Summary: John 3:36 says, “He who believes (present active tense) in the Son has everlasting life...” The difference between dead faith and genuine saving faith is that saving faith is a persevering faith. Consider the characteristics of a persevering faith
Faith is synonymous with belief and trust. There is however a difference between genuine saving faith and spurious, superficial, disingenuous faith. This difference is crucial. Intellectual assent, a head belief or knowledge does not save. James 2:19 tells us that the demons believe the facts about God but that belief is a dead faith. Genuine saving faith is a wholehearted commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior. It is not superficial but persevering. John 3:36 says, “He who believes (present active tense) in the Son has everlasting life...” The difference between dead faith and genuine saving faith is that saving faith is a persevering faith. What are the characteristics of a persevering faith.
I. Persevering Faith is an evidencing faith
A. Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith
B. A good report – martureo – to give witness or affirm
C. Their faith was constant and unwavering. In spite of the harshest persecution, the vilest attacks, the severest trials, the strongest opposition and rejection from those closest to them, their faith stood firm as evidence that it was genuine and real.
D. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
E. James 2:18 “Yea, a man may say, you have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
F. Many people claim to be saved and to possess genuine real faith. If you ask them if they are saved they respond affirmatively. But, are they really? There are who claim to know God, but do they have the proof in their life that they know really God? Does the evidence in their lives say they are genuinely saved?
G. Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other. – William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army
H. Persevering faith will demonstrate itself not only in actions and but also in reactions.
I. Matthew 13:20-21 (NKJV) “...he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles (is offended- KJV).
II. Persevering Faith is a self-denying faith
A. Hebrews 11:24-27a “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt.”
B. The very nature of faith is self-denial. Robert Leighton in his commentary on states that “Faith is a humble, self-denying grace that makes the Christian nothing in himself and all in God.”
C. FAITH = Forsaking All I Trust Him!
D. Genuine repentance and faith is manifest in a self-denying, cross-bearing total surrender of oneself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. - copied
E. Mark 8:34 “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
F. Jesus links self-denial with cross-bearing. Cross-bearing is far more than enduring this or that hardship. Carrying one’s cross in Jesus’ day, as we learn from the story of Jesus’ own crucifixion, was required of those whom society had condemned, whose rights were forfeit, and who were now being led out to their execution. The cross they carried was the instrument of death. Jesus represents discipleship as a matter of following him, and following him as based on taking up one’s cross in self-negation. Carnal self would never consent to cast us in such a role. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was right: Accepting death to everything that carnal self wants to possess is what Christ’s summons to self-denial was all about. - J. I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion, (Living Books, Tyndale House Wheaton: 1987)
III. Persevering Faith is a focused faith
A. Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
B. They were focused on the Lord and the finish line.
C. The Lord Jesus Christ is central to everything!