Procuring cause is a phrase used in the real estate world to describe which agent is ultimately responsible for a sale, and is therefore due a commission. So, agents are keenly aware (and rightfully so) of whether or not they are in a position to be the procuring cause of a transaction. Their pay depends on it.
How often do try to do the same thing with God? We either feel the need to keep score with God, to make sure He knows He owes us, or we exhaust ourselves trying to do enough to earn favor with Him. Either way, we’ve got a mistaken view of what is at stake.
In the Bible, Paul’s letter to the Romans contains wisdom here. Romans 4:4-5 tells us, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” What Paul is saying, is that Jesus is the procuring cause of our righteousness, and faith is the means by which we receive it. Let me emphasize...receive, not earn. The righteousness of God...the holy perfection of God...is a gift that we receive by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE.
So the question then is, “What is faith?” This is a question that we must deal with, because so often we have a shallow and inadequate understanding of faith. Let me share a little from my own testimony to illustrate. As a child and a young man, I believed in Jesus. I believed He existed and was the Son of God, but there was something missing in my belief. Though I believed in Him, and though I’m sure I had heard it in church, the real reason for why I needed Him hadn’t sunk in to my heart. I hadn’t come to a true understanding of my own sin, so I hadn’t drawn the connection between my sin and my need for a Savior. The result of that is that I may have believed about Jesus, but I did not possess a dependent faith in Him.
I’m not trying to be crass about this, but the truth is when we don’t know our need, we tend to think of Jesus as a “neat guy.” We see and appreciate that He did some special things. We like Him, but we don’t NEED Him. And liking Jesus doesn’t make one a Christian. Depending on Him through faith does.
That is why there are two sides to the coin of faith: FAITH AND REPENTANCE. When I came to see the darkness of my own sin, Jesus was no longer a neat guy. He was my Savior. I no longer liked the thought of Him and wanted to be around Him. I wanted to cling to Him as my only hope for salvation. I loved Him, because I knew that He gave me life, and there was a tangible change in my life as a result.
Now let me be careful. I don’t want to paint a false picture of piety. My wife and kids know that I am still desperately far from glory. I sin in ways that I would not dare describe to you in writing. The truth is, I am just as dependent upon the grace of Jesus Christ today as I was at the point of my conversion. And that is why faith is not only a procuring cause...it is a sustaining cause. We who are saved by faith alone, also live by faith alone. In Christ, we are called to a daily walk of faith and repentance, living in dependance upon Him.
The gospel is this: “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) So... “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Rom 1:16-17)
Let me translate for you: by faith, Christ takes our sin and gives us His righteousness...a righteousness not earned. And by faith, we live and grow into the righteousness that Jesus declares over us. Is this your understanding of faith? Is this your experience of grace? Is this your Christianity?
Brothers and sisters, let me encourage you...the life of a Christian is all GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE in CHRIST ALONE, from start to finish. Receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation. To God be the Glory!