Faith is not merely mental assent to a set of propositions but a radical trust in Christ alone to save us from ourselves.
It must start with our minds but it works itself down to every facet of our lives. Luther went on to say, “truly, if faith is there, he [the one justified] cannot hold back; he proves himself, breaks out into good works, confesses and teaches this gospel before the people, and stakes his life on it.” My simple point and I believe the point of the writer of Hebrews (a book, by the way, which powerfully teaches that we are saved by the work of Christ alone) is that true faith always leads to a love for God, a desire to please him and to separate ourselves from all that defiles.
I wrote the blog because a number of recent surveys demonstrate there is little or no tangible difference between the values of professing Christians (men and women who claim to be born again) and ‘worldlings’ (those living for this world). We go to the same sources for our entertainment, and the divorce rate in the Church mirrors that of the world. It is not surprising that this is the case. Many of those claiming to be born again today have merely given mental assent to the Gospel; they have not experienced its radical, life-changing power.
I wholeheartedly agree with those who say salvation comes to those men and women trusting in Christ Jesus alone and accepting his finished work. But again, the fact that faith in his justifying grace always leads to transformed lives cannot be stressed enough.
I think my blog hit a nerve because instinctively, we know all is not well in God’s house.
Many believers’ live ‘quiet lives of desperation’, exhibiting little power over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Few give evidence of the kind of passionate, white-hot love for God, witnessed in Scripture and during previous revivals.
If I were a legalist, I would conclude the real need is for people to do more—read the Bible more, pray, share their faith, get involved more in their local churches. But since I am not, I know the problem lies much deeper. The Gospel must transform the heart, which will inevitably lead to a greater depth of personal commitment to disciplined, holy living.
That’s why I believe the real need for people is to once again become enlivened by the truth of the Gospel.
Is the Gospel received today actually Biblical? And if so, are we applying it to every area of our lives so to empower us to change? Or have we bought into the notion the Gospel merely gets us into the kingdom; once we are in we need other things to keep us.
I once heard it said, “If we want our Gospel to go out of us in power, it must first come into us in power.” History bears witness to this truth. In major moves of the Holy Spirit in the past such as the First Great Awakening, men like George Whitfield and John Wesley experienced firsthand the life transforming power of the Gospel which empowered them to preach it with great results. They demanded more of their converts than a mere profession; they required a changed life as evidence the Gospel worked within. They were much slower to receive people formerly into church life than we are today, believing a person must give clear evidence they were born again. And this was the result of preaching a Gospel, which was rooted in grace alone; it focused primarily on what Jesus had done for guilty sinners.
May that Gospel be preached in our churches once again in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving in its wake a trail of those whose lives have been transformed by it.