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Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, JOH 8:31.

We must observe how that in our text Jesus is speaking to those who not only believed in Him, but those who believed on Him. We need to see the distinction. Many people can believe in Jesus in a historical way. The Jews today believe in Jesus, i.e., they believe the recorded history of His life, that He lived in Israel, and even that He was crucified; but they do not believe on Him for salvation. The Jews in our text believed on Jesus.

This word believed is taken from the Greek word pisteuo which means "To have faith in, i.e., to entrust one’s spiritual well being to Christ, to believe, to trust in Christ." Therefore, these Jews believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as being the Messiah. However, they did not have saving faith. This is a striking and a very awesome reality. There are many places in Scripture that say we will be saved if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must watch that we do not take those verses out of context. Was it the message to a broken hearted penitent before the throne of God’s grace? The message is given to one who has been prepared by the gospel.

Here in our text we have a multitude that believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who did not have saving faith. We must see how our text speaks of conditional love; the condition is contained in the word "if." "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." The Lord Jesus preaches conditional love.

Our Saviour is very jealous of the authority of His Word! PRO 30:12 says, "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness." The multitude believed on Him, but as we develop this passage of Scripture, it should become very apparent that they had not been washed from their filthiness. They claimed Christ as the hope of their salvation, they believed on Him as the Messiah, they placed their trust and confidence for eternity in Him, but they had not been washed from their sins. They were pure in their own eyes.

We will never understand the filthiness of sin until we learn to see that the very essence of sin is the determination to have our own way. People must learn to understand exactly what sin is. Sin is the transgression of the law; it is a determined effort to do our own thing and have our own way. There is no voluntary submission to the will of God. That is sin.

ISA 53:6 says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." I am not a sheep-man, but I have heard about them. They must be herded or they will stray away. Each one will go its own way. Like sheep without a herder, we have gone astray. The Lord laid on Him the charge of perfect obedience and submission to the will of God motivated by love. It was not motivated by compulsion or slavish fear.

When Christ saves, He subdues our spirit of self will. When Christ saves, He saves us from sin. Remember what the essence of sin is. It is a determination to go our own way. Therefore, He saves us from our self-will which brings us into submission. It brings us to the place Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done," LUK 22:42. Our will must become dissolved in the will of God.

The most precious of all graces is Godly fear, i.e., a holy reverence for God’s will. I do not know of one grace named in Scripture that touched my heart more than the grace of true Godly fear. GEN 22:12 says, "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

This passage of Scripture is speaking of Abraham as he has his son, Isaac, on the altar. He had raised his hand to slay his son in obedience to God’s command. Then the angel came from heaven to give Abraham this message. Look at the test that Abraham, the father of the faithful, had to stand to prove he feared God. His proof was obedience at all costs; his will was totally dissolved in the will of the Father even if it meant putting his own salvation on the altar. That is holy, reverential respect for the will of God. Look at the extremity of the test Abraham went through to establish that point; "now I know that thou fearest God." Isn’t that the choicest of all graces?

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice," GEN 22:17- 18. This blessing was not only the reward of obedience, but it was the basis of conditional love.

God gives His people conditional love. Look in GEN 18:17-19 to see a very important lesson. These verses come before the ones we just read in GEN 22. The Lord had said this prior to the trial set before Abraham. "And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him," GEN 18:17-19.

The conditional love is that the Lord "may" bring to Abraham that which He has spoken of him. How did the Lord test Abraham to know he and his house would keep His ways. The test was to require Abraham to put Isaac on the altar. Abraham passed the test; now the Lord knew Abraham feared Him. The Lord had proven what He already knew.

The Lord is not willing to have rebellious man dictate the terms of peace through unconditional love. We must be very careful of this in today’s world. Human beings want to dictate what is and what isn’t right, irrespective of the Word of God. They would have us believe that God’s love is unconditional. They say that because they have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they have eternal security and are saved even if the go on in their sins. This is not the revealed will of God. The Lord does not teach unconditional love; we must learn to see that our determination to have our own way is the very essence of sin. It is the very sin that brought about the fall of Adam. Can we now have a gospel that preaches that man can have his own way? That is not the gospel of Christ.

PRO 14:12 says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." We may have determination in our mind as to right and wrong, but we must come into submission to the will of God.

Christ’s reference to those that "believeth not," in MAR 16:16 are to those who obey not His revealed will. Unbelief is a damning sin because it declares Christ to be "unworthy of trust or obedience." That is where it is a damning sin; it is a questioning of His authority or our accountability.

