Thursday, July 28, 2022

Saving Faith

Question 86: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel. (WSC)
Saving faith is faith in Jesus Christ. It is not a mere sense of dependance or optimism. The object of our faith matters greatly. Those who place their faith in false gods, money, or themselves will be disappointed and put to shame. Those who believe in Jesus Christ shall be saved (Acts 16:31).

Saving faith is not always equal in relative strength - it may be weak or strong, small or great. We pray that God would increase our faith (Mark 9:24). But whether weak or strong, this faith is equally precious in its nature, object, and saving efficacy, giving an equal share in Christ and his promises (2 Peter 1:1). In this respect, the weakest believer can take heart that he or she has a faith of equal standing to that of the apostles, a precious faith of great worth - not because of its virtue, but because of its object: Jesus Christ and his promises.

Saving faith is not a mere awareness of Christ and his claims about himself. Nor is it merely assenting to the truth of his claims. The demons recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet they remained his enemies. Saving faith is not only knowledge and assent, but also trust. A believer not only recognizes that Jesus is the Savior, but owns Jesus as his Savior and entrusts himself to Jesus (John 1:12, Acts 10:43, Matt. 10:32).

Saving faith does not take hold of some invention of the imagination, but it takes hold of Jesus as he is offered to us in the gospel, as God presents him to us. In the Old Testament, God presented this Savior to his people by promises, sacrifices, and other types and ceremonies. In the New Testament, the Christ who has come is offered in the gospel and the new covenant sacraments with greater clarity and efficacy to all nations. But in both administrations, sinners have been saved by faith in Christ, by whom they have had full remission of sins and eternal salvation.
“Accordingly, faith is nothing else than trust in the divine mercy promised in Christ, and it makes no difference with what sign it has been promised. This trust in the goodwill or mercy of God first calms our hearts and then inflames us to give thanks to God for his mercy so that we keep the law gladly and willingly.” (Philip Melanchthon, Loci Communes, 1521)

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