THE GOSPEL OF JOHN AND FAITH

by Jeffrey Hagan
(Tacoma, WA)

John

I think it best to first provide a working definition of faith, biblical faith:

Fortunately, we don't have to guess. The Bible gives us a clear definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In other words, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.”

There are two parts to this definition of faith: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is merely believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true.

It's important to understand these two parts of faith. Many people believe certain facts about Jesus. Many people will agree intellectually with the facts the Bible says about Jesus. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by “faith.” The biblical definition of faith requires not only intellectual assent to the facts but also trust in those facts.

Believing that Jesus is God incarnate who died on the cross paying the penalty for our sins and was resurrected is not enough. The demons “believe” in God and acknowledge those facts. We must personally and completely rely on the death and resurrection. That is saving faith. The faith God requires of us for salvation is belief in what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He accomplished and fully trusting in Jesus for that salvation. And biblical faith is accompanied by repentance (see Matt. 21:32; Mark 1:15).

So let's move on to "faith" in the Gospel of John. Once, while I began to study this for a term paper, I found it interesting that the instructions for the assignment told us to write on "belief (faith)" in the book of John. Here's why I found it interesting.

If writing on the word faith I would quote a portion of John 12:42-43, "...But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue...".

There you go, that's it. The word "faith" is found one single time in the whole Gospel of John. It's used as a synonym for our relationship with Christ. All done, paper is complete. HOWEVER, the word "believe" is found 98 times and the root word of believe is found just over 290 times. So, the paper is not complete.

It's obvious John wants us to understand what it means to believe. I've recognized just a few examples from John of what happens when we believe:

1. We become children of God
2. Our identity changes
3. Our belief increases
4. We receive eternal life
5. We enter into a relationship with God
6. We receive the Holy Spirit
7. We experience truth

Clearly we need to be reading the Gospel of John to understand what it means for us to believe in Jesus and what happens to us when we do. Personally, I would encourage underlining or circling every occurrence of the word "believe."

The Apostle John wants all who are seeking to believe, and all who do believe, to understand Jesus is the Son of God. And when we believe, we gain eternal life and a relationship with God.

John literally walked with Jesus, he was entrusted with the early church, and he was one of three who made up the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.

To know Jesus, we can trust the Gospel of John as a resource to connect with the God who created the world and allow the Holy Spirit to work through the writing of this ever important book in our lives.

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