Why does God ask for our belief in Jesus in order to receive His grace of justification, redemption and salvation? To understand this, we must first understand what it means to have belief in Jesus. Believing in Jesus is not merely believing that He existed, nor that He was a good teacher, nor even that He is God–all of which are true, but are inadequate.
In John 3:16, the word “believes” is the Greek word “pisteuo,” which means to have faith in or to entrust “…especially with one’s spiritual well being,” according to Strong’s Concordance. So the better understanding of this verse then is that we are to place our complete trust of our spiritual well-being in Jesus–to believe fully that He is our savior and walk in that faith.
So, why was it that God made trust in Jesus the qualification for salvation, instead of some other mechanism? Built on the belief that we all need saving from our sinful nature and God’s righteous judgement of our willful disobedience to Him, the answer lies in the original sin of Adam. Many will state that Adam fell from grace when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he merely disobeyed God. While it is true that he did disobey God in his act, and that alone is worthy of condemnation, the greater sin in his act was that rather than trusting in God and His commandment not to eat of that particular tree–that He knows what is best for us, that the creator of all existence might have reasons beyond our comprehension, that He might have information that we don’t posses–Adam presumed himself, with influence from the Adversary, to be God’s equal and placed trust in himself.
Like the first Adam, we place trust in ourselves and many things of this world: doctors, lawyers, employers, friends, family. But we often fail to place complete trust in God. Only when we put our reliance on Him, are we trusting the only person who will never fail us and in whom we can trust completely. So, it is only fitting that when we relinquish trust in all things, especially ourselves, and place our full trust in God, can we return to the pre-sin relationship with Him. God is only asking for a return to the way it was and should be.
In God We Trust