Study 8 – Saving Faith
We have seen the Father's electing love, the Son's redemptive work and the Holy Spirit's task of applying that to us. We need now to look at the effects on us.
We are going to look at saving faith. Faith is the chief gift of the Holy Spirit. By faith we are united to Christ and all the benefits of Christ's work become ours. Becoming a Christian is something which has far reaching effects. It is often called conversion.
Means a change. In order for us to understand this, the Bible splits it up into different components, a constellation of transforming events which occur together. During this process a person is brought to life by the Holy Spirit (regeneration Ephesians 2:5; John 3:1-4 etc.) and then they can consciously turn to God in repentance and faith. Acts 15:3
Examples of conversion in the Bible
Mannaseh - 2 Chronicles 33
The jailer - Acts 16:31
Zacchaeus - Luke 19:8-9
Lydia - Acts 16:14
[Cornelius - Acts10:44]
[Paul - Acts 9:5]
Let's look at two elements in this change or turning, repentance and faith.
The word in the Bible means a change of mind or purpose, a turning back, a returning. In this change there is also sorrow for the past life. It can be defined like this :
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, (i.e. something God gives) Acts 11:18, whereby the sinner out of a true sense of his sin, Acts 2:37and an understanding of and laying hold of the mercy of God in Christ, does with grief and hatred of sin turn from it to God, with full purpose of and endeavour after new obedience. (Westminster Shorter Catechism ( modified.)
So it involves:
a) Knowing before God you are a sinner.
b) Feeling sorry for that sin.
c) Turning from sin to God for pardon and cleansing.
A saving faith is defined like this in the Shorter Catechism:
Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace (a gift of God Ephesians 2:8) whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
a) You know the truth.
b) You see it to be true.
c) You trust your whole person to that truth in Christ.
You see Christ as the Saviour. Faith in him alone receives that salvation from him. This faith is God's gift.
Have you got this saving faith, that positive trust in your heart brought about by the Holy Spirit, which has convinced you of the truth of the gospel and caused you to rest in Christ alone for your salvation?
What happens at the same time as we place our faith in Christ?
(also see the next study)
1) Union with Christ - Romans 6:1-8
2) A radical break with sin - Romans 6:1-8
Another definition from the Catechism:
Justification is an act of God's free grace (a gift) wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed (reckoned) to us and received by faith alone.
This item is a legal term, where God the judge declares the sinner not guilty and righteous (upright) in his sight on the basis of what Christ is and has done. Christ's work and righteousness is reckoned as being in our account.
This is received by faith alone.