What Is Genuine Faith?
How do we know that the faith we have is genuine and that we are walking in this sphere of life in Christ? Genuine saving faith has some distinct characteristics, which I outline and amplify here for you.
Genuine faith is fixed on Jesus Christ alone as Savior.
Jesus stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). If salvation is Jesus plus somebody else this cannot be genuine faith because only Jesus qualifies as the spotless and sinless sacrifice. All of mankind has been made to “shut up” because we have all sinned! (Romans 3:9–19)
Genuine faith is not about putting one’s trust in one’s own efforts in order to save one’s self; rather, its trust lies in the grace of God through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Paul declares that, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8–9). He also, quite succinctly, states, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
Genuine faith is accompanied by repentance.
Peter said, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3: 19). Repentance involves a change of mind and does not, in any way, refer to changing one’s self through one’s own strength or determination. That would mean that salvation is partially our work, which is totally unbiblical. Repentance is not only grieving for and confessing our sins (that would only be remorse or mere sorrow for sin and is inadequate), but it is — most importantly and necessarily — an absolute surrender to the Lordship of Christ. True repentance is a declaration that everything we are and everything we have belongs to Christ and that we are absolutely willing to have every aspect of our lives changed by God.
Biblical repentance also requires absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit for our personal sanctification. True change can only come about through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:2-9)
Unfortunately, too many Christians try to change on their own, not realizing the powerlessness of their sinful old nature. What they are doing is contrary to the concept of biblical faith and repentance in Christ. Repentance — defined as turning away from sin — is inadequate and flawed if we think that the power to change comes from our own human and fleshly efforts. Change is by way of the Holy Spirit and no other! Let this be clear in our minds and hearts, lest we be caught trying to subconsciously merge faith and works as a means to salvation. Sometimes, biblical repentance is not clear in the Christian’s mind because it has not been thought through well. Hopefully, my clarification on this matter helps you better understand biblical repentance, which is necessary for genuine faith and genuine salvation.
Genuine faith believes in the completeness of Christ’s work of salvation, resulting in our names being written in the Book of Life.
(Hebrews 10:14-17) I would like to argue for the completeness of our salvation on the basis of verse 14, which says that “He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” If we have been perfected in position,4 then our salvation must be complete. It is really that simple. Jesus Christ Himself speaks of the completeness of salvation of His disciples: “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Again, I argue for the completeness of our salvation on the basis of the verse from Luke. How can Jesus declare that the names of the disciples are recorded in heaven if their salvation was not complete? If we are to have genuine faith, we must believe that God does not offer us half a salvation, but complete salvation.
In Enough is Enough, Pastor Mel Caparros guides us through the book of Philippians, discussing vital lessons from Paul's life about contentment. Along the way, he also shares his own personal experiences with great blessing, great lack, and the Great God who always proves Himself to be more than enough.