There is a Faith that saves, and there is a Faith that does not save. There is a phony faith that claims to believe in Christ, but has no real desire for Christ. Throughout the scripture, we see three visible things that reflect one’s faith: Believe, Obey and Continue. “He who comes to God must believe that He is (Hebrews 11:6). And Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15), “Remain in me, as I also remain in you (John 15:4). There are many people in the church who demonstrate all these external characteristics but are not saved.
In the church age, it is difficult to distinguish between these two categories, and they both grow together. Whenever the gospel is preached there are always true believers and believers who make a mental assent but whose faith does not save. In outward appearance they all looks the same. Man look at the outside, but God look in to the hearts. So, only God knows whose faith is true and whose faith is phony. The parable of the weeds in Matthew 13 gives an apt illustration of this. God will let both grow together until the harvest. When the harvest time (end of the age) comes weeds will be collected and tie them in bundle to be burned. Judas is one of the best characters who had all these outward qualities but went to hell.
Faith Based on Faulty Doctrine
The primary reason that leads to a faith that does not save is faulty doctrine. True salvation is based on not only faith, it is based on faith based on truth; It is based on true theology. Faith based on faulty doctrine is a faulty faith. It is interesting to see how many people say that they believe in God, and believe in Jesus. What God, and what Jesus? What they believe about? Do they believe about a Jesus who paid a partial ransom for sin or the Jesus who bore the full punishment for our sin? Do they believe in a god who administers grace through a female deity or through faith in Christ alone?
There is a whole world of people who talk about God, some are very religious. They have all kinds of gods. Most people just invent their own gods, and their gods are impersonated by demons. They talk about God, they pray to God, they say, “God bless you. I believe in God. I am very religious person”. But they don’t know God, unless they have come to the true God, through the faith based on the truth. The one they think is God is the devil. There are people who believe, who baptize and continue but whose faith is based on faulty doctrine.
There are four wrong views that lead to bad theology:
- Wrong view of self
- Wrong view of salvation
- Wrong view of God
- Wrong view of sin
If someone has a wrong view of these things, his belief is meaningless. Because his faith is not founded on truth.
Many people think that man is good. This is a common thing that we hear a lot – “The man is good”. That is a wrong doctrine to begin with. The scripture says that God has created man in his image and they existed in a state of perfection until the fall. When the sin entered the world it has impacted on the man’s original nature.
- All men, without respect of condition or class, are sinners before God (Rom.3:9, 10, 22, 23; Psa.14; Isa.53:6).
- This universal sinful condition is vitally connected with the sin of Adam (Rom 5:12, 16, 19).
- The whole world rests under condemnation, wrath, and curse (Rom 3:19; Gal 3:10; Eph 2:3; John 3:36).
- Unregenerate men are regarded as children of the devil, and not sons of God (1 John 3:8-10; John 8:44; 1 John 5:19).
- The whole race of men are in helpless captivity to sin and Satan (Rom.7; John 8:31-36; Eph.2:3).
- The entire nature of man, mentally, morally, spiritually, physically, is sadly affected by sin.
- Our understanding is darkened (Eph.4:18; 1 Cor.2:14)
- Our heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer.17:9, 10)
- Our mind and conscience are defiled (Gen.6:5; Titus 1:15)
- Our flesh and spirit are defiled (2 Cor.7:5)
- Our will is enfeebled (Rom.7:18)
Many people come to God not because they needed God for salvation of their souls, but because they need some material gain, fame or glory for themselves. Many are ‘miracle seekers’. They never want to acknowledge that they are sinful. Pride is a very severe problem that keep man from God. As long as man thinks that he is something he won’t be able to come to God. Man must see himself as lost without God and separated from God, as week, as inapt and hopeless, before he enters into the concept of faith that does save.
Some people believe that the salvation is an external issue -going through some kind of religious formality, a ritual or sacrament. There is an entire church based upon the premise that baptism saves. Roman Catholic Church teaches that man is justified by baptism (see Catholic Catechism Ref. Nos. 1265-1271, 1987-1995). According to them, “Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte ‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism 1265). Roman Catholic Church treats salvation as an economic commodity – they think that they can obtained it by doing good works, writing a big check to the priest, or praying rosary in the public, kissing the cross etc. This is absolutely a wrong view of salvation.
