Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Difference Between Belief and Faith

By Pastor Timothy F. Conklin

The Bible is very clear - saving faith originates through hearing the Word of God. The Bible knows no other avenue or supply for faith which saves. People cannot produce or will biblical faith. Only the Bible produces saving faith. And Romans 10:17 makes it plain and clear that biblical/saving faith comes specifically by hearing the Word of God.

     Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God

One must appreciate that the Bible itself is a gracious gift of God. The Divine revelation of the Scripture cannot be found anywhere else. What God has revealed in the Bible is not knowable in any other way or from any other source. In parallel with the gift or Scripture, one's initial faith-when a person first believes- is likewise God's gracious gift.

     For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

     To all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12,13)

We know from Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." The one thing a person absolutely must have in order to please God is faith. More definitely, one's faith must be in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is simply Satanic fraud to think a person can please God without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, understanding who He is and what He did.

     God has given us eternal life, and thus life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1st John 5:11, 12)

God responds to faith because that is how he made us. He created us to be a people of faith; a people centered and dependent on him, not independent and self-centered.

God has chosen to limit his interaction with human beings by the law or principle or element of faith. Faith in God is essential, irreplaceable. Pleasing God is just not a matter of enthusiasm, dedication, education, discipline, experience, will power, et al. It is a matter of faith.

But it is imperative one recognizes the subtle difference between belief and faith. Merely "believing" is not enough! James 2:19 says the "Devil himself believes ... and trembles." Do you believe you can get on a plane and fly to Florida in just a few hours? Do you truly believe that? Alright then, you are in Florida, yes? Of course not! That's silly.

Just believing doesn't accomplish anything.

Consider an electric lamp. The lamp is designed to give light. It is structured and wired to do that very thing. But if it simply sits or hangs in a room without the electricity plugged in and turned on, it does nothing. Without electricity the lamp is useless as far as its intended purpose is concerned.

Just so, God's purpose in creating humankind was for them to have faith in his instructions and promises revealed in the Bible; to have faith and obey his Word. This is why God created humankind. Do you believe in John 3:16?

     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.

I mean really believe it? Well, so what? Merely believing it won't do you a bit of good.

How about horrible deadly, poison, some fatal neurotoxin? Do you believe if you drink it or ingest it in some way you will surely die? You really do believe that? Well then, are you dead?

You see, only when you act in faith in what you believe does it become actual and effective. Only by acting upon your belief and allowing the object of your faith to do what you believe it is capable of doing, only then can you turn your belief into faith.

Note very carefully, your faith does not do anything to the whatever it is you put your faith in. It simply allows your act of faith to permit the object of your faith to accomplish its nature; the electricity gives light, the poison kills.

When I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not my faith that accomplishes anything but Christ's accomplishments, who by the power and authority to do what he alone can do, does it; namely, become your Savior from sin and death.

Do you believe in benches and chairs? There is only one way for you to turn your belief into faith - sit on a bench or a chair. Understand, your faith does nothing for the bench or chair. Your faith in the bench or chair only allows the bench or chair to accomplish its benchness or chairness; its ability to support you when you sit down on it.

And note this well - the more confident you are in the object of your faith, the less conscious you are of the faith you are exercising in that object.

For Christians, where does saving or biblical faith come from? Ah yes, faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The more you "hear" the word of God, the more your faith will develop, because the Word of God produces faith.

This was a lesson unheeded in Hebrews 4:2 ...

     The message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

The Word of God, the message of the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves, cannot profit you unless you "combine it with faith." Indeed, the Bible will tell you what to believe, but you must put into action by God's grace through faith what that belief is all about.

This is how God has decided to operate. He does not involve himself or interact personally with people apart from faith. God restricts his personal relationship with people to the issue of faith. To believe in God may be a good thing, but to have faith in God is essential.

You say you believe in God? Very well, do you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR Savior from sin?

The message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is God's only Son who became human --- the God-man --- to live, to die, to be buried, to be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven in order to become YOUR Savior from sin! Do you have faith in this!

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

Are you Saved?
     And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

Is Christ the person they see in you?

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