Summary: Join us as we examine what it means to believe in Jesus.

Believing in Christ is an important decision. It carries eternal consequences. Today, I want us to join together in considering what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. We want to make sure that all of us are on the same page in what we believe. This will aid those who have made decisions recently. It will also strengthen those who became believers at some point in the past. As we consider what it means to believe I want to ask three questions. The first question is: what are some substitutes for belief? A second question is: what is the evidence that you have truly believed in Jesus? A third question is: what are the results of belief?

Beliefs are important! A little girl was observed by her pastor standing outside the preschool Sunday School classroom between Sunday School and worship, waiting for her parents to come and pick her up for "big church." The pastor noticed that she clutched a big storybook under her arms with the title, "Jonah and the Whale."

Feeling a little playful, he knelt down beside the little girl and began a conversation. "What’s that you have in your hand?", he asked.

"This is my storybook about Jonah and the Whale," she answered.

"Tell me something, do you believe that story about Jonah and that whale to be the truth?"

The little girl implored, "Why of course I believe this story to be the truth!"

He inquired further, "you really believe that a man can be swallowed by a big whale, stay inside him for three days, and come out of there still alive and OK? You really believe all that can be true?"

She declared, "Absolutely, this story is in the Bible and we studied about it in Sunday school today!"

Then the pastor asked, "Well can you prove to me that this story is the truth?"

She thought for a moment and then said, "Well, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah."

The pastor then asked, "Well, what if Jonah’s not in Heaven?"

She then put her hands on her little hips and sternly declared, "Then YOU can ask him!" (Contributed by: Sermon Central)

1. The first question: what are some substitutes for belief?

Illustration: Last fall Judy and I made a trip to China. While there we purchased a number of souvenirs and gifts to bring home. We also purchased a number of DVD’s of popular movies. We were told there were many pirated movies sold in the shops. We never gave the warning a second thought. When we got home the first movie we opened could not be viewed. It was pirated and was only legible in Chinese. We found out why the movies were so cheap. They were substitutes for the real thing. Even so, there are some substitutes to real “belief.” I want to mention three.

The first substitute is knowledge. In America there is much knowledge about Jesus. However, knowledge is not the same as belief.

Illustration: I believe in George Washington; however, I do not know him nor have I ever seen him. Believing in George Washington does not make me his friend nor does it make me a relative.

Knowledge is the pathway to belief. There is a verse in II Timothy that might help us with this. Paul said “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (II Tim. 1:12) See the connection. Paul said “I know whom I have believed.” His knowledge fed his belief. You cannot have belief without knowledge. However, knowledge alone is not enough.

A second substitute for belief is agreement. Suppose I say “I believe it is going to rain.” Does my agreement make me a rain drop? Agreement can be forced or coerced. When I was a boy we often played a game where we tried to force our playmates into submission. If we were wrestling and forced our friend into submission we would make him say “uncle” ,before we let him go. You might get a friends arm, pin it behind his back and twist it until he said “uncle.” (Kids can play the cruelest games.) If someone twists my arm and forces me to say uncle I might agree with him but I will not be a happy camper.

A third substitute for belief is religion. In our text Jesus was speaking with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a leader of the Jewish people. He was a Pharisee. A Pharisee was an expert in the Jewish religious teachings. A Pharisee was equivalent to a lawyer in our legal system. He was very religious. Many religious people have been converted to faith in Christ. Part of my testimony is that I knew all of the books of the Bible before I came to faith in Christ.

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