Who Is a "Believer"?
The term "believer" holds profound significance, encapsulating the essence of faith, trust, and commitment to the person of Yeshua (Jesus). It's often used as a synonym for a Christian, but the terms shouldn't be confused. All true believers are Christians but not all who claim Christianity actually believe in Christ. A believer is someone who has encountered the transformative power of the Gospel, responding with faith in Yeshua as Lord and God.
The Declaration of a Believer: "My Lord and My God"
One of the most powerful definitions of what it means to be a believer comes from what happened in the days following the resurrection. After Yeshua's crucifixtion, burial, and resurrection, some of His friends doubted the reports they had heard of His resurrection. Herein, we see the full progression from an unbeliever to one Yeshua Himself described as a "believer."
We look to the Gospels' account of Yeshua and Thomas. Having not yet seen the resurrected Christ, Thomas doubts the resurrection. In the absence of his own firsthand experience and convicting proof, Thomas states, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Eight days later, Yeshua comes to Him and tells Thomas to "not continue in disbelief, but be a believer” (John 20:27). After encountering the risen Christ, Thomas declares, "My Lord and my God!" Thomas' confession encapsulates the essence of true belief — an acknowledgment of Yeshua not only as eternally alive but also as the Lord and God Himself.
In unbelief, Thomas lacked the evidence he felt was required for his own conviction. When He became convicted, Thomas became a believer. While the evidence that convicted Thomas was actually quite visible and tangible, the same principle applies to all. To be a believer is to have full conviction of Yeshua as the ever-living Lord and God.
Yeshua responds to Thomas' declaration in John 20:29, saying, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." This statement extends the blessing of belief to all future generations of believers who, like Thomas, trust in the reality of Yeshua's resurrection, lordship, and divinity without seeing Him in the flesh.
At the heart of being a believer is faith, a concept foundational to Christian doctrine. The Bible defines faith in Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Faith, then, is not blind trust nor does it require imperical evidence, but true faith is a confident assurance in Christ. From that flows confidence in the truth of God's promises, particularly in the full sufficiency of the redemptive work of Christ Yeshua.
Ephesians 2:8-9 further emphasizes the centrality of faith in salvation: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Believers recognize that salvation is not earned through human effort but is received through faith in Christ's finished work on the cross.
The Believer's Confession of Yeshua as Lord
As in Thomas' example, a pivotal aspect of being a believer is the confession of Yeshua as Lord. In Romans 10:9-10, the apostle Paul articulates the connection between belief and confession: "if you confess with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."
This confession goes beyond a mere acknowledgment of historical facts; it involves a heartfelt recognition of Yeshua's lordship and a voluntary surrender to His authority. It is through this confession that believers publicly declare their allegiance to Christ and enter into a covenant relationship with Him. Belief, therefore, is central to salvation. Those who are believers are those who are saved into eternal life.
You can read more about this saving belief here.
The Life of a Believer
The transformative power of belief in Yeshua is the catalyst for the Biblical concept of regeneration. Belief in Yeshua brings about a radical transformation, where believers are no longer bound by their old sinful nature but are made new through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Ephesians 4:22-24 further expounds on this transformation, urging believers to "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
Central to Christian belief is the conviction that Yeshua conquered sin and death through His resurrection. The Apostle Paul underscores the significance of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:17, stating, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." Believers, then, anchor their faith not only in the crucifixion but in the victorious resurrection of Yeshua, affirming His triumph over sin and death.
The resurrection is not a distant historical event but a living reality for believers. Romans 8:11 assures, "If the Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." The resurrection power is presently at work in the lives of believers, bringing spiritual life and transformation.
A crucial aspect of being a believer is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God in immaterial persona. In John 14:16-17, Yeshua promises to send the Holy Spirit to be with believers: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you."
The Holy Spirit not only empowers believers for righteous living but also serves as a seal and guarantee of their future inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). The indwelling Holy Spirit guides, convicts, comforts, and empowers believers, facilitating an intimate relationship with God. By believing in Christ, believers too believe in the Holy Spirit.
The call to be a believer extends beyond personal salvation to a mission of witness and proclamation. In Acts 1:8, Yeshua commissions His followers, saying, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to testify to the transformative power of the Gospel and the lordship of Yeshua.
Being a believer is not a passive acknowledgment of religious doctrines but a dynamic, life-transforming encounter with the living God. It involves faith as the foundation, confession of Jesus as Lord, recognition of His divinity, and a surrender to His authority. The transformative power of belief is evident in regenerative new life and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which leads believers to live as new creations and empowered witnesses. Ultimately, being a believer is a holistic commitment to follow Christ, acknowledging Him not only as Savior but as Lord and God, echoing the profound confession of Thomas: "My Lord and my God!"