When I first became a Christian, someone told me that it takes only a moment to be saved, but twenty years to figure out what happened!
I must be slow because I’ve long passed the twenty-year mark and God is still explaining it to me. This morning I get a clearer understanding of the role of faith.
The reading today in God is Enough says, “Your salvation comes, not because your faith saves you, but because it links you to the Savior who saves; and your believing is really nothing but the link.”
That is an excellent description. It bridges the gap between the verses that say “Jesus died for the whole world” and those that exhort individuals to place their faith in Him. In other words, His death and resurrection has accomplished redemption for all mankind because all are in bondage or enslaved to sin. By His blood, every person is set free. When He said, “It is finished” He meant it.
However, what good is that freedom if you don’t know you have it? A slave is still slaving away until someone tells him that he is no longer enslaved. He has been bought from that life and set free to serve God, but he either does not know it or if he does, it seems too impossible, or too easy, or even too difficult and costly. But this redemption is a gift; it costs him nothing. All he has to do is believe it, receive it, and step out of bondage into freedom.
First, this good news must be heard. The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The good news is that, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The gift of redemption is there; the link to it is faith. Slaves to sin need to hear and believe it.
They must also receive it, like a gift handed to them. The Bible says, “He came to His own (the Jews), and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
This gift includes becoming a child of God. It is offered freely and the link to it is receiving it by faith. Believe it and receive it.
But then comes the incredulous odd part. When they hear this good news, some people think slavery is better, or worse, that they are not even enslaved. They prefer their life of sin to forgiveness and a new life. They prefer doing what they want and running their own lives to having the Creator of the universe involved. The gift has their name on it, but because they don’t want it, they refuse to believe it and refuse to receive it.
Probably far more people simply do not know that this gift is available to them. Christians are exhorted and have a burden to tell them. When we do, we find that many are certain this cannot be a gift; they think they must do something to earn or deserve it. They will even spend their lives in slavery to rules and laws that will supposedly please God or live in bondage to some sort of religious system that tells them: Do this and live, belong to us and live, rather than simply believe what God says.
Even though faith is the link that brought this great gift from God into my possession, it seems even more obvious that faith is not nearly so important as who or what is being believed. Where would I be if I trusted my own inclinations, wants and wishes? Where would I be if I put my faith in the word of others, including religious leaders or all those cult members that knock on my door?
Instead, the object of my faith is Almighty God. He does deny me my sin (and I know sin equals slavery) and He does ask me to be His servant, but I know that everyone serves something. The biggest reason that I trust Him and believe His Word and choose to serve Him is that He has proven His love for me by sending Jesus to purchase my redemption. The link is faith, His motive is grace and the gift is absolutely glorious.