Grace and Faith

The Only Hope of Escape

By Jim Allen

Imagine two men trapped by fire on a building window ledge several floors up. Both hear the call to jump. Their only hope of escape is to leap into the net spread out below, which neither man can see because of dense smoke. Suddenly, one man leaps from the building and disappears through the toxic smoke, landing safely below in the net. He is saved! The other man, blinded by smoke and lacking faith in the one calling to jump, backs away from the ledge to look for another escape route. In the ensuing moments that follow, poisonous fumes overcome the man and he perishes in the fire.

What saved the first man's life? He knew the voice of the one calling to be his father's voice, a fireman who had single-handedly saved many people on other daring rescues. What took the second man's life? Obviously, it was his lack of faith in the voice of the one calling to leap. Both men heard the call. The net was there for both of them. While one man trusted and said yes, the other said no. From this analogy we can see that although grace is the net God spread out for all mankind, only those who recognize the voice (of the one calling) will exercise "saving faith" and take the leap of faith. Those who do not take the leap of faith will perish in the fire.

Two Sides of the same Coin

Salvation is a two-sided coin. From God's side, salvation is possible by "grace" through the faith in Christ (Romans 3:22, 24-25, 28). Grace provides an opportunity for people to hear and respond to the gospel in faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). From man's side of the coin, "faith" in Jesus Christ is the only condition God requires for salvation (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12; and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith is our response to hearing the word of God (the voice of the one calling) and categorically believing it to be true, as did the first man who jumped to safety. No faith or lack of faith is hesitation to believe the truth. A person who hears the truth and withdraws from the truth will look for another way of escape, as did the second man in the analogy.

From Genesis to Revelation, God uses grace and faith to put man right with Himself. Faith and faith alone in Christ alone is what please the Father (Romans 1:17; 5:1) and saves the soul.

Hearing and Understanding the Word

How is it possible for one man to believe while another retreats in doubt? How did the first man come to possess a faith that would drive him to leap from a burning building with full expectation of a safe landing? Saving Faith is the answer. Saving faith is the result of reading and mediating on the word of God until it becomes our life (Romans 10:17). People who search the scriptures for truth will find the truth and be born again, not of corruptible seed but by incorruptible seed that is the word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

While the antithesis to faith is no faith, the parallel to saving faith is vain faith. One example of vain faith is the Islamic terrorists who flew hijacked airliners into the Twin Towers on 9/11, resulting in great loss of life. Unlike the first man in the analogy who possessed saving faith, the terrorists possessed vain faith. They believed in what they were doing and willingly gave up the breath in their lungs for what they supposed to be true. They had faith, like the first man, and willingly leaped to encounter impenetrable concrete and steel. The terrorists died without Christ, having placed faith in a safety net that did not exist for them.

So then, how do we take the leap of faith? According to John, we are empowered to take the leap of faith when we come to know the voice of the one who is calling (1 John 5:20).

Image Credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Images; untitled; Creative Commons

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Published 4-4-12