Simply believing in the gospel message doesn’t amount to saving faith. There’s something more.
When the Apostles proclaimed the gospel in the first century, it had a certain content.
People could reject that content. But they could also accept it as true.
They could even believe in it.
Yet, that still left them with out true saving faith.
Listen: Accurate content and sincere belief in that content doesn’t amount to saving faith…
Those are necessary elements–but not sufficient elements.
There’s one more element.
Let’s address the first two elements before we get to that last one.
Notitia–the First Element of True Saving Faith
One, we must make sure that content is accurate. No use believing in something that isn’t true or heretical.
As you probably know, there’s something dreadfully wrong with this statement: “It doesn’t matter what they believe–as long as they are sincere.”
Joseph Kony was sincere in his belief that he was called by God to abduct children, murder entire families and displace over a million Sudanese so he could establish a theocratic kingdom.
Sincerity can go awfully wrong.
The same is true for Christians: It’s meaningless to be sincere in our belief but not know whether our belief is accurate or not.
We risk heresy if we do otherwise. Thus, the first element of saving faith is accurate content–notitia. Let’s look at the second.
Assensus–the Second Element of True Saving Faith
Second, we must believe that content is true. We must assent to it. This is assensus.
But it’s still not enough to redeem us.
I believe that Augustine wrote the City of God. However, that doesn’t redeem me. There has to be something more.
Fiducia–the Third Element to Saving Faith
The third element to saving faith is fiducia–personal trust and commitment in the accurate content we believe.
This is when a Christian accepts, receives and RELIES on Christ alone.
Granted, the message of that content is important. I could put my trust and commitment in Augustine–but it wouldn’t do me any good.
He’s not offering salvation. Only Jesus Christ is.
What Saving Faith Does to Our Lives
We look to Jesus [not Augustine nor any man] for justification, sanctification and eternal life.
With saving faith, we tremble at the commands of God…yield in obedience to the mandates of Christ…and put our trust in the promises of God for now and for the future.
In essence, it radically rearranges our lives. Christ becomes our object of delight. Our obsession.
And we long to do nothing more than please him. [We don’t always succeed, but that’s another story.]
Here’s the core content we we confess as true, deserving of our belief and worthy of our submission:
That Christ was born, willingly and perfectly lived under the law of God and died as an atoning act. We believe he was dead, buried and rose again.
Only when we believe that information is accurate and trust it holds the power to save us can we safely say we are born again.
Anything less and Jesus is not saving us.