167. DO YOU HAVE IMITATION FAITH OR ENDURING FAITH?
(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
Once a person has genuinely believed in his heart that God raised Jesus Christ (God the Son) from the dead and confessed that Jesus is Lord with his mouth, the Bible states that:
- ONE – Such a person is saved from the wrath of God to come by grace, through the faith they have placed in Jesus, his Son (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:9-10; Galatians 3:11,14, 26).
- TWO – Such a person cannot be plucked out of God’s hand (John 10:28) because the gift of salvation that God has given to him is good, perfect and permanent. James 1:17 makes it clear that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.”
- THREE – Such a person has been begotten by the mercy of God “…unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven…” for him and such a person is also “…kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
- FOUR – Such a person (although we as humans are not privy to the list of names that God has) was elected, chosen, predestinated and ordained by God BEFORE the foundation of the world and based on God’s FOREKNOWLEDGE (1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:4-5; John 15:6; 2 Timothy 1:9; John 6:44; Romans 9:16; Mark 13:20; Matthew 22:14; John 17:9).
Many people who have made a profession of Christ with their lips and attend Church regularly, place reliance on the above points, to contend that once a person is saved, that person is always saved.
Once a person is saved and by that I mean, genuinely saved, he or she is indeed always saved. I agree. Salvation once given by God to any human being, cannot be reversed.
However, in reality, although many people confess Christ with their lips, they do not really believe in their HEART that God the Father raised him from the dead, as the Bible records and states is a prerequisite for salvation. They say they do but the way they think, how they operate, the things they do and their outlook on life, suggest differently.
What is rarely said is that the person above who is qualified by God’s grace alone for heaven and is therefore always saved is also the same person referred to in the sower and seed parable given by Jesus in Matthew 13:23, under the fourth category of hearers of the Word. Such a person received the gospel into his heart (not his head), thereby allowing the Word to make him fruitful while on earth.
Most definitely, none of the first two categories (the second of which many ‘professers’ of Christianity find themselves) are saved. In my view, some of those in the third category (which many ‘professers’ also find themselves) may possibly be saved but it may very well be that none of them are saved, hence the reason why no fruit can be brought to perfection.
What am I saying? Let me explain.
Many people who think that they are saved, fall, not in the fourth category of hearers given in the sower and seed parable but in the second or the third category. The second category of hearers also received the Word but only for a while, after which, they stopped believing, whether due to tribulation or persecution. Although they may have believed in their minds for a while, they stopped believing and departed from the faith because the Word was never properly received or rooted in a good place in their heart, when they heard it.
Such persons had faith but it was not the genuine kind. It was imitation faith that fails with time and circumstance, not enduring faith that lasts until the end.
The third category of believers received the Word but then, maybe like Lot, allowed a preoccupation with the cares of this world and riches, to undermine the power of the Word in their hearts, the end result being that they remain distracted, having set their affection on things on the earth and so become of little or no use to God in His Kingdom agenda and work.
Such persons the Bible states, become unfruitful. They never bring fruit to perfection, which means, they start well but don’t finish well (Luke 8:14).
On the whole, the reality is that there are many who merely profess Jesus as Lord with their lips or who genuinely think that they have faith and are saved and others consider them to be so as well, when in truth and in fact, time and circumstance reveal that what they had was imitation faith. Such faith fails when tested through trials, pleasures of life, the cares of this earth and so on and those persons, although they once appeared to be serving the Lord, depart from the faith.
There are several scriptures in the Bible that speak about departing from the faith or refer to it on an implied basis. It is therefore undeniable, that a person can have faith today and not have it tomorrow. This happens because the faith was not the authentic, saving kind of faith that God gives, to begin with. It therefore did not endure to the end.
Here is a list of some of the scriptures:
- 2 Timothy 4:10 –“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…”
- Luke 9:62 –“No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
- 1 Timothy 4:1 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
- Hebrews 3:12 – “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
- This scripture was written to people who consider themselves to be part of the Church body. It is therefore urging them in my view, to examine whether they are really in the faith or merely have imitation faith. If someone becomes hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, it means that even if they were once obeying the Lord, they are no longer doing so but doing their own thing. They may have struggled for a while to do the right thing but they eventually let go and go the way of the world. Obedience is conditional for there to be salvation, so starting off in obedience and appearing to have faith, does not mean that that person will continue in obedience and that his faith will survive trials and tribulations. The sower and the seed parable is a good example of this.
- Luke 14: 27-30 – “And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after her hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
- Hebrews 3:14 – “For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
- Matthew 24:12-13: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” This is why in Luke 18:8, Jesus said: “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find FAITH on the earth?” It is why he also told Simon in Luke 22:31, “…Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy FAITH FAIL NOT…”. Unbelief rising up in the heart and residing there, destroys faith. Which is why in verse 11 of Hebrews 4 it says, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man FALL after the same example of unbelief…. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us HOLD FAST OUR PROFESSION.”
