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Believe in yourself sign

What Does It Mean to Believe in Someone?

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I drove past a Lutheran church whose sign read, “God believes in you.”

“He does?” I thought. “But what does He believe about me?”

You see, faith always has content.

When you believe, you always believe something. And when you say you believe in someone (e.g., “I believe in you.” “God believes in you.”), you’re using an idiom that can have different meanings. As the Free Dictionary explains, it can mean:

  • “To have confidence in one’s or someone else’s abilities.”
  • “To be convinced of the existence of something.”
  • “To trust or have faith in someone or something.”
  • “To accept a fact or what someone says as truth.”

For example, when an electrician comes to your house and tells you exactly what must be done to fix your lights, and you answer, “I believe in you,” what are you saying? The context is that your lights need fixing. So, when you say, “I believe in you,” you’re saying that you trust his expertise and his ability to fix the problem.

On the other hand, if a little boy writes a letter to Santa Clause saying, “I believe in you,” he’s saying he believes that Santa exists. Other children might not believe, but he does.

And if parents leave their children for the first time and tell the babysitter, “We believe in you,” the context tells you this is about taking care of children. What the parents are saying is, “We trust you to keep our children safe.”

Once you understand that “I believe in you” is an expression, it’ll clear up some common confusion about salvation.

Do you remember what Paul and Silas said to the Philippian jailer?

He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

The jailer wanted to know how to be saved, and Paul and Silas answered believe in Jesus.

What did they mean in that context?

Did they mean, “Believe that Jesus exists”? No.

Did they mean, “Believe in Jesus’ abilities?” Yes. But more specifically, Paul and Silas meant the jailer should believe something about what Jesus can do for the jailer’s salvation, i.e., that He can save both him and his family.

Just as believing in an electrician means believing he can fix your electrical problem, believing in a Savior means believing He can fix your salvation problem. That’s what He promised to do for every believer—give you eternal, irrevocable, and totally secure salvation. So if you believe in Him, you are saved. Period.

Coming back to that Lutheran church sign—does God believe in you?

Well, that depends on what the sign means.

If it means God believes that you exist, then yes, of course, He does.

But if the sign means God believes in your ability to save yourself, then the answer is absolutely not! God doesn’t believe you can do that at all.

But here’s the good news: it’s precisely because God doesn’t trust in your abilities to save yourself, that He saves you apart from those abilities. He doesn’t believe in what you can do, so He offers you eternal life as a free gift.

Thought for the day: Don’t believe in yourself for salvation. Leave it to the Expert.


2 comments on “What Does It Mean to Believe in Someone?”

  1. Shawn, I recognize that one must believe in Jesus to be saved but is the term “believe” in John 3:16 speaking of one moment of belief or a continuing belief?

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