Sunday, March 23, 2008

Faith & Salvation

Faith and Salvation

This post will discuss faith with three main points and will consider these points individually.

1. Faith has a personal, rather than purely historical reference.

2. Faith concerns trust in the promises of Gospels

3. Faith unites the believer to and with Christ.

1. Faith is not simply historical knowledge. A faith which is content to believe in the historical reliability of the Gospels is not a saving faith. Sinners are perfectly capable of trusting in the historical details of the Gospels; but these facts of themselves are not adequate for true Christian faith. Saving faith concerns believing and trusting that Christ was born for us personally, and has accomplished for us the work of salvation.

2. Faith includes an element of trust. The notion of trust is prominent in the reformation conception of faith, as a nautical analogy used by Martin Luther indicates: "Everything depends upon faith. The person who does not have faith is like someone who has to cross the sea, but is so frightened that he does not trust the ship. And so he stays where he is, and is never saved because he will not get on board and cross over." Faith is not merely believing that something is true; rather, it is being prepared to act upon that belief and relying upon it.

Christian faith is about being prepared to put one's trust in the promises of God who made those promises. Faith is only as strong as the one in whom we believe and trust. The efficacy of faith does not rest upon the intensity with which we believe, but in the reliability of the One in whom we believe. The content of faith matters at least as much as, and probably far more than, its intensity. It is pointless to trust passionately in someone who is not worthy of trust; even a modicum of faith in someone who is totally reliable is vastly to be preferred. Trust is not, however and occasional attitude: for me, it is an undeviating trusting outlook on life, a constant stance of conviction of the trustworthiness of the promises of God.

3. Faith unites the believer to Christ. Luther states this principal clearly in his 1520 work, The Liberty of a Christian: "Faith does not merely mean that the soul realizes that the divine work is full of all grace, free and holy; it also unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom. From such a marriage, as the Apostle Paul says (Ephesians 5:31-32), it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or for worse."

Faith, then, is not a part of an abstract set of doctrines in a catechism. Rather, it is a "wedding ring" pointing to a mutual commitment and union between Christ and the believer. Faith makes both Christ and His benefits - such as love, forgiveness, justification and hope - available to the believer.


No comments: