Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 14, 1957
NUMBER 28, PAGE 4,13b

When Does Faith Save?

H. Osby Weaver, Kilgore, Texas

That men are saved by faith is a point upon which most religious people, if not all, stand agreed. We have never heard of a discussion arising from an affirmation that one is saved by faith. In the last issue of this paper, while emphasizing salvation by faith, we also set forth proof that salvation is not by faith only. The controversy that usually arises from a discussion of the theme of salvation by faith is not whether one is saved by faith, but at what point does faith save him? When does faith save?

Galatians 5:6 informs us that the faith that "avails" is the "faith that works through love." But an availing faith is a saving faith, therefore the faith that saves is the faith that works through love. Since the faith that avails us of salvation must work in order to avail, there obviously must be some time between the time faith is generated in us, and the time that we are saved by it, during which interval faith work through love. If one is saved at the point of faith — the instant that he believes, then faith has no time in which to work and is, therefore, an unavailing faith. Those who teach that salvation is by faith only, that one is saved the instant he believes in Christ and declares Him to be his personal Saviour, find themselves in the peculiar predicament of having to explain how an unavailing faith avails. James 2:17 says, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." If one is saved the moment he believes, before faith expresses itself in obedience — before faith works, then he is saved by a dead faith. Will the "faith only" advocate please tell us how a dead faith operates to save?

In John 1:11,12 we read, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Unto whom did Christ give power to become sons of God? The answer is, "Even to them that believe on his name." Let us notice the order: (1) Believers, (2) given the power, (3) to become, (4) sons of God. "To become" is future tense. Believers are not saved the instant they become believers, but only then are they given the power "to become" sons of God. Suppose a believer never exercises this power? Then he will never be a son of God, therefore he will never be saved. If one is saved at the point of faith, then he is saved before becoming a son of God, and even before receiving the power to become one. If one is saved at the point of faith before becoming a son of God, he is saved but is still a child of the devil. Some salvation that would be!

If one is not saved the instant he believes when does faith save him? In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, the writer defines faith, gives examples of its operation, and specifically sets forth the time when it avails. In verse 30 he says, "By faith the wall of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days." After the wilderness wanderings, subsequent to their escape from Egyptian bondage, under the splendid leadership of Joshua, Israel marched across the Jordan into Canaan to drive out the nations before them and inherit the land which God had previously promised them. Prior to the battle of Jericho, God said, "Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho" — Joshua 6:2. Yes, God gave them Jericho but required their doing some things in order to get it. Did this invalidate the "gift." No, in nowise. In like manner, salvation is a gift to us, but God requires no less obedience on our part to obtain it, than he did of Joshua and Israel in order that they might obtain Jericho. God told them to march around the city one time a day for six days, and on the seventh day, march around seven times. Then have the priest give a long blast on the rams horn, have the people give a great shout, and the wall of the city would fall down. Quite a bit of work to do, wouldn't you say? Yet, the city was a gift, and Hebrews 11:30 says the walls "fell by faith." When did they actually possess the city and when did faith cause the walls to fall? The above mentioned scripture contains the answer. It says, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been compassed about for seven days." Did the walls of Jericho fall by faith at the point of faith? Did they fall the instant Joshua and Israel believe God and His promises? Of course not. The Bible says the walls fell by faith AFTER they were compassed about! God gave them the city, but they did not come into possession of it until after they had done all that God told them to do in order that they might possess it. The walls fell "by faith," but not until their faith had expressed itself in complete obedience to the will of God. The faith that availed them of the city, was the faith that worked through love. No one can read the story of the capture of Jericho and conclude that Israel actually possessed the city at the point of faith "without further acts of obedience or good works." Furthermore, we do not believe anyone believes that Israel would ever have possessed the land if they had refused to execute God's plan for its capture. They could have sat down from then until now and said, "Lord, we believe in you; we know you will give us the city, and since it is a gift there is nothing for us to do but 'meekly wait and murmur not,' for after all, 'justification is by faith only, a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort,' " and they would never have come into possession of the city. When does faith avail? When it leads us to do all that God commands us to do in order to obtain the blessings for which we seek. Faith, then, saves when it causes us to obey completely God's plan for our salvation.

In Acts, chapter two, the apostle Peter made known God's plan for saving man from his sins, making him a hild of God, a Christian, a member of the Lord's church.

(See FAITH, Page 13)

should be prepared. Jesus tells us in John 12:48, "Ike that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." We learn in the next two verses that even Jesus did not speak his own will but was directed by the Father. Verses 49 and 50, "For I have not spoken of myself: but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." Jesus tells his Disciples in John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." In John 16:13 Jesus says, "Howbeit when he the Spirit of Truth is come he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear; that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come." Thus we see that even as Jesus spoke only as the Father directed him so the Father would direct the Holy Spirit who in turn would guide the apostles.

The Holy Spirit directed the author of Hebrews to write, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners snake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." Here we learn that Christ made the worlds at the creation, and also that we are to hear Jesus. This is further affirmed in Matthew 17:5, when God told Peter, James, and John, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."