Of Saving Faith
A. What is saving faith?
A grace of God Eph. 2:8-10
Saving faith may be thus defined, “That grace whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, which is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word.” By this grace the person is enabled to believe all divine truths revealed in the holy scriptures; and in particular to apprehend the Lord Jesus Christ, and to rely alone on his atoning blood for acceptance in the sight of God. Rev. David Jones, Pastor, Southampton Baptist Church, 1788
based solely on the work of God in Christ Rom. 5:17-19; Phil. 3:8-9
“Thus while the ground of justification is the death of Christ, the means [agency, instrumentality, or medium] by which justification becomes efficacious to the individual is faith. Justification is a gift bestowed to be received by faith (Rom. 3:24, 25). Faith means acceptance of this work of God in Christ, complete reliance upon it, and an utter abandonment of one’s own works as the grounds of justification.” George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, p. 490
evidenced by spiritual understanding 1 Cor. 2:11-16
The first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith, as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened, is seeing (Mark 8:22-25, ed.). The exercise of vision in such a man is indeed attended by so many new sensations and emotions that he cannot determine how much of this new experience comes through the eye, and how much from other sources. It is so with the believer. As soon as his eyes are opened by the renewing of the Holy Ghost he is in a new world. Old things have passed away, all things are become new. The apprehension of “the things of God” as true lies at the foundation of all the exercises of the renewed soul. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 41
“Christian faith, therefore, is personal reliance upon Christ for salvation because of belief of God’s testimony as to our sinful and ruined condition, and as to what Christ has assuredly done to save us. J. P. Boyce, Abstract of Theology, p.386
exercised by both heart and mind Heb 8:10; 10:16
It is based, therefore, upon the knowledge of this testimony as given by our own consciences and the word of God. It is consequently an act of the mind. As the truth thus apprehended is spiritual, so it is apprehended spiritually by the heart. As it occurs in the heart of a sinner, so it must be the act of a regenerated heart which alone is inclined to such belief as constitutes trust. And it is attained by this heart through the illuminating influences of the Spirit of God. Ibid.
B. What are the characteristics of saving faith?
According to J. P. Boyce in his Abstract of Theology, p.392:
1. Continuance in trusting Christ, and in devotion to him and his service.
2. Desire to be useful in the work of Christ.
3. Attendance to Christian duty.
4. Love of prayer and the word of God, and of the meetings with his people for worship.
5. Devoted love to the children of God as such.
6. Progress in knowledge of self and sin, and of Christ as a Saviour.
7. Progress in loving holiness and hating sin, with increased conviction of, and humility concerning sinfulness.
This faith receives the whole mind of God, and has a due respect to every part of his counsel, when made known to the subject. The language of this grace is, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? It never selects some and rejects other parts of God’s will. This grace never wishes any doctrines expressly contained in the Bible, to have been left out. No; as far as it knows the mind of God, so far it obeys. Rev. David Jones, Pastor, Southampton Baptist Church, 1788
C. Is all faith saving faith?
“If one who lives in the midst of Christendom goes up to the house of God, the house of the true God, with the true conception of God in his knowledge, and prays, but prays in a false spirit; an done who lives in an idolatrous community prays with the entire passion of the infinite, although his eyes rest upon the image of an idol: where is there most truth? The one prays in truth to God though he worships an idol; the other prays falsely to the true God, and hence worships in fact an idol.” Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, p.179-180.
Parable of the sower – Matt. 13:1-23 – temporary faith
Faith of the demons – James 2:19 – historical faith
Faith in faith – Word-Faith Movement, Positive Confession; (E.W. Kenyon, the founder, and men like Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Charles Capps, Frederick K.C. Price, Robert Tilton, Earl Paulk, and others as his disciples. Also Joyce Meyer, Kathryn Kuhlman, Marilyn Hickey)
The nature of saving faith will further appear by noticing its objects. These objects are not mere abstract truths, nor opinions, nor facts, but only such as are connected with a person. …It is thus seen that not only the Godhead as such, but the separate persons in it, are objects of saving faith. Hence the union of them all in Baptism.” J. P. Boyce, Abstract of Theology, p.386-7
The truth is that in great sections of the modern Church Jesus is no longer the object of faith, but has become merely an example for faith; religion is based no longer on faith in Jesus but upon a faith in God that is, or is conceived to be, like the faith that Jesus had in God. J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith, p. 98
If, therefore, faith in …diverse and contradictory things brings results, if it relieves the distresses of suffering humanity, how can we have the heart to insist on logical consistency in the things that are believed? On the contrary, it is urged, let us be satisfied with any kind of faith just so it does the work; it makes no difference what is believed just so the healthgiving attitude of faith is there; the less dogmatic faith is, the purer it is, because it is the less weakened by the dangerous alloy of knowledge. Ibid. p. 176.
The efficacy of faith, then, depends not upon the faith itself, considered as a psychological phenomenon, but upon the object of faith, namely Christ. Ibid. p. 180.