- Now, I’ve heard it said by different believers, that Matthew 24:12-13 which states that he that endures to the end will be saved, refers to enduring through the great tribulation period and was therefore not meant to be generally applicable to believers per-tribulation period. I cannot say whether the verses pertain to the great tribulation period which will take place after the rapture. I will say though, that, given all of the other verses in the New Testament that clearly speak of the need for the Christian to continue on in the faith and for that faith not to fail, I am of the firm view that the principle of enduring faith as opposed to imitating faith, which lasts for a while and then fails is very much applicable to believers generally.
- That is, the scriptures (even without Matthew 24:12-13, make it is clear, that it is absolutely necessary that a person’s faith in Christ not fail, up to the point that they die or that Jesus returns. It thereby follows, that even if Matthew 24:12-13 is not applicable to general believers but those in the great tribulation period (as many Christians believe), the many other scriptures in the Bible make it clear, that enduring faith is a precursor to heaven.
- This is not about works but about continuing to have faith in Jesus right up until the end of that Christian’s existence on earth, no matter the persecution. Every genuine Christian will continue to have that faith. It will not fail because he is indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of truth and is ROOTED in Him. The faith of imposters though, who have no root of themselves, will fail, just as was seen in the parable with the sower and the seed (Luke 8:13; Matthew 13:21).
- In Luke 8:13, of the second category of hearers who believed for a while and then stopped because they were never really saved and therefore were not ROOTED to Christ and had imitation faith which fails, Jesus stated:
- “They on the rock are they which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; AND THESE HAVE NO ROOT, which for a while believe and in time of temptation fall away.”
- Of the same category of people, Matthew 13:20-21 writes of the parable: “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;Yet HATH HE NOT ROOT in himself, but DURETH for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
- Mark 4:16-17 records in his account of the parable: ““And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground: who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And HAVE NO ROOT in themselves, and so ENDURE BUT FOR A TIME: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
- It is important to remember as well, that whereas believers who are born in the great tribulation period will go through intense persecution, believers in the Bible days and even today, have gone through and continue to go through persecution because of their faith. Persecution is therefore not a foreign concept that will only be applicable during that great tribulation period, even if the type of persecution may differ or be more intense. The need for the Christian to ENDURE and for his faith not to fail in the midst of opposition, suffering and pressure, has therefore been a theme since the Bible days. This is why for example, the glorified Jesus Christ wrote to the Church at Smyrna that was enduring intense persecution, encouraging them to:
- “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have TRIBULATION ten days: be thou FAITHFUL unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
- Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 10:38-39 states, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
Given that God is omniscient and knows the beginning from the end, even if we can’t tell for sure with some people, whether they have imitation faith or the lasting faith that saves, God can tell the difference. Even where a person is deluded into thinking that he has saving faith, God knows that he does not.
The trials that come to test that faith therefore is not for God to figure out whether the person is truly saved or not. He knows his sheep. 2 Timothy 2:19 states, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his…” .
It is for the person to examine himself and recognize whether he is truly saved or not. 2 Corinthians 13:5 states, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
Persons who once had faith but then let go of it are not saved, (although everybody including themselves were convinced they were at the time). This is because their faith did not endure until the end and they are therefore not abiding in Jesus. Christians are saved by grace THROUGH faith. Without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind therefore, it is impossible for them to please God and impossible for them to gain access to heaven.
It is important to remember that being saved is not a qualification. It is a state of being. A person is either abidING in Christ or not and if he is not abidING through faith and dies that way, then he is not saved. As stated before, without faith, it is impossible to please God and impossible to be saved.
Such persons, if they never properly receive the gospel of salvation in their hearts and believe were never a part of God’s elect, as God knows from the beginning, those who are his and those that he has chosen from the foundation of the world. He will not choose and then change his mind and he is not taken aback or surprised by the events that transpire in the lives of men. He knows the end of everything and every human state, whether they will leave this world IN Christ or not.
Persons that are genuinely saved and are a part of God’s elect, tend to see indicators in their lives, such as chastening, spiritual growth and transformation and conviction. They tend to hear the Lord’s voice when he speaks in accordance with his Word (although at times they can be deceived by the enemy), they have the ability to discern, they see the supernatural work of God and his divine favour in their lives and realize that nothing in it ever really goes how they had planned or imagined but according to his will and purpose for it. For, they have acknowledged that he is their Lord and therefore, he retains ultimate control. As time progresses, they can see within themselves that, through his leading, they are becoming more Christ like and less like the world and most importantly, they continue on in life, no matter what comes, still having faith in the finished work of Christ and still valuing their relationship with him above ALL else.
