As people grounded in the Reformed tradition we are familiar with the phrase that we are saved by “faith alone”. But we have to ask, which faith will save us?
The faith that responds to the redemption in Christ cannot be explained other than in the light of true faithfulness. The narrative of our faith is the story of Jesus, the faithful Messiah. Nowhere in the New Testament do we read about a faith through which we become children of God without a personal relationship with Jesus. And Jesus is so much more than the One we believe in. Jesus is the only valid term and condition of owning Christian faith. It is only because Christ has “done it all” that the sinner’s faith is possible and can be a saving response to God’s offer of salvation.
Being followers of Christ through faith implies following him faithfully and reflecting his very faithfulness till the end and to the cross. The Bible says that faith involves “looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Salvation involves a relationship with the Messiah and in him, inclusion into the people of God. Our relationship with Jesus involves being filled with the Spirit who shows us who Jesus is, and shows us his faithfulness, his power and his saving grace. The same Spirit that nurtures the response in faith to the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to being redeemed, continues to urge us to live a life of joyful praise and obedience to God (Romans 1:5, 16:26), and loving service to our neighbour (Galatians 5:6, 13-14; 6:1-2).
When Christian faith matures, the story of faith is completed when we see God’s faithfulness to his people reflected in the faithfulness of the people of God.
The question is what kind of faith does God require?
The traditional answer since the time of the Reformation has been to point out that true faith is attested to, is proven to exist, by faithfulness.
God is not interested in intellectual consent to the facts of the story of Jesus. It always is and only can be a heartfelt trust in God and his promises of salvation, life and even eternal life as found in the Gospel.
This means that having the “only faith that saves” always results in being practically faithful in serving Christ with his people, in his Church, at worship, at his Table and in his service, all the time, till the end.