Iglesia Bautista Reformada del Pacto de Gracia

Bulletin 5/31/2017

Salvation is not in our act of believing, trusting, knowing, or remembering; it is in the thing or person believed on, trusted, known, remembered. Nor is salvation given as a reward for believing and knowing. The things believed and known are our salvation. Nor are we saved or comforted by thinking about our act of believing and ascertaining that it possesses all the proper ingredients and qualities which would induce God to approve of it, and of us because of it.

​In some places we are said to be saved by the knowledge of God or of Christ; that is simply knowing God as he has made himself known to us in Jesus Christ. (Isa. liii.11; 1 Tim. ii.4; 2 Pet. ii.20). Thus Jesus spoke, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." And as if to make simplicity more simple, the Apostle, in speaking of the facts of Christ's death, and burial, and resurrection, says, "By which ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you."

God connects salvation with believing, trusting, knowing, remembering. Yet the salvation is not in our act of believing, trusting, knowing, or remembering; it is in the thing or person believed on, trusted, known, remembered. Nor is salvation given as a reward for believing and knowing. The things believed and known are our salvation. Nor are we saved or comforted by thinking about our act of believing and ascertaining that it possesses all the proper ingredients and qualities which would induce God to approve of it, and of us because of it. This would be making faith a meritorious, or, at least, a qualifying work; and then grace would be no more grace. It would really be making our faith a part of Christ's work, - the finishing stroke put to the great understanding of the Son of God, which, otherwise, would have been incomplete, or, at least, unsuitable for the sinner, as a sinner. To the man that makes his faith and his trust his rest, and tries to pacify his conscience by getting up evidence of their solidity and excellence, we say, miserable comforters are they all! I get light by using my eyes; not by thinking about my use of them, nor by a scientific analysis of their component parts. So I get peace by, and in believing; not by thinking about my faith, or trying to prove to myself how well I have performed the believing act. We might as well extract water from the desert sands as peace from our own act of faith. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ will do everything for us; believing in our own faith, or trusting in our own trust, will do nothing.

Thus faith is the bond between us and the Son of God; and it is so, not because of anything in itself, but because it is only through the medium of truth, as known and believed, that the soul can get hold of things or persons. Faith is nothing, save as it lays hold of Christ; and it does so by laying hold of the truth or testimony concerning him. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," says the apostle. "Ye shall know the truth," says the Lord, "and the truth shall make you free," and again, "because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not...And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?" We have also such expressions as these: "Those that know the truth;" "those that obey not the truth;" "The truth as it is in Jesus;" "belief of the truth;" "acknowledging of the truth;" "the way of truth;" "we are of the truth;" "destitute of the truth;" "sanctify them through thy truth;" "I speak forth the words of truth;" "the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth." Most memorable in connection with this subject, are the Lord's warnings in the parable of the sower, specially the following: - "The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear: then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." The words, too, of the beloved disciple are no less so: - "He that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe;" and, again, "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

This truth regarding Christ and his sacrificial work, the natural man hates, because he hates Christ himself. "They hated me," says the Lord; nay, more, they hated me without a cause." It is not error that man hates, but truth; and hence the necessity for the Holy Spirit's work to remove that hatred, - to make the sinner even so much as willing to know the truth or the True One. Yet there is no backwardness on the part of God to give that Spirit; - and the first dawnings of inquiry and anxiety show that something beyond flesh and blood is at work in the soul.

But though it needs the power of the divine Spirit to make us believing men, this is not because faith is a mysterious thing, a great exercise or effort of soul, which must be very accurately gone through in order to make it acceptable, but because of our dislike to the truth believed, and our enmity to the Being in whom we are asked to confide. Believing is the simplest of all mental processes; yet not the less is the power of God needed. Let not the inquirer mystify or magnify faith in order to give it merit or importance in itself, so that by its superior texture or quality it may justify him; yet never, on the other hand, let him try to simplify it for the purpose of making the Spirit's work unnecessary. The more simple that he sees it to be, the more will he see his own guilt, in so deliberately refusing to believe, and his need of the divine Helper to overcome the fearful opposition of the natural heart to the simple reception of the truth.

The difficulty of believing has its real root in pure self-righteousness; and the struggles to believe, the endeavors to trust, of which men speak, are the indications of this self-righteousness. So far are these spiritual exercises from being tokens for good, they are often mere expressions of spiritual pride, - evidences of the desperate strength of self-righteousness. It is worse than vain, then, to try to comfort an anxious soul by pointing to these exercises or efforts as proofs of existing faith. They are proofs either of ignorance or of unbelief, - proofs of the sinner's determination to do anything rather than believe that all is done. Doubts are not the best evidences of faith; and attempts at performing this great thing called faith are mere proofs of blindness to the finished propitiation of the Son of God.

To do some great thing called faith, in order to win God's favour, the sinner has no objection; nay, it is just what he wants, for it gives him the opportunity of working for his salvation. But he rejects the idea of taking his stand upon a work already done, and so ceasing to exercise his soul in order to effect a reconciliation, for which all that is needed was accomplished eighteen hundred years ago, upon the cross of Him who "was made sin for us, though he knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

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From the book God's Way of Peace, written by Horatius Bonar.