“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.” John 3:16
John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s written on hand-held signs at sporting events, emblazoned on clothing, and plastered on billboards. And we all assume that we know what this verse means: If you “believe in Jesus,” you’ll be saved.
“Just believe! It’s that simple.” I’ve heard this comment so many times. Is that really all it takes to become a Christian? Is simple belief all the assurance we need that we’re heading for heaven?
Some parts of the Bible clearly support a “yes” answer to these questions. Here are a few verses (out of many possible examples):
A dear friend of ours suffered a massive heart attack yesterday morning. As of last night he had not yet regained consciousness, needed a respirator to breathe, and had no brain function. Doctors are giving him a 1% chance of survival—as a vegetable.
Family and friends are gathered at the hospital, and of course we’re praying for a miracle. That’s what believers do, right? But in spite of our professions of faith, it seems that very few of the pray-ers actually believe in miracles. And, they assume, if God does intervene, He only does so on exceedingly rare occasions. As their church pastor pointed out, she had never actually seen a miracle. The whole concept was hypothetical.