The age old question was once asked by a simple jailer:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30
His prisoners (the Apostle Paul and his companion Silas) responded with confidence, clarity, and boldness:
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31
This sums up the message Christians are proclaiming to the world: sinners are saved through faith in Christ alone.
What Do Trust, Belief, or Faith Mean?
But what does the Bible mean when it speaks of trust, belief, or faith? What does it mean to believe in Jesus or put your faith in Christ or to trust Jesus?
Theologian Wayne Grudem sums up the Biblical teaching in three short words:
When a person comes to trust in Christ, (these) three elements must be present. There must be some basic knowledge or understanding of the facts of the gospel.
There must also be…agreement with these facts. Such agreement includes a conviction that the facts spoken of the gospel are true, especially the fact that I am a sinner in need of salvation and that Christ alone has paid the penalty for my sin and offers salvation to me. It also includes an awareness that I need to trust in Christ for salvation and that He is the Only way to God, and the only means provided for my salvation. This approval of the facts of the gospel will also involve a desire to be saved through Christ.
But all this still does not add up to true saving faith. That comes only when I make a decision of my will to depend on, or put my trust in, Christ as my savior. This personal decision to place my trust in Christ is something done in my heart, the central faculty of my entire being that makes commitments for me as a whole person. (Systematic Theology, p. 712)
There you have the three necessary elements of true saving faith: knowledge, agreement, and trust. Without these, there is no true faith. To be saved, one has to know the basic truth of the gospel (and the basic truths therein), agree to them, and trust in Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Our Ministry and Their Faith
Christian Ministry (whether children, youth, or adults) is essentially calling people to continual repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. So, it is worth asking, what kind of faith do your children, students, or congregants have? Do they know the gospel? Do they agree to the truths of the gospel? They trust in Jesus alone to save them from sin and judgment? Is their faith the kind the Bible recognizes or something altogether different?
Another question to ask is, what kind of faith are we calling them to have? Are we calling people only to believe certain truths or accept certain ideas or live certain ways? Or are we calling people to entrust their whole lives to the truth of the gospel of Jesus?
A doctrine worth knowing and some questions worth asking.