Saturday, April 16, 2005

SOLA FIDE - A difference in faith!

Adrian Wornack at the inimitable UK Evangelical Blog asked if I'd mind commenting further on an earlier statement I made regarding the difference between salvific faith and sustaining faith ... well, that's kind of like asking a chocoholic if he'd like an M & M.

As a bibliophile and pastor-teacher I guess I could write a magnum opus on the subject of faith ... many have. However, I've long believed in the KISS (keep-it-simple-stupid) principle. Sort of like the difference between an answer from James Carville and one from Dick Cheney.

First, faith! What is it and what is its importance?

The bible defines faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" [Hebrews 11:1]. Scripture also says "without faith it is impossible to please God" [11:6].

So where do we get this faith? Again, bringing us back to where I entered the discussion with brother Wornack, the bible tells us! "Faith comes by hearing, and (the) hearing (comes) the word (rhema) concerning Christ" [Romans 10:17].

Illustratively, salvific faith is like the conduit which delivers water from a reservoir in the mountains to the thirsty home in the valley; God is the Reservoir, His grace is the water, and you and I are the dying of thirst ... a means to move His Grace from Him to us to satisfy our thirst is required. "So by water you have been satisfied, through conduit; and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God." [Ephesians 2:8]

The conduit cannot be of our own doing, or even of our effort with God at that point ... at that point we are not saved, we've not yet received His grace. The conduit must be provided by the Water Company! It is, after all, a "gift of God."

Sustaining faith is that faith which drives us to "take up your cross, daily, and follow Me." [Luke 9:23] The bible says our "righteousness is like filthy rags" and that "apart from Me you can do nothing." Even the sustaining or sanctified faith we have is from God.

Apart from what God does for us, at His pleasure, we really are helpless. The argument we are mere puppets on a string, dancing at His manipulation is a strawman. This faith is received, I contend, through surrender and submission. As David said,
"You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." [Psalm 51:16-17]
More on this latter as time allows.

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