Salvation Depends on Our Believing – Not Our Doing

What does it mean to believe in Jesus? It simply means looking to Jesus for salvation to receive eternal life.

In various ways, Jesus emphasized that we are saved by believing, not doing. One of the ways he stressed it was by comparing himself to a serpent or snake. He said: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

Jesus refers to an incident recorded in the Old Testament. One time during Israel’s wilderness wanderings, God sent poisonous snakes to punish them. They prayed for help, so God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Everybody who looked at it was saved.

Just as the snake was raised up on a pole, Jesus too would be lifted up. This refers to his crucifixion. Note carefully what Jesus says next. “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15).

Whoever believes in him will have eternal life! But what does believing in him mean? It has been explained in many different ways. By pointing to this Old Testament story, Jesus cuts through a lot of the clutter and tells us what it means. The only thing people did was look at the snake. That’s it! Nothing more.

This is what it means to believe in Jesus. It simply means looking to Jesus for salvation to receive eternal life. It emphasizes that we don’t do anything to live eternally with Heavenly Father. The key to having eternal life is simply trusting that Jesus has already done everything for you.

Jesus underscored this in the following passage, the most familiar of all Bible verses, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Again, there’s no mention of works—only belief.

In the next verses, he says the same thing. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 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” (John 3:17-18).

He refers to believing five times in these verses. Yet, not once does he mention any works we must do!

How do we receive eternal life? Jesus said by believing. How are we saved? Jesus said by believing. How do we escape condemnation? Jesus said by believing. What will condemn us? Jesus said by not believing. It’s all about trusting in what he did for us. This is what Jesus said over and over.

Friends, hear him. Place all your hopes of living with Heavenly Father for all eternity on what Jesus has already done for you. Don’t think you have to do anything to earn God’s favor or to be worthy in his sight. Rest all your hopes in the perfect life he led for you and the death he died for you. And you will be saved.


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