From Belief to Salvation: Connecting the Dots
As a child, I would often work the connect-the-dots pages of various coloring books and books designed to keep children busy. In the mind of a young child, it was sometimes difficult for me to recognize the image prior to connecting all the dots in their proper order. However, once I set out to connect the dots in their numbered order, I would begin to see the hidden image come to life. The secret to successfully revealing the hidden image lay in respecting the number order of the dots. The process was simple: Start with dot labeled “1” and look for a dot labeled “2”. Once I found the number “2” dot, I would draw a line from the number “1” dot to the number “2” dot. I would continue this process until the revelation of the image. However, if I connected dots out of their numbered order, then the hidden image would remain hidden and some odd looking image would arise from the work page.
Following the path from belief to salvation is a similar process of moving from one point to the next in a very specific order. The beginning point on this journey to salvation is the process of hearing the necessary evidence to justify and support believing in Jesus Christ. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul referred to the necessity of hearing in order for belief to develop. The apostle Paul wrote: “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:15-17) When we endeavor to teach other people, we are endeavoring to share with them the necessary evidence to support their potential faith or belief. When we spend time in Bible study, we will increase the support for our own faith.
Once a person finds himself convicted or persuaded by the evidence found within the word of God, he must act upon his new found conviction. One might argue that if a person is not convicted enough to act, then that person truly is not truly convicted. Consider a comparison which supports the previous statement. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Take notice that while Jesus did say, “whoever believes in Him,” He also said, “should not perish.” Jesus’ statement is not a promise to all who believe, but is a promise to all who believe and who act upon their belief. Let us now compare John 3:16 with the following verse: “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;” (John 12:42) In this instance, we see that many of the rulers believed in Jesus. However, was their conviction great enough to cause them to confess the name of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. When considering their actions, we can conclude that their belief in Jesus went no farther than a simple agreement with Jesus. Had the rulers who believed been truly convicted and persuaded, then they would have trusted in Jesus, not fearing their peers. However, because of their fear of man, they were unwilling to confess Jesus. Since they were unwilling to confess Jesus Christ, then He would not confess them before His Father in heaven. (cf. Matthew 10:32-33) As a result, those rulers who believed became the one’s excluded by Jesus’ statement “should not perish” as seen earlier in John 3:16.
Let us consider Hebrews 11:6 which reads, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Clearly, one will not be able to please God without faith. However, what type of faith is under consideration in this passage? The faith taught in Hebrews 11:6 is a conviction that God is and a conviction that God rewards those who “diligently seek Him.” Do we see the concept of true conviction bringing forth action within this passage? Most certainly. Look again at the last part of Hebrews 11:6: “must believe . . . that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Who does God reward? God rewards those whose conviction leads them to “diligently seek Him.” A person may say that he believes in Jesus Christ. However, if that person is not convicted enough to “diligently seek” the Lord and Savior, then God will not find that person pleasing.
Consider one final passage which also establishes the principle of conviction producing action. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) The person who is truly convicted or persuaded by the teachings of Jesus Christ will obey His command to be baptized. In other words, when the lost soul acts upon his conviction, thereby obeying Jesus Christ, he will be saved. However, without a conviction leading to action, that lost soul will be condemned.
Let us consider the “dots” traveled on the path to salvation: The lost soul must hear the message of the cross, the message of Jesus Christ. If the lost soul is convicted by the message, then he will have a belief ready for action. Once the lost soul acts upon his new found conviction, he will obey the commands of Jesus Christ. He will obey Jesus’ command to repent of his sins (Luke 13:3), he will obey the command of Christ to confess Him (Matthew 10:32), and he will obey the command of Christ to be baptized (Mark 16:16). At this point, the lost soul will no longer be lost. The Lord will forgive him of his sins and will save his soul. The final “dot” which this new babe in Christ must connect is the death of a faithful child of God. Jesus said, “. . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10b)
Give consideration to where you are standing on your path to salvation? Do you simply believe, but are not convicted enough to act? Have you stopped in the process of “moving” from hearing to believing and believing to acting? If so, then start fresh by returning to a study of God’s word. Listen to the evidence for belief and seek to find the evidence compelling enough for conviction. Once convicted, act upon that conviction by obeying Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, will you complete the pattern of salvation as taught in the word of God.