Belief in Jesus is More than Mental Acceptance
Do you really only have to “believe on the name of Jesus”? Is obedience optional? What does the Bible say about these matters?
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Belief and obedience go hand in hand.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Jesus’ own words in the 14th chapter of John make it clear.
“If you love Me, obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.”
John 14:15-17 (NLT)
“Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”
John 14:21 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.
John 14:23 (NLT)
Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.
John 14:24 (NLT)
Jesus own words again, this time from the book of Matthew:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:19 (KJV)
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There are other instances in the New Testament that also point to obedience as being an imperative part of the Christian life.
“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey Him.”
In this way, God qualified Him [Jesus] as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.
For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.
1 Corinthians 7:19
And for those who think by preaching repentance and obedience to Christ, we aren’t somehow “loving enough,” what does the Bible say?
We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey His commandments. Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2-3
Here’s an important passage that makes it simple:
And we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.
1 John 2:3-5