There seems to be a disconnect in my life between my absolute faith in Christ as the Savior of the world and of my soul, and my sometimes-less-certain faith in his guidance of my everyday life. Of course, in my head I absolutely believe that he will provide for me every second of every day. But sometimes my heart does not believe this as securely as my head. I feel like the man whose child was possessed by a demon and in desperation, cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Matt. 9:24) I don’t like uncertainty—I want to know what is ahead and how I should act or react. I want to know, but most of the time, God’s only reply is, “It’s ok to not know; you must trust me.”
I’m not very good at that.
So there seems to be two kinds of faith in my life: first, the grand, overall faith of Jesus as my Savior; and second, the plodding, grinding faith of Jesus as my daily guide. I know how my faith works in the eternal part of the story: I believe; Christ saves me; I die and go to heaven instead of hell. (Yes, I know that’s the simple version.) It’s the nitty-gritty details of what happens tomorrow that I struggle with. I graduate from college in less than nine months—what will happen then? Will I be able to find a job in my chosen career? Where will I live? Can I be successful and make my family proud? When God says, “Have faith in me,” about these kind of things, I struggle more to say, “Yes, Lord,” than when he asks me to trust in him alone for my salvation.
Somehow, I don’t think there are supposed to be two different kinds of faith in the Christian’s life—and neither does John Wesley.
Wesley was preaching in England at a time when many were concerned with the issue of assurance—how we can be certain that we are saved. This concern came as a result of Calvinism, in which many insisted that no one can be sure of salvation (although Calvin does not expressly say this himself). Wesley was very concerned with the salvation of his congregation, but not only as a distant event that would take place only after death. Instead, he spoke of saving faith as something that is very present, and should influence every action of a Christian’s life. He says:
Whatsoever else it imply, [salvation by faith] is a present salvation. It is something attainable, yea, actually attained, on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith…a salvation from sin, and the consequences of sin, both often expressed in the word justification; which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually applied to the soul of the sinner now believing on him, and a deliverance from the power of sin, through Christ formed in his heart. (Standard Sermon One, Salvation by Faith)
Not only does faith save us from hell sometime in the vague future, but our faith saves us from sin now. This is what Wesley means by deliverance from the power of sin. The Christian who believes in Christ for his eternal salvation also believes in Christ for his everyday needs, and relies on Christ to guide him in doing good works. There should be no disconnect between our saving faith and living faith—it is all one faith.
This is the same idea that the Apostle John teaches in his first epistle:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:3-6)
John’s idea of abiding in Christ and following his commandments is the same as Wesley’s idea of the present, daily saving faith. As Christians, we cannot only believe in Christ for our salvation after death—we have to believe in our salvation now, on earth.
It’s hard for me to “not be anxious about anything,” and instead, have faith in Christ to help me lead the kind of life that will glorify him. I am so eager to try for righteousness on my own. I only have one life; my tendency is to think that it might be messed up if I let the Lord take control. But in reality, he’s in control anyway. I may as well sit back and enjoy the ride.
This post aired on Evangelical Outpost September 24, 2013.