She always dined at a table from which she could look at an attractive young man she had noticed on the first evening out.
He was flattered by her obvious attention and summoned the courage to approach her. “Pardon me,” he said. “It may be my imagination, but I have the impression you keep looking in my direction. Is there something wrong?”
She blushed and said demurely, “Oh, no. It’s just that I can’t help but notice how much you resemble my first husband.”
The young man was so startled that he blurted out, “How many times have you been married?”
She gave an innocent smile and answered, “Oh, I haven’t been — yet.”
Here was a young woman acting on faith. When the Bible challenges men and women to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, it appeals for a faith that satisfies the intellect, the emotions, and the will. For faith to be complete it must choose and act on its choice. Consider our shipboard romantic. She observed and learned about the young man, and when the opportunity presented itself, she chose to act.
If I am to exercise faith in Jesus as my Savior from sin, my intellect must believe the facts of the Gospel, my emotions must respond with love and gratitude, and my will must choose to receive the gift of eternal life offered me by God the Father (John 3:16). The activities of our will can be looked at as deciding, receiving, and responding.
Decision is the activity of the will in response to the information gathered and evaluated by the mind. When Elijah was frustrated because the Israelites vacillated between worshiping the Lord and Baal, he told them, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kin. 18:21). Then the prophet gave the people a demonstration of the power of God and the impotence of Baal. They decided in favor of the Lord.
Reception and response are the passive and active sides of the decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. God has been continually offering the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life ever since Jesus died. When I decide that the Gospel is true and that I want to participate in its benefits, there is a sense in which I am removing barriers and letting God give me the gift of eternal life (John 1:9-12). I receive it.
Not only does my will receive God’s gift at the moment of faith, it also responds to that gift. My will responds immediately with gratitude (2 Cor. 9:15). My will responds progressively with good works (Josh 24:15). In the end, the faith that begins in the mind and heart must express itself in an act of the will.