01. Saving faith: believing, trusting, and surrendering

Faith is believing, trusting, and surrendering. Until I surrender my own will to his, he cannot save me from wrong ways, for I will still be committed to them.

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB)

Three categories of faith

Colossians 2:6, as paraphrased above in The Living Bible, is one of the best approaches to living the Christian life that I’ve ever seen. The Living Bible is an out-of-print paraphrased version of the Bible. Here is a literal translation::

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

There are three categories of faith represented in Colossians 2:6 as paraphrased in TLB. We could call them:

  1. Saving faith: “just as you trusted Christ to save you”
  2. Daily faith: “for each day’s problems”
  3. Committed faith: “vital union with him”

What is faith?

The Bible often uses the word “believe” to describe faith. For example:

“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.'” (Acts 16:31 NIV)

Paul and Silas had been in jail for preaching the Gospel. God sent an earthquake to free them as they sang praises to God. The jailer realized that the God of Paul and Silas was real, and asked “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas responded with Acts 16:31.

To publicly acknowledge Christ meant severe punishment, maybe even death, for the jailer. After all, Paul and Silas had been in prison with stocks and chains and heavily guarded because of their faith. Yet the Scripture says: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole family.” (Acts 16:32-34 NIV)

Did he just believe with the intellect? No, intellect could never be sufficient to cause the jailer to dare to be baptized publicly, bring escaped prisoners to his home and feed them, and lead his family to do this too. Even if he were willing to risk his own life, could he risk subjecting his family to the Gospel message and their subsequent public commitment unless he had more than intellectual knowledge?

Verse 32 says “they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” Paul and Silas explained that the one who had been born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, ministering in all Judea, and recently crucified between two sinners was truly the Son of God. No doubt they told the jailer that just as faith in Jesus had set Paul and Silas free from the bondage of prison, so could faith in Jesus set men free from the bondage of sin. Faith in the one who died and is alive again could give the jailer hope and peace in this life, and an eternal resurrection with the Lord.

The jailer did more than just believe. He trusted in Jesus Christ. He trusted that Jesus would do for him just what he said he would do:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12 NIV)

The jailer trusted enough that he was willing to surrender to baptism and public commitment. He was willing to surrender to whatever God asked him to do even if it cost him his life. He dared to believe that as he followed God’s plan for his life, God would take care of him and his family in this life and the next. He surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.

Faith is these three

Faith is these three: believing, trusting, surrendering. It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus is God’s son and that he arose from the dead if I don’t trust him to apply that forgiveness to my life. Until I surrender my own will to his, he cannot save me from wrong ways, for I will still be committed to them.

Questions for thought and discussion

  1. Are we Christians just because we believe facts about Jesus or trust that he can save us from things we have done? Why is the third step of surrender an important step?
  2. If you had to describe faith using one word only, what word would you choose and why?
  3. If you could use one sentence only to define faith, how would you define it?
  4. “And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB). Later in this study, we will get to the “each day’s problems” and “union with him” part. But for now, consider: Why do we need to be saved? What are we trusting him to save us from? to save us to?
  5. To think about: Have you just “always believed” in Jesus. Or can you remember a time when you made a commitment to him and trusted him to the point that you were willing to surrender control of your life to him?

It will be great to get into discussions of growing in faith as Christians. But the first step is saving faith. Before we can grow, we must be saved from our wrong way. If you are struggling and trying to live the Christian life yet are not getting anywhere with it, perhaps you’ve been depending on intellectual believing. Perhaps you’ve been trying to trust Jesus, but you’ve not given your life to him so he can change your life.

I’ll share my own story of surrender to God next.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted