What exactly is saving faith and what’s the difference between “saving faith” and plain old “said faith”? This is a very important question I am going to answer it in this post.
The Sinner’s Prayer
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!” (gotQuestions?org)
All Christians (believers) have prayed this or a similar prayer to receive salvation. We prayed it in answer to an alter call, or raising our hands in response to a preacher’s urging us to pray, or we signed a card, or we prayed with somebody on the phone after we dialed in to a Christian radio or television broadcast. We were told after praying that prayer that we were now saved and justified by God and a subject of His kingdom, a child of God, and that we now have eternal life. All of that is absolutely true.
Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”.
Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Jesus Himself said in John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
I also believe that salvation is for ever, “once saved always saved”. I don’t believe that you can ever lose your salvation. The Scriptures tell
John 5:24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
1 Corinthians 1:8 “He will also strengthen you to the end, ⌊so that you will be⌋ blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude 24 “Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy,”
Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Having said all this however we must remember that salvation and justification is by faith not just the profession of faith. So what exactly is “saving faith” and how does it differ from “said faith”?
“Saving faith” is believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a living person, for the forgiveness of sin and trusting Him because He provides eternal life with God. It isn’t enough to simply believe in the actions of Jesus Christ or the abilities of God. True saving faith is more than that; it is a personal relationship with the Savior. As a result, we desire to repent and to surrender every aspect of our lives to Him. He will then transform us and conform us to His image. As we walk with God, the more He will bless each of us with perfect assurance regarding our salvation and our relationship with Him. (InTouch Ministries)
“Said faith” is an intellectual faith. With intellectual faith you believe something is true without proof or commitment. For example, a person can intellectually believe Jesus was a real person who performed miracles but not accept the fact that He was God in Man. “Said faith” is also the profession of faith from an unregenerate heart. A profession made out of emotion, or sorrow, or shame. That kind of faith will not last and is not “saving faith”
How Do You Know if your profession was with “saving faith” or “said faith”
I said earlier that I believe “once saved, always saved”. If that’s the case then why does somebody who says that they are saved show no signs of change in their lives? I don’t mean that they never sin again because we all slip into sin. I mean that the lifestyle that was there before, is still there and there is no change. The kind of person that you and others say wow they are not acting like, or never act like their lives have been impacted by Christ. Well maybe, just maybe, their profession was “said faith”
Let’s take a look at what “saving faith” should produce. This is not works. Salvation is by faith alone but true “saving faith” should produce works that give some evidence of that salvation. Scripture tells us to examine ourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Test yourselves ⌊to see⌋ if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless you fail the test.”
“Saving Faith” is:
1. Knowledge of the Gospel of Christ
You have to hear the gospel before you can believe it and know what it is. In order to call on Jesus who is the only name by which we can be saved we have to hear and believe.
Romans 10:14 “But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher”?
2. Agreement with the Word of God.
To have saving faith you must agree with or assent to what the Bible says about God, Jesus and salvation. To assent means to agree after thoughtful consideration.
So there’s knowledge of the gospel as a result of hearing it and there is agreement with what the bible says about it, but that’s not all. Hearing and agreeing is not “saving faith”
James 2:19 “You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.”
Knowledge and agreement can be the “intellectual faith” I mention earlier. In addition to knowledge and agreement that must be trust.
Jesus must be the object of that trust. He must be the one in which we place our confidence, hope, reliance, and assurance. We must trust Him as not only our Savior but also our Lord.
Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (emphasis added).
Six Results of Saving Faith
1. Our commitment and belief in Jesus grows. It is in Him and Him alone we have been saved. Our relationship with Him as a person grows. Our love for Him grows. We recognize and honor Him for all that He is. This is all more than just intellectual agreement.
1 John 5:1 “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.”.
In the Hebrew, Messiah is a king or high priest, one with authority. Our relationship with Jesus will recognize His authority as Lord as well as Savior
2. Our lifestyle become more submissive to Christ. We no longer live the way we want to live.
1 John 3:9 “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God”.
We will all slip into sin from time-to-time but our lifestyles need to change. When we do sin it should bother us if not then maybe you don’t have “saving faith”.
3. We should become more and more conformed to the character of Christ.
1 John 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know this as well: Everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.”
4. We should love all other believers.
1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. ⌊Love⌋ finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. ⌊It⌋ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
5. We should have a willingness to stand against the world, not conform to it. We need to show that our faith is not in our ability to answer every question about why did God let this or that happen or why if God is love that He doesn’t just save everybody? We can’t answer every one of those kinds of questions but we do know the One who has and is the answer. We are not overcome by the world.
1 John 5:4 “because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.”
6. We persevere in our faith and our lives reflect it. Those who don’t preserve or have these results after their profession may not have “saving faith”, theirs may be a “said faith".
How do we know?
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us”.
Those with “said faith” will reveal that they were really never believers or Christians because their profession came from the flesh, an unregenerate heart, a heart that has not been born again. This doesn't mean that if someone stops coming to your church that their confession or profession was not of saving faith. They may have left for any number of reasons. What John means in this verse is that there are people who never really made Christ their own Savoir.
You can't make that call anyway because only God knows the heart of man. You just want to be sure about yourself. So examine yourself and make sure that your faith is “saving faint”. If after examining yourself you feel that your profession was “said faith” and you truly want to repent, turn your life around, and be “born again”, which will give you a regenerated heart, then pray the “Sinner’s Prayer”. Here it is again;
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
If you truly understand and believe what you just prayed then please leave a comment or email me at this Link and tell me that you accepted Christ today. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
You may be interested in these books on salvation:
What You Need To Know About Salvation In 12 Lessons by Max Anders
Making Sense of Salvation by Wayne Grudem
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.