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John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who ever believes in Him will not perish but have ever lasting life".

Many people are relying on this passage for their salvation; yet, just a few verses earlier, Yeshua says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3)

In Matthew 7, Yeshua says,

" Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES the will of My Father in heaven" Matthew 7:21

There's been a struggle with, what appears to be, these supposed discrepancies for some time. Christ clearly says that salvation is not easy (Matt 7:14) but John 3:16 makes it really easy. It's enough to make a persons head spin in confusion of what is right and what is wrong. I believe the truth lies in the meaning of "believe in".

We must remember that the Bible was not written to a 21st century, American people. The Bible was written by, and written to, a people from about 500 bc to 1 ad; in a culture and with a language that is far different from ours. What this means is, we must find out what was being said in their day. We must find out what it meant to them, in their day, in their culture. After we understand their meaning, we start to resolve some of these difficulties we have. We need to remember that the Bible can never mean what it never meant and words used can never mean what they never meant. What I mean by that is, statements in the Bible can never mean today what they didn't mean to them in that day. So, we must determine THEIR meaning to better enlighten our understanding.

What if I asked you, "Did Adam and Even believe in God?" The answer would probably be, of course, they did. They walked with God and talked directly to God. Of course, they believed in God.

What if I asked you, "Did the children of Israel, who were rescued from Egypt, saw manna come from the sky, led by a cloud by day and fire by night, seen water come from a rock, did they believe in God?" Many would think that was a dumb question. They saw all these wonders, they knew they were children of God, the people of God, of course, they believed in God.

When we study Scripture, we need to use Scripture to help us identify language and grammar differences from our own. Because of these differences we often believe one thing is being said and we actually miss the point being made in the time of the Bible. The English language is very flat, two dimensional; while the Hebrew and Greek languages are very full, three dimensional. Let me show you through this grammatical difference between our meaning of "believe in" and the Biblical meaning of "believe in".

If you look at Psalms 78, you will notice David talking about how the children of Israel were given the Laws of God so that they may walk in them and teach them to their children (vs 5-6). In this, they will set their hope in God, so that they will not be a stubborn and rebellious generation like the forefathers were (vs 7-8). He refers to the children of Ephraim running from battle, the forefathers not keeping the covenant and Law, and they forgot all the things God had done (vs 9-16). They sinned against God, rebelling against Him. They tested Him in THEIR HEARTS and asked for even more; after He had already provided for them (vs 17-18). Because of this, David said,

"Therefore the Lord heard this and was furious;
So a fire was kindled against Jacob,
And anger also came up against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God,
And did not trust in His salvation" Psalms 78:21-22

Did you catch that? The children of Israel knew OF God but they did not believe IN God. Even though they saw all these things, they did not believe that God would do what He said He would do. Therefore; they complained, they wanted more than what He had already provided, and they sinned against His Commands.

I believe the purpose statement of Psalms 78 is this:

"God has appointed to us salvation, not only from the enemy but also in provision; not of our plan based on our worldly desires but on the plan of God and His desires for us. We need to find satisfaction and trust in God and His plan and be content with the provision of basic needs. We need not provoke God to jealousy by continuing in sin that is His purpose to save us and by constantly seeking after more worldly pleasures; for when we do, this means we don't BELIEVE IN the sufficiency of His salvation and care of our lives."

In Psalms 78:22 and 32, we are told that the children of Israel did not believe IN God and did not believe IN His wondrous works. I don't believe this was a mental belief because they saw and partook of the wonders of God. The language of the time is telling us something more.

The Hebrew word for "believed in" is "aman" which is to support. They saw what was being done but they did not support the decision of God. They had no problem believing IN God as to know that He is real and what He did was real, yet they did not agree with the manner in which God did it. This is actually the same meaning as "believe in" in John 3:16. Its meaning is to "entrust our well being to God" or "to Christ". It's to support the decision and trust His will for our lives in how we are supposed to live. When we understand this, we then come to the understanding that Adam and Eve did not BELIEVE IN God. God said, "Do not eat of this tree or you will die" and satan said, "Eat of this tree and you will not die but rather be like God". Adam and Eve BELIEVED IN the provision of satan and not the provision of God. They chose to be like God rather than live with God for eternity.

What does this mean to us? It's simple - really.
Christ said, "You shall not lust" (Matt 5:27-28) but if you're looking at others in want, using the "just looking at the menu" cliche; if you're watching porn even soft porn, then what your saying is, "I don't BELIEVE IN what Christ said about not lusting".

Christ said, "do not swear... but let your yes be yes and your no be no" (Matt 5:33-37) yet you continue to lie and take oaths, what your saying is "I don't BELIEVE IN what Christ said about honesty"

Christ said to love your enemy doing "good to those who hate you and blessing those who curse you" (Matt 5:43-48). Yet, when you strive for revenge, when you refuse to help those who have done bad things to you, you refuse to forgive (Matt 6:15), what your saying is, "I don't BELIEVE IN Christ's instruction that its best to forgive and do good to those who do bad".

This could go on and on; but the crux of this is, "who ever BELIEVES IN Him" is not a mental belief but rather a person who says, "I BELIEVE IN Christ's Lordship over my life and that He knows what is best; therefore, I will follow Him as LORD, declaring His Laws right for my life". The opposite of this would be seeing what is said, but live a life that is in pursuit of the world and its pleasures while forsaking what Christ has said. You can say the prayer and ask Jesus in your heart but if you do not follow the instructions of Christ you do not BELIEVE IN Christ.

This is why Jesus said, at the end of John 3 where the famous John 3:16 verse is located,

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him

(John 3:36)

When we read this statement we often throw in a word that is not there. We read "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe [in] the Son shall not see life…" We add the word "in" into the second statement and that one little two letter word changes the meaning totally.

When you look at the statement, "he who does not believe", the words "not believe" comes from the Greek word "apeitheō". This is a Greek word meaning "to obey not". It was used 16 times and its uses were translated to "disobedient". If we really believe in Christ, we believe His commands are good for our life; and we follow those commands. This is not legalism, it's part of a covenant. This is why He can talk about the will of the Father and "if you love me keep my commands". It's not that we are doing it to be saved, we are doing it because we love Him and put our faith in the fact that He knows what is best for our lives. Believe in is not as easy as some try to portray because we must let go of our lives, let go of control over our lives, and give our lives over to Christ for His control. This means we could lose everything this world has to offer, but we know that it's for His Glory and we believe that He knows best. And it does not matter to us if we lose everything because our real treasure is in Christ.

We often say this, but do we really mean it? We often say that Jesus is our everything and nothing else matters, but do we really mean what we say? Are we willing to part with everything? Are we willing to go to areas of this world that are filled with undesirable people? Are we willing to stop living a life that looks so much like non-believers, with focus' identical to non-believers, and start living a life that is radically different from the world?

" If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple"
(Luke 14:26)

"whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple"
(Luke 14:33)