If you haven’t read parts 1-6 of this series I encourage you to do so. We have explored certain “myths” surrounding the concept of salvation and have come to understand that in order for one to truly “be saved,” there must be repentance and faith. Last time we looked at what repentance means sola scriptura ( by scripture alone), now; let’s take a look at what it means to have true saving faith.
The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 12:6). If it is impossible to please God without it, we must make it a priority to know what faith is. The Bible tells us that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). So, if faith is the vehicle through which we are saved, we must understand just what faith is; in particular, saving faith. What is saving faith?
“Saving faith may be defined as a response to God’s call by the acceptance of Christ with the total person- that is, assured conviction of the truth of the gospel, and with trustful reliance on God in Christ for salvation, together with a genuine commitment to Christ and to his service.” This saving faith can be distinguished into three aspects: knowledge, assent, and trust.
1) We must be aware of what we are to believe.
2) We must whole heartedly agree with the gospel.
3) We must trust with our entire being.
All of that may sound kind of mechanical and static, so; let’s see if we can bring it to life with the following example:
Someone has told the story of the man who was walking back and forth across Niagara falls on a tightrope. Well, he walked across the falls a couple of times and the people were all amazed. Returning from the other side for the final time, he turned an asked the crowd, “Do you believe I can walk across the falls blind folded?” Every one responded with cheers, “We know you can, let’s see it!” He then proceeded to ask that a wheelbarrow be brought up to the platform. He turned to the crowd and said, “Let’s see who truly believes I can do it. Will some one come up and climb into the wheelbarrow and let me push you across as I walk the falls?” There’s a big difference in saying you believe and getting in the wheelbarrow. If you’re going to get in the wheelbarrow, you definitely need to be aware of what/who you’re putting you faith in, you’re gonna have to wholeheartedly agree that the man’s words are true (i.e. his claim that he can get both you and he across blindfolded), and you are most definitely going to trust with your entire being.
Misunderstanding saving faith can be dangerous. The Bible clearly teaches we’re saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. The argument by many is that since salvation is through faith alone, there is no need for any works. However, the book of James reveals that it is the presence of corresponding works which qualifies saving faith (James 2:14-26). James points out that Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac revealed that he was indeed in possession of saving faith. “Lip service, with no manifestation of the fruit of faith is not saving faith.’
We have discussed the fact that salvation is not simply a self-help tool designed to make me the best me I can be. We’ve discovered that salvation isn’t merely keeping a list of do’s & don’ts. We’ve examined the fact that the presence of the miraculous is not proof- positive of communion with Christ. In part four we saw that mere mental assent to the facts concerning Jesus does not mean one is in communion with Christ. And finally, in part five we came to our last “Myth Buster” and found that nowhere in the Bible is someone inquiring as to how one is born again told to just “ask Jesus to come into your heart.”
We have come to understand that true salvation involves repentance and faith. An exploration of the meaning of faith and repentance should serve to further the already present witness of the Holy Spirit that we are indeed the children of God, or else, convince us that our conversion experience is altogether lacking or perhaps disingenuous. And finally,we have learned that salvation is not a one time event, something we did a long time ago; it is an ongoing, right now, present tense relationship with Jesus.
We have entitled this series Examine Yourselves, so; let’s examine ourselves. While this is by no means a definitive list,based on what we’ve learned; I’ve created a list of questions that will at least help us begin to examine ourselves:
1) Has my life truly changed direction?
2) Have I turned away from sin and towards God; and, am I continuing to do so?
3) Has my outlook on life as well as my behavior truly changed?
4) Do I have sincere remorse over my sin?
5) Am I presently looking to God and relying on Christ to keep me free from the dominion of sin?
6) Do I truly believe that Christ came, incarnate God (God in the flesh), and died for my sins and rose again from the dead?
7) Am I “in the wheel barrow” so to speak? (Remember the story above.)
8) Is my life marked by a continued commitment to service, and works which bear evidence of the reality of my faith?
Well, that’s it for the Examine Yourselves series. “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13)
1. Anthony A. Hoekema, Saved By Grace, (Grand Rapids, Michigan- William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 140.
2. Ibid., 140-143.
3. Tim Riter, Twelve Lies You Hear In church, (USA- David C. Cook Publishing, 2004), 18.
4. R. C. Sproul, Essential truths of The Christian Faith, (USA- Tyndale House Publishers, 1998), 187.