"Do you believe this?" An amalgam of pertinent considerations
Jesus said to [Martha], "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
Brothers and sisters. What is the aim of our evangelism, what are the objectives of our endeavors? Simply put, we are seeking men and women to believe the "this" of Christ's question in John 11:26.
Friend, Jesus is the resurrection and the life! He guarantees eternal life and resurrection to all who believe in Him! Do you believe this? To believe this is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! How do we know that to be true? Martha sufficiently informs us in her answer to Jesus in John 11:27
She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God"
Those who have a general and arbitrary understanding of what John means when he says "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (Jn 20:31) wholesale disregard a careful consideration of the only other usage of the phrase "the Christ, the Son of God" in John's epistle. The discussion with Martha NAILS it (Jn 11:25-27).
Imagine this scenario:
A professor was to say this to a student: "I am the dispenser of homework assignments, the dispenser of tests, the grader of work, the chief in this classroom. Do you believe this?"
and the student said:
"Yes. I believe that you are the professor, the teacher of the classroom."
In such a situation, we would clearly identify that believing that the first speaker is "the professor, the teacher [of the] classroom", is believing that he is "the dispenser of homework assignments, the dispenser of tests, the grader of work, the chief in [the] classroom."
This is common sense!
To believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, in its Johannine, soteric usage, is to believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life, the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him!
Martha's answer is nothing but a full blown Johannine confession! And it is the only other instance of the phrase consisting of the appositional construction "the Christ, the Son of God" (which we find only in Jn 11:27 & Jn 20:31)! Martha's answer fully discloses for us the import of the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, which makes such belief salvific. John has gone through great pains to define for us how one receives everlasting life (which by the way is the topic of his gospel!). The bottom line for Jesus and John in his writing is that they want us to know, certainly, that we have everlasting life by trusting Jesus, for if we don't, we haven't exercised saving faith, we haven't believed "this"!
1 Timothy 1:16
However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him [Jesus] for eternal life.
"The apostle Paul sums up what Martha, and every Christian, believes when they come to faith in Christ: "However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1 Timothy 1:16). In order to be saved, we must believe on Jesus for everlasting life. On the basis of His death and resurrection, He always fulfills His guarantee to give everlasting life to all who believe in Him for it. Martha did not decide to believe in Jesus for eternal life. She was convinced of the truth of what Jesus said and hence she believed in Him in the biblical sense." (Bob Wilkin, Saving Faith in Focus, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society)
Throughout the Johannine gospel, John uses the technical phrase denoting saving faith, "pisteuw eis" ("believe in"), in other words, believe in Jesus. Whenever, in any language, someone uses the phrase "believe in" something, the context determines what is the content of that belief.
There are no exceptions!
A quarterback telling a wide receiver, "I believe in you"
(quarterback trusts wide receiver that he can make the play)
A father telling his wife, "I believe in the babysitter"
(father trusts that the babysitter is qualified to take care of his children)
A passenger telling another, "I believe in the airline pilot"
(passenger trusts that the pilot is qualified to take care of his air travel)
A Narcotics Anonymous participant telling a friend, "I believe in the program"
(NA participant trusts that the program works)
The candidate for class president telling the assembly of students, "Believe in me!"
(prospective executive asking the student body to trust him to exceed their expectations in getting the job done)
The teenager telling his folks as he takes the family car out for the day, "Believe in me!"
(teen is asking that they trust him for the well-being of the car)
Jesus says, "whoever believes in Me will not perish but has everlasting life. The one who believes in Me will live. The one who believes in Me shall never die, even into eternity."
Why the disconnect?!!
The context is eternal well-being, and Jesus is saying He is the Savior from perishing and the Guarantor of eternal life! Whoever trusts in Him as the one guaranteeing that they will never perish, but have eternal life, will never perish but have eternal life. The gospel of John is full of these passages and contexts. When He says, "Whoever believes in me shall never perish but have everlasting life" the context is clear. He is eliciting trust in Him FOR the guarantee that they will not perish and FOR everlasting life.
This is the meaning of "believe in" Him in those many contexts in the gospel of John. Jesus is saying, "Believe in Me!", in other words, "Trust Me for your eternal well-being!" There is no other way to take these passages and contexts. You will injure simple interpretation of them by taking them in any other way. Jesus is seeking to get them to rely upon Him for their eternal destinies. He shows Himself authoritative so that people will trust Him.
If I said "I believe in the babysitter" in the context of going out for the evening with my wife, let it be known I certainly mean that I am entrusting the well-fare of my children to the babysitter. When Jesus says that "...whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (Jn 3:16) the context is clear. He wants us to entrust our eternal destiny to Him. If I do believe in Him, as the John 3:16 context shows for us, I know that I have everlasting life and will never perish, for the guarantee is inexorably linked to His promise.
Saving faith is believing in Jesus for everlasting life. It is trusting Jesus to guarantee your eternal well-being.
We all agree that saving faith is believing in Jesus. But that statement is useless and worthless without a context. When I say I believe in the babysitter, I don't mean I trust her with my taxes or medical diagnosis! Believing in the babysitter has an irreducible content based upon the context. And that is that you trust the care of your children into her hands.
The same with believing in Jesus. It is as simple as trusting your eternal care into His hands. And when you do that, you know FOR CERTAIN that you are saved. Why? Faith is conviction that something is true. If I believe in Jesus when He says all who believe in Him will never perish and have everlasting life, I consider it true. Therefore, I know I will never perish and I know I have everlasting life.
The saving message is "believe in Jesus"
"doubt in Jesus"
The gospel of John is not complex. It is very simple, and he states the saving message throughout the gospel. WHOEVER, no exceptions, believes in Him (and in the context we know that believing in Him is entrusting our eternal destiny to Him, in other words, believing in Him FOR eternal life) has everlasting life. If someone reads the gospel of John and doesn't get that message, I would suggest they take the blindfolds off.
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Why was Abraham accounted righteous? Simply because he believed that what God had promised He was able to perform. In other words, Abraham trusted God for the promise, therefore he was accounted righteous.
A friend who once held the view that I take stated the following about this verse: "they need to know His promise and they need to be fully convinced that what He promised He is also able to perform." I say, Amen! And if they are fully convinced of His promise, they know they have it, thus assurance being of the essence of saving faith.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might still perish, but at least has eternal life for the time being." (Pseudo Jn 3:16)
Is this a saving understanding of this verse?
"And I give them eternal life, and they might still perish; and someone might snatch them out of My hand." (Pseudo Jn 10:28)
Is a hope-so confidence about going to heaven good enough?
Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (Jn 4:10)
Does it really matter if you know what the gift is?
Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; and whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him might thirst again; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life, well, maybe." (Pseudo Jn 4:13-14)
Could it really be said that the woman believed Jesus if she reinterpreted His words in this manner?
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)
Does it really make any difference if you "believe this"?
Can you believe Jesus or believe in Jesus in the manner He describes without believing "this"? And what is "this," but that the believer is guaranteed eternal life?