Needless to say, my friend Ed didn’t appreciate John Bunyan’s thoughts concerning faith that saves and faith that does not. After all, we don’t need other men (pastors / teachers /) to tell us what to believe. We can just read our Bibles and perfectly figure it all out for ourselves Aside from the naiveté of that sentiment, I would remind us that God gave pastors and teachers as gifts to the church. If we don’t need them, why did God give them to us?
But I digress. Here are some of Dan’s thoughts concerning ‘saving’ faith.
The point that there is a sort of faith that cannot save and a kind of faith that does result in salvation. Concerning faith concerning God, we can believe (have faith in / trust) certain things about God and Christ and yet never be convicted of our sin, repent, and believe in God’s provision for our salvation from our sin. That’s the short version of a much longer article. The concept of two kinds of faith isn’t rocket science. I might trust in the ability of. Boeing 747 to fly, but it’s another matter to board the plane, confident that it will get me safely to Los Angeles from my home in Colorado.
The logical next question might concern the origin of ‘saving’ faith. Are we born with it and just need to ‘decide for Christ’ and be saved? Or, is the power to ‘savingly’ believe originate outside of ourselves?
IF (note the hypothetical here) the very ability to savingly believe comes from outside of ourselves, is a completely unearned gift (grace), can our faith not also be considered a gift?
The final point for the moment is a passage from John, Chapter 3. “Unless a man is born again (regenerated / born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
The word ‘see’ doesn’t just mean ‘make it to heaven’. It means ‘perceive, notice, discern, discover’. In other words, ‘regeneration’ must precede ‘saving’ faith. And that is the ‘gift’ at the very center of this discussion. God regenerates and people ‘see’ and believe. They are regenerated and presented as ‘love gifts’ from the Father to the Son. And. . .
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Words of Jesus (John 6:37)
“ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast. “ (Eph 2:8-9)
Yes, it is our responsibility to believe. You could even say our believing is our doing, while our doing is still of God. Salvation is ALL of grace, even our believing.
I somehow doubt that Ed will see things any differently, but perhaps those of you who found John Bunyan a bit difficult will find the thoughts of an old soldier more easily understood.