What must I do to be Saved?
Saved from what? What is it that you wish to be saved from? The real issue between God and man is that of sin. Do you wish to be saved from sin?
What is sin? Sin is a species of rebellion against God. Sin is the transgression against God's holy law (1 John 3:4). It is self pleasing; it is the utter ignoring of God's claims; being completely indifferent as to whether your conduct and actions please or displeases Him, which is self-will. Or that you spend your time seeking to please Him, or doing those things that give only Him glory (rejecting those things that don't, or that bring any glory to yourself).
Before God saves a man, He convicts him of his sinnership. By this I do not mean that which he says with everybody else, "Oh yes, we are all sinners, I know that.'' Rather do I mean that the Holy Spirit makes him feel in his heart that he has been a life long rebel against God, and that his sins are so many, so great, so black, that he feels that he has transgressed totally beyond the reach of divine mercy and grace.
Have you ever had that experience? Have you seen yourself to be totally unfit for heaven? Unfit for the presence of a Holy God? Do you now perceive that there is no good thing in you, nothing good to be credited to your account or favor, that all the way through you have loved the things that God hates and have hated the things God loves?
Has the realization of this broken your heart before God? Has it made you mourn that you have so despised His mercies, misused His blessings, broken His Sabbaths, neglected His law and His Word, and given Him no real place at all in your thoughts, affections and life? If you have not yet seen and felt this personally, then at the present time there is no hope for you, and God says, "... except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). And if you were to die in your present condition, you will be lost forever.
But if you have been brought to the place where sin is your greatest plague, where offending God is your greatest grief, and where your deepest desire is now to please and honor Him in all things you do; then there is hope for you. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). And He will save you providing you are ready and willing to throw down the weapons of your warfare against Him, bow to His Lordship, and surrender yourself to His complete control.
His blood can wash the foulest clean. His grace can support and uphold the weakest. His power can deliver the tried and tempted. "Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Yield yourself to Christ's claims. Step down, and give Him the throne of your heart and the regulation of your life. Trust in His atoning death. Love Him with all your soul. Obey Him with all your might and He will conduct you to heaven. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
One of the most significant differences between us and our spiritual forefathers is this: they took sin seriously, we do not. They prayed over it, we jest about it. They regarded it as the open and crowded road to hell, we regard it as an unfortunate religious term for a pathological condition. They thought the power of God the only force strong enough to cope with it, we council disturbed people to watch their diet, their exercise, their rest, their self esteem, and to try not to think about the matters that upset and disturb them. Sin, to our spiritual forefathers, meant disloyalty to God. Break a man-made law and you are guilty of a crime. Break a divinely ordained precept and you are guilty of sin. Sin is a crime against God - a conscious and open violation of His holy will.
Use sin as it will use you; spare it not, for it will not spare you. It is your murderer, and a murderer of the world. Use it, therefore, as a murderer should be used. Kill it before it kills you. You love not death, love not the cause of death. Disloyalty to God means disloyalty to that which is truly best in the universe. Put it in personal terms, and it means disloyalty to our own good, our own best interests, our truest self. Neither a house divided against itself nor a self divided within itself can long stand.
Sin kills that which is best within us by separating us from that which is best for us. Sin drives a wedge between us and the great values that ought to dominate our thinking and our living: truth, beauty, goodness, love. Instead of walking humbly in the light cast by their glory, we turn away from them and, extending the candle of our conceit against the enveloping darkness, we grope ahead confident that, somehow or other, we will find our way because we are the masters of our fate.
Sin strikes at us with various weapons. Rationalization is one such - and probably the most vicious. Rationalization is giving a good reason in place of the real reason. It is the effort to make the worse appear the better cause. It is a form of essential dishonesty and will either kill one's self-examination, or the ability to be critical of oneself. But, either way, it kills something in us that is essential to the life we might live, the man we might be. Confession, not rationalization, is the proper approach to sin. As scripture says, "Repent...", which applies to everyone, nobody is excluded.
The Bible tells us that sin is a capital offense. It was a very serious thing, and required an atonement, a penalty that had to be paid. But God paid that price through His Son, Jesus Christ. God could have easily done it in many ways, but by Jesus dying, the scriptures show the heinousness of sin, the horribleness of self-centered living. And in that penalty that was paid, a law was satisfied. It gives us the prerogative of accepting forgiveness. Forgiveness was not cheap, it was costly. A law has been met, a grace has been offered, and you walk away from that recognizing how costly this was.
How Are We Saved?
We know that in our own power we cannot earn salvation. I cannot say to myself: "I will go and do this so that I may be saved". That is not true salvation. However, if I say: "I will believe and do whatever I want," then that is not true salvation either. Only if I say: "I believe, and I trust my salvation in this, and I will do as many good works as I can because I love my Lord" then that is surely true salvation.
So what is the common denominator of salvation? It is faith in, and love of, the Lord. Love is expressed in works. Salvation, to be real, must also be expressed. If I am capable of doing good works but stop doing them, then my love has waxed cold and my belief has ebbed. Since salvation is by faith, then if my faith ebbs, so also must my salvation.
It is clear from the scriptures that salvation is both an event and a process. On the one hand we are "saved" when we receive Christ and are true to that belief -- that is, not consciously denying it. It is our first act of faith and requires no works. Perhaps this might be called our initial salvation, our first awareness of eternal life through knowing who Jesus and God are (John 17:3). But in addition, there must be a continuing process of salvation, else how can Paul say that we must work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12)? That which has been received doesn't need working out.
It is time we learned obedience to the Commandments and the Law -- not because we can earn salvation through such obedience -- but because obedience is a test of our love for Christ and is a sign of our savedness.
We are Saved by...
Many Christians teach that we only need to "believe" to be saved, or all we need is "faith" to be saved. Well, this is only a half truth, for we are not saved by only one thing.
The scripture clearly teaches that we are saved by "faith." The question is: Can we therefore conclude that we are saved by faith only? No, because scripture says we are not saved by faith only (James 2:20-26).
The scripture clearly teaches that we are saved by "belief." The question is: Can we therefore conclude that we are saved by belief only? No, because scripture says belief alone will not save you (James 2:19).
In reality, the scripture teaches that there are many things by which we are saved. Let's examine the whole Scripture to answer this question, "How are we saved?" Consider the following:
We are saved by God's grace (Acts 15:11, Ephesians 2:5,8, 2 Timothy 1:9). It is not ourselves, or our own works, that saves us. Let's look at the last two verses above.
Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
2 Timothy 1:9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"
However, there is a big difference between our own works, and godly works. God does expect us to do godly works. We are saved from sinning by doing godly works, such as:
By Repentance: (Are we saved by repentance only?)Luke 13:3, "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
2 Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
We are to have godly sorrow and repent of our sins against God (Acts 2:38; 3:19). Repentance is an action, and this action leads to salvation.
By Believing The Gospel: (Are we saved by believing the gospel only?)Mark 1:15, "...repent ye, and believe the gospel."
John 5:34, "But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say (Christ), that ye might be saved."
1 Corinthians 15:1-2, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you...By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you."
By Believing in Christ Jesus: (Are we saved by believing in Christ Jesus only?)
Acts 4:10,12, "...by the name of Jesus Christ...Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 16:30-31, "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
By Calling The Name Of The Lord: (Are we saved by calling only?)Acts 2:21, "…whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Romans 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
By Confessing Jesus Before Others: (Are we saved by confessing only?)Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Matthew 10:32-33, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
So, Jesus expects us to do this godly work of confessing Him before other people, or He will deny us before our Father in Heaven. Most people believe that as long as you just "believe" in Jesus Christ, that's enough. Most people believe their faith in Christ is "personal," and they don't want to make other people 'uncomfortable' by witnessing to them. Well, this idea that it is 'personal' is a teaching of the world, of the enemies of Christ, to hinder the knowledge of Christ to others. Jesus plainly states in the above verses that if you do not confess Jesus before men, before other people, and you keep it just to yourself, then you will not be saved. What if Jesus kept his faith to himself and never shared it? What if the apostles kept their faith to themselves and never shared it? Nobody would have been saved!
By Forgiving Others: (Are we saved by forgiving only?)Matthew 6:14-15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Matthew 18:34-35, "And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
Mark 11:25-26, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Luke 6:37, "...forgive (do something), and ye shall be forgiven: "
As you can see, if we do not do the godly work of forgiving others, our Father will not forgive us, and we will not be saved. If we don't DO something, God won't forgive us! The teaching that we can do anything we want and still be saved is not of God.
By Our Faith: (Are we saved by faith only?)Luke 7:50, "And he (Jesus) said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." (It is our faith and perseverance that also saves us).
Luke 18:42, "And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee."
Matthew 15:28, "Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
By Meditating on Doctrine: (Are we saved by meditating on doctrine only?)
1 Timothy 4:15-16, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
By Prayer: (Are we saved by prayer only?)
James 5:15, "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick..."