The words believeth not in MAR 16:16 are taken from the Greek word Apisteo which means "To be unbelieving, to disobey, a person unworthy of trust or obedience." If that is unbelief, what is saving faith? Can we possibly claim saving faith without trusting the Lord Jesus Christ with our obedience?

It is so important that we preach the whole counsel of God because Satan clearly deceives his millions with partial truths. God’s Word is used to fatally deceive millions by using it out of its full context. When the truth is taken out of context it either leads to humanism or fatalism; neither of which is any less destructive than the other. Either side will vehemently condemn the other side. One is in one barrow pit and the other is on the other side in the other barrow pit. One is no closer to right than the other one. Neither are in the strait and narrow way.

Salvation is not merited by works; EPH 2:8-9 tells us, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." TIT 3:5 says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."

Satan uses those two Scriptures to convince multitudes that we have salvation by grace, not by works. Isn’t that what those verses say? We must learn to see that Not of works or Not by works means not merited by works, but it does not mean there is salvation without works. These Scriptures mean that works do not merit salvation. If one is convinced of that, Satan will come with the other extreme as say that there is salvation without works. That is just as big a lie as it is to say there is salvation by, or of works.

Works, i.e., walking in the Spirit of Christ is the exercise of saving faith. Satan would like to see fatalism that would totally destroy the exercise of saving faith, replacing it with a dead form. JAM 2:26 teaches us that "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." That verse comes blatantly against the principle of salvation without works. A body without a soul is dead, but no more so than a faith without works. Works is the exercise of saving faith. Works are not meritorious; they are the exercise of saving faith.

This same principle applies to believing on the Lord Jesus Christ; we have the same principle in the are of faith as we do in the area of works. It is not by works as a merit, neither without works. The word Pisteuo in the Greek which means "To have faith in, i.e., to entrust one’s spiritual well being to Christ, to believe, to trust in Christ," is used out of its context when we separate it from works.

Scriptures clearly teach that there is no salvation apart from believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, but Scriptures just as clearly teach that there are multitudes that do believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, yet they are not saved! We must be careful of making our faith a salvation that is outside of Christ. According to MAT 7:21-23 there is a multitude, millions, who died with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the hope of their salvation, but who have never had saving faith. We need to sort that out; we need to know the distinction between faith and saving faith. Faith, even great faith, is not sufficient. 1CO 13:2 says, "...and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." So faith in itself is nothing if it is not a "faith the worketh by love"; it must be accompanied by love, and see what Jesus said about those who love Him! "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever," JOH 14:15-16.

Our text speaks of a multitude who Pisteuo, i.e., who had faith in, who entrust their spiritual well being to Christ; they believed in and trusted in Christ. Now let’s see what Jesus said of these same believers! It is unquestionable that they were still unregenerate, unsaved souls. Jesus is speaking to the Jews who believed on Him from here until the end of the chapter. See what Jesus said to these same believers in JOH 8:37 "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you."

Jesus told them in JOH 8:44 says, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." That identifies the problem. Those Jews were believers, but they were self-willed believers. They had faith and they believed, but Jesus’ words had no place in them! They were self-willed and unteachable.

It was with those Jews that believed that the following dialogue took place, see what our text says, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." Now read on to the end of the chapter and note the pronouns used. The pronouns They, Ye, and Them are used with reference to these believers throughout, to the end of the chapter. There is not one place that indicates He is talking to a different person or group; it is still "to those Jews, which believed on him.

It was to these believing Jews that Jesus showed that they lacked the exercise of saving faith. JOH 8:34 and 39 says, "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." Verse 39 says, "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham." Jesus is showing them that their faith is not saving faith because if they were the spiritual children of Abraham, they would do what Abraham did-obey. They may have been Abraham’s seed after the flesh, but not spiritually. If their self will had been broken, they would be able to put their Isaac on the altar.

There is a faith in Christ which saves, but there is also a faith in Christ which does not save. Among the chief rulers there were many that believed, but they were not saved. JOH 12:42-43 tells us, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed [Pisteuo] on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." These rulers realized Jesus was the Messiah and the hope of salvation, but [notice that word] they cared more of what the Pharisees thought than God. They never once understood what it meant to do; they heard, but they didn’t do the will of God. They did not have saving faith even though they believed. We must understand this.

It is most commonly taught that there are only two classes of people, believers and unbelievers, but Scriptures clearly teach there are three. There are believers, professed believers, and unbelievers.

1CO 10:32 says, "Give none offense, neither to [1] the Jews, nor to [2] the Gentiles, nor to [3] the church of God." The church of God is set apart from the Jews. The Jews were the professed believers; they professed to believe in God, but they had a counterfeit faith. There are professed believers, and there are those who have saving faith.