Salvation is not a commodity that can be added to your life. It is not something that you pull-off from a shelf or somewhere. It is not some kind of a booster juice where God provides a part of ingredients and you bring the rest, put them together in a blender, mix it and drink. Salvation is a creative act done by God in which man does not participate in. You play no role in your physical birth, and you play no role in your spiritual birth. God is the one who gives the new birth to His elect. The man is simply a recipient of this divine miracle, and there are no steps to make it happen. You cannot buy grace; It is not for sale. You cannot manipulate the Holy Spirit to regenerate you. Salvation is a gift of God. Roman Catholic Church has a low view of salvation, and their theology is completely messed up.
Christianity is the only religion that define God as Love. Today most people seem to have little difficulty believing in the love of God; they have far more difficulty believing in the justice of God, the wrath of God, and the non-contradictory truthfulness of an omniscient God. Unless you first understand the righteousness, justice, holiness and wrath of God you cannot really grasp the love of God.
Scripture does not teach us universal fatherhood. We are all creatures of God, but He has not given the right to everyone to be His children -to be loved by Him. By virtue we are objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3-5). Only through Christ we get to enjoy his love. God’s love is conditional. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3) “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Ps. 7:11). He is actually furious, as we should understand the Greek text of Romans 1:18. Were the Lord not graciously slow to manifest this anger fully (Num. 14:18), no sinner could live for even a second.
Don’t be deceived into thinking that God is going to love you just as you are; ‘you are perfectly acceptable to me, and you have nothing to fear for me, certainly for my wrath because I am not going to pour my wrath upon you for I love you unconditionally. Unconditional means there are no conditions. There are no strings, no commands. You can continually live in rebellion and disobedience for the rest of your lives. Whatever you do doesn’t matter, God loves you!’ That is a wrong view of God. “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him” (Ps 33:8).
The sin is not a popular word in the world. Many people unfortunately do not accept that they are sinners. Even many churches have stopped perching about this subject because now it is not a very ‘popular’ term to say you are a sinner. Sin is defined as anything (whether in act, attitude, or nature) that does not express or conform to the holy character of God as expressed in the moral Law. God considered sin as personal attack against the character and commands of God. It is his commands that we violates. He is the lawgiver and the judge and the executioner. There is a singular governor of the universe who has written the law, who applies the law, interprets the law, judges the sinner and He is also the executioner.
Repentance is necessary to receive the forgiveness of sins, and it cannot be achieved by proxy. The Greek word for “repent” (Metanoia) means ‘change of mind’ so that you are no longer at odds with God but in sync with God. You make a 180 degree turn in your behavior. Throughout the scripture, God calls us to be Holy. It is the Holiness of God that demands the holiness of His people. God said (in Lev 11:44), “Be Holy, for I AM Holy.” So, it is incumbent upon every true believer to be pursuing holiness, and those who are not pursuing holiness are not true believers. The faith they have does not save. Many people don’t see salvation as a total transformation of life. True salvation is not mere profession; it is not an external identity; It is an entire commitment of life to Jesus Christ.
You can believe, baptize and continue, and still go to hell
Admiring Jesus, being impressed by Jesus, watching Jesus from a distance, making superficial commendation about Jesus is not sufficient to grant eternal life. It puts a person, in the end, in the same hell as the person who hates Jesus, and who rejects His invitation for Salvation. If you have a wrong view of yourself, wrong view of God, wrong view of sin and salvation, then your faith does not mean anything. The demons believe about God; they believe He is holy, just, merciful and sovereign. They believe He sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for human sin, and they believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and sitting at the right hand of the Father. But they are not saved! If you have a messed up understanding of those cardinal doctrines, then your faith is a phony faith that does not save you. You can believe, baptize and continue, and still go to hell.
Study based on the Books of Acts Ch. 8:9-24