What Does It Mean to Believe?
“Believe” is the action word for “faith”. In the original New Testament language, the word for “believe” was the verb form of the noun for “faith”. You “believe” simply by putting faith into action.
What is faith, and how do we put it into action? Faith is, by definition, a hopeful acknowledgement that something is true without anyone proving it to our satisfaction first. When we hope for something with conviction and have an assurance that our unseen hope will be realized, that is faith.
To use faith in asking Jesus to be our Savior, is to believe with saving faith. The same is true when we believe that Jesus died for our sins and will come into our lives to have relationship with us. It is a one-time decision. We don’t have to exercise saving faith over and over to get to Heaven. However, during our whole lives we can believe as a result of our decision. In fact, faith perpetuates more faith. Faith is something everybody knows how to do. For example, if you sit in a chair you are having faith that it will hold you up. We all use faith many times a day, often without noticeably thinking about it.
When we become saved, faith is something that gets stronger the more we exercise it. We learn gradually how best to apply it in an effective way, and we develop it like a skill. We would be wise to remember, the power initiated by our faith is the power of Almighty God, not that of ourselves.
Faith takes risk. But life is full of risks. For example, if we waited for proof before following our dreams, we would never take any risks at all, and none of us would be a success at anything. Take the risk of believing in Jesus and you will be saved even though you had to risk that it was true. Believing in Jesus is a risk worth taking. Choose the kind of risk that initiates your salvation rather than prevents it. It takes risk to reject Jesus too. That is not a risk worth taking.
To believe in Jesus as your Savior also means to believe in truths associated with Him as Savior. For example, if you don't believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, you do not believe in Jesus. If you don't believe Jesus is the "King of Kings", you do not believe in Jesus. As much as people try, they cannot change Jesus by making up their own ideas of what He is or isn't. To be saved, we believe in the real Jesus and let Him be Himself.
Here is another way of looking at the meaning of “believe”. In today’s world, if you have a friend who is going for a job interview, you might encourage the person by saying “You’ll do great. I BELIEVE in you.” You do not mean “I believe you exist”. You are expressing a positive, considerate thought about who your friend is. That is also true about believing in Jesus.
By believing in Jesus, you are expressing your support personally to Him for who He truly is. Believing in Him is as easy as being a friend. In our culture we like the saying, “I love you just the way you are.” That phrase is a way of saying, “I believe in you.” God loves us just the way we are, so why not decide to love Him just the way He is by faith?
A believer is called a believer because they believe. Believing produces righteousness and peace in us. “By faith we have been made righteous. Therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Believing is an ongoing practice of the believer. “The righteous shall live by faith”. We “walk by faith, not by sight.”
There are many other words or phrases that basically mean the same thing as believing in Jesus. For example, “receiving Jesus” means the same thing and depicts an openness of heart to let Him be in your life and even into your being as “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” as it says in Proverbs. “Accepting Jesus” is another term people use that is synonymous for believing in Jesus. Some people say, “Trust in Jesus for your salvation”. It all means the same thing. Receive Him, accept Him, trust Him, believe in Him, it’s all good.