When Believing in Jesus Can’t Save You

Justin Johnson

“Are you saved?”
“I believe in Jesus.”

If you think this is what saves you, you might be deceived. You say, why wouldn’t someone who believes in Jesus be saved?

Because you can believe in Jesus and not be saved.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in Jesus, too, and think that the salvation of all men is only found in him. Yet, the greatest lies resemble truth. The lie in this false gospel becomes obvious when you consider what is not expressed by this oversimplified statement.

For example, Muslims believe in Jesus: he is considered a prophet in the religion of Islam and the Koran. The Hindus believe in Jesus: he is a great guru for them. Historians believe in Jesus: he was a first century Jew who lived in Galilee. Even the devils in hell believe in Jesus and tremble!

Do you see that there are times when merely believing in Jesus cannot save? Here is how you know when believing in Jesus cannot save you.

When you don’t know who Jesus is.

If you don’t know that Jesus was Christ, the Son of God, then he cannot save you. Jesus said:

“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” – John 8:24

This means Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16; Col 2:9). If he is not, he cannot be your Saviour (Titus 2:13). God is the only Saviour (Isa 43:11). If Jesus is not the fullness of the Godhead bodily, then he is an imposter, a liar, or worse.

When you don’t know what Jesus did.

Why did Jesus need to die? If you don’t know, then let me be frank: you are not saved, but you can be.

Maybe he was not crucified at all like the Koran wrongly teaches? Perhaps he died naturally, or died without blood like some false Bibles teach. If he did not die, shedding his blood, cursed on a cross, then your sins cannot be forgiven (Eph 1:7; Heb 9:22).

Without the cross, God has no means to save anyone.

Did he not rise from the dead? Then, you have no proof Jesus was Christ, no hope of glory, no comfort in death, no salvation from sins, and no expectation of eternal life (Rom 4:25; Matt 12:40; 1 Thess 4:14).

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” – 1 Corinthians 15:17

When Jesus did not complete the work.

James, the apostle to the twelve tribes, writes that faith without works is dead. Mere belief in Jesus does not justify unto salvation. After all, even the devils believe and know who Jesus is:

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”- James 2:19

“And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.” – Luke 4:41

James was teaching justification to the twelve tribes of Israel under their law covenant. This was not written with the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, the gospel of God’s grace.

The gospel of grace is that Christ did all the work necessary for your salvation (Rom 4:5; Titus 3:5). This is called grace, and it is offered freely (Rom 3:24).

There is nothing else that need be done (Col 2:10). How can this be? Christ did it all. Your only response is faith.

The only way to be saved is by grace through faith, and this is only possible if the work needed to save you was completed by Christ, the object of your faith.

If you think you must contribute some work in order to seal the deal with God, then believing in Christ is not enough to save you. You are not trusting his finished work on your behalf (i.e his grace to you).

How Believing in Jesus Can Save You

The Lord Jesus Christ revealed the gospel that saves any man today to the apostle Paul. This gospel of grace allows Christ to save through mere belief in the gospel of Christ (Eph 1:13)

“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” – Romans 3:25

Before that time, the righteousness of God to save by faith alone was not known, and so faith by itself would impugn the righteousness of God to save (James 2:20).

Christ had to make himself known to Israel for people to believe who he was, he had to die and resurrect for men to know what he did, and the mystery of the gospel had to be revealed before belief could stand alone without works, law, or Israel (i.e. pure grace).

There was a time when belief in Jesus was either impossible, or insufficient, but now according to the revelation of the mystery, faith in Christ is what saves upon hearing the gospel of the grace of God.

Jesus was God in the flesh who died for your sins, rose from the dead, and revealed the gospel of his finished work having done everything necessary for your salvation. Trust him to be saved according to the gospel of grace.

If you don’t know who Jesus is, what he did, or fail to trust his finished work, then believing in Jesus cannot save you.

Are you saved?

“I believe in Jesus”

So what. What do you believe about him? How does he save you? How do you know?

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Published: December 30, 2017
Last Modified: October 15, 2019
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