Louis Berkhof says, “The Ordo Salutis describes the process by which the work of salvation, wrought in Christ, is subjectively realized in the hearts and lives of sinners.” There are a number of elements in this order of salvation, so far we have looked at the following: effectual calling, regeneration, and conversion. This month we take a quick look at that which our church is named after: faith. We begin in the Scriptures, as is always best. Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Faith comes from hearing God's Word, but what is it? Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. So we know faith is a gift from God that comes from our hearing God's Word which is marvelous to know, but that doesn't answer the more foundational question; what is faith? There are different kinds of faith, but there is only one faith that saves and that is what should consume our attention.
Saving faith has three elements to it: knowledge, assent and will. There is information we must know; our intellects are involved in faith. There is truth that we must believe, it is God's truth found in God's Word. That truth is the gospel and that truth we must know. It does us no good to just know the truth, we must also agree that it is true. There is an emotional aspect of faith here tied up in our accepting the truth of the gospel. Berkhof spoke of this by saying, “When one embraces Christ by faith, he has a deep conviction of the truth and reality of the object of faith, feels that it meets an important need in his life, and is conscious of an absorbing interest in it, — and this is assent.” That assent to the truth is followed then by the will, what theologians call “fiducia”. Faith becomes a matter of the will, determining the direction and action of the soul. Fiducia is the aspect of saving faith that actually goes out and appropriates the object of faith. Fiducia is what moves a person to place their trust, for their very life, in Jesus. Therefore the Westminster Divines wrote in the shorter catechism, “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” It is faith that sings from the heart, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling; naked come to thee for dress; helpless look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior or I die.” The clear message of the Bible is that we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is here that we are confronted with the overwhelming grace and compassion of our covenant keeping God who loves us and gave His Son for us.