By Baptism: (Are we saved by baptism only?)Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
1 Peter 3:21, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us."
By Hope: (Are we saved by hope only?)
Romans 8:24, "For we are saved by hope:"
The hope of what?
Romans 8:23, "...the redemption of our body."
By Endurance: (Are we saved by endurance only?)
Matthew 10:22, "...but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 24:13, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
By Childbearing: (Are we saved by childbearing only?)
1 Timothy 2:15, "But she shall be saved through childbearing, if they abide in faith and love and holiness with discreetness."
By Holding Fast: (Are we saved by holding fast only?)
1 Corinthians 15:2, "By which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast what I preached unto you..."
By Obedience: (Are we saved by obedience only?)Proverbs 28:18, "Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved:"
Jeremiah 4:14, "...wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved."
Hebrews 5:9, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"
Philippians 2:12-13, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
In other words, it is not our own fleshy works, but godly works, in which God is working through us, that begets salvation. Jesus taught that we must do righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). Nineveh was saved because they did something (repent, turn from their evil), and because of this, they were saved by God's Grace (Jeremiah 18:8). But if they didn't repent and turn from their evil, God would have destroyed them (Jonah 3).
First, since the list above clearly shows that we are saved by a number of different things, we can confidently affirm that we are not saved by anything only. The doctrine of faith only (or anything else only) trivializes the word of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). To write off the entire scripture by condensing it into one verse has got to be wrong. There is no single verse that can adequately sum it up to the exclusion of the rest.
All these things save us. It is God's grace that has revealed these truths to us. The giving of the Law by God was itself an act of Grace. So, in essence, we are saved by the grace of God and His mercy (Deuteronomy 33:29, Isaiah 45:22, Matthew 19:25-26, 1 Corinthians 1:18, Titus 3:5).
Must we Do something to receive Eternal Life?
The same question was put to Jesus, whose one demand was that we should "do the will of God" (Matthew 7:21, Mark 3:35).
Matthew 19:16-17, "...Good Master, what good thing shall I DO, that I may have ETERNAL LIFE? And he said unto him...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments [Action]."
Luke 10:25-28, "...Master, what shall I DO to inherit ETERNAL LIFE? He said unto him, What is written in the law? ...And he said unto him...this do [Action], and thou shalt live [meaning eternal life]."
Luke 18:18-20 and Mark 10:17-19, "...Good Master, what shall I DO [Action] to inherit ETERNAL LIFE? And Jesus said unto him...Thou knowest the commandments..."
John 3:15, "That whosoever believeth [Action] in him should not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE."
John 6:54, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood [Action], hath ETERNAL LIFE;"
The following responses are from the mouth of the apostles, moved by the Holy Spirit:
Romans 2:7, "To them who by patient continuance in well doing [Action] seek for glory and honour and immortality, ETERNAL LIFE:"
1 Timothy 6:12, "Fight the good fight of faith [Action], lay hold [Action] on ETERNAL LIFE,"
1 John 3:15, "Whosoever hateth his brother [Choice] is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer [Action] hath eternal life abiding in him."
Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are they that DO HIS COMMANDMENTS [Action] that they may have right to the tree of LIFE".
Does the Scripture tell us how we can know if someone is Saved or not?
Notice the following words of Jesus Christ. Only those who keep his commandments will be loved by the Father.
John 14:15,21, "If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
John 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
The apostles told us how we will know if someone loves God or not:
1 John 2:3-4, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."
1 John 3:22,24, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight [notice things that are pleasing in God's sight is godly works, whereas those things that are pleasing to our own sight is our own works, which will never save us]. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
1 John 5:2-3, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
2 John 1:6, "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments."
Romans 13:10, "...love is the fulfilling of the law."
James 2:8, "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:"
Genesis 22:18, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
Therefore, love is a verb, love is an action. And what is it that converts the soul?
Psalms 19:7, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:"
Just how does the death of Jesus bring salvation?
This is the way Jesus saves us: by revealing the nature of God and creating within us the desire for fellowship with Him; by exhibiting life as it ought to be and may be and thus inspiring us to nobler conduct; by showing the hideous results of estrangement and enmity and by producing penitence and aspiration; by creating a consciousness of God's forgiveness and loving concern; and by prompting us, day by day, to higher thinking and more courageous living.
