August 8, 2012 admin

 light bulb

Sometimes, we Christians use terms that we have trouble defining with accuracy. (Have you ever tried to explain to a child what it is to be holy?? what worship is?? the difference between justification and sanctification??)

Words are only words – but as the units of communication, they do convey meaning.

So, what is faith?

We understand when an athlete expresses faith or confidence in his or her teammates; when someone explains they are of the Jewish faith; or when someone has been the victim of unfaithfulness.

But how would you define it? Is your definition consistent with the Bible? Would you know if someone defined it in a way that was contrary to Scripture?

That was one of the key issues at stake in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Those at the head of the movement were highly educated men, challenging the Church of Rome to return to New Testament principles, one of which was to embrace spiritual salvation only by faith (more formally referred to as “justification by faith alone”).

Because of the centrality of faith to the Gospel, it needed to be understood with precision.

The Reformers responded by explaining that in the Bible, saving faith always had 3 components represented by Latin words: noticia, assensus, fiducia. (Don’t stop reading – this is important!)

The 1st term (noticia) relates to content. When you receive a notice in your mailbox, it contains content of a sale, event, meeting (description, location, cost, time, etc.) It was understood that faith is not biblical if it does not contain the content of the Gospel: the existence of God and deity of His Son; the sinfulness of each of us before a holy God; Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as our Substitute; the resurrection of Christ in defeating death and hell for His people; the individual’s need to respond in repentance to receive eternal life.

Assensus is the Latin word for assent. The 2nd component of saving faith is to agree intellectually with the content of the Gospel. You can’t reject the Gospel and still be saved.

But that’s not enough.

In our culture, a fiduciary is a person in a position of trust, usually holding assets on behalf of another. The Reformers understood that intellectual assent alone to the accurate content of the Gospel was insufficient as biblical faith. The 3rd component fiducia is essential: placing one’s trust in the Christ of the Gospel.

Takeaway: can I explain faith as it is used in the Bible? Does my own salvation experience reflect faith that is built on the New Testament definition of the Gospel? Have I, in addition to understanding with my mind, placed my trust in Christ as my Lord?