I received the following question:

Nathan, last Sunday our preacher taught on the following verses:
23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
(John 2:23-25 KJV)

The preacher’s point was that because these people believed they were saved. He said you don’t have to go down front, say a sinner’s prayer, asking Jesus into your heart, or the like to be saved. (He sure was taking away some of the methods that are used by churches to get members.) He pointed to verses that say if you believe you will be saved, thus these people in John 2:23 were saved according to him because they believed. Nothing else was needed.

At men’s prayer on Tuesday the subject of the sermon came up. I said I did not think that these people were necessarily saved. I tried to make a point that these people live a different time than us. The conversation moves on and one is not able to build a case for what he said.

Later after thinking about it, I should have asked what do we have to believe in to be saved. Believe in Christ’s death and resurrection? The people of verse 23 believed in what? That Jesus was the promised one?

So the question is, Did these people and others, who live to see and hear Christ, have eonian life because they believed? Could you explore the topic a little more?

In The Word Of Truth magazine Vol. 10- No. 3 there is an article by H. Julien called The Case Of Judas Iscariot. The subject is the contradiction between Mat. 27:3-8 and Acts 1:18-19. This may make an article for Precepts on contradictions.

The important question to ask in this case would be “what does it mean to believe in His name?” I believe that one’s name is one’s reputation, and a true name is a true reputation based on your true character. These people believed in the Lord’s reputation, but what reputation was that? That He was a miracle worker? That He came from God? That He was a prophet? This does not say that they believed the gospel and thus were saved. The telling statement is that the Lord did not commit Himself unto them. If He is going to identify Himself with someone to the extent that He is going to save that person from sin and death and give that person life forever in Him; well, if He is going to do all that, then He certainly has committed Himself unto him. How could He possibly be going to be a person’s Savior and yet not have committed Himself to that person? This makes no sense. I am afraid your pastor is not being very logical. He is thinking about his doctrine that belief means you are saved, and he is trying to emphasize that to his audience because he wants them to believe and be saved. Yet that hardly makes sense in this case. What is he going to say to his congregation…”The Lord Jesus is going to save you, I think, but He is not really committing Himself”?

I do not believe that we can say one way or the other whether or not these people had eonian life, because we do not know how they responded later on in the Acts period when further light was provided to them. However, I think we can say with some certainty that they were not saved at the time of John 2:23-25. In order to be saved, we must have the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. How could we say that He is our Savior if He has not committed Himself unto us? Certainly we cannot say that. It takes a definite commitment on His part in order for anyone to be saved. This had not happened yet for these people, so we cannot rightfully say that they were saved.

I think the people of John 2 believed that Jesus is the Christ. That is what they were wondering about, and that is what His miracles proved to them. They were not thinking about whether or not He was the Son of God, or whether or not He would die on the cross for our sins, or whether or not He would be resurrected. Those things were not really before them, and there was no way for them to know about them in order for them to think about them. And yes, those are the things that make up our gospel for today. Your pastor does what so many in the Christian world do, reading the gospel of today back into the past where it really has no place.

I pray this helps.