But Jesus can never save us unless we are ready to cooperate, and cooperation does not mean merely confessing with our lips that we believe in him. Complete dedication to his purpose and reliance upon his way of love are essential to salvation. This means the willingness to run risks and accept consequences. In a world of blindness and fear, bigotry and selfishness, sacrifice is essential to salvation (Romans 12:1). Matthew 16:24, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." He that truly desires to serve Jesus must not be content to deny himself certain coveted things, he must deny himself, period.
If Jesus had turned back from the cross he would have no salvation to offer. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (Numbers 35:33, Hebrews 9:22). At every turn we come face to face with a paradox, but none more startling than this: if a man seeks to save his life he loses it, but if he loses himself in devotion to Jesus Christ and the gospel, he finds life indeed (Matthew 10:39; 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24; 17:33, John 12:25). Jesus had a conversation with his disciples shortly before his arrest, and told them that he was about to be killed and they would be scattered. He then went on to speak of joy through pain. John 15:11, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Rejection and persecution and suffering; yet peace and joy and power.
Jesus never could have attained to such a Godlike character if he had turned back from the Cross. If he had been unwilling to endure suffering, the latent power within him would never have been utilized. The rarest fellowship with God would have been denied him if he had put self above God. If he had sought comfort and safety he never could have become the world's Saviour. Jesus wanted to live, but in the choice between life with compromise and death with loyalty, he chose to be loyal to his Father, even though it meant the shameful cross.
No man understands the full meaning of the Cross. We know too little of God and of life to comprehend clearly the significance of this supreme event of all time. But at least we do know; the Cross reveals the hideousness of sin, releases the redeeming power of sacrificial love, and opens the gateway to abounding joy and complete self-realization. Here we find the answer to the supreme needs of every generation: how to overcome evil and build the divine society, and how to find happiness and serenity.
To believe on Christ, to accept him as one's personal Lord and Saviour, is to die to self and live for God regardless of the consequences. There is no possibility of becoming a follower of Christ without the crucifixion of the self.
If any man will follow Jesus, let him deny himself, follow the way of love, and live every day as a good member of God's home. The pathway may lead to persecution, suffering and seeming defeat, but it alone leads to reconciliation and redemption and life.
Your Questions Answered
- There are literally dozens of verses that say we are saved by “believing” alone. For example: John 3:16; 5:24; 6:28-29; Acts 16:30-31.
Answer: Yes, these verses do say we are saved by “believing,” but it does not say we are saved by believing “alone” or “only.” Do you see the word "alone" or "only" in these verses? As a matter of fact, James 2:19 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." If “believing in God” was the only thing necessary to be saved, then the devils would be saved also! But we all know there is no salvation for them. Just because you know about Him, does not mean you belong to Him.
- All we have to do is “believe,” we don't have to do any works of God to be saved.
Answer: Jesus himself defined “belief” as a work of God!
John 6:28-29, "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
Therefore, it is contradictory to say belief is NOT a work, when Jesus said it was a work. Here are verses that say we are NOT saved by “belief” alone.
Mark 1:15, "…repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;"
Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe…thou shalt be saved."
1 John 3:23, "And this is His commandment, that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us."
Philippians 1:29, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;"
These commandment tell us both to believe and to behave -- both belief and works are quite inseparable.
- Well, “belief” has nothing to do with being obedient to God.
Answer: In 1 Peter 2:7, the words "believe" and "disobedient" are represented as opposites.
1 Peter 2:7, "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient…”
In other words, this passage is saying that to believe is to be obedient, while unbelief is synonymous with disobedience.
2 Corinthians 2:9, "For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things."
- "Faith" and "belief" is not a work!
Answer: "Faith" and "belief" is an action also. "Faith" and "belief" are from Greek word #4102, pistis. This word comes directly from a primary verb (#3982 peitho), so is itself active. (The word "belief" is also from Greek word #4100, which comes from #4102). Faith is some action based on God's word of promise.
1 Timothy 6:12, "Fight the good fight of faith [Action]"
- But "faith" is the TREE, and godly works are the FRUIT of that tree. Works are the external evidence of an internal faith, they are merely an outward verification of an inward faith. An apple tree will produce apples, just as a believer will produce works. However, apples are not the tree, and the tree is not the apples - they are closely related yet plainly distinct.
Answer: But "faith" is a fruit...not a tree!
Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…”
As you can see, scripture defines “faith” as a fruit, not a tree. Scripture places “faith” in the same category as godly works. Therefore, if godly works is a verification of being a child of God, faith is also an evidence of being a child of God. If the tree is not the fruit, and the fruit is not the tree, as you claim, and scripture says faith is a fruit, then your assumption that faith is a tree must be in error.
