Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
In Christ, and in Christ Alone
Lord, what a magnificent truth it is that You have granted to me "everything pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). Everything I need for my life can be found in Christ alone. Unfortunately, there is an alarming number of Christians who don’t fully comprehend this glorious truth or really trust that we’ve been given all that we need in Christ, and in Christ alone.
The Gospel - The Only Thing That Can Change Any of Us
Many still search for answers to life's problems through secular teaching, vain self-help books, psychology programs, human philosophies, positive thinking seminars, and influential and powerful people like Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Phil…people who don’t mention one thing about the glorious light of the gospel and its power to truly transform lives. See, the gospel is the only thing that can actually change any of us. We're all striving in vain without it.
Empty Promises From the World
The world promises to deliver us from our problems but only in exchange for our "likes" and "follows," our credit card numbers, or for our very own souls. Satan always promises, yet never delivers. That's because he is the Father of Lies, and Scripture describes him being disguised as an "angel of light." The greatest evil of all is the distortion of the Truth, and Satan has been distorting God's Word ever since the garden. Satan is very predictable, and his tactics have not changed one bit. Sin always seems like it'll bring satisfaction, yet it always eludes us every. single. time. That's because sin is simply a lie from hell, and often times we fall for those lies because we aren't grounded in the Truth. Scripture is the best remedy against Satan's lies because the only way you can truly fight lies and win - is with the Truth; the Word of God. and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). That's why it's so important to read His Word daily and "write it on the tablet of your heart." (Proverbs 7:3).
When the world (Satan) promises to fix us, it’s all smoke and mirrors. It sounds good. It seems good. It may even work for awhile. However, it's only an illusion and damning to our souls in the end. None of the world's "solutions" can save any of us from our sins, which is the real root problem that needs fixing.
A Free Gift From Heaven (and a slight detour and point I need to make)
Only Jesus can truly deliver us from our problems (our sins), and with Him there is no catch. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17). Salvation is a free gift. Jesus already paid for it all on the cross when He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). All we have to do is believe in Him, and we will be saved from our sins. By grace through faith, Jesus will not only grant us eternal life in Him, but He will give us an abundant life filled with joy and peace too - through our humble obedience to His Word.
*And let's just stop right here for a minute so we get the correct definition of faith, which is the biblical definition of faith. Sadly, millions of people are self-deceived by their own definitions of faith, as I once was until God's grace opened my eyes. And our own definitions of faith and relative truths can't save us; definitions based off notions, mere feelings, and our own minds, which are always changing - and not based off the Word of God, which never changes. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26).
It's absolutely critical to make sure we all start with the correct definition of faith. None of us would ever want to hear those tragic words from Jesus saying, "Depart from Me. I never knew you." (Matthew 7:23). I can't think of anything more terrifying than that. No one wants to wake up on the other side one day in absolute shock. We must be living our lives in the light of eternity, not just getting sucked into the moment and epically failing to prepare for the bulk of our entire existence. It's only reasonable to be prepared, and it's our very own responsibility to know what God's Word says, interpret it accurately, choose to believe it, and choose to obey it - which proves our faith to be authentic. The single most responsible thing any of us could ever do in this short life is to make sure we're truly in the faith..that our faith in Christ is a genuine and saving faith, based off the Word of God and not our feelings. We are commanded in Scripture to examine and test ourselves to make sure we are in the faith, secure in Christ. (2 Corinthians 13:5). That begins with a thorough understanding of the biblical definition of faith. (Also, see bottom for the three aspects of true saving faith).
The Definition of True Saving Faith According to Scripture
Having faith doesn't just mean we intellectually agree with the facts of the gospel and go about our lives living however we want; living half-heartedly for Christ; balancing between light and darkness, truth and error, righteousness and sin, Christ and worldliness; thinking God's grace allows for unrepentant sin.
The Bible does not speak in the grays. It is antithetical to the world's deceptive system, meaning it's black and white. In other words, following Christ is mutually incompatible to the patterns of the world and its Satanic belief systems; everything that is popular and common among the masses. To that point, I'd like to share one of the most sobering texts in all of Scripture: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14). The Bible is black and white and so is truly following Christ. Believing in Jesus / having faith in Jesus is a serious and lifelong commitment, and it does not involve serving self too. In Luke Chapter 14, Jesus tells us in a parable to count the costs before following Him. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:27). However, when you choose to really follow Jesus, He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, unlike the heavy yoke and burden of pride, sin, and self-sufficiency. Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Throughout the gospels, Jesus commands us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses to follow Him, otherwise we can't be His disciples. (We will do well to listen to Jesus, especially when He repeats Himself over and over and over). Faith is not both serving self and serving Jesus. Faith is not just a prayer you prayed one time in Sunday school where your teacher told you to "just invite Jesus into your heart, little Suzy." "Make Jesus Lord of your life, little Timmy, and now you can go to heaven!" We don't just "invite Jesus into our hearts" nor do we "make Jesus Lord." Jesus Christ is Lord, whether we believe that fact or not! And if Jesus wants to come into any of our hearts, He is not going to need our permission or a special invite from us. He's going to break down the door, come into our hearts, and transform them in the process.
