by Mike Ratliff
If I had not done workes among them which none other man did, they had not had sinne: but nowe haue they both seene, and haue hated both me, and my Father. But it is that the worde might be fulfilled, that is written in their Lawe, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:24-25 Geneva)
Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war. John MacArthur’s latest book is called The Truth War. In it, he exposes the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine.
Brian McClaren has said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people. He makes the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth to designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.
Keep in mind that this attack by McClaren is typical of the Emergent movement. From that group we hear these messages that appeal to our flesh while putting the real message from the Bible into a bad light. Those who have the courage to stand against this sort of thing will find that there will be a backlash coming their way from some very surprising sources. They will be called divisive. They will be called legalistic. They will be treated as pariahs. All of this will be from so-called fellow Christians. Therefore, what me must seriously look at is the difference between professed faith and true saving faith. Those with the latter will be regenerate. They will have the Holy Spirit. They are New Creations. However, if a person is a professing Christian alone without saving faith then they are simply unregenerate religious people. If we simply look at “works” it might be hard to tell one from the other. So how do we tell? We must look at God’s Word.
Where do we start? We must admit that the main difference between a regenerate believer and lost person is that one is in belief and the other is in unbelief. Therefore, if we look at the Bible’s use of the word “unbelief” then we can draw a narrow line between the two. From this study we can see where true saving faith lies. Then we can look within to examine ourselves to see how much unbelief is in our faith. To do this, we must see exactly what unbelief is.
Our flesh believes that unbelief is simply making a bad decision while faith is making the right decision. We naturally believe that unbelief is nothing more than an error in judgment. However, unbelief is actually a rebellious and violent principle of opposition to God. In the Bible we find that the words “disobedience” and “obeyed not” come from the same Greek words as “unbelief” and “believed not.” The writers of the Bible used “unbelief” and “disobedience” as synonyms throughout Scripture. They are the same word in the original Greek. Please carefully reason through the following statement: “We cannot rightfully say we have saving faith while living in unbelief. It is a contradiction.” If we change the word unbelief to disobedience, the contradiction remains
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:16 KJVR)
Paul tells us that we cannot claim saving faith if we are living in disobedience. Peter does as well.
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, (1 Peter 2:7 KJVR)
We cannot separate unbelief and disobedience because they are the same word in Greek. They are synonymous. Conversely, obedience and faith are as well. Adam’s sin, which plunged all of Man into unbelief, was far more than a mere negative failing to believe God’s clear command to not eat of the tree in the midst of the Garden.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 KJVR)
This passage tells us that it was Adam’s unbelief that was a damning sin, and so it brought the fall. Adam was not deceived by Satan’s lie as was Eve.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14 KJVR)
Adam’s sin was in discounting God’s smallest command while demanding to have his own way. This is self-will, which is the essence of sin. Unless self-will is broken there is no salvation, no saving faith. Adam’s sin was the first act of unbelief in the history of Man.
From this we see that unbelief is a damning sin. Here is another example.
And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19 KJVR)
“Believed not” comes from the same Greek word as “obeyed not.” This tells us that they could not enter because of unbelief. Did they have faith? They believed enough to follow Moses in the Exodus, but what happened to them in the wilderness? They were condemned. They saw the plagues in Egypt. They saw the Red Sea part. They saw and ate the manna. However, they still would not obey. How did Moses admonish them for their unbelief?
And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: (Deuteronomy 1:25-26 KJVR)
This is unbelief. Unbelief is far more than a spiritual struggle to question the existence of saving faith by the grace of God within us or not. When we struggle there it is a trial of faith, but that isn’t unbelief. Unbelief is a gross damnable sin. It is rooted in a self-will that has NEVER been broken. It is determined to have its own way and sit in the seat of God. Unbelief is evident in self-will, rebellion, defiance and disobedience. Therefore, it is a contradiction to claim saving faith while walking in self-will.
Unbelief is also directly connected with hatred.
If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:24-25 KJVR)
Unbelief is connected with hatred because the conscience condemns them, so they hate. This is the source of viciousness and retaliationwe experience from those in unbelief when we stand on God’s Truth or rebuke those in apostasy or heresy. A true brother or sister will receive our concern with love, but those in unbelief turn on us and become our worst enemy. They want the condemnation from their conscience to stop. Unbelievers, i.e., the counterfeit believers hated our Lord Jesus Christ because He told them the truth. When we emulate Him they hate us as well. It is by this that we know them.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. (John 5:40-42 KJVR)
Our Lord pinpointed the distinction between faith and unbelief. What is it? It is the love of God. Those He was rebuking could not have saving faith with their will totally dissolved in God’s will without a motive of love.
Genuine believers are not in unbelief. Therefore, they are not consumed by disobedience nor do they hate other believers. On the other hand, there is nothing to keep professing believers who are not genuine from fabricating good works, but since they are in self-will, the truth of their unbelief will eventually become manifest. We see this in the growing apostasy in men such as Brian McClaren who unabashedly attack the veracity of the Gospel and say their message is the real Christianity.