Sunday, January 19, 2020

What is Faith in God?

Faith is the resting of the heart on God, the Author of life and eternal salvation, so that we may be saved from all evil through Him and may follow all good unto Him (Ps. 37:5; Isa. 10:20; Jer. 17:7).

Faith welcomes a sweet exchange of sins for righteousness, wherein a sinful man is credited as righteous in Christ, Christ having been made sin for him (Rom. 3:21–26). Faith then follows with outward evidences of itself, which are commonly called “good works.”

Faith is comprised of two distinct but inseparable tenets: an act of understanding and an act of will. First, faith involves an act of understanding wherein the mind gives assent to evidence. This is a knowledge of the declarations in Scripture regarding the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:19). However, the message itself is not the object of faith (John 20:31). The true object of faith is the Person in whom faith is placed—that is, God Himself through Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:10). Man not only believes about God but in God. Moreover, God is the ultimate object of faith, while Christ is the mediate object of faith (Rom. 6:11; 2 Cor. 3:4; 1 Peter 1:21). This means that true, saving faith is an understanding placed in God through Jesus Christ.

However, bare belief in God through Christ divorced from an act of will is not saving faith (John 7:17; 8:31, 32; 1 John 2:3). This act of will is the second necessary aspect of saving faith. Not a mere act of intellect, the exercising of faith involves an act of choice by the whole man. Faith is a determined resolve. It is a genuine turning of the will away from reliance on self toward dependence on God. This entails surrender by a consent of the will (John 6:35). To believe in God through Christ, then, is to cling to God, to lean on God, and to rest in God as our all-sufficient life and salvation (Deut. 30:20; Pss. 37:3–5; 62:7; Prov. 3:5; Isa. 10:20; 31:1; 50:10; Rom. 10:11).

Faith is a genuine receiving (John 1:12)—a sure dependence upon God (Prov. 3:5). Accordingly, faith is not uncertain and doubtful, a result of man’s imperfect knowledge of a testimony alone. Though scriptural testimony is sure in itself (John 9:29; Rom. 3:4; 1 Cor. 2:5; 2 Peter 1:20–21), faith is most certain because it unites itself to God’s Person. He who is infallible lends infallibility to true, saving faith itself. Faith lays hold of the power of the whole triune God in salvation (Mark 11:23; Luke 17:6; Rom. 1:16–17). Unfortunately, due to man’s imperfect inclinations, the surety of true faith often feels debilitated. This is why man supposes that the assurance of his faith is questionable—and why he needs the inner persuasion and strengthening of faith by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3; cf. Mark 9:24). Nonetheless, true faith, whether a feeble hand or a strong grasp, is faith in God—and therein lies assurance (cf. Matt. 9:21; Heb. 11). Therefore, faith so certainly unites man to God in Christ that none can remove him or separate him from God (John 10:28–29; Rom. 8:35–39).

In addition, though, general intellectual assent and reliance without any life is no saving faith (James 2:24). Faith is an assent based on knowledge whereby man lives to God in Christ. Faith entails declaring God our God in Christ; this is known as submission to the Sovereign. While it is the first act whereby we are saved by God in Christ, faith evokes many resultant acts of good works. Faith brings with itself man’s living to God. From the spring of faith flow sincere resolutions to a life of obedience. Furthermore, because faith in God guarantees a progressive holiness—both a separation from sin and a clinging to righteousness—the test of true, saving faith is summarized simply: faith that saves is faith that works.