Most people have faith of one kind or another, and there are many who profess faith in Christ. But it is evident that the ‘faith’ produced by much modern-day evangelism is not true saving faith, because it does not produce the same characteristics as the faith which is taught and exemplified in the Word of God. Faith which is produced by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the gospel, will always be distinguished from false faith by at least five things.
1. True faith produces a heart truly broken before God over sin (Psalm 51:1-5, 17). Whenever a sinner sees himself in the light of God’s glory shining upon him through the cross of Christ, he will cry out with the publican, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ This is where repentance begins. Christ revealed in the heart breaks the heart (Zechariah 12:10).
2. True faith causes the heart to bow willingly to Christ’s absolute sovereignty and lordship in all things (Luke 14:25-33). The believer’s submission to Christ is far from perfect, but it is a sincere, willing surrender of the heart to Christ. In our inmost being we voluntarily commit ourselves, and all things, to the disposal of our gracious Sovereign.
3. True faith looks to Christ alone for all things. True faith trusts Christ alone. It has two hands. With one hand it strips away all the filthy rags of our own righteousness; with the other it puts on the righteousness of Christ. Faith sees ‘Jesus only’ and wraps itself up in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
4. True faith will persevere and continue to believe regardless of circumstances (Hebrews 11:13). False faith fluctuates. True faith is steady, continual and relentless. It may be buffeted by the storms of life, but it will never give up, it will continue to cling to Christ.
5. True faith produces a heart of sincere love for the people of God (1 John 4:8; 5:1). False faith strives to produce love and pretends to love, but love is natural to true faith. Love for the brethren flows as naturally from the believing heart as water flows from the spring.