Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Jesus, on one occasion, asked; “… ‘Where is your faith?’… ” (Luke 8:25). I believe that Jesus asks men and women this same question today. God has ordained that the receiving of salvation is by faith. We read that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls ( see 1 Peter 1:9), and that God’s righteousness is revealed “…from faith to faith;…” (Romans 1:17). In fact, when we come to God by faith, Jesus Christ comes to dwell within us. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; …” (Ephesians 3:17).
What then, is faith? It is believing. We are told that it pleased God to save those who believe the Gospel (See 1 Corinthians 1:21). How does one come to true faith in God? Firstly, it is by believing the truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. He not only died on the cross but, after three days, God resurrected Him. Just as Jesus died on our behalf, for our sins, He rose from the dead to conquer death on our behalf. Because He was raised back to life, He can grant spiritual life to those who come to Him by faith. In this way, those who are spiritually dead in sin can be born again to life.
So firstly, we must believe this truth and, secondly, we must believe in Jesus Christ Himself. Believing in Jesus means beginning a personal relationship with Christ. This can be done by coming to Christ in prayer, acknowledging to Him that you are a sinner, expressing to Him your remorse for sin and asking Him to forgive you; it is also acknowledging that you believe that He died for you, that He rose from the dead for you, and committing to turn from your own way to follow His will.
Dear Reader, have you believed in Jesus? The Bible tells us; “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23).
Remember the discussion between Jesus Christ and Nicodemus (see John, chapter 3) on being born again. Further on in that discussion, Jesus said:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Many today try to come to, and be accepted by, God on the basis of the good things that they have done. However, good works do not earn us salvation. Salvation comes another way. The Scriptures teach; “ …But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4).
Biblical faith leads to, and is an expression of, obedience to God. Faith is not an involuntary act on our part that just simply occurs due to the sovereign act of God. Faith is a response which we must make to God and to His Gospel. Faith is not merely affirming a set of doctrines or believing in a creed. Faith is an experience where a man or woman repents, surrenders their life to God and expresses trus in Jesus Christ. Wesley described it as “a sure trust and confidence in God, that, through the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he [is] reconciled to the favor of God.” 1
Faith is a response from man to God. It is a change from the common course of unbelief that humanity is traveling on. Faith is necessary for salvation, for one must believe in Christ to be saved. Paul says this about the message of faith which he preached; “ But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10: 8-9). “Confess” is a term for acknowledging, agreeing and affirming. A man first believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus died for our sins and that He rose from the dead and, then, because his heart believes, he eagerly confesses this to God and to others.
Faith is absolutely indispensible. We must have faith if we are to please God. Scripture teaches; “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). In order to come to God, we must believe in Him. We must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That means we must believe that God will hear the cry of, and reward, those who are truly seeking Him.
Faith is more than a mental act of understanding that something is true. Faith is tied to repentance and surrender to God. One thief on the cross, beside Jesus, exercised faith. The Scriptures tell of how there were two criminals who were crucified along with Jesus. As they hung on crosses, one of these criminals blasphemed Jesus. The other criminal then rebuked the blasphemer, saying; “ … ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’” (Luke 23:40-41). The next verses say; “And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’ And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43).
In this amazing account we see a man putting faith in Jesus and receiving forgiveness, salvation and hope. What did he do? First, he acknowledged his sin; he said that he was deserving of the penalty he was suffering. He acknowledged that his deeds had led him to judgment. Next, he acknowledged that Jesus was pure and innocent. Then he called out to Jesus, calling Him Lord. This thief put faith in Jesus. Jesus saved the soul of this thief and blessed him with the promise of being with Jesus in Paradise.
Oh, the salvation which came to the thief on the cross; how wonderful and good and extensive is the grace of Jesus Christ. The thief called out to Jesus. The thief was humble and confessed that he was deserving of judgment. He knew that he was a sinner needing God’s forgiveness and he called out to Jesus. He put his faith in Jesus Christ and was saved. Today he is with Christ.
Friend, how about you? Have you made this all-important choice to repent and put faith in Jesus Christ? Jesus has gone to great lengths to save you from hell, a place of judgment and suffering. Have you called out to Him in prayer? Remember Jesus’ question earlier; “Where is your faith?” Where is it, and what is it in?
Friend, if you do not know the Lord, then it is time to put your faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is a voluntary act. You must choose to believe, or you do not believe. Faith is not merely affirming a creed. Faith is an experience. It is a trust and a confidence in God. Faith is a response from man to God. Is faith your response to the Lord’s love for you?
Friend, you are a sinner, just as the thief on the cross was a sinner. Jesus, the pure and innocent Son of God, died in your place and mine. Then He rose from the dead, showing His authority and power over death. Now Jesus calls men and women to put faith in Himself. Faith is two-fold; firstly, it is believing in the truth of the Gospel, that Jesus died on account of our sins and that He rose from the dead. Secondly, faith is actively putting your trust in Jesus Christ, Himself.
Friend, do you have faith, as I have described it here? You may have good deeds, or even religion, but without faith it is impossible to please God. God is, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Call out to Jesus Christ now. Call out to Him in prayer. Call out in faith.
I want to pray for you also:
Lord Jesus, it says in Your holy Word that if we would confess You with our mouths, and believe in our heart that God has raised You from the dead, that we will be saved. I pray for this reader, that they would find this place of confession and believing. Let them find this place of faith and trust in You. I pray that they will respond to You. I pray that they will respond to what You did when You died, on account of their sins, and when You rose again from the dead. Lord, You granted forgivenesss and salvation to the thief on the cross. You granted it when he called out to You. Help this one also to cry out to You in this moment. Help them to repent and surrender. Amen.
“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)
1John Wesley, quoted in A Compend Of Wesley’s Theology, Robert W. Burtner, Ed. et al (New York: Abingdon Press), 160.