“What if I don’t believe?”

If a person doesn’t believe, is that it – no belief equals no salvation? It appears that way in Romans 10:9, which says, “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Does that mean if a person doesn’t confess and doesn’t believe, he won’t be saved? And if it does mean that – and belief really is that important – then how, pray tell, do we come up with the necessary belief in the first place?

Paul’s answer is simple: “faith comes from hearing the message,” verse 17. Ah, so faith, or belief, isn’t something WE have to we come up with, it’s something that’s stirred IN us by hearing “the word of Christ” (same verse). That’s how belief is triggered. The message does it.

What message, though? In context, it’s that “righteousness comes from God,” verse 3. All that we need for our salvation is God’s doing. Through Jesus Christ HE’s taken care of our salvation every step of the way (verses 11 and 13). And when we hear that message – properly and accurately explained (verses 14-15), belief is not far behind.

And the reason belief is not far behind is because God put it in us to believe, verse 8 – “The word is near you; it is IN your mouth and IN your heart.” It’s not difficult for us, therefore, to accept and believe that God has everything worked out for us. It’s what, deep down, we hoped and suspected about God – that he loves us, he forgives us, he’s merciful toward us, and he never gives up on us. So when we hear in the gospel message that God REALLY IS totally forgiving and merciful toward us, as we see in the sacrifice of his Son, we instinctively latch on to it as true.

Paul knew by experience how this worked. “By setting forth the truth plainly,” he writes in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Paul knew that if he preached the right gospel it would ring true in a person’s conscience, at which point belief would be awakened and brought to life.

Belief, therefore, is not something we have to come up with to be saved. It is something God put in us, ready to burst forth in our mouths and hearts on hearing the right gospel. If, therefore, a person doesn’t believe, the first question to ask is: “Has he, or she, heard the right gospel yet?’- because hearing the right gospel is what triggers belief.


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