Satan is always working to shake our confidence in Christ and plungeus into self doubt and condemnation. One of his tactics is to question whether or not we really believed the gospel.
When talking about “Real faith” sometimes we’re given a picture of man who offered to take people over chasm in a wheelbarrow on a tightrope and asked for volunteers. This analogy is used to explain a supposed difference between “belief” and “trust.” Do you just believe that Jesus is the Son of God, or did you really trust Him? Are you willing to actually get in the wheelbarrow?
Many modern teachers, especially calvinists, are redefining faith. They saying that real faith is not just “mentally assenting to a list of facts” but really “committing yourself fully”. In this redefinition, they subtly replace the definition of faith with works.
When we came to believe, we were persuaded by the Holy Spirit from the Word that the message concerning the death of Jesus for our sins and His resurrection is true. John makes it clear all through his gospel and epistles that He that believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God. By this he isn’t using a “tricky” defintion of faith that actually means something more (commitment or entire surrender). He simply means “believing”.
Believing is literally as simple as agreeing with God’s speaking regarding His Son and certifying that it is true. Believing the gospel is not a work of effort where have to climb into the wheelbarrow. In actuality we had no strength to do such a thing!
The best we could do was acknowledge that there was in fact a “wheelbarrow” and admit that it could get us across the chasm. God is the one that has to pick us up and put us in. In 1 Cor 1:30 Paul says it is “of God that you are in Christ…” God is the one who put us into Christ when we believed.
Weak and Ungodly
On this note, two of my favorite verses:
Rom_4:5 but to him who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
Rom_5:6 for we being still without strength, in the due time Christ has died for the ungodly.
We believe (apart from any works) that God justifies the ungodly (that’s us.) This is our faith, and it is reckoned to us as righteousness. To commit ourselves fully to God is a noble thing, but it is impossible for an ungodly and weak person.
A full commitment acceptable to God involves all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength to love Him wholly, every moment in time, without interruption, as long as we shall live. Anything less falls short of His glory. There is no way that we can in reality commit ourselves fully to God in this fallen and sinful flesh!
Try it. 5 minutes after your commit, your mind and heart will wander onto something else. You might be able to practice a discipline like a mystic that allows you to focus more intently on God for a time and enjoy some benefit from it. Only Jesus lived entirely unto God, and was without sin.
On that note many people think that sin is just “doing something bad.” But acutally sin is transgression of the law, the sum of which is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Anything less than perfect unwavering devotion is sin.
In God’s eyes, and in reality, we are ungodly, and without strength. Yet he has chosen to reveal His Son to us through the foolishness of a message preached, and we believed it! He reckons this to us as the righteousness which the law demands.
He considers us in this reckoning to be conformed perfectly to His will, perfectly devoted children. In this He is “calling those things that are not as though they are”(Romans 4:17).
When people say that faith is some kind of action beyond merely believing a list of “insipid facts”, they’re actually denegrading the gospel message itself and denying its power.
They may have good intentions, but the enemy pounces on this and uses it as an opportunity to launch fiery darts against believers and shake their confidence. This keeps us from drawing boldly near to God and renders us ineffective.
If you really believed, You still believe!
Regarding whether or not you really believed…. Just ask yourself – do you still believe what you initially believe? Could you unbelieve if you tried? You cannot deny, but you must confess in your heart that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and is Lord! The scripture tells us you couldn’t do this without the Holy Spirit within you bearing witness. Your level of “commitment” is another issue entirely, impacted by a number of factors. But Jesus says “He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out.”