Saturday, January 21, 2012

Belief and Faith

       Belief is an integral part of any person's life. Likewise, faith is a major component in our lives. Often times these two aspects of life are mistakenly combined as though they are synonymous. Hope is the foundation of faith, and that is why faith is beautiful, but belief is supported by facts that provide a concrete position in which a person relying on those beliefs will be able to stand firm. Belief then opens the gateway to faith.  I write about these ideas because it is important to know the difference between the two. James shows us that belief in God is not what justifies a man, but it is his faith which leaves him justified (James 2:19). You see even the Demons believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that Christ died on a cross, that He is the Son of God, and that He rose on the third day. What separates men from Demons in this respect? A question such as this is why it is extremely important to know why belief and faith are different.

     The Bible reveals that genuine faith produces good works, and though we cannot be justified before God by anything we accomplish (the Bible is clear we can do nothing of eternal value apart from Christ -- John 15:5), a person's attitude, actions, and deeds can help distinguish whether or not the persons spiritual fruit is consistent with someone who has received salvation by placing trust and faith in Christ. James was writing to a group of believers in his New Testament letter. This is key to understanding the context in which works and faith coalesce. James was not writing to men who were claiming they were Christians yet had no fruit; he was writing to men who knew Christ and had surrendered their lives to Him.  His reason for recording this message was to inform the members of the body of believers that there are people who will claim to be in Christ but, in reality, are not. James was not presenting a lecture about working harder in order to maintain faith or salvation.  This is impossible.  Instead, He was providing an example of what genuine faith produces in a person. While it is wrong headed and heretical to claim that works play a part in salvation, for salvation is a transaction, it can be rightly said that a genuine saving faith will drive a man to accomplish good works for the kingdom of God -- and all the more as his relationship deepens with Christ.

    The question that deals with the difference between a demon's belief and a man's belief is answered: to believe as demons do is simply to acknowledge the truth of God and His Word.  In a similar fashion, men can accomplish this type of belief without ever truly knowing, trusting, and placing faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.  Faith in Christ is not only a belief that accepts His existence, it is acknowledging His position as the Son of God, repenting and surrendering everything we have and placing our entire soul in His hands.  It is trusting and believing that by His work on the cross, the sufficiency of his perfect grace, Christ has made a way for us to be made righteous in the sight of God.

    In short, people who wish to know Christ cannot simply stop at believing He exists. Even Satan acknowledges Christ's existence and understands the fact of His deity.  The type of belief and faith that bring a person to the point of salvation involves acceptance and surrender, which requires a volitional belief and faith. As John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." As the unified body of Christ, we should not be led astray by the teaching that belief that Christ is God is sufficient to bring about salvation. We must be sure the world understands that it is through humbly coming before God as people in desperate need to be cleansed of sin by the righteous blood of Christ, placing your full heartfelt belief and faith in the person of Christ, and accepting his gift of grace as the only sufficient Savior that we are saved.


  1. very well written Brooks! It is so true that belief is not enough! And as Christians we must live lives of FAITH not simply belief. I think that's the difference between the Sunday morning Christian and the Christian who takes radical steps of faith in obedience to God. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Brooks,

    Great post, bro! I believe you have pinpointed an important distinction that could be simply stated as not merely believing ABOUT Jesus but believing IN/ TRUSTING/ ACCEPTING Jesus. I think you have maintained a proper position of soteriology, but because this can be a slippery slope, I want to address a core Biblical teaching: belief and faith in Jesus Christ are the only prerequisites of Biblical salvation.

    In recent years there has been a resurgence of heretical teachings (even in my own denomination) that salvation involves human efforts and that a person must first "get cleaned up" and "stop sinning" before they can be saved. While repentance and confession are a part of salvation, nowhere in scripture does it teach we must stop sinning first before we can be saved. Who could be saved based on that requisite? They have it completely backward. This teaching further espouses that a person’s salvation cannot be solidified or affirmed UNTIL they have produced good works. It also teaches that the saved will no longer struggle with sin. A Christian that backslides is not a Christian at all. What Christian has not experienced periods of peaks and valleys in their relationship with God? The Bible is very clear that we are not free entirely (although freed positionally) from the struggle of the flesh until we are with God in Heaven. Even the Apostle Paul acknowledged his ongoing struggle with the flesh (Romans 7:19) - that didn't make him unsaved nor were the Christians he wrote to unsaved because of their struggles with sin. Paul even called some of the Corinthians "carnal" but he also called them saints. There is no room for this in the teaching of Lordship salvation.

    This heresy is known by many names but is commonly called "Lordship Salvation." John MacArthur, John Piper, Paul Washer, Ray Comfort, and others teach salvation is dependent upon first rejecting sin as a prerequisite, then producing good works as a requisite for sanctification, and no longer struggling with sin.

    This is not only disingenuous and completely disconnected from the reality of the fallen world we live in, it is clear cut heresy. Jesus is the Lord of every saved person, but we are not saved BY our good works; we are saved by FAITH which PRODUCES good works (see Romans 4:5-6, Romans 10:3-4, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:8,9, etc). According to Lordship doctrine, salvation is a PROCESS that is dependent upon works instead of being a truly free gift and a redemptive faith based reconciliation/ justification made possible by the transaction that took place on the cross, which is THE complete, all sufficient, work.

    So basically, Lordship Salvation denies the transactional view and leaves in doubt the assurance of salvation because, at its core, it is a works based system that would rob the Gospel of one of it's major distinctions from every other world religion - that man can earn salvation. It is a heresy that confuses the doctrine of progressive sanctification and discipleship, which simply teach that God continues to work in the life of the believer to mold our desires to be more and more in the pattern of Christ.