- No, I don't care what the scripture says, I still believe that "faith" is not simply a manifestation of the spirit, but "faith" is necessary to receive the Spirit.
Answer: Ok, let us go to scripture again and see if there is a passage which defines the manifestations of the Spirit. Let's go to 1 Corinthians 12:6-10.
1 Corinthians 12:6-7, "And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."
The above verse is clear that once we receive the Spirit, there are "diversities of operation," which means everyone does not have the same gifts, but different operations are given to different people. Verses 8 through 10 go into some of these different manifestations:
1 Corinthians 12:8-10, "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:"
Notice this passage says "faith" is a manifestation of the Spirit! In other words, faith is only one possible evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit, and is not a requirement to get the Holy Spirit. Let us look at the other manifestations in this passage and see if "everybody" must have these:
Does everyone have "wisdom" after receiving the Spirit? No. Does everyone have "knowledge"? No. "Gifts of healing"? No. the "working of miracles"? No. "Prophesy"? No. "Discerning of spirits"? No. Can everyone speak in "tongues"? No. "Interpret tongues"? No.
Then why is it when we come to "faith" in this same passage, that you believe everyone must have this "faith" to receive the Spirit? This passage specifically says it is only one of the "diversities of operations", only one of the "manifestations" of the Spirit.
If the Word of God shatters cherished beliefs, then we should be willing to be shattered, no matter how painful it is. God's truth should be more important to us than personal belief, and loyalty to that truth should be more important than loyalty to traditions and of men.
- All we need is "faith" only to be saved.
Answer: The scripture clearly teaches that one of the things we are saved by is faith, yes. However, there are absolutely no verses, none whatsoever, that say we are saved by faith "only," or by faith "alone."
The words "faith" and "only" come together only once in the scripture, and it says we are not saved by faith only:
James 2:24, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
The words "faith" and "alone" come together only once in the scripture, and it says we are not saved by faith alone:
James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
James 2:20, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"
In other words, the relationship between faith and works is so close that in fact they are one entity.
James 2:26, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
Yes, scripture DOES say we are saved by faith, but it also says we are saved by other things as well, not just faith.
- You are mistaken. No man is justified by works.
Answer: Scripture says otherwise. Here is an example of just two (Abraham and Rahab) that were justified by works:
James 2:21-26, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works...Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works...For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
- Well, you can quote lonely old James 2, but doers of the law are not justified!Answer:
Romans 2:13, "(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified."
The same sentiment is implied in these passages as well:
Matthew 7:21-24, "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. 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. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:"
Luke 6:47-49, "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."
James 1:22-25, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
It does not follow, because one people are favoured with a Divine revelation, that therefore they shall be saved; while the others who have not had that revelation, shall finally perish: this is not God's procedure. Where God has given a law-a Divine revelation, He requires obedience to that law; and only those who have been doers of that law-who have lived according to the light and benefits granted in that revelation, shall be justified-shall be finally acknowledged to be such as are fit for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:16-17, Revelation 22:14).
- But if Abraham was justified by works, doesn't that contradict Romans 4:2, "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God"?Answer: No. The "works" referred to in this verse is the work of circumcision only. Let's read this in context.
Romans 4:1, "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" This "flesh" is in reference to circumcision, which is confirmed in Genesis 17:24-25, "And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin." Romans 4 is explaining how rightousness came by faith before circumcision was required by the law (verse 3-5). This is also confirmed by reading the rest of Romans, chapter 4:
Romans 4:9-13, "Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
- How do you explain this verse? Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."Answer: First, let us review a little background as to the reason why Paul wrote this epistle to the Galatians. Paul led the Galatians to Christ (Galatians 3:1). They made a good start in the godly life (Galatians 3:3) and were doing well spiritually (Galatians 5:7). Later, some Jewish teachers (called Judaizers) taught the Galatians that to be saved, one must not only believe in Christ, but must also be circumcised.
Now, concerning the verse in question, Galatians 2:16, we must ask ourselves, "Which law is Paul referring to here?" Now, let's read this verse in context. Start at the beginning of Galatians 2, and you will see the context is about circumcision. The whole topic of Galatians 2, up until verse 16, is about circumcision. This is the context of Galatians 2:16. This is the law that this verse is referring to. The point Paul was making was that the adult Gentiles do not have to be converted to Judaism in order to follow Christ (Galatians 2:14, Acts 15:5-11; 21:21). No man is justified by keeping the law, but by faith. Besides, the law of circumcision did not require adult males to be circumcised, only 8 day old babies!
