Did you know a person can believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and still not be saved? Many people have been belief and had preached into them these Biblical truths: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved" as quoted fromActs 16:31, or from Christ's own words in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life", as well as other Scriptures that say salvation comes by "faith (belief) alone" and it's not as a result of works as clearly explained in Ephesians 2:8-9. These statements are absolutely true! It is only by faith we are saved, and only by belief that God redeems us and adopts us into his eternal family as heirs with Christ! We cannot earn any of it.
So what am I saying? I am here to tell you that some of the most hideous heresies come from taking Bible passages out of context of the whole counsel of God as given by the Holy Spirit inspired Word. While is it true Jesus and Paul and all the new testament writers spoke much about the fact that God saves those who "believe", we must absolutely know, teach and preach how God defines belief! Jesus and the Apostles all wrote much about what this faith is. It's not enough to bark out one line Bible quotes like these 3 verses above if we do not very clearly define Biblical Faith as Scriptures define it.
All sorts of well meaning people have "Faith", but are lost and still in their sins. We love to make pretty signs and symbols that say "Believe" or "Have Faith" or talk about the 1st Corinthians 13 concluding statement of the greatest attributes to possess as Faith, Hope and Love!
But we must be very diligent and very careful to not let these words stand alone and be defined by every person's whims! They are useless and meaningless left on their own. We cannot and MUST not assume other people know what the heck we are talking about when we say, "Just have Faith"!
There are two types of Faith according to Christ. One type that deceives and one type that saves. Jesus made it clear many times what saving faith really is, and what kind of love is good, and what type of hope is ultimately beneficial and of lasting value.
You see you can have faith in God for the wrong things. You may hope in the wrong things and you may have love for the wrong things. It's not enough to say Faith- Hope- Love and sing Kumbaya and let's all get along.
Jesus came to bear a CROSS, and so too must YOU, if he is to be YOUR master. Many people are just "fans", but few are the "followers". Here is the difference in people who believe and are not saved and those who believe and are saved. True Biblical faith is repentant faith. True faith is humble faith. True faith is obedient faith. It's not perfect faith, we all stumble, and God is gracious, but real saving faith costs us greatly. Matter of fact, it costs you your entire life. Jesus said, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Here again Jesus is telling us clearly that you can believe and do all sorts of great things, but be as lost as any sinner in hell! Listen closely to his words.
“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles'. Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you'. “Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.” -Matthew 7:21-27 NCV. Hearing is a form of belief here, but effective belief is that which compels us to obey.
"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." Jhn 14:21. ('Has' is the belief and 'keeps' is the obey)
Conclusion is this: Jesus is telling us that by faith we alone are saved; yes this is true, but faith has feet; it follows and obeys him.
A quick nutshell Gospel message and way to more accurately quote John 3:16 in Biblical context is like this: define belief biblically by adding obediently for clarification. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes (has obedient faith) in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."
When you first have faith, real faith, it comes by Holy Spirit new birth, then this same Spirit God leads you into dying to self and living for Jesus. If this is not your life experience; If your love for Jesus is not a compelling drive to sacrifice your life for him and seek out ways to better serve him, you too may be an idol lover, and your love may well be in vain. Many lost Hindus love Jesus and have shrines dedicated to him in their homes and pray to him also.
Examine your hearts and your lives. Don't be fooled by 'out of context' Bible passages that get you close to heaven, but never really knowing the this living God that demands you bear your cross, just as he bore his.
You don't have to be among those who hear, "Depart from me, I never knew you!"
Repentance and obedience is in order for us today and tomorrow. Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, so walk in him... Those who 'know' him, who received him in repentant humble obedient faith must go daily in this attitude. Teach others likewise and preach a complete Gospel message, lest you lead others deceptively close to heaven, but never helping them enter in.