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Can we receive the grace of forgiveness and eternal life by saying, "Jesus is my Lord'?

While believing in Jesus is vitally important to our salvation, a superficial belief does not result in salvation by grace (cf. Mt 7:21). As we have said before, grace is received with a true and honest faith. For example, food sustains our life. But if you keep saying food is good and nutritious but never eat food, you will still eventually starve to death. The grace food imparts is useless (dead) if your faith in food has no substance! The right definition of faith is so important, especially since many reformed Christians will ardently tell other Christians faith equals mere belief with no action. 

To make this point clear, let’s look at another analogy. A sick patient will often need to see a doctor. But if the patient simply trusts in the skills of a doctor yet never listens to the doctor’s advice or visits the doctor’s office, the patient will never receive the benefits of the doctor’s expertise. In the same way, Jesus once told a blind man to wash in the water. Let me ask those who feel salvation by faith can be had with a superficial belief: if the blind man never listened to Jesus and never went to wash in the water, do you honestly believe he would have been healed? (The story in the Bible indicates he did listen, and was healed.) Again, let me ask: if the woman in biblical records who suffered from hemorrhaging for twelve years only believed in her heart, but never reached out to touch Jesus’ clothes, for healing, do you think the Lord’s power would have healed her as it did? James says, “Do you see that faith was working together with his [Abraham’s] works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (Jas 2:22). A true faith gives us access to God’s grace. 

The Bible says, “Through whom [Jesus] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom 5:2). But our faith must have substance in order to save us, which was why James asked those who had a superficial faith: “Can [his dead] faith save him?” (Jas 2:14). The answer is obviously “No.” However, we must also remember that God’s grace is what saves us. So if we are saved by grace, why even bother with faith? Because we can only gain access to grace through our faith. Faith is like a bridge we need to receive God’s grace, for faith in God is God’s way. We can imagine a treasure (grace) that is on the other side of a deep rift we cannot reach without a bridge; we need the bridge (faith) to get to the treasure (grace), but the bridge (faith) is not the treasure (grace) itself. It is God’s saving grace that has saved people throughout the ages, both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 15:11). 

So we are not saved by works, but by grace. But our faith, which entails substance, gives us access to God’s saving grace. Faith must have a substance beyond a mere superficial confession saying, “Jesus is Lord!” (cf. Mt 7:21ff)—a point we can’t emphasize enough. While it is obvious we are justified by grace, we may ask what exactly grace entails? Titus 3:5 (cf. Jn 3:5) comments on the grace we have received as believers, “He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” The grace that justified us, as recorded in Titus 3:5, means the washing of rebirth (water baptism) and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (baptism of the Holy Spirit). If we can understand that God’s grace has manieel a belief, for example, that Christians must receive water baptism, footwashing, or the Holy Spirit in order to be saved by grace, is a heresy of salvation by “works.” But the foundation of the argument against saving efficacy of water baptism, the Holy Spirit, etc. is more firmly rooted in the reformed theology of Martin Luther than in the Bible. The Bible says, in no uncertain terms, that God’s grace is the very fact we can receive water baptism, the Holy Spirit, etc. to salvation. Jesus provided water baptism for the forgiveness of sins; Jesus gives us the gift of baptism in the Holy Spirit as part and parcel of his plan of festations of substance and form, then we can better understand why we need to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit for salvation. 

Unfortunately, many Christians fsalvation. Both baptism of water and the Holy Spirit are manifestations of God’s grace, much as Jesus became flesh to dwell among us in the fullness of grace and truth. Jesus opened up the way to God’s throne of salvation, through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, to allow water baptism to forgive our sins. The way to salvation is something we freely receive with faith, for it is a grace of God. So Jesus once said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16; cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet 3:21). The Bible also says, “Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him [Jesus] were to receive” (Jn 7:39). So to receive water baptism and the Holy Spirit, you must believe in Jesus. In the days after Jesus ascended into heaven, on Pentecost, Peter preached and said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This verse, spoken by apostle Peter in answer to the question, “What shall we do?” is an excellent outline of the way of faith that leads to salvation by grace.


Publisher: True Jesus Church
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