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Tuesday
Jan052010

Theological Term of the Week

saving faith
The casting and resting of oneself and one’s confidence on the promises  of mercy which Christ has given to sinners and on the Christ who gave those promises;1 a certain conviction, wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, as to the truth of the gospel, and a hearty reliance (trust) on the promises of God in Christ.2

  • From scripture:
    But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… (John 1:12 ESV)
    We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified [1] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

    17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:15-20 ESV)
  • From The Heidelberg Catechism:
    Question 21. What is true faith? Answer: True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, (a) but also an assured confidence, (b) which the Holy Ghost (c) works by the gospel in my heart; (d) that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, (e) are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. (f)
  • From Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware on the answer to the question of the Philippian jailer, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”:
    How would you answer this question? Do you know the Bible’s answer? Do you know how Paul and Silas responded? Well, let’s start with this last point and see what Paul and Silas said. They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Here, as in many passages of Scripture, we are told that sinners are saved when they “believe” in Christ or “trust” in Christ or put their “faith” in Christ. Belief, trust, and faith in Christ are different ways to talk about the same idea in the Bible. To believe in Christ … means to count or rely completely on what Christ has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right in God’s sight is all because of Christ and has nothing to do with any good thing I might ever say or do.
  • From John Murray:

    The Nature (of faith)—its Constituitive Elements:

    A) Notitia. Faith respects an object and in this case Christ. But there can be no trust without knowledge of the person in whom trust is reposed. We do not trust any person unless we know something about him and, more particularly, things pertaining to that in respect of which we have confidence. So it is with Christ.
    B) Assensus. This has two aspects: a) Intellective…The information conveyed is recognized by us to be true…b) Emotive…It is truth believed as applicable to ourselves, as supremely vital and important for us. Saving faith cannot be in exercise unless there is a recognition of correspondence between our needs and the provision of the gospel. Knowledge passes into conviction.
    C) Fiducia. Saving faith is not simply assent to propositions of truth respecting Christ, and defining the person that he is, nor simply assent to a proposition respecting his sufficiency to meet and satisfy our deepest needs. Faith must rise to trust, and trust that consists in entrustment to him. In faith there is the engagement of person to person in the inner movement of the whole man to receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation. It means the abandonment of confidence in our own or any human resources in a totality act of self–commitment to Christ.

    This fiducial character, consisting in entrustment to Christ for salvation, serves to correct misapprehensions. Faith is not belief that we have been saved, nor belief that Christ has saved us, nor even belief that Christ died for us. It is necessary to appreciate the point of distinction. Faith is in its essence commitment to Christ that we may be saved. The premise of that commitment is that we are unsaved and we believe on Christ in order that we may be saved…It is to lost sinners that Christ is offered, and the demand of that overture is simply and solely that we commit ourselves to him in order that we may be saved.

    Faith is a whole–souled movement of intelligent, consenting, and confiding self–commitment, and all these elements or ingredients coalesce to make faith what it is. Intellect, feeling and will converge upon Christ in those exercises which belong properly to these distinct though inseparable aspects of psychial activity (Collected Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh: Banner, 1977), Volume 2, pp. 257-260).

Learn more:

  1. John MacArthur: What is the nature of true saving faith?
  2. Ernest Reisenger: The Faith of the Saints
  3. London Bapstist Confession: Of Saving Faith
  4. A. A. Hodge: Of Saving Faith
  5. S. Lewis Johnson: What Is Faith, or What Does It Mean to Believe? (mp3 and more)
  6. Tom Nettles: The Nature of Saving Faith (mp3)

1 From Evangelism and the Sovereignty of GodE by J. I. Packer
2 From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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Reader Comments (2)

Rebecca, I have been blessed by your blogging for years now. It started with David Brainerd's blog. I am so thankful for a women like you, with doctrinal and theological depth teaching through your blog. Your status report has sat with me and I have been praying for you in the darkness.

Thanks for leaving the comment and letting me know you're reading...and praying.

January 6, 2010 | Registered Commenterrebecca

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