Faith Is Not Optimism
By David J. Stewart
Faith is not optimism! I once heard a man say, “Boy brother, you just gotta believe!” Though he was sincere, he was speaking of optimism, not faith. The dictionary defines “optimism” as: “The optimistic feeling that all is going to turn out well.” This is definitely NOT faith.
I can say all day long that “I believe” a chair will hold me up, if I stand on it, but that’s NOT faith—that’s optimism. Faith would be for me to go over and stand up on the chair. Do you see the difference? To stand upon the chair would require my trust, my faith, that it will hold me up. One can say he believes in Jesus all he wants to but that is NOT faith unless he actually places his trust upon Christ. Salvation is NOT merely a belief, it is believing on Jesus Christ. Believing requires a personal decision on your part to trust Christ.
Salvation is a new birth. I've never liked the term “relationship” concerning salvation, because Judas (one of Christ's very Apostles) had a “relationship” with Jesus, but he still went to Hell in unbelief. Either you are a child of God or else you are a child of the Devil. Believing that Jesus is real is NOT enough. Even the demons believe that Jesus exists... “...the DEVILS ALSO BELIEVE, and tremble” (James 2:19). You must not only acknowledge that Jesus is the Savior—you must personally TRUST HIM! You must decide for yourself to rely 100% upon Christ, in that He died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and bodily resurrected three days later for our justification. Only Jesus died on the cross for you! Only Jesus shed His blood for you, and me, and all mankind. Only Jesus has the nail-scared hands and feet. Jesus paid it all!
Have you believed THE GOSPEL? Do you believe on the precious name of Jesus Christ? You should remember a time in your life when you received Christ as your Savior. If not, there’s no time like the present! Maybe you remember (as I do) praying many times for God to save you, but you don’t remember exactly the date when you were saved. That’s easy—The first time! You see, you're not saved when you pray; but rather, when you BELIEVE. The very first time that I called upon the name of the Lord, I was saved, because I believed the Gospel. God only requires a childlike faith for salvation.
If you have just enough faith to “call upon the name of the Lord,” then that’s all the faith required for salvation... “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED” (Romans 10:13). That is a promise from God. And by the way, the word “call” here doesn't mean to vocally call upon; but rather, to invoke, that is, to come to Jesus to be saved. What if a person was mute, having their tongue cut out, as did some victims of the American Civil War? Salvation is of the heart my friend, not the mouth. Faith is NOT optimism, it is trust.
There are millions of people who are optimistic they will make it to Heaven one day, but they won’t. Jesus plainly said in Luke 13:23-24, “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” This is the woeful deception of religion and good works. Satan has provided many false substitutes for the Gospel. The Bible is clear, “The just shall live by FAITH” (Romans 1:17). You must put your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
I Couldn't Find Peace About My Salvation
When I first became a Christian, I doubted my salvation for several years. I simply didn’t understand the Bible enough to KNOW whether or not I was saved. I had dozens of questions going through my mind. Did I have enough faith? Did I really “believe” on Christ? If I did believe, then why am I unsure about my salvation? What if I’m not saved? What if I missed something? Is God upset with me because I keep asking Him to save me? Does it show a lack of faith because I keep asking God to save me? Why can’t I find peace on the matter?
Over the years that followed as a teenager, I purposed in my heart to learn the Bible. I wanted to know everything about salvation and faith there was to know. Anytime I heard a sermon about faith or believing, I listened attentively on the edge of my seat. I read every Gospel tract I could get my hands on, each several times through. Time and time again I would admit to God I was a sinner and ask Him to save me. I was scared. I remember reminding God in prayer that I had a right as His child to KNOW if I was saved. I told God that I would get saved in a heartbeat if I wasn’t saved. The big problem was that I didn’t KNOW 100% sure whether I was saved or lost. I was confused and uncertain about my salvation.
I Finally Received the Assurance of My Salvation
The doubts continued for several years. The Holy Spirit showed me many wonderful truths and finally, in time, I grasped the assurance of my salvation. I had been saved all along but lacked the Bible knowledge to be at perfect peace about it. I had been afraid of something which I didn’t understand. I had been looking to a prayer and a past experience instead of looking to what was in my heart in the present. I was focusing on myself, rather than focusing upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I eventually learned the simple truth that all God expects of a person to be saved is to BELIEVE the Gospel. Most preachers today misunderstand the Gospel, and instead teach a false plan of salvation of partial faith in Christ plus works.
I had learned that salvation is of the heart, not the mouth (Romans 10:9, “...and shalt believe in thine heart...”). It wasn’t my prayer, nor even my faith that saved me—it was HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matthew 6:33), in response to my faith. After several years of searching and wondering, I finally had the assurance of my salvation. I realized with Jonah in Jonah 2:9 that “Salvation is of the LORD.” My part is only to believe, and God does the rest. Salvation is receiving, not giving. Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. God will not save anyone who is trying to be saved, He will only save those who are trusting to be saved. Eternal life is a free gift, paid for by Jesus' redeeming blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12, 24; 1st Peter 1:18-19).
Next to my salvation, my assurance is the greatest gift which God has ever given to me. I had learned that faith is NOT optimism. As we read earlier in Luke 13:23-24, many people think they will enter into Heaven when they die, but “SHALL NOT BE ABLE.” They were deceived by the Devil. They believed a lie, accepting a substitute for the Gospel. It is ok to doubt, just so as long as you BELIEVE. Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” No amount of doubt can keep a soul out of Heaven if that soul believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ... “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...” (Romans 16:31).
Don't trust your feelings, because feelings change from one day to the next. Rather, trust only the Word of God, which NEVER changes. A demon's favorite activity is to make religious people feel comfortable in their unbelief. Satan's greatest weapon is to con people into living the Christian life without ever being born-again. Religion wants to fit us with glasses, but the Lord wants to open our eyes. Oh, how people need the truth of the Gospel.
Matthew 7:14, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The reason why “few” people ever find the narrow way which leadeth unto eternal life is because there are so many satanic substitutes (e.g., humanism, religion, psychology, evolution, heresy) to mislead them. Most people are optimistic in their false religion, satisfied with a lie. A man with no hope is far better off than a man with a false hope, because the man with no hope is still searching. The hardest part about winning people to Christ is first getting them lost, convincing them that Satan has deceived them. Famous author Mark Twain said, “It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
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