SAVING FAITH vs. UNBELIEF, #670
Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. (JOH 12:42)
These chief rulers were not willing to sacrifice self. They were not willing to pay the price. They loved the praises of men more than the praises of God. Today's gospel says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, but here we see people who believed, but it does not say that they were saved.
MAT 7:22-23 says, "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 believed but it did not change their way of life. Verse 21 says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." You cannot separate saving faith from obedience of faith.
Unbelief is detected in many ways. In the first instance let us see how unbelief is revealed in denying the truth of what Jesus has said. That is unbelief in its grossest form. MAT 27:41-43 says, "Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God." This type of unbelief is associated with a hardening of the heart through a deliberate and determined resolve to ignore all factual evidence that established that what He said was true.
MAT 28:11-13 speaks about these same chief priests. "Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." They not only ignored the absolute, undeniable evidence, but they used deceit and falsehood to twist and deny the truth of what Jesus had said. We see an absolute determination not to believe. This leads to a reprobate mind like we read of in 1TI 4:2. "Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron."
This type of unbelief, leaving a man past feeling, is what Jesus spoke of in JOH 12:37. "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him." This type of hardening of the heart is God's judgment on those who, though they may be convinced of the truthfulness of what Jesus said, found His light to be their own condemnation more than their salvation. They would stay in the church even though they knew the church was teaching blasphemy. They loved their fellowship and their friends more than they loved Jesus.
We must teach the whole counsel of God and not make a whole religion out of any single verse. The Christian church today uses what the Apostle Paul said in ACT 16:31 to deceive Christiandom into thinking that they can believe on Christ and have salvation without repentance. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." By that logic these chief rulers were saved.
We must we distinguish between the jailer and the chief rulers of the Jews. Verses 28 to 30 say, "But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The jailer was desperate. He wanted a sword to kill himself because he was afraid that all the prisoners had escaped. However, the chief rulers had no desire to be saved from sin. When Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house," he was speaking to a broken-hearted humble sinner who was pleading for mercy!
Those chief rulers were believers. To say differently is to make the Bible a lie. They believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, but not with saving faith. Their faith was not accompanied with repentance, and when you separate repentance from faith you do not have saving faith.
Those who have rejected Christ until their candlestick is removed are brought under the curse spoken of in JOH 12:39-40. "Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." What a woeful condition when we have rejected the gospel and have rejected Christ to the point that now the Lord gives us over to our own destruction, gives us over to the blindness and darkness of our hearts.
2TH 2:10-12 says, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." There was no repentance. They loved sin. They wanted to be saved from the consequences of sin but they did not want to be saved from sin. They loved unrighteousness, and therefore God gave them a strong delusion to where they think they are saved and they are not.
That is the type of faith we are warned against in HEB 10:38. "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
The Lord Jesus pleaded with that unbelieving generation. He said in MAT 12:41-42, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, but that generation would not repent.
This same principle is taught in NUM 14:22-24. After the Israelites had seen such wonders and miracles and yet refused to repent, the Lord said, "Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it."
JER 8:20-22 says, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" When those who truly fear the Lord see their loved ones in that condition, openly and deliberately rejecting the Lord, then we see what Jeremiah said in JER 9:1-3, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD."
LUK 19:41-42 shows the concern Jesus had for Jerusalem. "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." They were hid from their eyes because the harvest is past, the summer is over and they are not saved. Christ's public ministry has now come to a close. The means of the gospel was no longer available to them. They were left over to the hardening of their hearts.
Jesus said in LUK 6:21-25, "Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." The tables will be turned. Those who find so much pleasure in the things of this life are going to mourn, but those who are willing to sacrifice everything of themselves will be rich hereafter.
It is dangerous to slight the call of the gospel. HEB 2:1-3 says, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him."
The door of mercy stands open wide enough to receive the chiefest of sinners. If we have sin that we love, that sin will keep us out; not the sinner but the sin. If we cherish sin in our hearts, we close the door of mercy against ourselves. If we are not able and willing to repent of our sins, if we do not turn from our sins, if we are not redeemed from all iniquity, we will find that we cannot enter the gate.
ISA 55:6-7 says, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." We can come as sinners, but we cannot come as sin lovers. When we still love our sins, our first prayer must be, Lord, deliver me from the power of sin. Create a new heart in me and give me Thy work of grace, the renewing of the spirit of the mind. There is pardon, there is mercy, for every sinner who forsakes his evil ways. There is no mercy, there is no pardon, for those who want to take their sins with them. The Lord Jesus came to save us from our sins, not in our sins. No person will ever be saved in his sins.
A faith that does not confess Christ is not a saving faith. See what Jesus said in LUK 12:8-9. "Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." We cannot believe in Jesus and keep it to ourselves, that no one knows that we are believers. We must confess Him by our words, our thoughts and our walk of life. If we are not confessing Jesus by our footsteps, and if that is not speaking in harmony with the words of our mouths, we are hypocrites.
See what Jesus says to those who love the praises of men more than the praises of God in MAR 8:35, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."
The work of regeneration, the work of grace, is so beautifully illustrated in the potter and the clay. If you have God's grace in your heart, then you are as the clay in the hand of the potter. Our resistance is unconditionally removed, and in response to whatever the Lord wills in our lives, we can say with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, Thy will be done.
In ISA 26:3 it says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." We cannot say that we trust in the Lord and resist His will. Whatever is His pleasure must be our pleasure. Whatever is His will is our will. We must trust Him in the most extreme circumstances, that we have no fear of what is coming on the face of the earth. We trust in the Lord, and we know that He says, I will be with my church even unto the end of the world. The Lord will not forsake those who do not reject Him.
MAR 8:36-38 says, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
The type of unbelief that these chief rulers had is a damning sin. Saving faith is accompanied with gospel obedience. Now that is not a legal obedience. A legal obedience can only be granted in perfection by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only one who would ever be able to keep the law with absolute perfection in a legal obedience. Gospel obedience is that my will is dissolved in His will. My desire is to do His perfect will, and it is accompanied with a remorse over every infraction of His will.
1JO 3:22-24 says, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
That's how we know that we have salvation, because we keep His commandments, and that Spirit of Christ is dwelling in us.
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