Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saving faith is both simple and complex. Faith is as simple as a drowning man reaching for a rope, a child taking a step or a sinner looking to Jesus Christ. Faith is simple belief. On the other hand, saving faith is complex, setting in motion all the judicial machinery of heaven. The ultimate purpose of God is activated by faith; but eternal consequences are not received as easily as an impulsive purchase at the discount store. To be saved, a person must have proper knowledge, proper emotion and proper decision of the will in response to God who calls, convicts and converts.
“Faith” is one of those common words that is difficult to define specifically. Some have suggested that the concept of faith is actually beyond the ability of any human being to define. But we can recognize certain aspects of faith that make the idea more understandable. Leon Morris suggests:
Faith is clearly one of the most important concepts in the whole New Testament. Everywhere it is required and its importance insisted upon. Faith means abandoning all trust in one’s own resources. Faith means casting oneself unreservedly on the mercy of God. Faith means laying hold on the promises of God for daily strength. Faith implies complete reliance on God and full obedience to God.
Faith is part of a person’s response to God in the salvation experience. The Heidelberg Catechism reflects the belief of Martin Luther: “The Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel....”
(Faith) is not merely a certain knowledge, whereby I receive as true what God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a cordial trust, which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, the forgiveness of sin, and everlasting righteousness and life are given by God out of pure grace, and only for the sake of Christ’s merit.
Faith begins by knowing God and His plan. Intellectual faith has never saved anyone, but intellectual knowledge is the foundation for saving faith. It is the proper response to saving faith. Intellectual faith is measured by what a person knows about the historical facts of Christianity. It is not a matter of the emotions or the will, but simple knowledge of God.
Intellectual faith is the basis for volitional faith. In the first step, the person believes in the existence of God, that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the sins of humankind and that God will save those who call upon Him. This knowledge is not ultimate faith, but is the beginning.
There is a place for a person’s intellect in faith. Someone once defined faith as “believing what ain’t so.” He was wrong. Saving faith is not a blind leap in the dark. It is based upon objective truth. As Morris notes:
The verb pisteuo is often followed by “that,” indicating that faith is concerned with facts. This is important, as Jesus made clear to the Jews, “for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). But it is not all-important. James tells us that the devils believe “that there is one God,” but this “faith” does not profit them (Jas. 2:19).3
New Testament Words Describing Evangelism
Witnessing martureo Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Talking laleo Acts 4:1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,
Evangelizing euangelizo Acts 8:4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Announcing kerusso Acts 8:5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.
HCSB Acts 8:4 So those who were scattered went on their way proclaiming the message of good news.
5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to them
Confusing suncheo Acts 9:22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Explaining dianoigo Acts 17: 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
Demonstrating paratithemai Acts 17:3
Preaching katangello Acts 17:3
Persuading peitho Acts 17:4 2 Cor. 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.
Teaching didasko Matt. 28:20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Discipling matheteuo Matt. 28:19
Reasoning dialegomai Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Discussing suzeteo Acts 6:9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.
Declaring gnorizo 1 Cor. 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel
Winning kerdaino 1 Pet. 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
Proving sumbibazo Acts 9:22
These words remind us that Faith has a knowledge element of which people need to be persuaded of the truthfulness and of the trustworthiness or faithworthiness of those facts.
We share Facts about Him
The gospel 1 Corinthians 15: 1 Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed to no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we preach and so you have believed.
Everywhere you look in Scripture, you see the writer pointing toward Christ.
In Luke 24:27, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two forlorn followers and began teaching them the secret to Scripture. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." The Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ. Every story and every event leads directly to the Savior.
In John 5:39, the Lord Jesus told His followers to "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me." Of course, the New Testament had not yet been written, so Jesus is telling His disciples to explore the Old Testament writings, because they all point toward Him.
As you read through God's Word, see how it points you to Jesus.
• Christ is the Seed of woman and in Genesis 3:15 we are told He will one day crush Satan.
• In Exodus we find the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us.
• In Leviticus we read of the high priests making sacrifices for the people, and Christ has become our High Priest, making the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins.
• In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself. Jesus is that Great Prophet.
• In the book of Joshua, Joshua met the Captain of the Lord's host. That man is Jesus Christ.
• In Judges, the leaders were judges who delivered God's people, each of them typifying the Lord Jesus.
• Boaz, the kinsman who redeemed Ruth's inheritance, is a picture of Christ.
• David, the anointed one, pictures Jesus and Jesus is described as being the Son of David.
• In 2 Samuel when the king is being enthroned, the entire scene is descriptive of the Lord Jesus.
• The books of Kings speak of the glory of God filling the temple and the Chronicles describe the glorious coming king, both referring to Jesus, the King of Kings.
• Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers.
• Job says clearly that the Redeemer is coming!
• Esther offers a picture of Christ interceding for His people.
• Christ appears time after time in the Psalms, including when David describes Him as "the Shepherd."
• Isaiah details His glorious birth.
• Jeremiah reveals that He will be acquainted with sorrows.
• Joel describes Him as the Hope of His people.
• Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations.
• Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom.
• Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance.
• Zephaniah says that He will be the king over Israel.
• Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt.
• Malachi is the one who calls Him the Son of Righteousness.
Can you see it? The entire Old Testament points toward Jesus as Savior, and if you miss that, you've missed the entire point of the Scriptures. Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy.
All of the Bible is about Jesus Christ and His blood redemption, and you will find this scarlet thread throughout the Word of God.
