Jesus said, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe the One whom He has sent.” [Joh 5:38]. Without Christ, you cannot know the true God nor can you believe in Him. Many religions claim a faith in God but deny Christ or make Him equal with man; some even claim we can all become like Christ. The Bible is clear, there is only one God and only one way to God: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him (Joh 14:6).
Jesus said, “I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” [Joh 5:42-44]. In this passage, Jesus made the case that when people come with pomp and ceremony professing great works and ministries we are quick to go see them and praise them to others but we neglect to follow the One who has the words of life, namely the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
This is true among the secular and the Christian. The secular acclaims the works of man that seeks to disprove or disclaim the true God. Professing Christians acclaim the works of famous Christians, yet they spend so little time reading the Scriptures. Many of these famous Christians focus on making the reader feel good rather than convicting the reader to draw closer to God. In either case, man demonstrates his tendency to elevate man while ignoring God or bringing Him down to mans’ level.
Jesus asked the question, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” [Joh 5:44]. When we are chasing after mans’ glory, or the praise of man, the next award or fifteen minutes of fame – whether this be for status at work, building a network for business or political gain, money, power, fame and such, we are building our kingdom and not seeking after God’s kingdom (see also Mat 6:33; Psa 118:8). Ask yourself this question: Do I care more about other peoples’ opinion or about God’s?
Next time the people around you are making a mockery of someone willing to stand firm for the truth of God’s word, look at where you are standing. Do you go along with the mockers? Do you condemn the righteous one for his lack of polish? or lack of sensitivity? Do you look for ways to bring everyone together? As if you could join Christ with the world. Jesus said if we are following Him, the world will hate us (Joh 15:18-25). Are you willing to risk your status among men by standing for the truth.
Oh, you have a private, personal faith and it is nobody’s business. I’m not sure Jesus agrees with this because He said you do not put a candle under a basket (Mat 5:15-16). John the Baptist said, “Whoever receives [Christ’s] testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.” [Joh 3:33]. During the time of Christ, an official would place his seal on a document to certify it. You cannot certify in secret. If we truly believe, we are willing to certify God’s authority – our seal is on display for all to see.
Many people profess a faith in Christ because they have this knowledge Jesus is the Son of God and so, they think they believe. The Apostle James wrote, “Even the demons believe and shudder.” [Jam 2:19]. So, if you are pretty well convinced Jesus Christ is the Son of God, does this make you a believer? Being certain Jesus Christ is the Son of God is not the faith that leads to eternal life.
“In modern day evangelism, this precious doctrine [of regeneration] has been reduced to nothing more than a human decision to raise one’s hand, walk an aisle, or pray a ‘sinner’s prayer.’ As a result, the majority of Americans believe that they’ve been ‘born again’ even though their thoughts, words, and deeds are a continual contradiction to the nature and will of God.” [quote from Paul Washer].
Jesus taught we must abide in Him (Joh 15). This means we will follow His teachings and obey. This means spending time in the Word and in prayer. He told us to take up our cross daily (Mat 16:24-26). This means we will abandon our empires to seek after God’s kingdom. This means, as Paul wrote, we will work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). This means, as Paul wrote, we will do all things through Christ – whether in blessing or poverty; whatever the circumstance God has placed us in (Php 4:13). In all things, we seek God’s glory, not our own.
Many people stop following Christ when things don’t go the way they planned and God does not seem to be answering their prayers. But this is where true believing kicks in – when life goes sour, we must continue to abide in Christ. Jesus said if we truly believe, we will be hated; we will go through tribulation and trials; we will not be led astray by false prophets and; we will endure to the end (Mat 24:9-13). So, my friend, you can see believing is more than an event and it is more than raising your hand to receive Jesus Christ and getting a piece of that wonderful life God has planned for you.
Believing in Christ is to abandon our kingdom to seek the kingdom of God; to take up our cross and follow Him daily no matter what it costs and; to know the truth and stand up for God’s glory. This means we are willing to be hated by the world – willing to lose everything for God. This is what it means to abide in Christ or to believe.