Recently, my wife and I were discussing what it means “believe in Jesus”, particularly regarding our kids and expressing saving faith. It really wasn’t until I started attending a Southern Baptist church that I started hearing this cliché-phrase “personal lord and savior”—usually expressed without any great understanding as to what that means. While I’m no great lover of the phrase, it’s actually works as a basic, four-word summary of what I see the Bible showing faith to be. Here are some cursory thoughts:
Acts 16:30-31a – He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”*** The jailer needs to believe personally believe in this Jesus, who is Lord of all. Believe what, you may ask?
Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. I don’t think the declaring is magical, but a practical means of voicing out loud submission to King Jesus. But Paul lays out that believing in Jesus means believing that the resurrection was real—that the Son of God died and was raised again, the very vindication that he was master of death.
Acts 2:36-38 – “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” While the baptism part of this gets FAR too much attention, the bigger point is that these God-fearing Jews need to repent. Of what? Of not believing that Jesus was the Son of God, their “Lord and Messiah” whom they crucified (and later rose from the dead).
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive look at things, but it seems to me that for anyone, adult or child, faith in Jesus means believing he was real, that he died, and that he rose. It also means confessing him as our own lord, the master of our bodies and our souls, both now and forever. That’s belief. That’s faith. That’s saving faith.
***One of these days—when I’m brave enough—I’ll deal with the “you and your household” part of this verse.