I am sitting at my oldest son’s swim lessons and contemplating the Christian life.  There is much in common between the two.  In order to survive in the sea a person must be able to swim.  In order to learn how to swim, a person must practice and train.  In order to practice and train, a person must be instructed.  Before a person can be rightly instructed, he must be convinced of his need to learn. 

 So too it is in the Christian life.  In order to survive the chaotic mess of life and enjoy and glorify God, a person must have a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.  In order to develop and strengthen that faith and thereby ensure that such faith is genuine, we must train in godliness.  In order to train in godliness, we must be instructed in right doctrine, since it is right doctrine that governs our faith.  But, simply having right doctrine is not enough.  There must be with it a heart that desires to enjoy and glorify Jesus Christ.

 This is where the rubber meets the road as they say.  We must have 1) a heart that is endowed with love for Jesus, 2) a persuasion of our reconciliation with God, 3) a persuasion of our everlasting enjoyment of God, and 4) a persuasion of a God-given strength and will to exercise that faith.  This 4-fold endowment was the topic of chapter 2.  Chapter 3 directed us to the truth that these 4 endowments belong to the believer by virtue of their union with Christ by faith.

 Now in Chapter 11 Marshall directs us to the very topic of exercising our faith in Christ.

 He writes, Believe on Christ in a right manner without delay, and then continue and increase in faith; that so enjoyment of Christ, and union and fellowship with Him, may be begun, continued and increased.

 Chapters 4-10 were instructional chapters.  Now Marshall begins to explain how those instructions work themselves out in our lives.  He says, “Having already discovered to you, the powerful and effectual means of a holy practice, my remaining work is, to lead you to the actual exercise and improvement of them, for the immediate attainment of the end.”

 James Hervey re-writes this directive like this.  It is therefore belonging to the practical part of the Christian life, to maintain the same immediate trust and confidence, in dependence on the divine faithfulness, not to suffer us to be confounded, that so our enjoyment of Christ, union and fellowship with Him, may be continued and increased in us.

 Contrary to some new teaching that sanctification happens by means of our justification, Marshall lays out for us that sanctification results from rightly exercise of faith.   This is why he writes that we must endeavor diligently to perform the great work of believing on Christ.

 The only way we can live a life that is pleasing to God is if we live by faith.  Romans 14:3 says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

 Marshall also quotes Jesus in John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  This verse explains john’s statement in 3:17 that those who don’t believe are already condemned. 

 Life is an either/or.  It is black and white; live by faith, or live by works.  This then raises the question of what is faith?  A common acrostic for faith is “Forsaking All, I trust Him.”  Faith is considering the things and events in life and trusting that God is true to his Word and that all of the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ.

 Take romans 8:29 for example.  That verse says, “All things work together for the good of those who love God and who have been called according to His purposes.”

 That verse says all things.  Do You believe that?  When you get hit by a falling tree branch, or when your pastor gets hit.  Do you believe that God works out all things? 

 When your two year dies, like what happened recently to a young couple I know, after a day or two in a coma after the car accident.  Do you believe that God works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes?

 This is the context in which Paul says, whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.  How often do we consider the events of life apart from the context of Romans 8:29?  So Marshall directs us, if we are to grow in our sanctification, if we are to become more like Christ, we must endeavor to perform the great work of believing on Christ, right here, right now, and in all circumstances, whether good or bad.

 Consider Job’s words after he had lost all of his children and his wealth, after his health had failed, and after his bitter wife told him to curse God and die.  “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”  (Job 2:10)

 So how can we live by faith?

 Marshall gives us 7 statements by which we can evaluate our faith in order to assure us that our faith is a faith securely grounded in the truth of the gospel and upon Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the gospel.

 1)  You must believe with a full persuasion that you are a child of wrath by nature, as well as others; fallen from God by the sin of the first Adam; dead in trespasses and sins; subject to the curse of the law of God, and to the power of Satan, and to insupportable misery to all eternity; and that you cannot possibly procure your reconciliation with God, or any spiritual life and strength to do any good work, by endeavoring to get salvation according to the terms of the legal covenant; and that you cannot find any way of escape out of this sinful and miserable condition, by your own reason and understanding, without supernatural revelation, nor be freed from it, except by that infinite power that raises the dead.

 2) You are to believe assuredly, that there is no way to be saved, without receiving all the saving benefits of Christ; His Spirit as well as His merits, sanctification as well as remission of sins, by faith.

 3) You are to be fully persuaded of the all-sufficiency of Christ for the salvation of yourself, and of all that believe on Him; that His blood cleanses from all sin (1John 1:7).

 4) You are to be fully persuaded of the truth of the general free promise, in your own particular case, that if you believe on Christ sincerely, you shall have everlasting life, as well as any other person in the world, without performing any condition of works to procure an interest in Christ; for the promise is universal, Whoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed (Romans 9:33), without exception.  And if God exclude you not, you must not exclude yourselves; but rather conclude peremptorily, that, how vile, wicked and unworthy soever you be, yet, if you come, you shall be accepted as well as any other person in the world.

 5) You are to believe assuredly, that it is the will of God you should believe in Christ, and have eternal life by Him, as well as any other person; and that your believing is a duty very acceptable to God; and that He will help you, as well as any other person, in this work, because He calls and commands you, by the gospel, to the believe in Christ.

 6) Add to all these, a full persuasion of the incomparable, glorious excellency of Christ, and of the way of salvation by Him.  You are to esteem the enjoyment of Christ as the only salvation and true happiness, and such a happiness has in it unsearchable riches of glory, and will make our cup to run over with exceeding abundance of peace, and joy, and glory, to all eternity.

 7) Lastly, you must endeavor to draw near with full assurance of faith (Hebrews 10:22) trusting on Christ confidently for your own particular salvation, upon the account of that general promise, that whosever believes on Christ shall not be ashamed.  You must check yourselves for all doubtings, fear, staggerings, concerning your own salvation by Christ, saying with the Psalmist, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

 Thus we conclude from Marshall that the core of our sanctification is faith in Christ alone.  There is nothing else capable of keeping us united and bound to Christ in the sea of turmoil than believing and trusting in Christ to save us and perfect us.

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