THE NINETEENTH DAY OF AUGUST IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.
A gracEmail subscriber writes: “As hard as I have tried to believe in God and Christ, for over 40 years I have never conquered my doubts. At rare times I can almost say, ‘I know,’ most of the time the best I can do is pray ‘help my unbelief’. I try hard to please God. The harder I try, the more inadequate I feel. I get tense, angry, and profane, then repent and repeat the same cycle. As far as I understand myself, I want to love. I want to believe. I want to persevere.”
* * *
Jesus promised that whoever “believes” in him will not perish but have “eternal” life–aionianin quality (suited to the Age to come) and in duration (everlasting). We are saved ones “by grace through faith.” To believe in Jesus is to exercise faith that gives access to God’s grace. Faith is trust, reliance, entrusting oneself to another. The power of saving faith is not in the faith at all, but rather in the one in whom we trust. It is more about heart than head.
The faith by which we receive God’s grace is not the same thing as intellectual certainty, or the absence of intellectual doubts. Faith is not the same thing as a life fully conformed to God’s will, or one perfectly free from sinful reactions, or one adequate to please God. The faith through which we have access to God’s grace motivates us to reach for these goals and more, but we would not need faith if in our own power we reached them.
What is the faith by which we are saved? Faith is trust, relying on another, entrusting oneself to another. The power of saving faith is not in the faith at all, but rather in the one in whom we trust. The more we despair in ourselves, the more we can throw ourselves wholly on God, rely on his grace, trust in Jesus as Savior and entrust ourselves to him. And scripture assures us that none who trusts in him will be disappointed.