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Saving faith

July 2005 | by Don Fortner

And he said to the woman, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” ‘ (Luke 7:50).

Some men preach as if they were scared to death that one of the non-elect might be saved! They throw up barbed-wire fences all around the gospel, doing everything they can to keep sinners from believing on the Son of God.

I never cease to be amazed that the heads of sinful men often swell with such dizziness that they imagine themselves smarter than God – presuming to assert that the very language of Holy Scripture is heretical if not qualified by their own ‘explanations’.

Hear God’s Word

Recently, a would-be theologian who thinks he has received ‘new light’ has vehemently asserted that anyone who uses the terms ‘saving faith’ and ‘effectual faith’ is a heretic – because these terms suggest that a man may save himself by exercising faith. Were his assertions not so serious and dangerous, they would be laughable.

Let us hear the Word of God (please note my emphases in italics):

‘When Jesus heard it, he marvelledand said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith,no, not in Israel’ (Matthew 8:10).

‘Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thyfaith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour’ (Matthew 15:28).

‘But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thyfaith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour’ (Mark 9:22).

‘And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thyfaith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way’ (Mark 10:52). And so we could continue.

The apostles asked the Lord, ‘Increase ourfaith’, while Jesus prayed for Peter that hisfaith should not fail. In every case faith is spoken of as something possessed by the person concerned and exercised freely and savingly by them.

God’s gift

We recognise and rejoice in the fact that faith in Christ is the gift and operation of God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 1:12). No sinner can or will believe on the Son of God, except God the Holy Spirit graciously causes him to do so – by omnipotent, effectual grace (John 5:40; 6:37, 44; Psalm 65:4).

Every gospel preacher proclaims, and every saved sinner knows, that it is Christ (the solitary object of our faith) who has redeemed, justified and saved us by free grace alone. He has reconciled us to God.

Yet the Word of God plainly declares that we receivethe benefits of the atonement by exercising faith in Christ (Romans 5:10-11; Galatians 3:2). We have the peace of complete justification and reconciliation to our God by faith in Christ.

Yes, faith in Christ is effectual and saving in the exercise and experience of it: ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith’ (1 John 5:4).

Faith in Christ is not a notion, or a doctrine, or a barren principle. It is the heart confidence of every needy sinner who looks to Christ as his only Saviour, and causes him to confess, ‘My Lord, and my God’ (John 20:28).

Yes, faith is God’s gift and God’s operation in us. Yet it is ourfaith. If God gave it to me, that makes it mine.

Necessary faith

The breath in my lungs is God’s gift. He enables me to breathe. Yet, it is my breath and my breathing that gives life to my body. And my breathing is as necessary to my survival as God’s gift of life. The two cannot be separated.

So it is with faith. We ‘are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:26). The Holy Spirit tells you plainly that the faith you have by his grace is ‘yourfaith in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:15; 1 Corinthians 1:4; 2:5). It is God’sgift – and because God gave it to you, it is yourfaith to be exercised to his glory.

And ‘your faith in Christ’ is just as necessary, just as vital to your everlasting salvation, and just as precious (2 Peter 1:1) as God’s decree of election, Christ’s accomplished redemption and the Holy Spirit’s effectual call. For ‘without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).

Two questions

Do you, like the Philippian jailer of old, ask, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ I do not hesitate to answer with Paul and Silas, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16:30-31).

Do not allow anyone to set you looking to yourself, and your ‘experience’. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’ and salvation is yours.

Do you ask, ‘How can I know that I am saved?’ Answer this one question: ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ (John 9:35). It does not matter whether you can answer, ‘What did you know when you first professed faith in Christ?’ or ‘Was the man preaching a sound gospel preacher?’ or ‘When did you believe?’ Those questions are totally irrelevant. This is the only question to be answered: ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ If you now trust the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation is yours.

As for those who are offended by these things, as far as I am concerned, if men find the language of Holy Scripture offensive, I do not hesitate to offend them.

As my friend Gary Shepard put it, ‘It is not blasphemy to say what God has said. It is blasphemy to replace what God has said with the words and wisdom of man. What he says plainly is what he means, and all else is blasphemy!’

Be assured that what men call ‘new light’ is old satanic darkness!