I made the statement, “We need to teach that there is a difference between a thought and faith. Faith has evidence of change. So often we confused people by not teaching this distinct difference. As such, we essentially innoculate them against the Gospel, if they do not have a true salvation event. Instead, we need to teach and preach the truth, letting people know there IS a difference between making a statement and having faith which engenders both internal and external evidences. I might have a belief that a 50 year old car can make the drive from Miami to New York, but its not faith if I dont really trust it enough to get into it and drive it. If I really trust the car will make it, I’ll get in it and make the drive. The driving of the car is evidence of the faith I have.”
The reply was, in part, “Most Christians seem to have accepted a view that saving faith is a faith that engenders change and then argue, as you have that, works are the presumably inevitable evidence of salvation…. the lexical meaning of the word ‘belief’ simply means ‘to have conviction’ or ‘to be persuaded’. However, modern theological circles have developed much more complicated definitions which are then read back into the text in order to support the idea of faith inevitably producing lifestyle change. It is highly unlikely that a 1st century reader of John’s gospel would have understood Jesus’ words in Jn 3:16 as the kind of belief you are describing”
Is this what scripture says?
If you look at the different things said about salvation, you will see they almost all involve some sort of expression of faith. It is not the expression that saves us, I agree. However, if we have true faith, unless we have no time to express it (because we die right after we receive it), then that faith will be expressed in our lives.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
I think it is clear that even Jesus spoke of the need for expressions of faith in our lives. Even the famous John 3:16 is part of a passage that speaks of living in the light, as oppposed to doing evil.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him
Even Paul and James taught the need for faith to change us.
20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Yes, faith is to have conviction. But a conviction is something upon which you act. If you do not act upon it, then it is not truly a conviction, merely a belief.
I say that our faith must persevere to be saving faith because that is what Christ said.
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
We are told repeatedly that we must persevere:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Paul even speaks of love (recall we are to love God and love each other) persevering.
1 Corinthians 13:6-8
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7I t always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will
It is persevering faith that is true faith that saves us.
He wrote, “Second, your illustration makes the assumption that only by getting into the car can a person demonstrate their faith”
My illustration said If you have faith that an old car will make the trip from opint A to point B, you will act upon that faith. It is not the acting upon it which saves us – it IS the faith. But if we have said faith, we will act upon it.
In my admittedly inadequate example, There are ways to partially test said faith, making small trips, progressively longer trips, until you make the full trip. But the only way to fully express said faith is to actually make said journey – all the way to the end.
“Finally, by your example, a person isn’t saved unless they ‘get in the car’. ”
No, they might very well have faith the car will make said trip but die before being able to make the full trip. As I said, it is faith that saves us and is the only requirement for salvation. But if we have a saving faith this will change us in ways that are expressed.
I am not saying we will be perfect upon receiving saving faith. Nor am I saying the way said faith will be expressed will be the same for each person. Some people will make huge changes immediately, others will make a small one. But I DO believe that if we have true faith we will persevere in it and we will continue to make changes (repentance) away from sin and towards God and these changes will be expressed in our lives.
The whole point of the initial comment was to say that we need to get away from easy believism, as that is heresy. It IS conviction that is needed and nothing else. But this does not mean we can then choose to live how ever we choose in disobedience to God. There is a balance between legalism and licentiousness we must walk as we strive to be holy. But many have been erroneously taught that since they believe, or have made a profession of faith, they are saved and will never loose their salvation and can do what ever they choose to do. Scripture is clear that is not the case. I do not believe one looses salvation, but neither do I believe that faith is merely a matter of making a statement and continuing to rebelliously walk in darkness until we die.