I believe the life story of George Washington. I believe he was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. I believe he served as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army that won the Revolutionary War. I believe he was America’s first President. I believe he died on December 12, 1799. None of this, however, equates to me believing in George Washington as my personal Savior.
There are many people who believe the life story of Jesus. They believe He was born in Bethlehem. They believe He was a great teacher. They believe He died on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. They might even believe He was God in the flesh, performed miracles, and arose from the dead. None of this, however, equates to them believing in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Various illustrations can be used to describe the difference between merely believing the facts about Christ’s life and actually believing in (or on, as some verses put it) Christ. One of my favorites involves a stool, the type of stool so high that your feet can’t touch the ground when you are sitting down. It is one thing for you to study that stool and believe it would support you if you sat down in it. It is quite another thing, though, for you to actually sit down in that stool, thus putting all your weight down upon the stool, trusting the stool to support you. Similarly, it is one thing for you to study about Jesus and believe that He died on a cross for your sins. It is quite another thing, though, for you to actually “sit down” in Him, thus putting all your weight down upon Him, trusting that He will save you from eternal damnation.
The New Testament provides us with various descriptions of how an individual can accomplish this “sitting down” in Jesus. Here is a list of those descriptions:
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to believe in Him. (John 3:16)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to come to Him. (John 5:39-40)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to receive Him. (John 1:12)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to place your faith in Him. (Colossians 1:3-5)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to trust in Him. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to call upon Him. (Romans 10:9-13)
- To “sit down” in Jesus is to open the door to Him. (Revelation 3:20)
Please understand that these descriptions are not separate decisions that must be made in regards to Christ. They aren’t different stages of belief, either, as if an individual has to complete them all in order to reach the end goal: salvation. Instead, each description is simply one more way of illustrating a genuine salvation experience.
The point is, when a person “sits down” in Jesus, that person will automatically be doing each of these descriptions. It’s an all-in-one package deal. Salvation is a singular moment-in-time experience, not the end result of a process. As for why God’s word uses so many different descriptions to describe the experience, surely that has to do with the differences in how people receive information and process it. While one person might understand “come to Jesus” better than “believe in Jesus,” another person might understand “open the door to Jesus” even better.
In the end, whichever description winds your clock, the important thing is that you “sit down” in Jesus as opposed to merely believing that He would hold you up if you did “sit down” in Him. You see, not all belief is saving belief when the subject is Jesus. As evidence of this, John 2:23-25 talks about a group of people to whom Jesus did not commit Himself even though they “believed in His name when they saw the signs (miracles) which He did.” Concerning this group, Warren Wiersbe said, “These people believed in Jesus, but He did not believe in them!” For the purposes of this post, we might say that they liked the looks of the stool that Jesus was, but they never actually sat down in it. And all I can add to that is, make sure the same doesn’t happen to you.