One frequently hears someone say, “I believe….” Some of the things people say they believe are exactly what God has said, while others are not even close to what He has said. Because one says he believes a matter does not make it right. All should remember that Bible “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). Thus, one must hear God speak in His word to truthfully say, “I believe….” Believing something one has heard from some person (Matthew 15:7-9) is vastly different to something one has heard from God. (Matthew 4:4, 7). Some professions of faith may be no more than an idea one has developed, or what one has heard from another. A number of times Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time…But I say unto you,….” (Matthew 5:21, 22). This is found in the Sermon on the Mount several times. For example, chapter five (5), verses 21, 27, 33, 38, and 43. One’s faith, if Biblical, accurate, must come from a “thus saith the Lord.”
One cannot believe everything one hears. One of the writer’s grandfathers used to say, “You cannot believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.” This, of course, is not so. One can believe everything God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit has said. One can also believe every word that is heard from one who is preaching or teaching the word of God accurately, one who is rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).
Consider some things that one can accurately say, “I believe…” and some things that one may not accurately say, “I believe….” Some say, “I believe I was saved by faith only.” Yet, God through James said, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24, 17, 20, 26). Those who were saved heard the word of God and believed (Romans 10:17), repented of sins (Acts 3:19), confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (Acts 8:37), and were buried in water baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Colossians 2:12), entering Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27), and being added to the church. (Acts 2:41, 47). One who has obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine (Romans 6:17, 18) may truthfully say, “I believe I was saved.”
Some “believe” that they “prayed their way through to salvation.” However, Saul, a praying man who also fasted (Acts 9:9, 11), was told, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). He did so immediately. (Acts 9:18; 26:19). The word of God nowhere speaks of anyone being saved by saying the sinners prayer. Jesus did not correct the blind man, who said, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31).
Others “believe” that all are born in sin, that they inherit the sins of their parents. This idea is not of faith. One is not “born out of the way”, but “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) because “none seeketh after God” (Verse 11), “they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good” (Verse 12), and so on. One is not born out of the way, but through sin goes out of the way. Ezekiel 18:18-24 shows conclusively that children do not inherit the sins of their parents, but turn away from God, sin, and trespass God’s law. Rather than calling children sinners, the Lord praised them. (Matthew 18: 1-10).
There are those who profess, “I believe that once a person is truly saved, he cannot be lost.” Where did God say that? Remember, faith comes from hearing the word of God. The great and beloved apostle Paul said he could become a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27). “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” and “an elder” (2 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1) wrote his second epistle in which he described a man who might be “overcome”, and some who HAD “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” but “were again entangled, and overcome”, saying that “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:19, 20). Peter said, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (Verse 21). Using a true proverb, Peter describes them as “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (Verse 22). The church at Ephesus was told that it had “fallen”, and was admonished to “repent, and do the first works.” However, it was also informed that it might not repent, and, if not, would be punished. (Revelation 2:1-7). Judas Iscariot, one personally handpicked by Jesus to be an apostle, was obviously saved, but sinned in betraying Jesus, and went to his own reward. (Acts 1:25). John recorded the words of Jesus, who said, “be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10). Why say this if one could not fail to do so? One may genuinely believe that it is possible for a saved one to become unfaithful, and die lost, but not security of the saints. Read John 15:1-6.
A number of religious people “believe” that works nullify grace. However, Ephesians 2:8-10 show that one is saved by grace through faith, when one walks in the works God has ordained. The “saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi” (Philippians 1:1) were told that they had “always obeyed” adding, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). Those on Pentecost were told, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40). When one has done all commanded, one cannot claim salvation is owed, that God is indebted to give eternal life. (Luke 17:10).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1ff). “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5). “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;….” (1 Peter 4:11). Be sure to check the word of God before you tell someone, “I believe….” Make sure it is what God has said. Check the preachers you hear and the churches you attend. Not all are preaching and teaching what God says. Cf. John 5:39; Acts 17: 10-12). Going to a church like those of Asia (revelation 2 and 3), would not have been good. They believed, but their faith was faulty.