The Nature of Saving Faith

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

I used to wonder why more people weren’t saved. If God only required that we believe that His Son died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification, it would seem to be easy for anyone to be saved. We’re also taught in Scripture that our good works won’t save us, and we should never trust in them for eternal life. So, it would seem to be a small step to claim Christ as Lord and be saved.

I was wrong. I firmly believed that we’re saved by faith alone in Christ alone. However, the reality of that faith is that it must reach down to the core of who we really are. Our works, which includes our values, beliefs, character and conduct, must flow from our lives as a natural result of our changed lives – not because they, in themselves, save but because they prove our faith is real. Scripture says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18) 

The faith that saves is not the kind we can muster up; it’s the gift of God (See Ephesians 2:8-9), which pours His love into us and thereby creates such an enduring love for Him that everything else pales in comparison. 

So, if you want to be saved, Jesus Christ must be both your Savior and your Lord. He has adopted you into His family, and He expects you to live accordingly. This means valuing Him above yourself, not just in some things but in everything. In Luke 9:23, Jesus clarifies the scope of what this requires: deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him. 

In the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), the man asked Jesus what good thing must he do to get eternal life. Jesus responded first by challenging his understanding of personal righteousness and then setting the price he would have to be willing to pay to follow Him. But the man was unwilling to disavow himself of his personal view of self-righteousness and deny himself of the riches that stood in his way of placing Christ first in his life. 

Is there something standing in your way? Will you place Christ’s demands above your own interests? Would you give up your own life for His sake? Will you submit in obedience to Him? This is not only what He may expect of you, but it’s also the kind of discipleship He demands.

By Jim Connell

Jim and his wife, Becky, moved from Indiana to Lexington to establish the Lexington Rescue Mission. They have two married children, Laura and Brian.

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