There are many people today who consider themselves to be Christians. They believe they are going to go to heaven when they die. But, upon examining their fruit, they would find that they more closely resemble the examples of the seed that started to grow, but didn’t finish. Only one type of soil was called “good” by Jesus.
So what of this mysterious phenomenon of non-fruit bearing “Christians?” They looked good for a while, but then they withered away. Some still attend church, but attending is all it amounts to. There is no fruit, no service, no self-denial for the good of the body. There is instead a bitterness, cynicism, and selfish lifestyle. What happened? Others seemed to explode with new life at first, and now they cannot be found! They are no longer coming to worship, but have returned to a lifestyle of sin. What happened?
Did the people in these 2 examples receive salvation, only to lose it sometime down the road?
The Bible doesn’t teach that salvation is based on what we do, but rather upon what God has done through Jesus Christ. We do not earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9) and so we couldn’t possibly lose it. It is neither gained nor lost by our holiness or lack thereof.
Besides, how can you lose eternal life? If someone gained life, but then lost it 9 weeks later – did they ever have eternal life? No, they had life for 9 weeks! Only those who live forever EVER had eternal life.
Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it is for now! Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God and Himself (John 17:3). When someone begins to know God and His Son, he has eternal life. He cannot stop knowing the God to Whom he has been introduced. True saints are kept by God. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:6).
So then, if this falling away by many cannot be explained in terms of losing salvation, what is the problem? What is going on?!
The New Testament is FILLED with warnings – for the saints! Consider the warnings given in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5-7, Colossians 1:28, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, James 4:4, 2 Peter 3:17-18, 1 John 1:6 & 2:3-4, 2 John 7-9, Jude, and Revelation 2:16 and 3:3.
The same book that starts with “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” contains the warning given in our text: “you He has reconciled to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight…IF indeed you continue in the faith,” (Vs 2, 20-23). God’s method of preserving His true children and keeping them from falling is giving them warnings! The true believers heed the warnings; the deceived do not. These only think themselves to be saved, but their sin reveals the truth: they never had a saving faith.
If the multitudes who start with God and do not finish with God did not have a saving faith, what did they have?
Many have a false faith; a shipwrecked faith (1 Timothy 1:19). Be sure of this – there is a faith that does not save. It’s origin is from man rather than from God. It can imitate saving faith and look very good for a season, but it will not last. And the faith that does not last does not save.
What does this false faith look like?
I. It is Void of True Repentance
- The call of Christ is not simply to believe, but to repent and believe! We continually see Jesus in the scriptures calling men to self-denial, repentance, and a life of following Him (Matthew 4:17, 4:19, Luke 9:23). James 2:19 informs us that even the demons believe! (They certainly have not turned from sin to serve Jesus Christ – and are NOT saved)
- Paul also preached a gospel that went deeper than mental belief. “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Acts 20:21). In Acts 26:18-20 Paul testifies of his conversion, quoting Jesus as saying, “that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me,” (v18b). He then gave the gospel message that he had been preaching: “that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance,” (v20b). See the close connection between faith and repentance! They go hand in hand.
II. It Has Words, But Not Works
- Matthew 21:28-32. In this passage, Jesus told an account of a man who had 2 sons. He asked them both to go work in His vineyard. One said yes, but didn’t go. One said no, but changed his mind and went. Which one obeyed?
- James 2:22, 26. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
III. It Does Not Endure
- “This man began to build and was not able to finish,” (Luke 14:30).
- “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved,” (Matthew 10:22).
- “These all died in faith,” (Hebrews 11:13).
- “…I declare to you the gospel…by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
- “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble,” (Mark 4:16-17).
- 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica that he had sent Timothy to them to strengthen their faith as they encountered persecution. Paul was concerned that their faith was a false faith that could not endure persecution.
IV. It Does Not Obey
- "…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction…when He comes…to be admired among all those who believe,” (2 Thess. 1:7-10). Contrast the word “obey” from verse 8 with “believe” in verse 10. Those who truly believe are those who obey!
- “…but he who does the will of God abides forever,” (1 John 2:17).
- "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven,” (Matthew 7:21-23).
So, do you have a false faith or a saving faith? This is important! Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
Receiving The Faith That Saves
1. Not everyone has faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2). If this is you, confess it to the Lord.
2. Faith comes (Romans 10:17). It can be given to you!
3. Saving faith originates from the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2).
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and turn from your life of self-rule and sin today! Deny yourself – give up your rights. Begin to follow Jesus and NEVER STOP. This is the faith that saves!