The Old Testament clearly teaches three classes; there are the gentiles who were outside the commonwealth of Israel, and then there was Israel which was divided into two classes. ROM 9:6b says, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." There we see the believer who has saving faith, and the counterfeit. The true believer is distinguished from the professed believer.

This is synonymous with what Jesus said to those believing Jews in our text. JOH 8:39 divides the children of Abraham into two classes: those children after the flesh and those after the Spirit. "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham."

Today there are still three classes. [1] The professed unbeliever, who makes no profession at all; [2] the professed believer who disobeys Christ as a person unworthy of their trust or obedience, yet they profess to be believers, and [3] those who truly fear the Lord, "...that delighteth greatly in his commandments," PSA 112:1.

This third class are not the large multitude, but they are the "few" spoken of in MAT 7:13-14. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat [the professed believers who will not obey]: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Jesus is speaking to this same multitude of professed believers in Verses 22-23, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." They never trusted and obeyed Christ.

The few who have true saving faith have their self will, which is the very essence of sin, broken; they take up their cross daily, and follow a despised and rejected Saviour in the way of the cross, i.e., in the way of unreserved obedience from a motive of love. They have been saved from the power of sin. They put their faith into action, into exercise, by walking in the way of the cross.

To rightly identify the distinction between professed faith and true saving faith let’s examine Scripture’s use of unbelief. To draw a narrow line, look at the extremes on both sides so you can see where the dividing line is. By looking at unbelief we can see where true saving faith lies. Then examine your faith to see how much unbelief is in your faith. That will help you sort out true saving faith and unbelief. Now we need to understand exactly what unbelief is.

Unbelief is much more than just an error in judgment or a failure to assent unto the truth. Unbelief is a rebellious and violent principle of opposition to God. When we look at the meanings of the ordinary sounding words in the original, we find rich, new meanings.

In the Scriptures the words disobedience and obeyed not come from the same Greek words as unbelief and believed not. The words unbelief and disobedience are synonyms throughout Scripture. They are exactly the same word in the original Greek. We cannot rightfully say we have saving faith while living in unbelief. It is a contradiction. If we change the word unbelief to disobedience, we still have the same contradiction. TIT 1:16 says, "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."

We cannot rightly say we have saving faith if we are living in disobedience. 1PE 2:7 says, "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner." You cannot separate unbelief and disobedience because they are synonymous. Obedience and faith are also synonymous.

Take Adam’s sin for example; that was more than a mere negative failing to believe God’s clear command. "For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners," ROM 5:19. That tells us it was Adam’s unbelief that was a damning sin, and it brought about the fall.

Nor was Adam deceived by Satan’s heinous lie! "Adam was not deceived," 1TI 2:14. Adam’s sin was slighting God’s smallest command, determined to have his own way. It was self-will, the very essence of sin. This must be broken if we want to have saving faith. This was the very first act of unbelief in our human nature.

Unbelief is a damning sin; see what we read of the Israelites in HEB 3:18-19. "And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? [Believed not comes from the same Greek word as obeyed not.] So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." May we question whether or not the Israelites had faith? They had faith enough to follow Moses out of Egypt, to go through the Red Sea, but their disobedience condemned them. After they had seen all of these wonders, they still would not obey.

Now see how Moses admonished them for their unbelief in DEU 1:25- 26, "And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God." Do you see the sin of unbelief? They refused to obey. Unbelief is much more than a spiritual struggle to question whether one has the true work of grace or not. That is a trial of faith, but it has nothing to do with unbelief, which is a gross sin. It is a self will that has not been broken, a determination to have your own way and sit in the seat of God.

This shows the meaning their unbelief, they were self willed, rebellious, defiant and disobedient. So you see it is a contradiction to claim saving faith and walk in our own self will.

Unbelief is also directly connected with hatred as we see in JOH 15:24-25, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause."

Unbelief is associated with hatred because the conscience condemns them, so they hate. Have you ever tried to identify a sin for a believer? Did they accept it in love, or did they turn on you as if you were their worst enemy? They don’t want their conscience to condemn them. Unbelievers, i.e., the counterfeit believers hated Christ because He told them the truth.

The actions of unbelievers speak louder than words. JOH 5:40-42 says, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." The Lord Jesus Christ squarely pinpointed the distinction between faith and unbelief; it is love. They could not have saving faith where their will was totally dissolved in the will of God without of a motive of love.

This love of God is the great distinction between professed believers and believing with saving faith. The love of God is the moving force of all saving faith. It is not selfishness, it is not to escape hell, but it is loving God and serving Him out of love.

