We have seen that God's grace provides man with every spiritual tool he needs to initially accept Christ and maintain his hope of salvation. Moreover, grace is the divine influence on the heart and its visible effects in our lives. "By grace you are saved through your faith and in no way by your own doing. It is the gift of God." Only through the authority and power of God can we be saved, but only through our willingness to accept the workings of that power upon our hearts and minds. Admitting that God has given us a role in our salvation in no way takes from Christ's precious sacrifice or respect for God's sovereignty.
When we initially accept Jesus as our Master, we enter into an agreement with God. We make a vow to live a life of faith. Many scriptures clearly draw the line between God's and man's obligations in the New Covenant. For example:
* Four times in the gospels, Jesus said to those He healed, "Your faith has saved you" and "Your faith has made you whole." (whole=saved in Greek.)
* "...God justifies and accepts as righteous he who has true, lasting faith in Jesus."
* "The man who does not trust in his own accomplishments but trusts in God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness."
* "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through (your) faith."
Our faith is the channel through which the divine Spirit flows. Our primary obligation to God is our trust in and reliance upon the Godhead. After we initially respond to salvation, we must continue to maintain and grow in this faith. As we show initial faith in the gospel, God continues to provide faith as a natural result of our desire to do His will.
The secular definition of faith is "a state of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in a person or thing" and "an allegiance to a person or duty". The biblical definition is "to continue to adhere to, trust and rely upon God as the source of all things". Paul defined faith as the assurance of things we hope for, even though we can’t sense that they exist. Faith allows a personal relationship with God. We cannot please God without faith. But we need to examine the different levels of faith:
1) a recognition of the existence of something 2) an acceptance of the possibility that thing could have some sort of impact on one's life 3) that thing must be applied and incorporated into one's life (their thoughts and actions). Only this last type of faith can bring someone to their salvation, and only then if they practice it continually as best they can. It is not enough to simply acknowledge that a man named Jesus once walked this earth claiming He was the Son of God. It is not enough to come to a logical conclusion that He and His sacrifice could change your life. But it is sufficient to actively step out in faith and accept and claim all of God's grace that is promised to you by means of that sacrifice.
When Paul wrote of our resurrection, he described it as “the hope” (by means of Christ's resurrection). Romans 8:24 and 25 read, “For we were saved in hope. But hope in something you can see is not really hope. After all, how can a man hope for what he already sees? But if we hope for that which we do not see, we are demonstrating a faith and patience in which God is pleased.” The conviction of belief outweighs the need for its proof of existence. It is not natural for humans to invest such trust in things they cannot see or touch. But God, the Deliverer of our inadequacies, has also freely offered His Spirit who continually reinforces and testifies to those who step out in faith.
We have yet to determine where our initial faith to believe in the gospel comes from. How could it be our faith if we were still utterly lost in darkness? And if we say God chose only those to be saved and brought out of darkness, then we are admitting to predestination of salvation and the uselessness of human free will. The only apparent explanation is that God provides the potential of salvation by shining His light on everyone, not desiring that any should perish. To go beyond that point and try to explain why some are intrinsically rebellious to the Truth, while others are receptive, we must settle for the gospel of John, "The basis of the judgment and test by which men are judged lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than, and more than the Light, for their works were evil. For a wicked one hates the Light, and will not come out into the Light but shrinks from it, lest his works be exposed and reproved. But he who practices truth comes out into the Light so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are - wrought with God, divinely prompted, done with God's help, in dependence upon Him." This passage proves that even an unbeliever inherently and internally knows when they are sinning.