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Jesus Christ:  What does it mean to believe in His name? 

Gary Googe Feb 05

As you study your Bible, you’ll see many comments about this.

John 1:11-12

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: [Emphasis added]

John 3:18  

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [Emphasis added]

John 20:30-31

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. [Emphasis added]

There in verse thirty-one you have the meaning of this terminology.  It is stating what is meant by the many comments about believing in His name.

Notice the warning our Lord gave His disciples about this.

Matthew 24:9

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. [Emphasis added]

This is a warning that even has application today.  For the day may come when your identification with Jesus Christ may even cost you your life.  

One of the first verses of Scripture that I ever learned was this next one we’ll note.  It became especially important to me when I once heard one of my Bible professors in college saying there were many ways a person could get to Heaven just as there are many paths to the peak of a mountain.  I was quite startled that he’d make such a ridiculous statement.  Scripture doesn’t tell us anything like that.  My first thought was this next verse.

John 14:6

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [Emphasis added]

Then we have this next verse that coincides with that.

Acts 4:12

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. [Emphasis added]

Is this what people today are to believe so as to gain everlasting salvation? Was there something that special about the name Jesus? Aren’t there even people today who go by that name?  I remember a good friend of mine told me he once had a room steward on a cruise ship that went by the name Jesus.  He told me he felt awkward saying, “I wonder where Jesus put my shoes this time.”

Seriously, what is this about? When the apostle Paul was talking about his concern for the salvation of Israelites [Romans 9-11], he used this terminology.

Romans 10:12-13

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. [Emphasis added]

When the apostle Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, note what our Lord said about him.

Acts 9:15-16

15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. [Emphasis added]

Probably the first time this subject comes up during our Lord’s earthly ministry is mentioned in the writings Matthew.

Matthew 16:13-17

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [Emphasis added]

At that time this is what had to be believed for someone to enter into salvation.  People had to believe in the true identity of this Man.  He was Jesus of Nazareth all right, but He was far more than that.  He wasn’t just another prophet.  He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  It was that which was His full identitySalvation came by believing this Jesus was that person.  They had to believe that this Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah.  But is this what people must believe today for salvation?  Some people may say He may have been a great prophet, but that’s all He was.  They won’t acknowledge His full identity.  But will that alone save someone today? It will not! We need to believe He was the promised Messiah all right, but there’s something else that’s far more important.  Here in this next verse, we have a one verse summary of what someone must believe.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [this Jesus] to be sin for us [speaking of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [bringing about our justification]. [Emphasis added]

Let’s now look at the full context of that verse.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [this Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Did the twelve apostles know about this when Jesus was being crucified? No! Was anyone expecting His resurrection? Not one! Even the women who were at his tomb that morning were there to anoint His dead body.  

Mark 16:1

1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. [Emphasis added]

His appearance in a resurrection body was a complete surprise to them all. Did anyone know what He was accomplishing on the cross? Not even one person! Did the prophets of old know? They wrote about it, but it was in such veiled terms [as in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22] that they had no idea it was talking about His work on the cross of CalvaryWhat occurred there to provide a way for our salvation wouldn’t be made known until it was revealed to the apostle Paul and to us now through his writings.  Peter even tells us in the last words of his last writing to go to Paul for a complete explanation.  He even foretells the many distortions of Paul’s message that would come.

2 Peter 3:15-16

15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord [the delayed return of our Lord] is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [STREBLOO = twist or distort], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [Emphasis added]

Therefore, in leading someone to Christ and to salvation, we’re to focus on Paul’s writings to give people specifically what they must believe to be saved.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel [the good news] which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

It is this message that Paul spoke of as his gospel.  

Romans 16:25

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [Emphasis added]

This was to differentiate his gospel message from what Peter declared as the gospel.

Galatians 2:7

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

Conclusion—

For a person to be saved, it is imperative for a person to accept the identity of Jesus of Nazareth as far more than a prophet.  He is the God/man, the Savior God graciously provided for all the world as the sole means of salvation for anyone who will accept Him by faith.  The object of one’s faith must be His work, namely His death, burial, and resurrection, not our own works of righteousness.  For salvation is a matter of God’s one work of grace, not man’s works.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

This is the theme throughout Paul’s writings.  The only thing we have to contribute to our salvation is the sin that made it necessary.

Romans 3:23-24

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [Emphasis added]

Again, it was the one work of Christ that made all this possible for us.

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]

We were all the ungodly ones that didn’t deserve such a provision.  But God graciously provided a way for us.  If you’ve not already, you can believe this truth now and be saved forever.  Just as you don’t DO anything to gain it, you can’t DO anything to lose it.  What a wonderful and gracious God we have!

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