The power of love moves the soul to renounce all its own righteousness, renouncing all self-will and rebellion against God. We see this in PSA 2:10-13. "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." That is saving faith.

PRO 28:12-14 says, "When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. [Do you see what saving faith is?] Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." Saving faith is a matter of being able to confess our sins and forsake them. Happy is the person who has a holy reverence for the Lord.

The exercise of true saving faith is a genuine coming to Christ with an unconditional surrender of our will to serve Him as King. MAT 11:28-30 says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [Where is the place of rest?] Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." When you take the yoke of Christ upon you, you find a place of rest; it is to walk in the footsteps of Christ, serving Him without reservation. It is a walk of perfect submission to the will of God with a hunger and a desire to do His will from a motive of love. The Lord is not looking for compulsory service; it must be voluntary.

Coming to Christ as King, implies leaving the kingship of another, the service of another. That implies turning from the service of someone else who is the ugly monster "I" that is self- will. It is the service of Satan that was entered into in the Garden of Eden.

JOH 16:8-11 says, "And when he is come [the Holy Spirit], he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." He will reprove and convict and convince us of our sin through our conscience. Sin is our self-willed character. Righteousness is walking in the right spirit. The prince of this world will be dethroned; he will be removed from the throne of your heart, and you will no longer serve him. It is to leave the service of old Satan and come under the yoke of Christ; that is the meaning of "Come unto me." In so doing, we turn our back on the things of this world and the prince of the power of the air; we must "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," MAT 4:17b. That means turn, change your attitude, change your ways, and come under the service and leadership of the King.

As we come to Christ by saving faith we not only desire Him as King, but also as we read in 1PE 2:25, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." You were going out, every man seeking his own way, self-willed, but now you are returned to the Shepherd and brought within the fold. That is to be brought under Christ as the Bishop of your soul.

ISA 53:6 tells us, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Peter said, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." You have returned; that is saving faith.

God placed the way of life and the way of death before Adam because He wanted to be served from a motive of love. The Lord did not want to be served out of compulsion. God did not want Adam controlled in a way that he served out of compulsion; it had to be a heart service to please the Lord.

This distinguishes faith from saving faith; all those who come to Christ out of saving faith are moved by love for God and a hunger and thirst after righteousness. We see in LUK 14:26-27, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Now what did our text say? "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed," JOH 8:31.

What does the Lord mean by hating one’s father and mother? That word "hate" means "love less" in the original. You must not love your father and mother more than God; you must be able to love God more than wife, children, or any other person. You must love God more than your own life, that you would rather give up your own life than to disobey God. That is what Abraham proved when he put Isaac on the altar. That meant putting his own salvation on the altar because it was from Isaac that the Messiah was to come.

We must be more willing to obey God than anyone else we love. In many cases we will find that family and relatives will be our biggest stumbling block trying to cause us to walk contrary to the will of God. A man’s wife can be the most terrible thing to lead him astray if she nags him to do the wrong things. She lays in bed with him at night, sits at the table with him at meals, she is in his arms, she is his companion for life. If she is like the wife of Samson, nagging him to do this or that, he can become weary. It is difficult to resist the constant, "Come on, do this." We must love Christ more. That is what this Scripture is teaching us. We love our family, but we love them less than the Lord.

Even as unbelief cannot be separated from disobedience so saving faith cannot be separated from obedience. 1JO 2:4-6 says, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [Isn’t that what the Lord Jesus was telling the Jews. They say they love Him but do not do the things which He commands. That made them liars.] But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

Love is our identifying feature. The evidence of love is keeping His commandments. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," JOH 14:23.

The Apostle John wrote in 1JO 2:5, "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." If experience is the basis upon which we can prove we have saving faith, then the Apostle John should have said so. He had such rich experiences; he laid in Christ’s bosom. He had a revelation of Jesus on the isle that is called Patmos, like probably no other human being has had. He wrote the book of Revelation, which are the revelations of Jesus Christ. Now if experience is basis upon which we have the hope of our soul for eternity, then John should have been the man to pin it down. However, see what he did say, "...hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked," 1JO 2:5-6.

What is our evidence of saving faith? John did a beautiful job of giving it to us in three verses 1JO 2:4-6 "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."

Our text says, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." John preached the same message as Jesus gave us. The Jews to whom Jesus spoke believed on Him, but it was not saving faith. It is so important that we understand the distinction between faith and saving faith. We can have faith to move mountains and if we do no have charity, we have nothing. Charity is a synonym for mercy. It is one-sided love where we love God above even ourselves; His will stands above our will. If we do not have that, we have nothing. Amen.

These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.

We pray this sermon has been a blessing to those who read it. If you share this sermon with a friend, please let us know. Thank you.


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