September 2, 2009

"Faith is NOT believing that you believe"

How many of us, albeit with good intentions, give false assurance to anyone struggling with doubts about their salvation? How many of us have said (or heard highly respected pastors and teachers say), "Well, tell me what you believe. Do you believe that Christ died for your sins? Do you trust Him and Him alone for forgiveness of sins?" And when the person responds in the affirmative, we assure them that they are indeed "saved" regardless of how they feel. My goodness, what power we think we have! Can we look into a man's heart and pronounce him, "redeemed and reconciled to God" because he states he believes these things? Many go even further than this and say, "Once saved always saved. Don't let anyone make you doubt your position in Christ."

This is a "modern" phenomena. Genuine saving faith does not occur based on what we believe we believe. It is a supernatural act of God. I realize that this will boggle the mind somewhat, but one must think this through. There are those within "the church" that affirm all of the doctrines of the faith and are unregenerate. Let us listen to one short excerpt from Jonathan Edwards on this topic and consider that it is not our job to assure anyone, but to point them to Christ, the gospel and the Word of God. God gives the assurance. Not us!

Those that thus insist on persons living by faith, when they have no experience, and are in very bad frames, are also very absurd in their notions of faith. What they mean by faith is, believing that they are in a good estate.

Hence they count it a dreadful sin for them to doubt of their state, whatever frames they are in, and whatever wicked things they do, because it is the great and heinous sin of unbelief; and he is the best man, and puts most honor upon God, that maintains his hope of his good estate the most confidently and immovably, when he has the least light or experience; that is to say, when he is in the worst and most wicked frame and way; because, forsooth, that is a sign that he is strong in faith, giving glory to God, and against hope believes in hope. But what Bible do they learn this notion of faith out of, that it is a man's confidently believing that he is in a good estate?

If this be faith, the Pharisees had faith in an eminent degree; some of which, Christ teaches, committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. The Scripture represents faith as that by which men are brought into a good estate; and therefore it cannot be the same thing as believing that they are already in a good estate. To suppose that faith consists in persons believing that they are in a good estate, is in effect the same thing, as to suppose that faith consists in a person's believing that he has faith, or believing that he believes.

Jonathan Edwards

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