Chapter 11: The Faith That Saves

Faith is a subject that is far too broad and far too deep to be dealt with in the context of this document, yet in the light of the foregoing, there is one very important aspect of faith that we simply have to emphasize.

As we have seen repeatedly, the righteousness of man is worth less than nothing - it has no saving merit whatsoever. This being the case, we have to conclude that the faith that saves is only ever characterized by a total distrust in our own righteousness and a total dependence on Jesus’ righteousness. This is why . . .
'The only faith that will benefit us is that which embraces Him as a personal Saviour; which appropriates His merits to ourselves.' (DA347)
Let us be absolutely sure of the fact that true faith is always and only a faith that works - for "the faith that does not produce good works does not justify the soul" (1SM397) - but true faith always understands and accepts that the works of man are only evidence that he possesses the faith that justifies and saves.
Without true faith, we all stand condemned before the law of God, and our works or meritorious act can never lessen our condemnation, but . . .
'By faith in His merits [we are freed] from the condemnation of the law.' (1SM396)
While it is absolutely true that our own obedience to God's law proves that we possess saving faith, it is His obedience and only His obedience that redeems us from the curse of the law. Our confidence for salvation must therefore rest entirely on what He has done, putting no trust whatsoever in what we may do or may have done. In other words . . .
'Faith claims nothing for its possessor because of his righteousness, but claims everything because of the righteousness of Christ.’ (ST 11-24-90)
'All who will give up their hope of paying for their salvation, or earning it, and will come to Jesus just as they are, unworthy, sinful, and fall upon His merits, holding in their plea the pledged word of God to pardon the transgressor of His law, confessing their sins and seeking pardon, will find full and free salvation.' (Letter 148, 1897)
True faith, therefore, believes and trusts in the merits and the righteousness of Jesus alone, and it is only such a faith that produces true obedience in us - an obedience that is spawned and nurtured, not by our fear of eternal death, but by a deep inward gratitude towards such a loving and gracious God.
Clearly, therefore, a faith that trusts in our own righteousness, even in the smallest degree, is no faith at all. And, more than this, the righteousness that is the product of such a faith is also no righteousness at all - but merely a specifies of vanity.
Speaking of the faith of the centurion, Jesus said, 'I have not found such great faith even in Israel.' (Luke 7:9). Yet, just prior to Jesus making this statement, the centurion said, Lord, 'I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not consider myself worthy to come to you.' (Luke 7:6, 7)
Thus we deduce that great faith is acutely aware of the fact that it is undeserving and unworthy.
The only other person who was commended by Jesus for having great faith was the Syro-Phoenician women. This woman was not perturbed when Jesus likened her unto a dog eating the crumbs that had fallen from the master's table. Standing before Him whom she believed to be the Master of earth and sea and sky, she saw nothing in herself that was worth defending. Yet the persistent determination of this woman was evidence of great faith - that type of faith that only thrives in the heart of those who realise their unworthiness.
Whatever else might characterize the life of the faithful, of this we can be sure: he who has great faith will have no confidence in what he is, in what he can do, or in what he has done. He will understand that while saving faith always works, it is only ever the faith that saves, while the works only ever present sure evidence that he possesses the faith that saves.
'A correct faith will be made manifest in godly works.' (BEcho 06-11-94.3)
So while saving faith will certainly produce genuine works in us - works that are free of pride and self-glory - our faith will only do this when we accept . . .
that we are undeserving and unworthy, (MH161)
that our righteousness is worth less than nothing, (FW24)
that He has completed the work, (1SM394)
that He has fully satisfied the claims of the Law by obeying the law on our behalf, (1SM396)
that He is a complete Saviour, (3SM181)
and that His life, given for us, is enough. (7BC935/6)

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