What exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus?

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Question / Comment -  What exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus? 

I read a couple of your other Q&As and one of them said that the way to salvation is to believe that Jesus is the son of God, with an example being the thief on the cross. However, I'm not sure if what I have is genuine belief. I know that Jesus became a man and died on the cross to atone for mankind's sins and I know that he is the son of God, but those just feel like facts to me; even an atheist could read the Bible and reach that conclusion. Am I approaching this wrong or psyching myself out? Or am I just trying too hard? At this point I feel like every direction I take is a wrong one.


JPN Reply:

Hi Anne,

thanks for the question. When we talk about 'believing in Jesus' in regards to salvation, it is both believing certain objective truth as well as trusting in Him for your salvation. 

The objective facts that are to be believed include:

  • That we all have sinned (Rom 3:23) and deserve death / separation from God (Rom 6:23)
  • That Jesus is God (John 1:1, John 8:24)
  • That Jesus is the only way back to the Father (John 14:6)
  • That Jesus came and died for your sins (1 Cor 15:3, 1 John 2:2)
  • That Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day (1 Cor 15: 4)
  • That salvation is now available as a free gift through faith and His grace alone (Eph 2:8)

So these are objective truths that we believe. But it is more than just a mental assent to certain facts. It is also trusting Him and Him alone for your salvation and eternal destiny. And when I say 'trusting Him alone' that means we don't place any trust in other ways that some might thinks gets them to heaven. That includes any other religious figure or trusting in your own good works. 

So, as an example, let's say a person died and came before the Heavenly Gates... and an angel asks 'Why should I let you into heaven?' 

Person 1: "Well, I lived a good life and went to church quite often and tried to treat people equally."

Person 2: "I don't deserve to be let in. I am a sinner and don't deserve heaven. But Jesus died and took my sin to the cross, and my only means of entrance is because of what He did to pay the price that I owed and couldn't pay. My only hope of entrance is by the blood of Jesus that was poured out for my sins."

Which is trusting in Jesus? And which is actually trusting in what they did? Hopefully it is obvious but the 2nd person is trusting in what Jesus did for their salvation. It is they that 'believe in Jesus'. 

Now obviously when you see your own heart, and how far you fell from God's commandments, the offer of salvation by His grace becomes all the more wonderful and one that we should be ever thankful for. And as we learn to go about our day thanking God for what He has done, and who He is, it becomes all the more real in our experience. If you haven't seen that clearly ask God to show you. Ask that He will give you a sense of your own nature and the majesty of what He did, in paying the price to allow you into heaven. God is pleased to honor such a prayer because it is what He wants all of us to see!

I'm not sure which Q&A's you have read but this one on 'assurance' and 'how I know I believe' may help as well:


All the best,


Their Reply

thanks for responding, just one more thought- I did try praying, but it didn't work the first or second or third time. I know this is likely because God has his own plans for everything and my prayer being answered right now wasn't part of it. Do I keep trying until it does work or should I explore ways other than prayer to understand my own nature and God's grace?

JPN Reply:

Hi Anne,

can I ask how long have you believed in Jesus for? Was there a certain point in your life where you made that decision and trusted in Him for salvation or did you grow up in a Christian home?

Jesus taught us to seek and keep on seeking, ask and keep on asking. From the Amplified Bible (which brings out the meaning on the Greek):

Mat 7:7-8 Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

You obviously want to be reading His Word and THANKING HIM as you go about your day. Start thanking Him for what He did on the cross and for salvation, while asking that He will make it clearer to you. He wants us to ask and seek. Don't give up! : )

God Bless!

Their Reply


no, my family isn't religious. I learned about Christianity about 3 years ago in the 6th grade but didn't care that much until a year later. All of 7th grade was the point where I made the decision to trust in Him and salvation I believe. Alright that helps a lot, thank you!

PS I'm sorry I didn't include this in my previous email, but this just occurred to me; I use vain repetition a lot. I've also grown accustomed to informal language, and it's seen in my prayers. Should I make it more formal? 

JPN Reply:

Hey - that's all good. No, don't use formal language with God. Speak to Him like you are speaking to a friend (with respect and reverence of course!). He just wants to hear from you. You don't need to be in any certain place or time to pray. Pray as you go about your day. Prayer is just simply conversing with God. It can be very brief at times. Might just be a quick 'thank you!' It isn't meant to be 'religious' or with any type of fa├žade. Just be honest. Speak what is on your heart and keep thanking Him. It could be for the life He has given you... the family you have... the beautiful day or creation... the blessings He gives you... and obviously what Jesus did for you. And keep saying that you want to know Him better and ask Him to show you more about Himself and salvation. In the Bible Paul prayed for those in Ephesus saying:

Eph 1:16-19 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (17) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (18) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength...

God Bless! : )