Yesterday as I began to preach at 8:50, I told the early church folks that just because we got out at 9:20, I did not shorten my sermon. We were just ahead of schedule. At 9:38 when church was over, I told them it was their fault that we did not get out at 9:20 because they kept talking to me and each other about the sermon and Scripture. I preached from John 3:16-18 yesterday, which would seem to be a safe, agreeable Scripture:
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”
For me, the controversy came down to this: Is it enough to believe without obeying? I read that the original Greek word “pisteuo” can also be translated “obey”. (Strong’s Concordance says: those who acknowledge Jesus as the saviour and devote themselves to him.) I also read that in over 200 instances of the word appearing in the New Testament, the King James translators consistently translated it “believe”. My question to the congregation was, what if it means obey or trust or follow? What if the meaning behind pisteuo is really “Anyone who devotes themselves to Him is not condemned.”
It seems as though there are a lot more people who believe in Jesus than obey, trust, and follow Him. Can people believe without following? Of course. Is that enough? That is the question. Believing without following would seem to me to be a broad path as in,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.…”
Which path are you on? Are you a believer and/or follower?