Being "saved by grace through faith" is a Biblical concept (Ephesians 2:8), but is one that has been distorted by false teaching through the years. Many religiuos organizations teach that all one must do to gain salvation is simply believe in God, or His Son Jesus Christ, and with such mental ascent, you are saved. This is not taught anywhere in scripture. This does not diminish the importance of faith, but it allows us to initially know that more is involved in being saved than by simply believing.
God has always wanted man to have faith in Him - faith enough to do whatever He commanded. In the Old Testament, we can read of many instances where man had to comply with God's instructions to gain His favor. In Numbers 21:4-9, Israel had to have enough faith to look upon a brass serpent set upon a pole so that they could be cured of venomous snake bites. In Joshua 6:1-21, Israel had to march around the city of Jericho a total of 13 times in 7 days, blow rams' horns, and shout to make the walls fall down flat. Now, ask yourself a question: do these instructions make logical sense? Does looking upon a brass snake cure snake bites? Does marching, blowing, and shouting really bring down city walls? They do if that is what God commanded! In both cases, Israel received the blessing of God only after obeying God and doing what He commanded.
Does this mean salvation is by works? No, but a look at the New Testament shows that salvation by faith has always required works. Consider the following:
- Romans 4
- Paul talks about the man who would be justified by works. Such would put God in his debt, since he would be "earning" salvation (verse 5). This idea is works only, no faith.
- James 2
- James asks the question "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can that faith save him?" (verse 14). Reading on through verse 26, we see the need for works. Now the idea is faith only, no works.
Which idea is correct? Individually, both are wrong. Faith and works together produces saving faith. The scripture plainly teaches that the faith that saves is the faith that obeys. We must have both faith and works. Isn't it interesting that Abraham is mentioned as being justified by his faith (Romans 4:3) and by his works (James 2:21)? Saving faith always leads to obedience in whatever God has commanded.
Finally, the scripture teaches that saving faith is a faith that seeks God (Hebrews 11:6). First of all, this passage instructs us that we should believe that God is, or that He exists. Indeed, how foolish we are if we have the attitude expressed in Psalm 14:1, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' " Acknowledging God's existence is the first step to gaining saving faith. Secondly, the verse says that we must believe God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. To seek the Lord is to seek Him on His terms, or to seek His will for me. Obeying the Lord in all He has commanded shows that we really believe Him - enough to do His will so that we can be saved from our sins.
Do you have this saving faith? Would you consider a Bible study on this vital topic? Call us at (502) 245-0573 and we would love to discuss this very important matter with you.