Secure Saving Faith
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Those who believe salvation can be lost often ask an insightful question about the relationship between salvation and faith. The question goes something like this: If our salvation is gained through believing in Christ, doesn’t it make sense that salvation can be lost if we quit believing?
To answer this question, we must see what saves us. Paul tells us that we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8–9). The instrument of salvation is grace. God came up with a plan and carried it out through Christ. We didn’t take part in it; we didn’t deserve any part of it. It was grace from start to finish. We are saved by grace through faith. “Through faith” is important, but often misunderstood. “Through” is translated from the Greek word dia, which carries the idea of “means” or “agency.” Faith was the agent whereby God was able to apply His grace to the life of the sinner.
Faith is simply the way we say yes to God’s free gift of eternal life. Faith and salvation are not one and the same any more than a gift and the hand that receives it are the same. Salvation stands independently of faith. Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved—only an act of faith in Christ.
You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. Faith is not a power we tap into or a button we push to prod God into action. Rather, faith is confidence that God will do what He has promised. We are saved because we’ve expressed trust that the Lord Jesus has really saved us.
Notice how Paul ends Ephesians 2:8–9: “It is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” “Salvation,” Paul says, “is a gift.” I don’t know about you, but I have learned a gift that can be taken back is no gift. True gifts have no strings attached.
You can say, “What if I give it back?” You can give it back only if the giver accepts the return. In the case of salvation God has a strict no return policy. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. Why would He take back what He came to give?
And faith? Faith is our way of accepting God’s gift. Faith serves as our spiritual hands by which the gift is received at a particular moment in time. Again, saving faith is not necessarily a sustained attitude of gratefulness for God’s gift. It is a singular moment in time when we take what God has offered. Eternal life is received by grace through faith. It is a once-and-for-all transaction that can never be undone. Because of the nature of God’s grace, once you become a Christian, you are always a Christian.
Adapted from “Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living.” 1996.
Resources About Confidence
Faith is one of the greatest assets God has given us, and the Father has provided it for everyone who is rightly related to Him through Jesus Christ. (Watch In the School of Faith, Part 1: A Saving Faith.)
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