A statement from a former metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church, M. Dean Stephens:
Just What is Faith in Christ, Anyway?
A message from the Most Rev. M. Dean Stephens, Metropolitan of the Anglican Catholic Church and Archbishop Ordinary of the Diocese of New Orleans, reprinted from The Trinitarian,
Volume XV, No. 1, February, 1996.
If I were to ask you, "Do you have faith in Christ," how would you answer? Some of you would answer in the affirmative with a resounding "yes". Others might answer, "I'm not sure that I have any faith." Still others would respond by saying, "Is it possible to know if one has faith in Christ? What is faith anyway?"
The question about faith in Christ is of the utmost importance because the Bible says that, "Nor is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12]. God has appointed one man, the man Christ Jesus in whom we must be saved. There is no other name or revelation that God has given mankind which will save us from the judgment to come or give life full meaning now. But what a glorious name, the name of our Lord Jesus!
Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation, told the Virgin Mary that the child to be conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit was to be called Jesus, which means -- "God is Help," or more succinctly, "Captain of our Salvation." Jesus is the beginning and the end of our salvation. He is, in himself, the guarantee that we shall be saved if we believe in Him. Romans 10:9 tells us, "That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."
But you say: "What does it mean ïto have faith,to believe? That’s a question that many have wrestled with. When, as a young teenager, I heard that I was to believe in Christ to be saved, I questioned in my own heart as to whether I had faith to believe in Christ as Saviour. Was my faith strong enough to save me? Was it real faith?
The word "believe" in today's language has changed and does not fully convey its full meaning of "trust" as it did a century or two ago. To "believe" actually means "to commit oneself to, to trust, cling to, or rely on." Today, in this latter part of the 20th century, you may "believe" something to be true, but not necessarily act upon that belief. Let me give you two simple examples.
We all know that if a person stands in the middle of a busy highway that he will be hit by oncoming traffic if he doesnÍt move. We all believe that to be a true statement of fact. However, the person may not act upon that belief and remove himself from harm. In that case, we all know what will happen. It is possible to believe something to be true but yet not act upon its truth.
A second example is of a person who is sick and will die if the right medicine isn't administered. If that medicine is available, the patient may "believe" that the medicine will save, him, but he must also act and take the medicine to be healed. You see, there has to be an act of the will to decide to take the medicine. The same holds true in the spiritual realm. The "medicine of salvation" has been provided in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can be saved if we respond in faith to Christ's invitation to believe on Him.
Some years ago, the story was told of a missionary who was translating the Bible into the language of a certain tribe. He couldn't seem to find just the right word to describe what it means to "believe" on Christ. One day, as he was struggling to translate John 3:16, a man appeared at this door to talk about this new faith with the missionary. As they talked, the missionary asked his new convert what he thought was the best way to translate the word "believe" into his own language. The man thought for a moment and said: "I think the best way to describe the word "believe" would be to say, "to sit down." Puzzled, the missionary asked him to explain. He replied, "you are sitting on a chair. Therefore, you must believe the chair will hold you." The missionary translator caught his meaning and quickly translated John 3:16 as follows: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever sits down on (believes on) Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Isn't that the true meaning of faith, to place the weight of our soul's eternal destiny upon Christ? In other words, true faith relies upon the promise of Christ that He will save us if we entrust our soul to Him. Just as a drowning man needs to entrust himself to the lifeguard to be rescued, so we too must lie still in the arms of Christ, not trying to save ourselves, but trusting Him to do the work of saving us.
Dear reader, have you entrusted your soul's eternal destiny to the Lord Jesus Christ? I said above that it is possible to believe something is true, but not act upon it. It is the same with our eternal salvation. Many believe in their minds that Jesus is Lord but do not act upon that belief. There must come a time, in each of our lives when we make the decision to ask the Lord to save us and take Christ into our lives. Have you done that? Why not do it now and pray the following prayer with faith:
Lord Jesus, I have sinned and have not lived my life for you and I ask you to come into my heart and forgive my sins. I believe that you died on the cross to save me and I ask you to make me your child. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus! I believe your promise that if I would trust in you that you would save me. I now commit my life to you. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for hearing my prayer. Amen.
If you meant that prayer from the bottom of your heart, God has heard you. Jesus said: "The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out" [John 6:37]. In other words, if you come to Christ, He will not turn you away. He must keep His word for God cannot lie. You can be assured that our Lord will keep His word and cleanse you from every sin and make you His child.
Having taken this step, the step of following Christ, don't try to do it alone. Come and join us. . . (in the church), where the strength of fellowship with others will help sustain you in your new faith.
If you have not been baptized, speak to the priest about it. Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" [Mark 16:16]. If you are a church member but have been lax in following Christ, renew your baptismal vows today and enter into that personal relationship with Him.