What is a Christian? part 8
The Christian, however, is not simply a person who has turned from sin; he is a person who has turned to Jesus Christ in faith. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). When a person turns from something, he either does it because he has already turned to something or because he wants to turn to something. The sinner does exactly that. He turns from sin to holiness; from self to the Savior. Repentance is turning from and faith is turning to. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Repentance is the negative aspect and faith is the positive aspect. You may be sure that a person has not truly believed unless he has repented; nor has a person truly repented unless he has believed on Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ means to trust in or rely upon Christ alone for salvation. The Bible declares, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;” “He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:36; John 3:18). Notice the words “believeth on”—not simply “believeth in.” To believe on involves reliance upon; it involves resting your weight on Christ. It involves commitment to Jesus Christ. Commitment is the crowning element of saving faith. Commitment is simply a giving of oneself to Jesus. This is well illustrated in the physical realm when a patient actually submits to the operating surgeon by undergoing an anesthetic, thus literally putting his life into the doctor’s hands. So, also, when a sinner puts himself into the hands of the great physician, Jesus Christ, calling upon him to heal him of the deadly disease of sin, he trusts the Savior and the Savior alone for salvation. This is the exercise of saving faith; and all degrees short of the element of commitment are not saving faith. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing simply that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my mist, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence, of saving faith lies in this—a casting of myself on Jesus Christ. It is not the life buoy on board the ship that saves the man when he is drowning, nor is It his belief that It is an excellent and successful invention. No! He must have it around his loins or his hand upon it or else he will sink. Thus it is with saving faith. We must actually commit ourselves unto Jesus, body, soul, and spirit.
One preacher has illustrated saving faith in this manner. Imagine that a fire breaks out in the home where a young boy is asleep on the upper floor. The boy’s father and mother wake up and get all the children out but somehow they miss little Billy. They don’t realize that he is still in the building until they are all outside. Then the horrible truth dawns on them as they gather their children around and find Billy missing. The father tries to go back into the house to rescue his little boy, but he is blocked by a sheet of flame which he cannot get through. Meanwhile Billy wakes up and smells the smoke. He opens the bedroom door and is met by a wall of fire which makes it impossible for him to get downstairs. He closes the door and runs to the window. He looks down at the concrete three stories below. If he stays where he is, he will be burned to death. If he jumps, he will be dashed to pieces. It looks hopeless until his father sees him, holds out his arms and shouts, “Jump, Billy, I will catch you.” Billy knows that his father is strong enough to catch him, but does that make him safe? Billy knows his father loves him and is willing to catch him but does that make him safe? Billy not only knows his father is willing and able to catch him but that his father is pleading with him to jump, but does that make him safe? None of these things will save him unless he trusts his father enough to jump. If Billy will not commit himself to his father’s arms, he will perish.
Saving faith does merely involve knowing that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh who came into the world to save sinners by perfectly keeping the law for them and by offering himself as an all sufficient sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary. It does not merely involve knowing that Jesus Christ is able to save, nor that Jesus Christ is willing to save. A person may know all of this and still perish. Saving faith involves the actual casting of myself upon Jesus Christ and trusting him alone for my own salvation. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31).
In another place the apostle Paul said, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation… . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9, 10, 13). It is not enough to believe about Jesus Christ, we must believe on and in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must cease from trusting in our own goodness, our own works of righteousness, our own baptism or church membership, our own keeping the law of God and rest completely upon the Lord Jesus Christ who is the all sufficient Savior of sinners. We must cease from our “do it yourself,” “make up your own mind,” “run your own life” attitudes and acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our lives. We must commit ourselves wholly and unreservedly to Jesus Christ for time and eternity. Jesus said, “And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). This every true Christian has done. He has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
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