How Do I Know If I Believe?

Q. I have to confess that I am still trying to really settle in my mind what it means to be saved by grace through faith. Doesn’t faith in Christ have to produce some kind of evidence of salvation to be real? You cannot just pray a prayer and “get in” so to speak. If my salvation is based on my “belief” in Jesus, could you define what “believing in the Son of God” means? What is that word in the Greek in the New Testament and is it the same meaning as faith or “believe” in the Old testament?

A. In John 3:16 the Greek word translated believe is pisteuo. It means “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in the thing believed. Of the 248 times it’s used in the New Testament this is the meaning given in 239 cases. The others have to do with trust. The Greek word for faith is a derivative of the word for belief.

Genesis 15:6 reads, “Abram believed the Lord and He credited it to him as righteousness.” The Hebrew word translated believed is aman and in the figurative sense it means “to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in. The word literally means to support, carry, or uphold, like a pillar does for a building or a nurse does for a baby. The idea is that our belief supports us.

In the matter of salvation, to believe means that we’re persuaded that Jesus died for all our sins, and therefore we’ve been saved from their penalty. It’s more than an intellectual ascent, but an emotional commitment, because we’re literally betting our eternity on it and by the time we find out for sure if our belief was justified it’ll be too late. We’ll be dead. Exterior signs often accompany this belief but not always, and there are many who say they believe and can even show evidence of it but are only giving intellectual ascent.

Therefore, there is no specific outward sign or action that will confirm our belief to another or theirs to us. So if you’re looking for actions to confirm your belief, you’re looking in the wrong place. The answer is in your heart.

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