by Rev. Robert L. Brush
Salvation by Faith
Now faith is the substance [ground or confidence] of
things hoped for, the evidence [proof or test] of
things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good
report [had witness borne to them; had the witness in
themselves (1 John 5:10); or a good testimony] (Hebrews
We can readily see that the genuine faith spoken of
here is the means by which the believers received the
witness or testimony that what God had promised
was certainly true, even though unseen at the time.
Since this faith is confidence or substance, as if salvation
was already possessed, it would have to be a
gift from God and would necessarily be mixed with
divine evidence. What is the nature of that true,
scriptural faith that saves?
According to the Scriptures a true living faith in
Christ is inseparable from a sense of pardon for all
past and freedom from all present sin. Many think
they are saved by their presumption or declaration of
the fact. Much of what is called faith today is not
faith at all but a logical conclusion of our own thinking.
Yet this faith which saves is a free gift of God.
He will surely bestow it upon every soul who earnestly
and perseveringly seeks it by godly sorrow
Being convinced of this truth, many sinners have
sought and found saving faith as a gift from God.
This gift comes by first renouncing all dependence in
part or in whole upon their own works or righteousness
which many trust in for most of their lives. By
continual prayer for this justifying, saving grace and
a full reliance on the blood of Christ as our sole justification,
sanctification, and redemption, they have
been happy finders and receive full and free forgiveness
which makes them a real Christian.
John Wesley sought God in this manner after he had
been preaching for seven years, thinking he was a
true Christian. In the process of seeking after God he
found himself listening to Luther's Preface to the
Epistles of the Romans. Wesley stated, "I felt my
heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ,
Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was
given me that God had taken away my sins, even
mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Thus was this saving faith exhibited in Wesley's
own experience, which resulted in him being a brand
plucked from the burning to spread revival fire
I. The Degrees of Faith
Grace is the source of salvation, while faith is the
condition. It will help us by reviewing the various
degrees of faith and the corresponding states of
- Saving faith is not merely the faith of a heathen.
God requires a pagan to believe there is a
God and that He can be found. This God is the
Creator of all things and should be given
thanks for all things. We should be careful to
practice moral virtues such as justice, mercy,
and truthfulness. All mankind can and should
have this much faith and none are without excuse
(Rom 1:19-20). However, this is not the
evangelical faith which saves the soul.
- Saving faith is not the faith of a demon, although
this faith is more profound than that of
a pagan. In Acts 16:17 we find a demon-possessed
girl saying, "These men are servants of
the Most High God who proclaim unto you the
way of salvation."
The devil not only believes there is a God who
is just to punish evil and reward good, but also
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In Luke
4:34 we find a demon crying out to Jesus, "I
know who you are — the Holy One of God."
Many people who do not believe in the deity of
Christ still believe they are saved, when they
do not have as much faith as a demon!
The demons believe that there is one God and
tremble because they believe his Word, given
by divine inspiration, promises that all His enemies
will be trodden under His feet.
- Saving faith is not merely the faith which the
apostles themselves had while Christ was on
the earth walking and talking with them. Even
though they had left all to follow Him, even
though they had power to work miracles, heal
all type of sickness, authority over demons,
and were sent out to preach the Kingdom of
God, when then returned from doing these mighty
works, Jesus himself termed them "a faithless generation."
When they prayed "increase our faith," Jesus replied
that they had none. They could not trust in the
atoning work of Christ until it was completed. Under the
new covenant saving faith acknowledges the necessity
and merit of Christ's death and the power of His resurrection.
- Saving faith has Christ as its object and it produces spiritual
life. It is not merely the belief of a pagan. Such faith
is bare speculation, a cold, lifeless consent to a logical
train of thought. With the heart man believes unto righteousness
and with the mouth confession is made unto
salvation. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is
Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from
the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9-10).
This love of God, shed abroad in our hearts, which regenerates,
is more than the apostles' faith before Pentecost. This
faith acknowledges the necessity and merit of Christ's death as
the only sufficient means of redeeming mankind from eternal
death. It acknowledges the power of His resurrection as the
restoration of all who believe to life and immortality. As
Romans 4:24-25 teaches, saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ
our Lord who was delivered for our sins and raised again for
This true Christian faith, then, is not only an assent to the
whole Gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of
Christ. It is a trust in the merits of His life, death, and resurrection.
It is a repose in Him as our atonement and our life, as
given for us and living in us. It is a sure confidence which a
man has in God, that through the merits of Christ, his sins are
forgiven and he is reconciled to the favor of God.
[to be continued in the next issue]
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