A thought-provoking article from Jim Groth today. What do you think?
I was thinking about last Sunday’s night class when an idea came to mind. Somewhere during the night a question began dancing around, at least in my mind, about how to determine the reality of a person’s faith that is our own faith. As I think about it now it seems to be a pretty good question, but it may be misplaced. How do we know whether or not we have saving faith? Is it possible that I only have a counterfeit faith? Maybe I just think I believe, but I really don’t. Can I tell by the evidence of good works? Can I tell by how religious I am? Or what?
I think these questions arise because we place the emphasis on our own ability to generate and sustain faith. We think of faith as a means to an end instead of a reaction to what is happening. This is what I have often called faith in faith, rather than faith in what Christ did for us we cannot do for ourselves. It is Christ who saves, not faith. Scriptures tell us we are saved by grace through faith. It is very clear that the reason for our personal salvation is by God’s grace. Our faith is our reaction to that. We believe and trust what God says is true. The Bible then goes on to tells us this salvation is a gift of God, it is not of ourselves. When God works in our hearts He will, upon those He has called, generate faith and sustain it. That does not mean we will always be faithful in our behavior– we will not. That does not mean we will always look to God first–again, we will not. That does not mean we will never be deceived by the world and give in to its deception– we will. What it does mean is that we trust God that He means what He says when He has declared us righteous and pure through Christ.
When we look in our lives for evidence of faith, what we are really looking for is faithfulness. If we are just a bit honest, we will conclude we are sorely lacking. As we mature as Christians we see more and more how powerful the deception of sin is and how great its appeal is and how faithless we can be. To ever think I have matured enough, this side of death, to declare myself and my life as proof enough of my faithfulness would eradicate the work of Christ who came to enable me to give up that foolish quest in the first place.
Good works are a result of God’s work in and through us, not of our own doing. Believers do good things not to be accepted or to prove anything– they just do them. There is no need to wonder about our faith. The only question is do you trust God about what he says about Jesus and what He did, or not? And if you do, are you willing to give Him the credit and let go of proving anything?