“What Is Saving Faith” by R.C. Sproul

James21417Beloved

What Is Saving Faith?
By R. C. Sproul on Aug 1, 2017
Ligonier.org

Scripture: James 2:14-17

Faith is central to Christianity. The New Testament repeatedly calls people to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a definite body of content to be believed, which is part and parcel of our religious activity.

At the time of the Reformation, the debate involved the nature of saving faith. What is saving faith? The idea of justification by faith alone suggests to many people a thinly veiled antinomianism that claims people can live any way they like so long as they believe the right things. Yet James wrote in his epistle: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?…Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:14, 17).

Luther said that the sort of faith that justifies is fides viva, a “living faith,” one that inevitably, necessarily, and immediately yields the fruit of righteousness.

Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. A faith without any yield of righteousness is not true faith.

For the Roman Catholic Church, faith plus works equals justification; for antinomians, faith minus works equals justification; for the Protestant Reformers, faith equals justification plus works. In other words, works are the necessary fruit of true faith. Works are not factored into God’s declaration that we are just in His sight; they are not part of the grounds for God’s decision to declare us righteous.

What are the constituent elements of saving faith? The Protestant Reformers recognized that biblical faith has three essential aspects: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.

Notitia refers to the content of faith, the things we believe. There are certain things we are required to believe about Christ, namely, that He is the Son of God, that He is our Savior, that He has provided an atonement, and so on.

Assensus is the conviction that the content of our faith is true. One can know about the Christian faith and yet believe that it is not true.

We might have a doubt or two mixed with our faith, but there has to be a certain level of intellectual affirmation and conviction if we are to be saved. Before anyone can really trust in Jesus Christ, he has to believe that Christ indeed is the Savior, that He is who He claimed to be. Genuine faith says that the content, the notitia, is true.

Fiducia refers to personal trust and reliance. Knowing and believing the content of the Christian faith is not enough, for even demons can do that (James 2:19). Faith is effectual only if one personally trusts in Christ alone for salvation. It is one thing to give an intellectual assent to a proposition but quite another to place personal trust in it.

We can say that we believe in justification by faith alone and yet still think that we are going to get to heaven by our achievements, our works, or our striving. It is easy to get the doctrine of justification by faith into our heads, but it is hard to get it into the bloodstream such that we cling to Christ alone for salvation.

There is another element to fiducia besides trust, and that is affection. An unregenerate person will never come to Jesus, because he does not want Jesus. In his mind and heart, he is fundamentally at enmity with the things of God. As long as someone is hostile to Christ, he has no affection for Him. Satan is a case in point. Satan knows the truth, but he hates the truth. He is utterly disinclined to worship God because he has no love for God. We are like that by nature. We are dead in our sin. We walk according to the powers of this world and indulge the lusts of the flesh.

Until the Holy Spirit changes us, we have hearts of stone. An unregenerate heart is without affection for Christ; it is both lifeless and loveless.

The Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts so that we see the sweetness of Christ and embrace Him. None of us loves Christ perfectly, but we cannot love Him at all unless the Holy Spirit changes the heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh.

This excerpt is adapted from Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R.C. Sproul.

R. C. Sproul / Wikipedia

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“I Dance in Air” a poem from L.Willows

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I Dance in Air

Dance again, this motion of
Comes the tide from where, from There
Kept towards all gathered love,
this the heart that keeps me bare.

Surge to home until fill round
Reach to heavens edge, oh, dare.
Kept toward all gathered found
Here I dance, I dance in Air.

© 2018 Linda Willows

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

“I Praise You, Lord” from The Beloved

PraiseHolyHoly

When we see the Holiness of The Lord, our hearts become flooded with love. Seeing Christ brings a deep bow of humility and prayer of worship. Gratitude sweeps in like a soft arm that is holding with His Mercy; one that has held since that first moment of belief, now deeper, sinking with roots that find their way into the hours and minutes of day and night. His Holiness permeates all that reaches our hearts as we are lifted like flowers reaching to the sun. This wondrous Beloved, His Altar so high, yet given and giften through His Spirit. Miracle this, how we can pray. Flooded Love praises. Seeing Christ causes a blossom to hope, to believe and to reach with wondrous Love.

Psalm 136:1-7
God’s Gracious Love

136 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his gracious love is everlasting.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his gracious love is everlasting.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his gracious love is everlasting—

4 To the one who alone does great and wondrous things,
for his gracious love is everlasting—
5 to the one who by wisdom made the heavens,
for his gracious love is everlasting—
6 to the one who spread out the earth over the waters,
for his gracious love is everlasting—
7 to the one who made the great lights,
for his gracious love is everlasting—
8 the sun to illumine the day,
for his gracious love is everlasting—
9 and the moon and stars to illumine the night,
for his gracious love is everlasting—

“For the Love of Christ”, scripture and devotions offered by The Beloved

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To gain Christ, in the words of the apostle Paul, is the singular treasure and the most precious gain and honor of a life. He compares anything else to “rubbish”. (all meaninglessness and reduced to nothing) His Love in this passage is like the vow and a declaration of one that has suffered and knows what he speaks of.  He opens the sky and the earth with these words, both in a reconcile to his knowing sacrifice and choice. He has chosen to follow His Master, The Lord Jesus, Son of God. All else is nothing. He has witnessed The Light, The One that was with the Father since the beginning of Time.

To know Jesus in such a holy and sanctified way would mean a transformation of our hearts. We would walk with obedience, gratitude and a deep desire to draw near to Him. We would live “for the Love of Christ”.

Psalm 116:63
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.

1 John 3:1
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Jeremiah 32:40
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

John 15:9-17
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.