Luke 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is a very important little incident in Jesus’ ministry that often gets overlooked. Just as Jesus told the woman who touched the hem of his robe, “Your faith has healed you,” (Mark 5:34) here he tells this woman, “Your faith has saved you.” In both cases He expresses it as accomplished fact, and not just as some future blessing. In both cases these women’s faith prompted them to action, but it wasn’t the action itself that brought the blessing, but rather the faith that underlaid it. Reading this story carefully, we see that it was the forgiveness that generated her love, and not the other way around. We tend to think, “If I loved God more, He would forgive me,” but that has it backward. If we accept God’s forgiveness by faith, that will generate the love, and love will in turn inspire obedience. (John 14:15) If we believe that Jesus’ cross is indeed sufficient atonement for our sins, we are then free to confess our sins to Him and let go of them, allowing Him to cleanse us of them. (1 John 1:9) That is saving faith, not going down some theological checklist to be sure we meet doctrinal purity. As C. S. Lewis said, one thing we can be sure of is that when we get to heaven, every one of us will discover we were wrong somewhere! Teaching in the doctrines of faith is valuable, even important, but it doesn’t save anyone. There are theologians who don’t have a personal relationship with the One they supposedly know so much about. Salvation comes from believing that God loves me, personally, and so strongly that He sent His Son to die in my place for the sins I have committed. When you really believe that, forgiveness is a foregone conclusion and love is the inevitable result.
A: This is of course the Gospel that I have been proclaiming since 1974. Some have received it and been saved, but not nearly as many as I would have liked. However, my standing before God doesn’t depend on my accomplishments, but on my faith and faithfulness. He has already declared me righteous, so I’ve just got to agree with Him in practical terms. I need to accept not only that His forgiveness is granted, but also that I need it! If I forget that last bit, my love will be in danger of growing cold. I won’t be effective in leading others into faith if I’m not walking in it fully myself, knowing that apart from Christ I can do nothing. (John 15:5) The encouragement is that sometimes people do believe and are added to my family, since I am part of the family of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. This is such a basic, elementary truth, yet we so often set it aside because of other distractions. Help me communicate a pure Word at all times, both by my speech and by my actions, so that all who encounter me may encounter You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!