John 3:16-1816 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. NIV from Bible Gateway.com
The Apostle Paul told his jailer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31). That Philippian man and his household had saving faith-they accepted the invitation and joined God's family.
Saving faith has three elements: knowledge, conviction, and trust... To believe in Jesus as our Savior, we need to know who He is, what He accomplished, and why it was necessary.
WHO IS JESUS? He is deity-God the Son. At the request of God the Father, Jeus set aside His divine rights, took on human form and dwelled on earth (Phil. 2:6-7).
WHAT DID HE ACCOMPLISH? Jesus lived a perfect life, which qualified him to be our substitute: He stood in our place and bore God's judgement for our sins. His death on the cross made a way for us to be forgiven and experience peace with God.
WHY DID HE HAVE TO DIE? We could not save ourselves, since our "good deeds" are all marred by our sin nature. When we accept Christ's atoning work, we go from being God's enemy to becoming a member of His family...
Knowledge without conviction and trust does not bring salvation. Even the demons understood that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 4:41). Do you believe what you know to be true?
John 1:12-1312 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. NIV from Bible Gateway.com
... Knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did must be accompanied by confidence that the facts are true and apply to us.
First, it's important to realize, I have broken God's law-that makes me a sinner. All of us are born with a nature that rebels against the Lord. Second, we acknowledge that none of our efforts can earn His favor. Third, we agree that Jesus died for each of us. He paid for all our sins, no matter how terrible they are in the world's eyes.
Next, we believe that Jesus' death is sufficient payment for our wrong-doing; nothing else is needed. We must accept that He paid our penalty and endured the Father's wrath in our place. Finally, we accept by faith that we've been adopted into God's family on the basis of Christ's atoning death. The invitation is for all humanity, but not everyone has true conviction. Too many people see these facts as "information" rather than life-altering truths.
Once we are convinced that Jesus is our Savior, trust is demonstrated through action. As a "new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17), we each are no longer who we once were, and there are different values and priorities for us to embrace. Jesus, our Lord, has authority over our life, and He alone deserves to be our top priority. He knows what pleases the Father and has sent His Spirit to live in us and teach us.
Take time to examine yourself for evidence of knowledge, conviction, and trust. If one area is lacking, ask God to help you come to true saving faith.
Stanley, Charles F. "What It Means to Believe in Jesus" & "Saving Faith." In Touch: Daily Readings For Devoted Living, June 2016. Atlanta: In Touch Ministries. pages 20 & 21.