If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of Saving Faith

Jesus said: "He that is of God heareth God's words: Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God," (John 8:47).

By these words Jesus condemns the unbelief of the wicked. Their problem was not that they did not hear Jesus' words with their ears, but that they did not hear with the hearing of saving faith. Jesus says of them, "Ye are of your father the devil," (John 8:44). This is the natural fallen condition of all men. Man is born unbelieving, a child of the lie of sin. He is not "of God" by nature.

To be "of God" means to have been born again of His grace. Those who are born again are now able to hear His Word. That spiritual activity of faith by which a man hears God's Word and believes is the fruit of grace in him. Without it he cannot believe.

God calls that power of faith into spiritual activity by the powerful working of Christ by His Word. Jesus said, "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him," (Matt. 11:27). Jesus must reveal Himself and the Father to us that we should believe. He does this through the Word and sends preachers that this Word might work faith in the hearts of His sheep. Thus He prays, "...for them also which shall believe on me through their word," (John 17:20).

By faithful preaching of the Word Jesus Himself speaks to us and works the love of God, through faith , in our hearts. He says, "And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26). That faith by which a man is saved is therefore a work of grace alone by which he is made spiritually to know the Lord and to hear His voice through His Word. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart. Christ Himself by His Word and Spirit comes to dwell in his heart.

Faith is a spiritual bond which unites us to Christ. It is a saving knowledge of and trust in Christ. Therefore Jesus says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," (John 3:36). Jesus does not say here "will have" (something future) but he "hath everlasting life" (something present), that is, to believe is to have eternal life now. Faith is eternal life itself working in us, so that he that has faith has everlasting life and therefore also will have it in its perfection.

We do not believe to earn everlasting life. Faith is not the cause or ground of salvation. That would be salvation by the works of faith. But faith is the means through which we are saved. Faith is a gift of God, a work of grace, and the means through which salvation is imparted to us. Out of that grace and gift of God we also are said to believe. Do you have this gift of faith, in this Christ? Is the faith by which you are saved your work, or God's gift in which you walk?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

Index to articles:

What Jesus said about...