Let me start by pointing out that I fully understand that I already talked about the word belief in the Gospel of John. Why then you
don’t ask, am I hammering away again on the same subject? I’d say that in light of the fact that John used the verb “to believe” 98 times in his gospel that he felt it was pretty important, so hitting it twice is probably useful. It was, after all, the aim of his entire book:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20.31).
John was shaping every part of his narrative about the life of Christ so that his readers (yes, that would mean you), would come to the point of belief in Jesus and that by believing they (you!) would have life in Jesus’ name. So yeah, belief is important.
I write this because I’m now into the part of John’s story (John 1.43-51) where Nathanael meets Jesus. Jesus impresses Nathanael by telling him that Philip found him that very morning under a fig tree, before Philip brought him to see Christ. How could Jesus know this? Only one way, he had supernatural knowledge, and Nathanael is smart enough to immediately see this. He confesses Christ as the Messiah whom the Jews were waiting for on the spot. Jesus’ reply:
Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these (1.50).
So some more quick thoughts on belief.
- John the Baptizer came so that all might believe through him [Jesus] (1.7) – What stands out here is that belief in this manner must come as an individual. No one can believe for you, or on behalf of you, or in your place. You must believe yourself. Oh, how the world hates to hear that message. It kicks and complains and screams when we Christians call those who do not believe to faith in Jesus as individuals.
- Our belief in Christ is why God sent his one and only son to die in our place for our sins: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3.16)
- Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. Jesus: Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life (John 6.47)
[Side note to the world: I understand that you do not like hearing about things like eternal life, nor hearing that we believe that one can only have eternal life through Jesus, and that yes, we look forward to eternal life in his presence, and as great as the earth is, it is going to pass away no matter how well we take care of it. I get all that. I comprehend. Here’s the thing, take up your argument with Jesus because he is the one saying this stuff. You don’t like that, then you cannot like Jesus because he talked about it ALL THE TIME.]
- Rob Bell notwithstanding, some people do not believe. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) (John 6.63,64)
Belief is everything in the Bible. No belief. No eternal life. Those are not my words, they are Jesus’ words.