“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” —Ephesians 2:8
In the times we live, many truths that past generations accepted are being questioned. It seems that today, words and affirmations do not have any value unless we can verify them. We should recognize that skepticism is not necessarily bad—it is part of the process of believing and essential to learning. Doubt leads us to ask questions, to research those things that interest us, and to discover truths important for our lives.
There are two ways to examine an issue. The first is to consult the experts. Today we have them within our reach on the Internet, in libraries, in documentaries, etc. The second way to discern the truth of an issue is through experience. There is no better way to accept a truth than by experiencing it on a personal level.
John Wesley employed both methods to help people understand spiritual truths. In his sermon “The Scripture Way of Salvation,” he uses questions to reach the core truth of two issues that “include the substance of the whole Bible.” These issues are faith and salvation, and on these two issues, he asks three questions and answers with Scripture. Let us look at these questions and a summary of his answers.
The first question is “what is salvation?” Ephesians 2:8 affirms: “you have been saved, through faith.”
Salvation is not only for life after death; it is the beginning of a new experience from the moment of conversion. Its immediate effects are a new relationship of peace with God and a feeling of hope and joy about the future (Philippians 4:7; Romans 5:2). After being born of the Spirit, a gradual process of sanctification is initiated through which the love of God is poured out into our hearts, and we are enabled by the Spirit to put works of the flesh to death (Romans 5:5, 8:13).
The second question is “What is that faith through which we are saved?” Faith, according to Paul, is a light that illuminates our soul. It is an evidence of that which cannot be seen or perceived with external senses (Hebrews 11:1). Faith permits us to see, with eyes of the soul, that the spiritual world that surrounds us is real. It leads us to accept the work of Jesus Christ in our lives and to put our trust in God, just as a child trusts his or her father (Galatians 4:6).
The third question is “How is it that we are saved by faith?” Faith is the only precondition to be justified and sanctified as well. Mathew 9:29 says, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” Faith consists of believing that something is possible before it has been done. In other words, to have faith is to trust that God has both the ability and the will to cleanse us from sin, give us new life, and sanctify us.
Mónica E. Mastronardi de Fernández, originally from Argentina, has been a global missionary in the Church of the Nazarene since 1995. She currently serves at the Nazarene Seminary of the Americas in San José, Costa Rica (SENDAS). Mónica is the author and editor of several books on discipleship and formation of lay leaders in the Mesoamerican Region.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.