
as “giving oneself to
When Jesus says
“believe in me” in John 3:16, He is saying “give yourself to
me”, or “hand your life
over to me”. He is not
saying “agree with me, or accept what I say about myself as being the
truth”. “Believing” or
“having faith” in New Testament terms is “giving yourself to
something”, not just acknowledging the existence of something.
This scares me a bit. I wonder how many people in the church only
acknowledge the existence of Jesus but have failed to give their lives
When sharing the gospel,
we shouldn’t just tell people to believe unless they understand the
word believe in New Testament terms, which they probably don’t.
We should tell them to “hand their lives over to Jesus and then
they will be saved” because that’s the intent of John 3:16 and the
Now as to making Jesus
your Lord at some distant point down the road. If
“believing” in respect to the gospel means handing your life over to
Jesus, then it’s obvious that Jesus should become your Lord when you
first meet Him, not later. So
the old saying is true, “Jesus must be your Lord in order to be your
Now I know when we first
meet Jesus we can give Him our lives and then take part of our lives
back the next day. Thus the
struggle with trusting Jesus begins, but this is why Paul says we
“live by faith”. From
day one we place our lives into Jesus’ hands and continue this process
until we end up in Heaven with Him where we will continue to trust Him
Now as to living by faith
- we get saved by faith and not by good works
and we stay saved by faith and not by good works. Staying
saved by faith means that we live each and every day in submission to
Jesus as Lord. You might say
that faith is resigning yourself to the fact that we belong to Jesus,
and from our relationship with Him we do many good works.
Those good works don’t keep us saved. They are the product of
being saved. If there are no
good works, there’s probably no genuine faith, as James says.
Much of the gospel I
heard in my youth emphasized, “believe in Jesus to get saved” and
little about giving your life to Jesus. What you sow, you reap.
Thus you reap a “getting mentality” in your converts.
They want to get saved, get healed, get prosperous, get Heaven,
or get whatever. But getting
saved isn’t all about getting. It’s
about giving to Jesus because He is Lord and we are His servants.
If I could transport
myself behind a 1950’s pulpit, I wouldn’t simply preach “believe
in Jesus and be saved and try to make Him Lord later on if you can”.
I’d preach something like, “hand your life over to Jesus
right now. In sincere
resignation, just give up control and trust Him with your whole life. You
may not understand all the implications now, and you may want to take
your life back tomorrow, but today, you hand Him everything, and when
you do, you will be saved”.
This is the bottom line
to all that is Christian. Life
is simply trusting Jesus with every aspect of who we are, every day of
our lives. So I say,
“trust Jesus with your whole life, which includes your salvation.
Don’t just trust Him for your salvation”. Jesus can only be Christ
your Saviour because He is first your Lord.