Faith is not…
We must never make faith our savior, our righteousness before God, or our salvation. Christ alone is our Savior. Christ alone is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. Christ alone is our Salvation. In order to show you that in the matter of salvation Christ is all, let me tell you what faith is not.
Faith is not our satisfaction to God. There is no sense in which faith can be said to satisfy the righteousness and justice of God. Faith cannot be said to satisfy the law of God. Yet, if faith is to be considered our righteousness, if faith is our justification, it must satisfy God. Can imperfect faith satisfy perfect holiness? Can the finite faith of a mere man, even if it were perfect, satisfy the infinite justice and righteousness of the infinite, eternal God? You know better!
That which satisfies the justice of God must be capable of bearing our guilt; and that which bears our guilt must be not only perfect, but also infinite and divine. Faith cannot be a sin-bearer; but that is what we must have. Faith cannot expiate guilt, make propitiation, pay our debt, wash away our sins, or provide righteousness for us. Faith brings us to the cross, where there is infinite expiation, and propitiation, infinite satisfaction and righteousness, and infinite forgiveness and cleansing. Faith, in itself has no merit and no virtue. Faith looks to Christ alone for merit and virtue.
Faith is not Christ, or the cross of Christ. Faith is not the blood, or the sacrifice. It is not the altar, or the laver, or the mercy-seat, or the incense. Faith does not work redemption, righteousness and justification, but simply receives the work done two thousand years ago. Faith does not wash away sin, but leads us to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Faith does not make an end of sin or bring in everlasting righteousness, but leads us to him who did make an end of sins and did bring in everlasting righteousness by the sacrifice of himself upon the cursed tree (Dan 9:24).
Faith is always the beggar's outstretched hand, never the rich man's gold. Faith is the cable, not the anchor. Christ is the Anchor of our souls. Faith is the knocker, not the door. Christ is the Door. Faith is the lattice that lets in the light, not the light. Christ is the Light.
Faith is altogether without worthiness in itself. It knits us to the infinite worthiness of him in whom the Father delights. Knitting us to Christ, we stand perfect before God in the perfection of Christ. Faith is not the foundation laid in Zion. Christ is that Foundation. Faith brings us to Christ, the only Foundation for our souls, and keeps us there "grounded and settled" (Col 1:23), that we may not be moved away from the hope of the gospel. Faith is not "the gospel," the "glad tidings." Faith simply receives the good news as God's eternal word of grace and gives us joy. Faith is not the burnt-offering. That is Christ. Faith simply stands still, gazing upon the ascending flame, assured us that the wrath which should have consumed the sinner has fallen upon the sinner’s Substitute. AMEN.