Having true saving faith in Jesus Christ means that we place our personal trust in Him, not only as our Savior, but as Lord of both heaven and earth. Truly believing in Jesus Christ includes a genuine repentance and a surrendering to His authority and Lordship. (We are only able to submit to Him when we truly trust Him and His goodness for our lives). Therefore, our actions and obedience to His Word will naturally reflect our faith in Christ and prove our faith to be a true saving faith. And although we are saved by grace through faith alone, it's not a faith this is alone. Faith naturally produces good works. It's a very simple concept. (See James 2:14-26 for the obedience of faith).
To drive this point home further, the words "faith" and "obedience," "believe" and "obey," "disbelieve" and "disobey," are synonymous throughout all of Scripture, and they are the same exact word in the original Greek. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36.
*Thank you for taking this very important detour with me to better understand the true meaning of faith, defined by the Word of God and not defined by our own imaginations. Now let's get back to saying how Christ holds all the answers.
All the Answers are in Christ because He is The Answer
Sadly, far too many Christians are still searching for something else, something more, something outside of Christ that will take them to that place of ultimate peace, joy, wisdom, and growth. The thing is, Jesus Christ is standing right in front of each one of us, freely offering us all the real answers we could ever want or need, in Him. Everything I will ever need to know I can find right there in the Word of God, by the Holy Spirit guiding me and teaching me all things. Jesus makes it so simple for us, but it's not always easy. But that’s why as Christians we have been given the Holy Spirit to be able to read, love, and accurately interpret Scripture for our lives. He is our helper until the end of the age. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him (1 John 2:27).
Look to Christ and Christ Only
We can often be tempted to shift from “Christ alone” to “Christ plus…”. This wandering away from the sufficiency of Christ and His Word can often be very subtle, and it’s nothing new to our current day and age. All the way back in the first century, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to warn them about the alluring attraction of the world’s philosophies. He wrote, See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). How did Paul help guard the Colossians against the enticement of human wisdom and philosophies? He simply pointed them to the unparalleled, exceptional glory, and surpassing worth of Jesus Christ as their supreme treasure. Obviously, Jesus Christ blows everything else out of the water, and that’s an incredible understatement. That’s because He is the way, the Truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Jesus Christ is God Himself. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).
Christ alone is sufficient. In Him, I am complete. As a Christian, I need not to look anywhere else but to Christ alone for everything I could ever want or need for all of an eternity. Lord, I praise You for the supreme treasure You’ve given me; the One who holds all the answers; the final answer to everything; my love, joy, peace, comfort, blessed hope, and life itself; the One and Only Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
All glory in heaven and on earth belongs to You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name I pray Amen.
*** The Three Elements of True Saving Faith:
1. An intellectual element (notitia), which is a positive recognition of the truth
2. An emotional element (assensus), which includes a deep conviction and affirmation of the truth
3. And finally, a volitional element (fiducia), which involves a personal trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This includes a genuine surrendering to His Lordship. (Meaning, you will have a real desire to obey the Word of God when you truly trust Him and His goodness for your life). Obedience to God's Word is simply the by-product and outward expression of your faith in Him. Obeying God's Word is proof that your faith is real. Faith and obedience are inseperable. You can't have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin. For the whole world knows that actions speak louder than words. Well, that basic, universal principle also applies to expressing faith in God.
Modern popular theology tends to recognize notitia and often assensus, but often eliminates fiducia. This is called "Easy Believeism" which is a very popular, modern-day Christianity that runs rampant in the church. It is heretical, a radical distortion of God's Word, and yet just another layer of Satan's deception to steal away souls to hell. See, faith is not authentic saving faith if it lacks the attitude of genuine repentance and a genuine surrender to Christ's authority and Lordship. Obviously, we are all fallen, we will all still sin, even as Christians (more than we even realize), and we will never obey God's Word perfectly. But nonetheless, true Christians desire to obey God's Word, and we do experience real victory over sin in this life. Verbal professions of faith in God are empty and futile if someone's actions continue to deny God. They profess to know God, but by their actions they deny him (Titus 1:16). I used to be an empty profession of faith in God, but then by God's grace, He opened my eyes and I saw the light of the gospel. All glory to Him for gifting me with my faith!
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:24-25
My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:1-3
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. - Helen Lemmel