The Man And The Plan
What must one believe in order to have "faith"? That is the way most of my brethren would ask the question. Then there are thousands of religious people across the country who would change that to "Who" or "In Whom" must one believe? There is some validity for the distinction, but not the difference these "man" or "plan" debaters would have us believe.
Our faith must be in Christ -- of that I have no doubt; and perhaps we have allowed ourselves to become a bit one-sided in our emphasis upon "the plan"; but the two, properly understood, are inseparable.
For we must believe in Jesus as "both Lord and Christ" (ACT.2:36). Sectarians have so long preached of faith in Christ -- while ignoring the commandments of the Lord -- that there is some excuse for stressing the fact that one can not truly believe in the "man" and at the same time ignore His "plan"
Years ago, on a hunting trip, I became thoroughly confused as to the location of our camp. I was delighted to come upon a friend and experienced guide, who gave me instructions for getting back to our camp site. Now I had the utmost faith in this "man" -- as to his ability, knowledge of the country, and credibility. I was confident that he had told me exactly how to find camp. Therefore, I relied upon him. I accepted his bearings as accurate; followed the canyons and climbed the ridges as he instructed, and came safely to my camp. My faith was in Earl, but it was impossible to have such faith apart from faith in the instructions he gave me. The analogy is not perfect. The guide provided instructions concerning a way that existed apart from himself; while Christ provides the way, and -- and tells us how to take it. Still, it must be taken!
Christ is the author of eternal salvation -- the author -- "unto all them that obey Him" (HEB.5:9). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (MAT.7:21). Faith in Christ as Lord, is recognition of ourselves as servants under Christ, as Master.
I believe repentance is essential to my salvation, because Jesus said it was (LUK.13:3). I believe I must be baptized, because Jesus commanded it (MAR.16:16). My faith in Him restrains me from ignoring, or counting as non-essential, anything He put in the "plan". My faith is not in baptism; my faith is in the author of the act. But I can not deny the act without denying the authority of Christ; i.e., Christ as Lord.
My brethren do not always make it clear, but when they emphasize the necessity for obedience most of them are really pleading for genuine faith in Christ. This is certainly my understanding of the matter, and has been through thirty-two years of preaching.
"Accepting the Lord" "Experiencing Salvation" and many other sectarian phrases are often empty jargon, which mask human concepts of salvation.