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“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19) A Barna Research poll taken in 2004, showed that 7 out of 10 Americans interviewed believe in God. Sounds good, but let me ask you a question. If so many people believe in God, why does Jesus say most people are on the broad road to destruction? “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) It seems as though Jesus is stating a frightening reality here: most people will not find the narrow way which leads to eternal life in heaven.
So what’s the problem? Aren’t we told above that we “do well” if we believe in the one, true God? Yes we are. But the problem is that simple belief in God never did and never will get anyone into heaven. If simple belief in God is all you need to get into heaven, then Satan and his demons will be granted entrance as well, for as the verse says, “the devils also believe.” However, the Bible tells us that Satan and his demons (fallen angels) will be judged by the very God they believe in. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” (Revelation 20:10; Jude 1:6)
It’s very important that you understand that believing in God doesn’t mean you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Many Jewish people believe in the one, true God but do not believe Jesus is the Messiah. Many people who go to church every Sunday say they believe in God but are just going through the motions.
An intellectual belief in God that never leads to saving faith in Jesus Christ ultimately does you no good. For if you merely believe in the existence of God and who He is, then you simply have something in common with the devil and will consequently suffer his same fate. Belief in God is one thing, while saving faith in Jesus Christ is quite another. Furthermore, it can also be shown that belief in Jesus Christ is not the same as saving faith in Him. An illustration at this point might help...
Suppose you are sitting in church on Sunday and the pastor is preaching from the pulpit: “Jesus died on the cross for your sins! He then rose from the dead on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father ready to save all that come to Him in faith, calling out for mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.”
You could be listening to this sermon, nodding your head and believing it to be true and guess what? If the devil himself were sitting right beside you, he would be nodding his head right along with you because he believes the same thing. As a matter of fact, he knows it to be true. On a visit to Capernaum Jesus healed many who were possessed by demons. Listen to the testimony of these demonic spirits as Jesus cast them out: “...Let us Alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God....” (Luke 4:34; 41)
Here we see even the demonic spirits recognized and believed in the authority, power, and divinity of Jesus and confessed Him as Christ. They knew He was the Savior of the world. But are they saved? Will they be going to heaven? No! Their fate is sealed as you previously read in Revelation 20:10 and Jude 1:6. The question then remains: what is saving faith and how can you get it? To get to the answer you must first cross the bridge….
Here’s an illustration of belief: imagine you and a friend are driving down a road and you come to a bridge. Your friend asks you to stop the car before you cross so you pullover and do so. He then turns to you and asks you if you believe the bridge will hold you up when you cross over it. You nod your head yes, but you just sit there and don’t cross over. In this instance, you are simply showing your intellectual belief in the strength and construction of the bridge to hold you up when you cross it. But this type of belief does you no good. You won’t be able to arrive at your destination. Intellectual belief is simply a belief which relies on the faculty of the mind to reveal to you that something is true.
Here’s an illustration of saving faith: let’s say after replying yes to your friend, you take your car out of park, step on the gas and cross over. In this instance, your faith is causing you to act upon that which you believe to be true and has propelled you forward in motion. Now you will arrive at your destination. But before that could happen, you had to act on your faith.
How does all this relate to your salvation? Jesus says, “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world? Do you believe that He came to die for your sins to save you from an eternity in hell? “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming.…” (Isaiah 14:9) Yet “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners….” (1 Timothy 1:15) Do you believe you can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Him? “...the soul that sinneth, it shall die. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23, Colossians 1:14)
Do you believe these facts concerning Jesus Christ are true? Are you just nodding your head yes or are you going to “cross the bridge”? If you are ready to cross over from intellectual belief to saving faith, then take your car out of park and step on the gas. Do what is necessary to be saved from God’s judgment and receive His forgiveness so you may enter heaven when you die.
You must repent! Make a decision to turn away from your sins which have condemned you and turn whole-heartedly in faith towards Jesus Christ for forgiveness. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.…” (Acts 3:19) Then call out to Jesus in faith and ask Him into your heart. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
In these verses, we are shown that a person who really believes in their heart that Jesus died for their sins and then rose from the dead, will repent of their sins and call out to Him for salvation. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) This is saving faith. This is faith that “crosses the bridge”.
Let the Holy Spirit examine your heart. Have you only been nodding yes to the truths about God and Jesus? Are you willing to truly turn away from your sins and call out to Jesus and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior? I pray you are. Don’t be like the devils who “also believe” in God and who also confess to Jesus, “Thou art Christ”, but cannot repent nor call out to Christ for salvation. For if you “just believe”, take heed of this warning: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) The devils know this, “and tremble”.