Paul was saying that adult gentiles would not be justified by keeping the law of physical circumcision, but would be justified by faith. After all, the law of circumcision only applied to male children who were 8 days old, not to adults. But, did Paul also include the ten commandments? Did Paul also mean that we can cast aside the physical meaning of the ten commandments and be justified by faith? The answer is definitely no. Further proof that Paul did not include the ten commandments (in verse 16) is to look at verse 17!
Galatians 2:17, "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid."
These words are an objection, which the adversaries of the doctrine of justification by faith have been always ready to make against it, namely, "That if persons be not justified by their obedience to the law, then they may live as they want in the breach and violation of the law, and freely indulge themselves in sin, and consequently make Christ the minister of sin, as if he had relaxed the duty." The apostle rejects this inference and deduction with the greatest abhorrence and detestation, saying, God forbid.
If sinners should be justified through Christ by faith without the Law, Christ would approve sinners, and should exhort them to sin by his ministry; and that it it is not necessary to observe the law in order to be accepted with God; that it pronounces a man justified and accepted who is a violator of the law; that his acceptance does not depend on his keeping the commandments; that it releases him from the obligation of God's Law; and that it teaches that a man may be saved though he does not conform to God's Law.
The idea is, "You seek to be justified by faith without obeying the law, You professedly reject that, and do not hold that it is necessary to yield obedience to it. If now it shall turn out that you are sinners; that your lives are not holy; that you are free from the wholesome restraint of the law, and are given up to lives of sin, will it not follow that Christ is the cause of it, that he taught it, and that the system which he introduced is responsible for it? And is not the gospel therefore responsible for introducing a system that frees from the restraint of the law, and introduces universal licentiousness?"
Paul answers that this conclusion is false, because Christ destroys sin in the believer; that being acquitted from the curse of the Law and justified they may be saved by Him. And Christ gives them that strength and power, through the Holy Spirit, which destroys sinful tendencies: so that this old man being abolished by the power of Christ crucified, Christ may live in them, and they may consecrate themselves to God. Therefore if any man give himself to sin after he has received the Gospel, let him not accuse Christ nor the Gospel, but himself, for he destroys the work of God in himself. Christ is not the minister of sin; but in turning away from Him, one makes himself a sinner.
If it turns out that we are sinners, or if others discover by undoubted demonstration that we lead lives of sin; if they see us given up to a lawless life, and find us practicing all kinds of evil; if it shall be seen not only that we are not pardoned and made better by the gospel, but are actually made worse, and are freed from all restraint. Is it to be traced to Christ? Is it a fair and legitimate conclusion that this is the tendency of the gospel? Is it to be charged on Him, and on the plan of justification through Him, that unrightousness prevails, and that men are freed from the wholesome restraints of God's Law? God forbid. It is not so. This is not the proper effect of the gospel of Christ, and of the doctrine of justification by faith. The system is not fitted to produce such a freedom from restraint; and if such a freedom exists, it is to be traced to something else than the gospel.
Learn hence, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, cannot be rightly preached, except the duty of mortification of sin be urged and enforced with it; for the same faith that depends upon Christ for pardon of sin, does look up unto him for power and strength to vanquish and subdue sin; If we do not the latter, Christ will never do the former.
- How do you explain this verse? Galatians 3:10-11, "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."
Answer: Notice it says only those who continue not in the "book of the law" are cursed. It does not say those who continue in "the law" are cursed. The "works of the law" refer not to God's Ten Commandments itself, but to the book of the Law. The "book of the law" refers to the Old Covenant laws. Only the book of the Old Covenant had curses (Deuteronomy 29:20,21,27, 2 Chronicles 34:24).
Scripture is clear that Moses wrote the Old Covenant in a book (Deuteronomy 31:9) but the Ten Commandments were written by the Finger of God (Exodus 31:18). The book of statutes and judgments which Moses wrote in a book was placed in a pocket on the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:24-26). In contrast, the Law written by God on tables of stone was placed inside the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:16).
Galatians2 clearly talks of the law of circumcision, of which adult males were not bound to. And chapter 3 verifies this by referring to the book of the Old Covenant that Moses wrote. How can we be sure which law is referred to?
Galatians 3:19, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come..."
The law Paul is referring to was added because of transgression (such as animal sacrifices and other such laws that were to be in force until the time of the Messiah), he is not referring to the law which defines transgressions (such as sin, which remain in force even after the time of the Messiah). This verse continues by saying this law was...
