A man asked, “Why do you, and some others, tell me that my faith is not Biblical faith? After all, I do believe John 3:16, that Jesus came and that he died for the sins of the world.”
“But what about YOUR sins?”
He paused some moments, then soberly replied, “I see what you mean.”
Sad to say, that man was not prepared to acknowledge that his condition was serious enough to warrant the death of the Son of God. Other people were perhaps rotten to the core, but his failures did not need that kind of drastic action. He believed John 3:16, but he didn’t believe John 3:16.
That kind of “faith” could be called “head knowledge,” a verbal acknowledgment of what God says, and a general agreement that it is true, but that truth has never been specifically and personally applied to the total person. That man had an intellectual understanding of the gospel, but he failed to understand that believing it involved a little more than just agreeing that God did send His Son to die for sin.
James 2:19 tells us that “even the devils believe and tremble.” It is inconsistent with all of Scripture to conclude that intellectually agreeing with the Bible is Biblical faith. The legions of Satan know that book is true, but they are not going to share eternity in heaven with God. Their “faith” will not save them.
God speaks of a different kind of believing. It is a faith that not only says, “Yes, I agree that this is true,” but it also says, “Because God is true, I respond to Him, mind, soul, and body, surrendering all that I am and have to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” When that happens, there are some drastic changes. In fact, if the changes are not there, the Word of God boldly charges that such “faith” is dead, and the person who has it is like a man who looks in a mirror, sees what he looks like, and then walks away and does nothing about it. (James 1) It is a useless and fruitless faith, not affecting anyone’s eternal destiny. It could be compared to the person who is told his house is on fire, and he says, “Oh, I smell the smoke, you’re right,” and then stays inside to be burned. He never really believed it.
Genuine faith cannot assent to verses like John 3:16 and then go on living as if it were not true. If someone truly believes that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” there will be changes, and those changes will testify to the reality of their faith. Those who genuinely know that they “will not perish but have everlasting life” cannot remain the same, because this truth, when applied personally, has the power to transform lives.