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Page 230


 

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name:

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

- John 1: 12-13

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

- Titus 3:5

 






    Saving faith can be distinguished according to its:

    1. Essence -the gift or grace of faith

    2. Exercise -the action or practice of faith

    3. Assurance -the degree of faith

The essence of saving faith refers to the reality, the core, the seed of true saving faith being planted by grace in a person's soul. In the moment of regeneration, the Holy Spirit plants true faith, hope, and love in a person's heart. The essence of faith contains all that faith is; it includes knowledge, assent, and confidence. While in its infancy, saving faith lacks the maturity of a more exercised, established, and assured faith; yet the total essence or substance of faith is present. The following example illustrates this truth.

    Holding up an acorn for all to see, Rachel's teacher stated, "All that a great oak tree will ever be is contained in an acorn."

    Rachel thought about that for a moment, deeply amazed at this truth.

    "This is an example of the essence of faith," her teacher continued. "As the total substance, the essence, of the oak tree is found in this acorn; so the complete essence of saving faith is found in the spiritual seed of regeneration. Once both are planted and nourished, they will grow, mature, and bring forth fruits. Through time and growth, their full maturity will take place."

    From acorn to fully mature tree, is the oak tree the same in essence? However, is it the same in strength, benefit to others, and fruits? Why not?

    How would you answer the previous questions if they pertained to saving faith instead of an oak tree?

The exercise of saving faith refers to its actions. True saving faith is a living faith; it knows, agrees with, and trusts in, God.

While the essence of faith, God's gift of faith, is perfect and pure, the heart into which it is planted is not. The person's new heart is sinless, but the old is not. The new nature loves God, but the old loves sinful self. The exercise of faith competes with that of unbelief. Due to both natures being present in the true believer, spiritual warfare takes place -the old and new natures pulling in opposite directions. For this reason, the resulting actions in the live of those possessing true saving faith are not perfectly pure and sinless.


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