“We See Jesus…Consider Jesus…Looking to Jesus,
the Author and Perfecter of our Faith”
(Heb. 2:9a, 3:1, 12:2a).
Faith is extraspective, always looking out of oneself to Christ. As one of our forefathers put it well, our faith is always looking for Christ throughout one’s day. Faith humbly looks up to receive Christ’s forgiveness, looks around for Christ’s help and fellowship, and looks down to see Christ’s light on the path. Faith keeps its eye on Christ the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Faith looks up humbly to receive Christ’s grace from the beginning of the Christian life. As we walk by faith in this present age, our faith continues to look around and find Christ in each situation, in each and every circumstance, as Habakkuk said: “I will stand on the watchtower and look out to see what you will say to me,” (Hab. 2:1), so faith is always looking outward, extraspectively to take hold of Christ in His fullness of grace and truth (John 1:16-18).
From the beginning of our conversion or union with Christ through the Spirit’s work in our effectual calling, faith is like a holy seed implanted by the Spirit of God in believers as a gift (Eph. 2:6-10; 2 Cor. 4:13; James 1:21)—a gift that keeps on giving—and growing (2 Pet. 1:5ff; 1 Thess. 1:3-5; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 10:22)! God-given faith is supernaturally active in looking to Christ alone as the justifying and sanctifying Savior as He is revealed in and through the Word of God (Acts 13:48; John 6:37). As the Westminster Confession says: “The principal acts of saving faith are, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ…” (WCF, 14.2).
Faith trusts in Christ alone for “justification, sanctification, and eternal life” (1 Cor. 1:30; cf. WCF, 14.2). We find and receive by faith both our justification before God and our definitive and progressive sanctification (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 2:9-11) of being conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Faith trusts Christ for justification by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:4-5), but also trusts God for sanctifying conformity to Christ (Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13). Christians are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10), and have been set free to be a people for Christ’s own possession who are zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14).
While justification is by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone, it is not a faith that is alone; it is always a working faith. This means that faith is never separate from, or empty of good works; true and saving faith is a working faith (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; cf. Rom. 2:6-7). Without good works, we have no true faith (James 2:14-18). Faith takes hold of a whole Christ, and in Him we find all that we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3-4). Faith receives a whole Savior who can save us from both the guilt and power of sin (Rom. 10:13-17). As the hymn writer Toplady wrote: “Be of sin the double cure, save me from its guilt and power!” The Christian trusts in Christ “for salvation not only from wrath, but also from sin; not only for salvation from the guilt of sin, but also from its pollution and power; not only for happiness hereafter, but also for holiness here” (R. Shaw, ‘Commentary on Westminster Confession’).
Faith is the empty hands that receive all that we need for life and godliness in Christ alone. True faith struggles against sin, weaknesses, and against all obstacles to take hold of the strength and grace that are found in Christ, to become “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:11-12). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). With extraspective faith, looking to Christ, we please Him, knowing confidently that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him! Let us seek Him in Christ!
In Christ’s love,