God is a process-oriented problem solver. Take the problem that Adam and Eve created in their rebellion. God lost His reign over, intimacy with, and habitation in His people. The Bible chronicles the process He has chosen to solve that problem – culminated in Revelation 21.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

The second half of this passage – the part we most remember – represents the problem’s solution from mankind’s perspective. It too was solved via process – particularly, the process of salvation.

As a side note: The Bible regularly speaks of God’s processes as His “ways”. God’s ways are prescription for the normal Christian life. God has a way for everything – particularly the BIG things – and He is generally clear about them.

The process of salvation includes another critical process – the process of faith. Faith is not a static element of our salvation. It is important that we understand God’s way for its growth and vitality. Let us begin with an oft quoted passage.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace has been described as “God’s unmerited favor” for our salvation. While this is true, it is a limited perspective – particularly for those that see salvation as an event. For many, grace has become nothing more than a covering for our sin – even an excuse to continue in it. This is a tragic deception; for grace is nothing less than the continuous and increasing empowerment of God for the victorious life.

The same must be true of our faith; for it is God’s gift for the appropriation of His grace. Little faith appropriates little grace. Great faith appropriates great grace – for the greater than life God intends for all His children.

How does this work? Humor me for a moment of technical Greek, and consider one of the most beloved Bible passages:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

The Greek word translated as “believes” has a present verb tense – used to describe a continuous and progressive action. Therefore, we understand Jesus to be saying that our salvation is conditional on a continuing and growing faith (faith/belief being the noun form of believe).

Furthermore, we understand from the following that faith is to be perfected.

For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? 1Thessalonians 3:9-10

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other… 2Thessalonians 1:3

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:22

There is much that can be said about the perfecting of our faith (and we may, depending on feedback to this article). For now, it is important enough to recognize the importance of our growing up in faith. God has prescribed a process for that very thing.

The Process

  1. God gets our attention.
  2. We choose to listen.
  3. He speaks; and with His word (information, encouragement, instruction) comes hearing in our spirit (or conscience, if our spirit is not yet alive to Him). This is the hearing of faith (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2-5).
    1. For the unbeliever, the initial empowerment of faith is called prevenient grace.
    2. For the believer, the hearing of our spirit activates the faith of Jesus Christ that is in our hearts (by His life there).
  4. Choosing to believe what we have heard, faith appropriates the grace of God for His work in us, and/or through us.
    1. In us, we find that His grace transforms us through the renewing of our mind (by the Holy Spirit; Romans 12:2 and 2Corinthians 3:18); and we are made free by the truth (John 8:31-32). This process is expressed in Philippians 2:13 – God is working in you to will and do to His good pleasure.
    2. Through us, we find His grace powerfully expressed in the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit; and in the answer to our prayers as we abide in Christ (John 15:7-8).
  5. In the midst of this, we must be choosing to be used as instruments of God’s grace – in the good works that bring our faith to life and perfection.  This is an iterative process that progressively increases our faith; qualifying and encouraging us to receive more of God’s word. The Scriptures refer to this as the work of faith (1Thessalonians 1:3, 2Thessalonians 1:11; James 2:14-26).

The work God intends to do through His children is bound to His processes – for our personal growth, and for those we are responsible to disciple.  That process is basically “hear, believe and obey” (think HBO); and is both iterative and progressive.

The amazing thing about all this is that God has given us grace and faith for all of it. Both are gifts.  All we need do is choose (to hear, believe and obey).  As we surrender ourselves to the process of faith, we shall be perfected and saved.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob