As a man is faced with God’s promises, Christian faith means bowing twice: Firstly, he needs to bow in the realm of Being (metaphysically) — that is, to acknowledge that he is a creature before the infinite-personal Creator who is there. Secondly, he needs to bow in the realm of morals — that is, to acknowledge that he has sinned and therefore that he has true guilt before the God who is there.
If he has true moral guilt before an infinite God, he has the problem that he, as finite, has no way to remove such a guilt. Thus what he needs is a non-humanist solution. Now he is faced with God’s propositional promise, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 ESV). What remains is the meaning of “believe in the Lord Jesus.” What does it mean to believe on, to cast oneself on, Christ?
I would suggest there are four crucial aspects. More detail could be considered, but these are crucial. They are not slogans to be repeated by rote and they do not have to be said in these words, but the individual must have come to a positive conclusion and affirmation concerning them, if he is to believe in the biblical sense:
- Do you believe that God exists and that He is a personal God, and that Jesus Christ is God — remembering that we are not talking of the word or idea god, but of the infinite-personal God who is there?
- Do you acknowledge that you are guilty in the presence of this God — remembering that we are not talking about guilt-feelings, but true moral guilt?
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ died in space and time, in history, on the cross, and that when He died His substitutional work of bearing God’s punishment against sin was fully accomplished and complete?
- On the basis of God’s promises in His written communication to us, the Bible, do you (or have you) cast yourself on this Christ as your personal Savior — not trusting in anything you yourself have ever done or ever will do?
But note with care that God’s promise, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36) rests upon: God’s being there; Christ being the Second Person of the Trinity whose death therefore has infinite value; my not coming presumptuously in thinking I can save myself, but casting myself on the finished work of Christ and the written promises of God.
My faith is simply the empty hands by which I accept God’s free gift. 😊
Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There