…Even the demons believe — and tremble! (James 2:19, N.K.J.V.)
Charles Blondin, whose real name was Jean Francois Gravelet, was a French acrobat who became world renowned as a tightrope walker during the latter half of the 1800s. He began his career at the incredibly young age of five and first won fame in his home country of France and in other parts of Europe before coming to America in 1855. Four years later, on June 30, 1859, he walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls, a feat he would perform many more times during his career.
To keep his act fresh and keep the public’s interest piqued, Blondin frequently added new twists to his trips across the Falls. He performed the trick blindfolded. He performed it on stilts. He performed it while pushing a wheelbarrow in front of him. Once, he paused at the midway point of the trick, sat down on the wire, and ate an omelet. Blondin’s exploits became so well known that Abraham Lincoln actually referenced the wheelbarrow version in his Presidential campaign in 1864. Lincoln described himself as being “Blondin on the tightrope” and having all that was valuable to America in the wheelbarrow he was pushing that carried his political agenda.
More than once Blondin walked across the Falls while carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. At the conclusion of one of those trips, shortly after Blondin and Colcord had reached the other side safely, Blondin said to a man in the crowd of onlookers, “Do you believe I could do that with you?” The man answered, “Yes, I’ve just seen you do it.” “Well, then,” said Blondin, “hop on and I’ll carry you across.” But to that the fellow replied, “Not on your life!”
You see, that onlooker had a general belief in Blondin’s ability to live up to his end of the offer, but what he didn’t have was the type of belief that would lead him to confidently climb onto Blondin’s back. He knew that doing so would amount to him placing complete trust in Blondin to carry him safely across those Falls, and that would require a whole other type of belief on his part. Obviously, he wasn’t willing to place that type of belief in Blondin.
Our text passage from the book of James shows us that there is a type of belief that isn’t saving belief. Even demons (fallen angels) have enough belief to know that God exists and that Jesus is God the Son (see also Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-17; and Luke 8:26-37). Despite this belief, however, demons are still destined to spend eternity in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41). Unfortunately, literally billions of people will join them there throughout eternity despite the fact that many of these people not only believe in the existence of God but actually believe that Jesus was God in human flesh.
As for how someone who believes that Jesus was God in human flesh can be lost, that answer goes back to the story from the life of Charles Blondin. Just as that onlooker believing that Blondin could get him to the other side of Niagara Falls wasn’t enough to literally transport the onlooker to the other side, anyone who doesn’t have enough belief to go “all in” 100% for Jesus by figuratively climbing onto His back and letting Him transport that person to heaven will never get there. That’s why each of us should examine the supposed belief that we claim to have in Jesus and make sure that it is saving belief rather than damning belief. Even a belief that gets you into church, burdens you to pray, and causes you to read your Bible might not be the kind required for salvation. Being impressed by Jesus and enjoying learning about His exploits is a good start, but it isn’t the same thing as climbing onto His back and trusting in Him and Him alone 100% for salvation.