AUDIO FOR THIS INSTALLMENT CAN BE FOUND HEREhttps://anchor.fm/reid-ferguson/episodes/I-Believe–So-What-e1e5qsa
It is common today to hear folks say they have a “deep faith” or that they “believe.” But what does that really mean? I believe that if I don’t shovel my walk, the snow will pile up. And…? And so what? We can believe all sorts of things that either have no basis in reality at all – like if little green men inhabit some far off planet – or things which are true, but have absolutely no eternal significance for my soul. Then again, we can believe some of the fabulously transcendent doctrines of the Bible as true – and still be lost. How so? Let’s look.
What we believe, is every bit as important as believing itself. And we get a massive lesson in this reality in the account of the Apostle Paul giving his defense before King Agrippa in Acts 26.
In vs. 27, Paul asks: “Do you believe the prophets?” He was referring to the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament. And then answers his own question: “I know that you believe.” But what did that matter?
The narrative here points to a very important and often confused principle: Simply believing that what the prophets said or foretold is true, is NOT the same as believing and trusting in Christ. Merely believing facts is not the same as having saving faith.
King Agrippa believed the prophecies of the OT regarding the coming of the Messiah. But that did not make him a Christian. Many a religious person believes God exists, believes Jesus died for sin, believes the Bible is true, and even believes salvation is to be found in Jesus. But once again, that is not the same as actually trusting in the finished work of Christ for salvation. It is not the same as saving faith.
In James 2:19, James notes that just because you have a right theology about the oneness of God in His triune glory doesn’t mean you are any better off than the demons. They not only believe the truth about God, they believe it and tremble at it!
Merely believing the facts, even the facts about saving faith, is not saving faith itself. The demons know the truth of the Gospel facts. What they do not do (nor can do since salvation is not offered to them) is trust Christ as their substitute. And no matter how completely we believe all of the orthodox truth of which we are capable – unless we actually cast ourselves upon Him as having died in our stead – we too are still lost.
Saving faith is a faith which makes itself known in a life ordered around all of those truths – acting upon them as real. Above all – obeying the Gospel – looking to Jesus as the one who bore God’s just wrath in their place.
So of the utmost importance for you and me today is: Do we do more than just acknowledge the facts? Am I, are you – personally trusting in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross for our salvation? If we are looking to Him and Him alone – salvation is ours! If we are looking to or trusting in anything or anyone else – even our knowing the most perfect and orthodox theology – we still fall short of saving faith. We must cast ourselves wholly upon Him. In Him and Him alone is our true and full salvation. Anything short of that, is mere religion. And religion does not save – Jesus does.