The Bible says that faith in Jesus Christ saves us from sin. Faith makes us righteous in God’s eyes, not faith in ourselves, but faith that Christ’s righteousness was given to us at the cross. Paul, the apostle who wrote the biblical book of Romans, said…
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…. (Romans 4:5 ESV)
When you sat down to read this post, you demonstrated faith. You believed the chair in which you sat would hold you. You acted on that belief. I doubt anyone questioned the ability of the chair to hold you on the way down into it, not even the bigger guys. Chairs are designed to hold people. Their material strength and structural design promise to hold us. They’re worthy of our faith, our action based on belief the chair is faithful.
God promises to hold us too, to be faithful, if we’re willing to put our faith or believe in Him. What exactly is it that He calls us to believe in faith? Very simply put, it’s this: He has told us the truth. He said He created each of us. He said each of us bears His image. He said each of us is irreconcilably separated from Him by a natural defiance against His Lordship, called “sin.” He gave us perfect laws we couldn’t keep, to show us the depth of our depravity, to show us we deserve wrath. At the same time, He offered mercy. He promised a perfect Messiah, without sin, who could keep the law, who would come into our reality and show us what He was like. He promised that Messiah, His Son, would take our sin on Himself by dying for us and give us His righteousness in exchange. He promised that, once we believed by faith, we were saved. Have you ever, by a strong, volitional choice of the will, believed what God says is true?
That’s a question I struggled to answer for years. In junior high, I kept desperately trying to find assurance that I had done believed what God said. I would beg Jesus to forgive me, with tears and remorse, and mean it. But a week later, I would begin wondering, “Did I really mean it enough?” A well-meaning adult once said to me, “The next time you feel doubts about your decision, make a new sincere decision. Then, go to the hardware store, buy a large metal stake, go out into the back yard, and drive the stake into the ground in the corner of the yard. The next time you feel doubts, you can walk out into the yard, see the stake, and remember you made a sincere decision.” That might work for some, but I would just wonder, “Did I really mean it enough, when I put the stake in the ground?” I kept desperately trying to have an experience that would stay undeniably fresh to me. Only later did I realize I was putting my faith in the wrong transaction.
The strength of our faith was never meant to be found in the memory of a transaction we made, a decision we claim. It was meant to be found in a transaction Jesus Christ made 2,000 years ago on the cross, when He traded our sin for His righteousness. Our present posture of trust in a transaction that happened millennia ago is a greater indication of salvation than any memory of a decision, feeling, act or thought we had.