a writer expresses his confusion:
I recently read that salvation is by faith in Christ ALONE. If we trust in Christ + ourselves, we're not really saved, because we're not trusting in Christ alone. So now I wonder, was I really saved back then, even though I was confused and partially trusting in my works? It may be that I was saved then, but confused. Or maybe, because my faith wasn't in Jesus alone, I wasn't saved at all. In addition, I have to wonder when I was saved?
Salvation IS found in Christ alone. Our formulas create the confusion. It amazes me how this little twist slips by so unrecognized. Please know that it's not just you, for there are a good many who miss the obvious man-centered approach found in the formulas.
Stop for a moment and consider this simple distinction: Is salvation found in CHRIST or in OUR TRUST? If it's in Christ alone then the quality or quantity of one's trust is immaterial. The truth is that you've been tricked into looking at the wrong thing, which is YOURSELF. Have YOU trusted enough? Ironic, isn't it?
Now I realize that some use these formulas in hopes that they are making salvation simpler to understand, and that's the problem. The salvation brought by Christ cannot be understood by making it easier to understand, for it is all a miraculous reality.
The wisdom of God in Christ is simple because God is not complex. Christ has become our wisdom. The confusion comes from trying to turn the complex wisdom of man into a simple wisdom which can only produce a formula that seems simple. But as you have experienced, the simplicity of the reasoning becomes more and more complex as you reason it through.
Forget the formulas and stand firm in the miraculous reality of Christ.
in response :
While I do agree that salvation is found in Christ, I'm still stuck on your comment that, because of this, the "quantity or quality of one's trust is immaterial." Faith still seems to be a Biblical requirement for salvation
When you're approaching faith as if it's a "Biblical requirement" you're setting yourself up for inevitable confusion, especially when dealing with the catches, exceptions and contradictions. Don't get me wrong, I believe there are legitimate reasons for faith to have been presented as a "must" in the Biblical testimonies, for salvation indeed belongs to those who are of faith. However, the problems stem from the attempt to fit such statements into a preexisting logic.
I'm saying, until we abandon the false concepts of faith that have been built upon the same reasoning that established the multitudes of religious requirements in the first place we will misconstrue its simplicity, especially in its connection with salvation. You see, we may have whittled the long list of "Biblical requirements" down to only ONE, but in doing so we've turned it into the big momma of requirements. The truth is that we've been forcing faith to remain in the image of by-gone requirements (in our perceptions, that is).
Hang with me for just a moment as I tell you a story.
When my oldest daughter was very young she made a good show at appearing independent. Whenever the family went for a walk she didn't want to hold my hand like her sisters did, nor even to stay close. Instead she maintained an obvious distance that clearly stated she was not connected to the rest of the family, but as on her own. I can remember having been bothered by her apparent alienation numerous times, but somewhere along the line I began to realize that her independence was a facade. It seems the force-field that kept her connected to us was stronger than any hand could hold.
Why did I tell you this? Because that's what I picture in my mind when I consider the common misperception of faith that causes so much confusion. I see a child distancing herself far enough to demand her disassociation but close enough to keep her relevance.
We - and I do mean me in that we - used to think that our strong Biblical stand on "Christ Plus Nothing" separated us from those who didn't make the same distinctions. Of course, we assumed we knew why they didn't ... after all, they were the "Christ Plus Something" people! Somehow we had failed to realize that many of our distinctions depended upon an opposition. In other words, we held to a reasoning that was little more than the antithesis of the teachings we denounced, meaning that without them we didn't have a whole lot of distinctiveness! Maybe we only thought our distinctiveness was found in the things we opposed.
I have no doubt God was teaching me through all of this, it just took me a while to realize there are no formulas by which to judge another's faith. For faith is not subject to man's judgment, it simply cannot be determined by his examination. Formulas are nothing more than the conclusions of man's judgment, and while they might provide an illusion of understanding, they will only infuse confusion into the simplicity of Christ.
Alright, so let me comment on that statement about the quantity or quality of one's trust being immaterial, though perhaps you've realized that what I've written thus far has much to do with it. After all, it is NOT faith (or trust) that is immaterial but instead the factors we've applied that have turned it into something else.
- Though faith in Christ is actually absurd to the natural mind we can add a qualifying factor, like "intelligent", so that not only is the stigma of foolishness removed, it seems quite reasonable to believe.
- Though believing in Christ marks one who has lost confidence in himself we can add a qualifier, like "enduring", so that faith refers to one's ability or even one's moral fortitude, to hang on.
- Though faith in Christ exudes simplicity we can add a quantifier so that we judge faith by how much one knows, or is capable of understanding.
Now even though we might be able to produce Bible verses that seem to hint of qualifiers and quantifiers the simple fact of the matter is that faith pretty much stands out there on its own making a miraculous insistence that it is all about God, all about Christ, and not about the one who is believing.
But still, doesn't God have to give us a certain faith--that is, the faith that believes certain facts about Jesus?
If so, salvation is determined by how many facts about Jesus one believes. Then we would have to make sure that we were given the correct information about Jesus to believe, and then hope that no critical bit was left out. Of course, the above describes quite a few religious doctrines and institutions, doesn't it?
Oh yeah, I remember going around the Biblical barn with more than one person who insisted on either more or less facts that needed to be believed in order to have it become "saving" faith. Which is yet another qualifier that has scared the hell out of many folks over the years.
Can't you see how all this reasoning is saturated in a relativity that changes with each new doctrine or revelation or opinionation? Believing facts - even Biblical or gospel facts - saves no one.
Faith in Christ defies the relativity of religion and its control through doctrinal demands as to how much, how long, how good, how pure, how correct, how doctrinal, how New Testament, how dispensational, how detailed, how Messianic, how active, how Christian, how Biblical, etc, etc, one's faith must be before it can be called "saving" faith.