Galatians 3:19, "...ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
This law was not given to Israel immediately from God himself (as the Ten Commandments were); but was conveyed by the ministry of angels to Moses, and delivered into his hand as a mediator between God and them, to remind them of the great Mediator. When the ten commandments were given, there was no mediator between God and the people, God communicated with the people directly (Deuteronomy 5:4,22-26). It was not until after the Ten Commandments were given that Moses became a mediator (verse 27).
Please look at Galatians 3:13. It says "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law." It does not say Christ redeemed us from obedience to the law, but only from the curse of the law. Again, only the book of the Old Covenant has curses, and Jesus brought in a New Covenant.
John 7:49, "But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed."
Those who know not the law are cursed. This would not make any sense if those who know the law are cursed also. Would it?
- How do you explain this verse? Romans 3:28, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
Answer: This does not mean we make void God's Law:
Romans 3:31, "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
If you read the context, the "deeds of the law" refer to circumcision again, of which only 8 day old babies were required to be circumcised. Verse 1 makes this clear:
Romans 3:1, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?"
This is confirmed in the verses immediately after Romans 3:28. The argument Paul has been making is that gentiles would not be justified by keeping a law which is for 8 day old babies only. Verse 29 states that God is God of the Jews as well as the Gentiles, and goes back to circumcision in verse 30.
Romans 3:30, "Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
Here, God is saying that, those who are circumcised shall be justified by faith (adult Jews), as well as those who are not circumcised (adult gentiles). But can you picture Paul saying, instead of circumcision, the following:
"Seeing it is one God, which shall justify, through faith, the unrighteous, and fornicators, and idolaters, and adulterers, and effeminate, and abusers of themselves with mankind, and thieves, and covetous, and drunkards, and revilers, and extortioners, those who do the works of the flesh, inclucing fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, and dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and those with a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, those who worship other gods, make and bow themselevs to graven images, speak blaphemt against the Holy Spirit, profane the sabbath day, dishonour thy mother and father, etc. etc. etc."
Unlike the law of circumcision, which only pertained to 8 day old babies, it does matter if a gentile keeps the laws defining sin or not. He is not free to disregard the laws that define sin, and be justified by God. Especially since scripture says all these sinful acts are the works of the flesh and those who do them will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8; 22:15, Proverbs 6:16-19). In other words, we cannot say a gentile need not worry about breaking the letter of adultery, or blasphemny, or murder, or worshipping other gods, or bearing false witness, , as long as he had faith, and just disregard these laws.
However, one can receive forgiveness for these sins if one repents, but one cannot be justified in his sins.
Therefore, the "deeds of the law" and "the letter of the law" do not refer to God's Law which define sin, because "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12).
- But what about Romans 3:20, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin"?
Answer: This is only in the context of when people "boast" that they are righteous because they keep the law (verse 27). This must not be taken out of context to say that outside of boasting, no flesh will be justified for keeping the law. There are other passages which do teach that people are justified by the works of the law (avoiding that which is sinful), without knowing the spirit of the law:
Romans 2:13-14, "(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:"
When the heathens do, without this Divine revelation, the things contained in the law, these are a law unto themselves-they are not accountable to any other law, and are not to be judged by any dispensation different from that under which they live. Even though they do not have the law of Moses, yet they have no reason why they may excuse their wickedness.
Paul has shown how the general principle "that God will render to every man according to his works" (Proverbs 24:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 2 Timothy 4:14, Revelation 2:23; 20:12-13; 22:12) applies to the Jews; they will be judged by law, and only law-doers will be justified. He now shows that the same principle applies to the heathen. They have no revealed and written law like the Jews, but in case Gentiles, without it, should keep the things contained in the law, the ten commandments, they are a law unto themselves. Their consciences are a law. They do not understand the law, or its spiritual purpose, but they are justified. That though they have not the written law of God, yet that they have sufficient knowledge of his will to take away every excuse for sin.
The heathen, by keeping the written law, even though they do not know the spirit of the law, are justified by doing what God has written on their heart, and avoiding that which God says is evil. This is an example of people keeping the so-called "letter" of God's ten commndments, yet not keeping the spirit of the law (since the heathen are spiritually discerned). These heathens were not condemned for keeping the letter without the spirit, they were justified for keeping the letter without the spirit, when it comes to God's law of sin and righteousness.
- John 7:39 says the Holy Spirit is given to those who “believe.” And Galatians 3:14 says we receive the Spirit through "faith." Therefore, this is all that's necessary to be saved.
Answer: Then how do you explain this verse?
