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Is It Enough to Believe? - Forward with Back to the Bible - February 28

  • 2022 Feb 28

Is It Enough to Believe?

February 28

Read James 2:19 (ESV)

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even demons believe—and shudder!

Reflect

While we are saved by grace through faith, why is just believing in God not enough?

If you asked a small child how they know they are going to heaven, they might say something like, “Because I believe in God!” That is a good start and it’s developmentally appropriate for small children. But the truth is, that is an overly simplistic understanding of saving faith. Believing in God isn’t enough for salvation! It is what we believe about Him and how we respond to those beliefs that truly matter.

This is the gist of what James wrote in today’s verse: “You believe in the one true God, good for you! Satan and his demons also believe, and they shake with fear!”

For context, remember that James had been writing about the relationship between our faith and our actions. He said that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). A true, genuine, saving faith in Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our actions and results in a changed life. If we say we believe in Jesus but we keep doing the same old sinful things we used to do and never change, what good is believing in Jesus?

James continued making his point by saying that yes, it is good to believe in the one, true God. It is good to reject the false, pagan gods of the world! But merely acknowledging the fact that there is only one God doesn’t save us. He said even the demons know and are afraid of Him! But we know that the demons aren’t saved despite their belief in His existence and power! What’s the difference between the demons’ beliefs and the beliefs of the followers of Christ?

The demons know exactly who Jesus is and yet, they reject Him. Followers of Christ know who Jesus is and embrace Him! Believers in Christ don’t just say they trust Jesus either. Instead, they put their faith in action. They demonstrate their faith by their works because they are new creations! By their changed lives, everyone knows their beliefs aren’t just empty words and lip service. They aren’t just talking the talk. They are walking the walk.

But what exactly we believe about Jesus is also important. The essential doctrines that have historically been held by Christians for the last 2,000 years can be summed up in the creeds, like the Apostles Creed: “I believe in God, the Father the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended to hell. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [universal] church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting. Amen.” This creed summed up the teachings of the apostles.

When we go back to the Bible, we can also identify the essence of the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul summed up the Christian faith this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

Friends, it isn’t enough to simply say “I believe in God.” Even the demons believe in God! It is what we believe about Him and what we do with those beliefs that matter. Do we embrace Him or reject Him? If we reject Him and the teachings about Him, we should shake with fear like the demons! But if we embrace His teachings, put our faith in Him, and demonstrate evidence of a changed life, we have nothing to fear! We are in His family. Our relationship with Him has been restored. Hallelujah!

Pray

Lord, I believe that You are the One True God. But I also believe that You are my Lord and my Savior. You died on the cross for my sins and I place my trust in You for the forgiveness of my sins and the promise of everlasting life. I submit to You. Help me to obey Your Word. Amen.

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