Persons with imitation faith on the other hand, while they are enlightened for a while and experience a taste of the heavenly gift, wilt as time progresses because the faith they have is not from God and not lasting. Much like the sower and the seed parable has explained, they have it today and they don’t have it tomorrow, especially when adversity comes knocking and life does not turn out the way they expected it would. Imitation faith is not the same as saving faith therefore.
Hebrews 6:4-6 states:
- “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
If God really gives you the gift of salvation and you have truly received it, then your faith will endure until the end. This is why it is said, examine yourselves whether you are in faith. In other words, the gift of God is freely offered but did you truly receive it in a heart of belief?
As stated before, imitation faith does not withstand tests and trials and is one that only seems valid during good times and good things happening. Job’s wife for example, had this sort of imitation faith, where, when the going got rough, her children died, the riches were no more and Job became very sick, she saw no reason to continue trusting and serving God and encouraged her husband to curse him and die.
The trial tries the faith to see of what sort it is, whether that faith is of God and therefore lasting or a mere caricature of the real thing.
The long and short of it is that there are some who think they belong to Jesus but do not. That is, there are some who have made a profession of faith, think they belong to him but truly, if they were to be honest, they have zero relationship with him. They hear about him through sermons, other people’s testimonies and what they read in the Bible but they have never really experienced walking with him in a personal way because the faith they have is not authentic.
It is relationship and confidence in the one in whom our faith resides, that enables our faith to overcome trials when they arrive. Without personal experiences of what the Lord has done for you, how he has walked with you in the past and a genuine belief in what he will do in the end, your faith will not stand in the face of adversity.
People with imitation faith, no matter how much it looks like the real thing and no matter how long they continue on with it are not really Christians. At some point, they depart from the faith, whether due to trials that come to test their faith or in their pursuit of life’s pleasures and riches and some do so, even while continuing to attend Church regularly and without them even realizing their lost condition.
Departing from the faith doesn’t mean you will be perfect and never sin but to depart means that you renounce what appeared to have been your walk with Christ and you live a life where you have demoted him from his rightful position of Lordship over your heart.
How about you? Do you have IMITATION FAITH or ENDURING FAITH?
Imitation faith does not last, as we saw in the sower and the seed example and even in Job’s wife. Imitation faith is predicated on blessings continuing to flow and it is temporary, whereas genuine, enduring faith, stands the test of time, no matter what the devil throws. This is why your faith must be tried, of what sort it is. For, trials and fire manifest what you truly believe and shows whether you are truly abiding in Jesus Christ.
Of imitation faith, Jesus stated in the sower and seed example in Luke 8:13 and Mark 4:16-17:
- “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no root, WHICH FOR A WHILE BELIEVE, and in time of temptation fall away.“
- “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground: who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so ENDURE BUT FOR A TIME: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
Since it is impossible to get to heaven without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am of the view that the debate should not be about whether once a person is saved he is always saved or whether works can get one to heaven. Rather, the question should be: Do you have enduring faith, the kind that stands the test of time and lasts? Are you abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ and when he comes back, will you be found to STILL BE BELIEVING AND TRUSTING IN HIM AND IN HIS LORDSHIP? This is the person that is saved.
Make no mistake, FAITH (not works or Church attendance or a profession with one’s lips) is the requirement and passport that is required for heaven. This is why the enemy tries so very hard to get us to discard it.
Yet, the true Christian has a faith that is ROOTED in Christ so that no matter what, be it poverty, joblessness, pain, heartbreak, disappointment, spouse infidelity, singleness, financial hardship, childlessness, sickness, betrayal, rejection, false accusations, attacks, adversity, storms, death of loved ones, abuse, oppression, mishap, misfortune, persecution or WHATEVER the Lord allows the devil to throw at him or her, that person’s faith, having been tried, having been put through the fire, having endured the darkest of nights and the lowest of life’s pit experiences, STILL STANDS, STILL GIVES GOD PRAISE, STILL BOWS AT THE FEET OF JESUS.
(Written on 16th June, 2018)
Dear Reader, if you found this Article useful, edifying or interesting, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 76 – ‘Let Us Be Honest – What Do You Really Believe?’
- Note 78 – ‘When The Enemy Tries To Make You Doubt Your Salvation’
- Note 79 – ‘So Many Questions – Do You Have All The Answers?’
- Note 82 – ‘Trying To Be The Best You Can Is Not Enough – Jesus Is The Answer’
Under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters of God’ Page:
- Note 17 – ‘In Relationship With God Or Just Religious?’
- Note 25 – ‘Arm Yourself: Suffering Is Part of The Christian’s Story’
- Note 73 – ‘Are You Really Saved? Here Are Some Indicators’
- Note 82 -’The Unbelief of Judas Iscariot’
- Note 99 – ‘Are You Serving The Real Jesus?’
- Note 111 – ‘Are You Truly Saved? – Eight (8) Biblical Indicators To Examine Whether You Are In The Faith’
- Note 150 – ‘Faith – Do You Have It?’