Saving faith

One thing I constantly battle is the thought, "Do I really believe?" All I tend to see at times are my doubts, my worries about life, etc. I confess my sins and look to Jesus' forgiveness, but it seems as soon as I'm done I go right back to what I was doing before. I desire to grow in my faith, but I get afraid of where my faith is right now. Paul talked about not preaching in a way that would disqualify himself from the prize. I get scared about what Jesus sees about me right now. Does he see a believer or someone that just speaks the right words but really doesn't have saving faith? I get scared that I'll be rejected because my faith was fake!

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) That was the confession and request of the father who came to Jesus for help for his demon-possessed son. Many Christians can identify with that man’s words. Because of the Holy Spirit’s working in our hearts, we profess faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, we know and confess that there is much room for growth in our faith. Doubt and worry chip away at our trust in God. We confess those sins to God. We receive his forgiveness in faith and with joy. We resolve not to fall into those sins again, but we do.

What is the antidote for doubt and worry? It is the gospel in word and sacrament that our new self treasures so much. Faith is built up—and doubt and worry are correspondingly reduced—when God feeds our souls with his gospel (Acts 20:32; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). So the same gospel that brings you the news of forgiveness for your sins of worry and doubt also deepens your faith and trust in God. That is why we want to immerse ourselves in the word of God—reading it in our homes and hearing it in his house with the congregation of believers. That is why we want to be frequent guests at the Lord’s Supper.

Worry and doubt take place when we focus on ourselves and what we can and cannot do. Worry and doubt take place when we take our eyes off God, minimizing his power and love. We want to “fix our eyes on Jesus” always (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus once asked his followers, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) After receiving their answers, he asked: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). That is when Peter gave his beautiful confession of faith, saying that he regarded Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter knew what was in his heart, and so did Jesus. Was Peter’s faith without doubt and worries? Not at all. But his faith was saving faith because Jesus was the object of his faith.

Similarly, you know how you would answer Jesus’ question (Matthew 16:15) if it were posed to you. (God also knows how you would answer that question.) The Holy Spirit has led you to confess Jesus as your Savior (1 Corinthians 12:3). Praise God for that! Recognize that our faith is not perfect, but the object of our faith—Jesus—is. Stay focused on Jesus.