Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 10, 1963
NUMBER 23, PAGE 6,12c-13a

Salvation By Faith

Jack L. Holt

There is no more important subject that can confront us than the subject of our soul's salvation. Nearly all who have any knowledge of God and eternity want to be saved from eternal torment, and enjoy the beauties and glories of heaven. But how are we saved from our sins? By what process does God redeem us from our transgressions, make us His children and give us hope of life everlasting? Nearly all religious teachers believe and teach that salvation is by faith; that God, by virtue of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, will justify the believer. This is true and the Bible so teaches. In Galatians 3:26 Paul said, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Again, "Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1) And in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek."

The Bible teaches very clearly that we are justified by faith. The religious world in general believes this. But what must one do to be justified by faith? Must one do anything? Many believe that we are saved by faith, but by faith only. And they hold that if we do anything, perform any command in being justified, then we are justified by works and not by faith. Is this true? What does it mean to be justified by faith? What is involved? These questions we shall answer in this article. But let us answer first the question....

How Does Faith Come?

Primarily there are two theories about this question. One theory is that faith comes as a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart. This is sometimes referred to as "an experience of grace." Or "something better felt than told." This feeling is supposed to be evidence of pardon. The other theory is that faith comes by the operation of the Spirit, but the Spirit operates only through the Word of God. Which theory is right? Surely the Bible itself can answer the question. The Spirit speaks through the Word and in the Ward He reveals how faith comes. If faith comes as a direct gift from God, then why would God send faith to some and not send it to others? Is God a respecter of persons? If faith comes as a direct gift from God, why do we need to preach the Gospel to the sinner? And if it comes as a direct gift why is it that it has never come to any people anywhere unless they first heard the Gospel? Why send missionaries to heathen lands if God will send them faith as a direct gift?

The answer to the question — how does faith comes — is clearly answered in the Bible. In Rom. 10:17 we read, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." In John 20:30, 31. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing ye might have life through his name." Thus faith comes through hearing God's word. The Gospel, that saves, consists of facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed and promises to be enjoyed. The Gospel reveals the facts we are to believe. When we believe the facts and obey the commands we may enjoy the promises. Faith comes through belief of testimony. The apostles have testified of Christ, and to be Children of God we must believe their testimony. Do we believe the testimony of God, or the testimony of men?

When Does Faith Save?

This question is very important. It is the real question to consider, for the issue is not does faith save, to this we agree, but the issue is: when does it save? Are we saved by a faith that acts? or by faith only? Are we saved the moment we merely believe that Jesus is God's Son, or when we demonstrate that faith by obeying His commandments? He said, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" (Luke 6:46) The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith when that faith obeys. James said, "ye see then how that by works a man is justified and NOT by faith only." (Jas. 2:24) Contrast this plain statement of inspiration with the following opinion of man. In the Methodist Discipline of 1910, Article 9, page 6, we read, "....wherefore we conclude that the doctrine of salvation by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." The word of God teaches that justification is "not by faith only." The Methodist Discipline teaches that we are justified "by faith only." Now which do we believe and follow? Which teaching must we believe to believe God?

The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith when our faith leads us to complete trust and reliance upon Christ. If we trust Christ we will obey Him. In John 14:15 Jesus said, "If ye love me ye will keep my commandments." (AVS) But Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." Do we believe this statement of the Lord? Do we trust and rely upon Him or do we trust in opinions of men? Men say "he that believeth is saved and may be baptized if he so desires" But the Lord said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Do we believe in Christ or men? Do we trust Christ and submit to His will? or to the will of men?

Thus we should see that it is not a question of are we saved by faith, but are we saved by faith alone? or by a faith that will lead us to obedience to God? There are many people who have faith in God and their faith may lead them to do something in the name of religion. But one does not have faith in God until his faith will lead him to do what God teaches, not what man teaches. Jesus said: "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) Thus one will not enter heaven merely because he believed that Jesus is God's Son, and did something in religion. One enters heaven only by "doing the will of God." In verses 22, 23, Jesus turns away from heaven religious people who had acted in their religion. Note the fearful words, "For many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity." These people believed in Christ, but their faith did not lead them to do God's will. The faith that saves is a faith that will obey God's word. The man who believes Jesus will not reject the Lord's teaching in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," on the contrary he will obey it, and build on the rock.

It is often asserted that John 3:16 shows that one may be saved by faith only. This very familiar passage states, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life." It is often said that belief is the only thing mentioned in this passage hence all we must do to be saved is only believe. It is a strange method of reasoning to affirm that because a passage does not mention a certain item that that item is not essential to salvation. One cannot find repentance mentioned in John 3:16; does that mean that it is not essential to salvation? All that John 3:16 does is state what is essential, not what is not essential to salvation.

The many religious folks who claim to believe John 3:16, rest their hopes of eternal life on their professed belief. But their disobedience to the commands of God prove that they really do not believe the verse, and their hopes are [built] on the sand. This verse clearly teaches that in order to have eternal life we must believe in Christ. But what does it mean to believe in Christ? Here is where so many go astray. They think to believe in Christ is merely to believe He is God's Son, and then to believe a few vague ideas they may have about Him. This is a mistake. And if it is not corrected it will cost one his soul. To believe Christ is to believe His word. Do we believe in Him? Through the apostle Peter, the Lord said, "repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) Have we obeyed this command? Do we believe baptism is for the remission of sins? If not, do we believe Christ? In 1 Peter 3:21, we read, "....the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us...." Thus the Son of God teaches that baptism is essential to salvation. Men say it is not. We may set forth the contrast like this:

Christ — "Baptism doth also now save us."

Men — "Baptism doth not now save us."

Which of these will we believe if we believe Christ? Remember the Bible says, "....that whosoever believeth in Him should have eternal life." Now do we really believe John 3:16? Do we really believe in Christ?

In Rom. 5:1, the apostle Paul declares "therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God." What is involved in the expression, "by faith." To show what is involved in the expression let us notice how it is used in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. This chapter tells of a number of God's servants who by faith came into favor with God. In verse seven, we read of Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith? Note that the faith that was accepted is a faith that acted. Noah's faith did not exclude obedience, it included it. And his faith was blessed when it acted. But how did Noah build the ark "by faith?" Certainly not by doing what he thought should be done. God gave Him specific instructions to follow in building the ark. Noah built the ark by faith when he relied on God and followed the divine instructions. The Bible declares this in Gen. 6:22: "all that God commanded Noah so did he." Thus Noah's faith was blessed, and he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith when His faith obeyed.

It is clear from all the other examples in Heb. 11, that saving faith embraces two things: (1) believing what God said, and (2) doing what He said. It is also clear from these examples that obedience to God does not mean that we trust in works, or are saved by mere works. When Noah built the ark he trusted in God and thus obeyed Him. If we trust God we will obey Him. We need to recognize that there is a great difference between faith in works, and the works of faith. We are not saved by a faith in works, but we are saved by a faith that works. And the works to be performed are the works that God has appointed. In view of this Peter said: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him." (Acts 10:34-35) Have we obeyed God? Has our faith led us to completely trust Him and thus surrender our will to Him? Only by thus obeying can we be justified by faith and have peace with God.

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