Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Evidence of True Faith

"Faith is not something dreamed, a human illusion, although this is what many people understand by the term. Whenever they see that it is not followed either by an improvement in morals or by good works, while much is still being said about faith, they fall into the error of declaring that faith is not enough, that we must do "works" if we are to become upright and attain salvation. The reason is that, when they hear the gospel, they miss the point; in their hearts, and out of their own resources, they conjure up an idea which they call "belief", which they treat as genuine faith. All the same, it is but a human fabrication, an idea without corresponding experience in the depths of the heart. It is therefore ineffective and not followed by a better kind of life."

"Faith however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn from God (John 1). Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, mind, and in all our powers; and it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. O, when it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather before the question is raised, it has done the deed, and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. He is groping about for faith and searching for good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless, he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works." ~ Martin Luther

"Faith without works is dead." ~ James 2:20

Our good works cannot save us however, they are the necessary validation in our lives that we have truly become born again. The one who claims to be a Christian and yet, their life consistently reflects that of the carnal world, has been deceived. Their belief rests only in a sinner's prayer they said as a child asking Jesus into their heart. This is why it is so important that preachers preach the word and that Christians present the gospel without watering it down or softening its message. God's grace is freely given to the humble yet, it is the Law that convicts us to the sorrow of our sin. Without a broken heart, a broken will, one cannot be saved. The intent of the gospel message is to bring us to repentance.

"Now, until a man confess his sin, and that with bitterness, it is a sign he loves it...A man will never leave sin till he find bitterness in it; and, if so, then he will be in bitterness for it." ~ Thomas Goodwin

"The gospel according to Jesus is the gospel according to His apostles. It is a small gate and a narrow road. It is free but it costs everything. And though it is appropriated by faith, it cannot fail to produce the fruit of true righteousness in the life and behavior of the believer." ~ John MacArthur

The Christian life should be one marked by spiritual growth where our faith is tested and strengthened by the struggles of life. Where we grow to become more sensitive to our sins, recognizing how offensive they are, being quick to repent and move on. The true follower of Jesus Christ strives for holiness and to live righteously not to prove how holy we are to ourselves, others or even God, but rather, out of our love for Him. True faith is demonstrated in obedience.

"What matters is not a momentary act of professing, but being persistently motivated by faith." ~ Ignatius, 1st Century Bishop of Antioch