FAITH as PROVISION

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

2014

 

It's a somewhat common affirmation among Evangelicals that God has provided salvation for humanity in and by His Son, Jesus Christ. That provision, though, has the conditional clause, sometimes in small print, as it were, and in other cases in quite bold print. The basic condition, pretty much agreed upon within the Evangelical community, is that faith is THE essential requirement for the provided salvation to be effective. Whether found explicitly in the writings of the Reformers, or whether understood as implied, nevertheless, it has been true within the larger Evangelical community whether it be of the Fundamentalist, Holiness, Pentecostal, or Charismatic variety, that the faith that saves is a conditional requirement. God has provided salvation in the Person and work of Christ, but God requires of the sinner, that he mix his faith into salvation's provision. (If that brings to mind the statement in Hebrews about the promises not being mixed with faith, know this that God is the Mixer, and He has all the ingredients for a right-working mix.)

 

Now to be sure, one cannot be saved without faith ("for by grace ye are saved, through faith...."). But is saving faith a matter of man bringing to the table the factor of his faith---or as some believe, at least his act-of-the-will-decision to believe-- or is saving faith, itself, integral to God's provision of salvation? Is it a matter of God saying, "you do what is required of you, that is, to believe in my Son, and then I'll do the rest." Probably the old confession that sinners at an altar of repentance in older Arminian/Holiness churches were encouraged to repeat with all whole-heartedness expresses what I'm getting at. The counselor at the altar of repentance, quite often would ask the seeker to repeat: "I can, I will, I do believe." The modified Calvinist version would be something like: "I know I can't believe on my own, but I now do exercise my will to be made willing to believe." This came to be refined as; "you've got to at least be willing to be made willing."

 

But whatever nuances of difference there may be within the many flavors of orthodoxy, they all boil down to God having made saving faith a requirement which, in some sense, or by some definition, traces to the decision of a man or woman to believe in order to be saved. Some who, while insisting that salvation is entirely by grace through faith, when pressed, they back off from that premise and insist that "certainly, there's something we must do---something that lies within the sphere of my responsibility." They insist that faith as a requirement does not belong in the category of works, but it most certainly does, for ANYTHING required of us is, by definition, a self-work---a work toward "getting saved." Mental and emotional energy is necessary for any action of willingness to occur. That use of energy is work. There were times, before I came to understand salvation as God's sovereign determination and completion, when I, with great expenditure of soul energy, full of anxiety that I might make a wrong, disobedient decision in my spiritual walk, struggled to make the right decision. That expenditure of energy was at least as great as any overt action I ever took toward the salvation of my soul.

 

But you see, biblical salvation is essentially about being made whole, and faith is integral to wholeness. God alone, can make us whole of spirit, soul, and body, which means that faith must be a provision, not a requirement. God can't give us everything except faith, or everything except the willingness to have faith, and salvation still be wholly of God. Faith is part and parcel of wholeness. Faith doesn't get us wholeness, it's integral to being made whole. Love reveals Itself as light, and the light of love causes us to see God as He is, our Savior from beginning to end. Wholeness would not be wholeness without faith, for tracing this to the innards of fellowship within the Godhead, we find that even Divine Wholeness is relational.

 

Love couldn't be love without loving. The perfection within Deity is communal perfection. To repeat, it's relational. God would not be perfect except AS a love-initiating Father, and AS a love-as-faith responsive Son. The absolute perfection of Jesus lies in the fact that He loves the Father because the Father first loved Him. You see, faith isn't something that gets us wholeness, it is at the heart of wholeness itself. Faith is love returning to It's Source AS faith. Wholeness lies in that dynamic within Deity. Wholeness is interactive. It is love, loving, and being completely assured of its own effectiveness.

 

Saving faith, as described above, is probably at the core of "the law of circularity." Love goes out with overwhelmingly persuasive power, and returns to Itself in the full assurance of faith. That's why the apostle John described Christian wholeness as: "We know and believe the love God has for us." We are whole in the measure that we know and believe God's love for us. We are deficient in wholeness in the measure that our knowledge of, and faith in, God's love is lacking. This is what "faith that worketh by love" is all about. As Harry Robert Fox loved to say: "We need to take time to soak in the love of God."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAITH as PROVISION [John R. Gavazzoni] 2014          2

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