As I've been going through the gospels, looking at what each writer has to say on the topic of the gospel or good news, I have to pause to include what the gospel according to John has to say on the topic of being a believer. The word believe shows up more in John than in Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined. I'd like to look at some of them here.
What essential things need to be believed in order to be a believer?
Keep in mind that John would not have assumed his readers had access to all the other NT books, or had our modern theological mindset. We should assume John is writing with enough details to achieve the goal of vs 20:31 "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
Would John's readers concluded we must believe the following:
- God is holy.
- We are sinners.
- Our sins separates us from God.
- The just penalty for our sins is eternal torment in Hell.
- Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross so we can be with God for eternity
What do you think it meant to John to be a believer?
Here are some verses from the gospel of John (all Scripture NIV):
1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.
3:14-18 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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.
3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
4:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
4:53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.
6:69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
7:31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
8:30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
9:36-38 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
10:42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
12:36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
12:37 [ Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews ] Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.
12:44-46 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me.
17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John gives a picture of a simple belief. John described people believing in Jesus' name, that He was the savior, the Messiah, the Son of God, or Lord.
Interesting there is never a list of all the essential beliefs in one verse or passage.
According to John, what do you think are the essential beliefs to be a believer?