Acts 5:32, "And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
If obeying God has nothing to do with being saved and receiving the Holy Spirit, why does this verse say God gives the Spirit to those who obey him? Why does it not say that the Holy Spirit is given to those who believe in him, or those who have faith, if only “belief” and “faith” are required? Well, the reason is because "obeying" is only one of the ways we receive His Spirit. Just one of the ways.
Acts 2:38,40 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost...Save yourselves from this untoward generation. ."
If repenting and baptizing has nothing to do with receiving the Holy Spirit, why are the works of repenting and baptizing mentioned in this verse? Because these are other ways we receive this gift. We must not only obey God, but we must believe in Him, have faith, be baptized, repent, etc. Scripture does not limit it to just one thing.
If godly works have nothing to do with our salvation, Why are we told to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12)?
To be saved, one must do God's Will. We cannot be saved by doing our own will.
- When Jesus taught that we had to obey the commandments in order to receive eternal life (Matthew 19:16-17, Luke 10:25-28, Luke 18:18-20, Mark 10:17-19, Revelation 22:14) he did not really mean that. He was being sarcastic and was showing that it is impossible to keep God's Law.
Answer: Now, it seems to me that when people asked Jesus a question, Jesus would give a direct answer to their question. When people asked Jesus what one must do to receive Eternal Life, I find it hard to believe that Jesus would tell them to obey the commandments if this would send people to damnation
Yes, Jesus answered in parables. And he used hyperbolic language at times. But never does Jesus answer sarcastically, and give them an answer that can lead them to damnation if they were to do what he says to do. I do not believe Jesus would do this. Do you believe Jesus would give an answer that would send people to damnation?
Do you really believe, dead reader, that people who believe that Jesus meant what he said when he answered "we must obey the commandments to receive eternal life" will go to damnation and be lost? Do you really believe that Jesus would mislead people like this? I do not.
Depart from Me
Many Christians believe those who keep God's Commandments will be damned. Well, there is not one verse in the entire scripture that says people will be damned for obeying God's Law. However, there are many, many verses that say we will be damned if we do not obey God's law. Who will you believe, dear reader, man or God? Hear the words of Christ Jesus:
Matthew 7:21-23, "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. 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 lawlessness."
The word "lawlessness" here means those who are without God's Law, those who do not live by God's Commandments, yet claim with their mouth that they are of God. Those who believe that they are not under the law will not care about keeping God's Law anymore. They will keep it only if it isn't too inconvenient for them. Those who believe God's law is abolished, will believe there is no such thing as "sin" anymore. But, if there's no such thing as sin anymore, why does the New Testament command us to repent of our sins? Those who teach that the Law is abolished use God's Grace as an excuse to sin.
Jude 1:4, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
But Grace gives us the opportunity to repent of our sins.
If anyone overcomes, it must be by some power outside of himself, for in himself he would never have any power for his own deliverance. This is the teaching of the seventh chapter of Romans. God must deliver him if he is delivered at all! God must bring him to a knowledge of his lost condition, so that he will feel his need of a Saviour, and God must give him repentance and faith. God must open his eyes so that be shall not only see the need, but also the priceless value of salvation, that like the apostle Paul, he will be willing to count all thing loss except for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord (Philippians 3:8). And he must be endowed with power to overcome the evil around and within him. All this help must come from God, and must be imparted to the sinner before he can make the slightest movement toward salvation.
Neither the mighty thundering above nor the sweet music of the flute would have any effect whatsoever on the dead in their graves. They hear not; neither do they know. Nor, can the thundering of the Law or the sweet music of the Gospel have any effect on the mind and soul that is dead in sin. It needs one thing. It needs to be made alive! By a power beyond itself! You hath He made alive that were dead. Therefore, until God first of all comes with His grace and makes men alive, there is nothing that man can do (Ephesians 2:5). Only God can raise the dead! True, God requires repentance, faith, belief, godly works, etc. that we might be saved, but, praise His name, that which He requires, He also freely gives, that the whole thing may be of grace.
Titus 3:5-8, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
2 Timothy 3:17, "That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:"
Grace is not the opposite of God's Law, because the giving of the Law by God was itself an act of Grace, for God did not have to tell us what sin is. The real opposite of Grace is Gracelessness, and the real opposite of Law is Lawlessness. God's Law is an act of God's Mercy. Therefore, for us to obey God's Law is synonymous with God's Mercy saving us. His Law and Wisdom saves us from sinning. To set Grace against the Law is a contradiction of God's nature, because God never contradicts himself.
1 John 2:17, "...he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
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