The Prophesy of the Blood
From the very beginning of human history, it is revealed. When Adam and Eve sinned, God shed innocent blood in order to make them clothes from animal skins (Genesis 3:21). This is a picture of the covering of righteousness that we receive when the Lord Jesus Christ died for us.
In Genesis four we read that Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. They instinctively wanted to worship God. Cain sacrificed the fruit of the ground. Abel had already learned that God demanded blood, so he brought a lamb. God accepted the blood of Abel's lamb, but He did not accept Cain's offering. Why? Because "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin" (Hebrews 9:22).
And God told Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac (Genesis 22). Just before Abraham plunged the dagger into the quivering heart of his son, an angel stopped him. Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket. Isaac was set free, but an innocent animal's blood was shed instead.
Then, God wanted to deliver His people from bondage in the land of Egypt. On the night of the Passover, God instructed each house to slay a lamb and put the blood on their door. God said in Exodus 12:13, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."
And in the tabernacle and later in the temple, thousands upon thousands of sheep, oxen, and turtle doves were killed and their blood spilt as sacrifices for sin.
And finally, the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross. His death was the fulfillment of all the prophecy and promises. Revelation 13:8 proclaims that He was slain before the foundation of the world. He came to die; He planned to die; He lived to die; and He was born to die.
Blood is throughout Scripture, but what does Christ's blood mean to us?
The Power of the Blood
His blood redeems us. There was a price against us that we could not pay, but the blood of Jesus redeemed us. First Peter 1:18-19 says, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things ... But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
His blood brings us into fellowship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Without the blood of Christ, man is a long way from God.
His blood makes peace with God. Man, by nature, is at war with God; and we can only come to God on His peace terms—the blood atonement. The Bible says in Colossians 1:20, "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself ..."
His blood cleanses. Not only does it remove the punishment of sin, it removes the pollution. I don't care what sin you've committed; "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
His blood gives power over the devil. It's the blood that Satan fears. Revelation 12:11 says, "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb ..." The devil doesn't want you to learn about the blood. He hates it!
Before this planet was ever swung into space, God had determined in His heart that He would send His Son to die upon the cross. How wonderful it is to trace the scarlet thread of the blood of Christ woven throughout the Bible! How much more wonderful to experience its redemption personally. Praise God for the blood of His Lamb!
He was the conqueror of Death
Isa 25: 6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. . . For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 25-26
We Share Faith in Him
The Gospel of John uses the word “believe” 98 times and ties faith to the object of belief. We are exhorted to “believe in Jesus Christ.” As a result, the important aspect of belief is what you believe, not just the measure of your belief. Therefore, to have saving faith, people must believe that God will punish sin (Rom. 6:23), and that Christ has made a provision for their salvation (Rom. 5:8). People must believe these truths, which means they accept them intellectually; but mere intellectual assent to biblical truth is not enough to save.
The characteristic construction for saving faith is that the verb pisteuo is followed by the preposition eis. Literally, this means “to believe into.” It denotes a faith that, so to speak, takes people out of themselves, and puts them into Christ (cf. the expression frequently used of a Christian, being “in Christ”). This experience may also be referred to by the term “faith-union with Christ.” It denotes not simply a belief that carries an intellectual assent, but one wherein believers cleave to the Savior with all their hearts. Those who believe in this sense abide in Christ and Christ in them (John 15:4). Faith is not accepting certain things as true, but trusting a Person; and that Person is Christ.
When the Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” he was told, “Believe.” Faith involves an act of the will on the part of the believer in that the believer surrenders to the will of God. In one sense, no person can ever surrender fully to Christ as Lord and Savior because humankind still has a sin nature. Yet, if people refuse consciously to surrender some part of their wills to Christ, they are not exercising faith.
A person becomes a Christian by faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). When the Philippian jailer was troubled about his salvation, he was exhorted to exercise belief—the verb expression of faith. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). When Nicodemus failed to understand how he could enter into a relationship with God, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Apart from faith, personal salvation is impossible.
Personal salvation is experienced by the inner person. Because humans are composed of intellect, emotion and will, faith comes through a proper exercise of these three aspects of personality.
Our faith must be grounded on correct knowledge. People cannot put their trust in something they do not know about, nor can they honestly trust something that is proven false to them. People must first know the gospel, which means they have an intellectual knowledge of salvation. But this knowledge alone will not save them.
The Bible seems to make a distinction between “believe that” and “believe in.” In the first place, people can believe that their teams will win or believe that their jobs are superior. The beliefs are opinion, but are not deep conviction (i.e., based on the object of their faith—Jesus Christ). When people “believe in,” the beliefs are based on carefully weighing the evidence. When we say “believe in,” we are speaking of a moral expression or a moral experience.
Our faith will have an emotional expression. Knowledge about God is the foundation of saving faith, but such faith will extend to the individual’s emotional responses as well. Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Your faith must be a volitional response. A third aspect of saving faith is an expression of volitional faith. People are saved as a result of an act of their wills whereby they rely on Christ as proclaimed in the gospel. Paul told the Roman Christians, “You obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Rom. 6:17). When people accept Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 1:12), it is a conscious act whereby they invite Him into their hearts (Eph. 3:16).
What is it to become a Christian?
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Faith in him ….
Receiving Him Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
John 1:10-13 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
1 John 5:11-13 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
John 6: 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
We Share Faith From Him
1 Corinthians 1: 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.