By Rev. Mark Kelderman & Rev. Maarten Kuivenhoven
Do you ever wonder what faith is? The Bible speaks of faith as the gracious gift of God. It focuses on Christ. It is what connects sinners to Christ; it embraces Christ and all his benefits. Faith clings to Christ in the midst of the storms of life. Faith is strong when active but weak when mixed with sin and unbelief.
Faith seems difficult to visualize and yet it is the very center of a sinner’s relationship with God. Without faith, it is impossible to live and die in Christ. So often we struggle with the impossibility of believing. We come up with excuses and say, “God has to do it. God has to give faith.” And that is true — he gives faith, and he delights to give it. God comes to us in the gospel and calls us to repentance and faith. We saw what repentance was last time; let’s focus now on our call to faith.
The call of the gospel leads us to see our inability to believe, but it also shows that christ is a suitable and sufficient Savior for those who are dead in sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:1).
This is what the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5:25–34 believed about Christ. She was sick for twelve years already. She recognized her illness. She had visited every doctor around but her condition only worsened. You would think that she would give up altogether. But then she heard of Jesus. She approached Jesus, think- ing, “If I can only touch the hem of his coat, I shall be healed.” But isn’t that presumptuous? How can this woman say that she will go to Jesus? But that is what faith does. It hears of Christ and goes to him despite the difficulty and impossibility of our sinful condition. Christ was drawing this woman as the physician with a cure for her body and for her soul. That is how Christ presents himself in the gospel.
Faith acts upon Christ. When it acts upon anything less, it is not faith. There were people who followed Jesus for his miracles and healings because they loved to see the demonstrations of his power, but this sick woman followed him because she was in distress. Despite the
odds, she went to Jesus. She pressed through the crowds. It seemed impossible to reach Jesus and yet she did. She reached out her hand and touched the hem of his garment. And… she was healed! Faith was her life support. Without faith, this woman would not have gone to Jesus. Without faith, this woman would not have been healed; she would have died. Jesus’ words are life: “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole, go in peace and be whole of thy plague.”
Our sickness of sin is like that woman’s sickness. We try many different remedies to get rid of our sin. We try to hide it or pretend that it does not exist. We are like Adam and Eve who hid themselves, but God sought them out and asked, “Adam, where are you?” he does the same with us every time we hear the gospel: “Sinner, where are you?” he calls us to trust in him for the forgiveness of our sins, for the healing of our souls and lives.
How do I believe?
How do I believe, you ask? Think of faith like a straw in a drink. You can stare at the drink and you can guess what flavor it is. You can see the color. You can see the consistency of the liquid. You can see the froth on top of the soda, but you will never enjoy the drink if you do not put your mouth to the straw and drink. That is how faith works. You can look at Christ. You can know all about him and yet you will never know him until you drink and eat of him. And what does Christ say about those who eat and drink of him? Whoever comes to him will never hunger, and whoever believes will never thirst (John 6:35). Test his Word, his promise, his character; you will not be disappointed!
This article originally appeared in the Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, February 2011, under the title, “The Reformed Faith (13): Life Support.” Posted here with permission.