Sunday, July 2

What is saving faith? What flows from saving faith?

Saving faith consists of knowledge, assent, and trust. Knowledge is awareness of the Biblical claim that faith in Jesus Christ secures eternal life. Assent is belief that this claim is true. With only these two points a person is no better off than demons (James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.) Trust is the final point that makes belief in Jesus Christ a saving faith. Trust is the gift wrought by the Spirit of Christ in a person’s heart that enables them to believe in the saving of their soul by the accepting, receiving, and resting in Jesus Christ alone. John Calvin in his Institutes of The Christian Religion says the following:

We shall now have a full definition of faith, if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. Book 3 chapter 2 section 7

There is absolutely no works involved in this definition of faith. I would offer the following analogy to saving faith:

Suppose a medical doctor was practicing on a backward isolated island where the people’s knowledge of medicine was non-existent. Then say a native complained to the doctor that his head was always aching and the doctor determined that it was just a chronic headache problem. The doctor explained to him that he would freely give him two aspirin tablets that would cure his headache. At this point the native had knowledge of the cure but he did not believe it to be true. So, the doctor brought another native into the room that testified that he also had the same problem, took aspirin, and was cured. The native now had the knowledge that aspirin would cure a headache and also assented that it was true. However, he still had the headache. He needed to take the final step of receiving and resting his hope by taking the two free aspirin tablets from the doctor. At this point his knowledge, assent, and trust worked together to receive and apply the free aspirin that did cure his headache. There were no works required and his gratitude to the doctor was so great that he believed the doctor in other matters as well. Since his cure was absolutely free, he began to show his affection and appreciation by voluntarily serving the doctor in anyway that he could. This service to the doctor did not earn the free cure that was already his, but resulted or flowed from a cured body and joyful heart.

Saving faith is from grace and this grace will change a person’s life. (Eph 2:8-10)


bluecollar said...


Great anology, Jazzycat.

Now watch someone come along and try to turn this into a works salvation illustration. You know how they are: A twist here, a turn there; here a calumny, there a calumny.

jazzycat said...

Thanks Mr. Bluecollar.

Daniel said...

I think you said it plain enough - though I suspect some free gracers would still have trouble with it, being unable (as it seems) to differentiate between knowing about something and putting their trust in the thing they already know about.

Good job!

Exist~Dissolve said...


I think we may be close on our understanding (per our conversations over at my blog). However, I still think you are simply polemicizing against "works" when you say that they are not part of the definition of "faith," even though your very illustration showed that action was bound up in final definition of faith.

So while I will agree that "works," in the Pauline sense (e.g., I do "X" to get "X" or I get "Y" because I am "Y") are not a part of faith, "action" is still crucial to the definition of faith. Without action, one's faith is simply like that of the demons you described.

jazzycat said...

I believe we are pretty much in agreement. We just have to be careful to remember that the action we take is a result of justification (being saved) and not something that contributes to the justfification.

I wish you would consider Calvinism and how it explains the source, need, and effects of regeneration. I believe an understanding of this makes a lot of difficult doctrines fit together as a unit.


mark pierson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.