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 (Galatians to Colossians)
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I.       Appendix

A.     Salvation through Faith

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn 3:17).

Sin, the disobedience of God’s will, separates man from his Creator. Ever since our progenitors, Adam and Eve, committed the first sin by eating the forbidden fruit, sin has continued to plague mankind, bringing in its wake, hardship, pain, sorrow and disaster, both on an individual and on mass level. God did not have to send his Son into the world to condemn it - the world stood condemned on its own. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

“…but that the world through Him might be saved” are words that sound hopeful to men who seek reconciliation with God and freedom from the bondage of sin. Jesus Christ came to this world to show man the way of salvation. He said in Jn 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the Savior of the world. He is the way of salvation. But what do all these mean? How do these relate to us? “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). These are questions of vital importance to Christians, in particular to us of this era where differing concepts on salvation abound and misconceptions proliferate because of a shocking lack of seeing what the Bible, the Word of God, has to say.

The apostle Paul sums up salvation brilliantly as a two-fold action.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

B.     By Grace

The first and absolutely necessary part of salvation was fulfilled in the one word ‘grace’ “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph 2:5). Salvation would never have been accomplished without the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, who through his body opened a new way, tearing down the dividing barrier of sin. It is not our own doing; “it is the gift of God.” For without Christ, there is no salvation and it is not surprising then that Paul reiterates this.

C.     Through Faith

So it is that the second part of salvation comes in ‘Faith’, As ‘grace’ is the giving of salvation by God, so ‘faith’ is the accepting of salvation on our part.

D.     What Is Faith?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1 NRSV) By the above scriptural definition, faith, being likened to an ‘assurance’ and a ‘conviction’, can be seen as an abstract entity, a thing of the mind.

James, in his epistle, saw the misconception that could possibly arise from the definition and stressed the absolute necessity of the projection of the abstract entity into action (which he terms as works), rejecting the conception of faith as a thing purely of the mind or heart, independent of the actions proceeding from such an assurance and conviction.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jas 2:14-17; emphasis added)

E.     A Dead Faith Is Not Faith

Faith, like love, is a dynamic abstract entity. Both entities do not reside purely in the mind but overflow into action. One can very well claim to have love but if one’s actions do not correspond with the actions of love, the claim stands ridiculed.

F.      A Simple Illustration of Faith in Its True Sense

Fire envelopes, the multi-story office block where you are working. It is unfortunate that your office happens to be on the twentieth floor, The sprinkler system is defective. Screams fill the air. People are rushing about. Pandemonium reigns.

Out of the blinding smoke and chaos, you sight a fireman breaking through the flames. Salvation! You have faith in him, in his ability to save you from a fiery end.

He beckons to you. You go to him “Down on your knees,” he orders. “And crawl.” Down on your knees, you go. “Up the stairway” Up the stairway. “Turn left, then right.” Turn left, then right “Jump!” Jump? “Jump!” Jump.

And you’re saved.

The illustration serves to underline the intrinsic relationship between obedience and faith; action and faith. Is it possible for you to be saved from the fire if you have faith in the fireman but do not follow his commands? Is it possible to separate faith and works?

“Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (Jas 2:22).

True faith, saving faith, then is faith with works not any kind of works, but works which originate from or have their source in the assurance and conviction of Christ as the Savior.

G.    Saving Faith—Faith in Jesus

Saving faith is a faith in Jesus, in these words – His claims, His promises, His commands, and His way of salvation.

“"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).

The doctrine that salvation is effected at the moment of confessing Jesus Christ faces serious disagreement in the light of Mark 16:16 and Matthew 24:13. The first commands the believer to be baptized for salvation. If one’s salvation is effected at the point of open confession, why this verse? The latter goes even further. It advocates a lifetime of faith, not a single important moment of faith alone. Salvation is to one who remains faithful to the end.

Is this what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote “… saved by grace through faith”—a faith only at the moment of conversion?

Such a doctrine faces serious disagreement in the light of the Scriptures “He who believes and is baptized will be saved;” (Mk 16:16) “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mt 24:13).

Mark 16:16 commands the believer to be baptized for salvation. If one’s salvation is effected at the point of conversion, why this verse?

Matt 24:13 goes even further. It advocates a lifetime of faith, not a single important moment of faith. Salvation is for one who remains faithful to the end

Since it is faith with works that save, are we to neglect these two verses which effectively nullify the concept of salvation effected at a single moment of faith? No, we must take all these five verses together to give a full picture of just what God meant by Salvation. “The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17). Yes, faith in Jesus gives us life, but let us not forget the other implication of this verse—faith in Christ Jesus also sustains this life. It is with this opening insight that we try to piece together God’s plan of salvation through faith.

H.    Salvation—

A Way

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mt 7:13-14).

Salvation begins (not ends) with belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior. Then the question “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), To which Peter replied “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).

The next step is then reconciliation with God through the removal of the barrier of sin by Jesus’ blood in water baptism (cf. Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21) Whereupon, in due time, we will be sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance (Salvation) (cf. Eph 1:13,14) Our feet are now firmly planted on the road to salvation. But the way stretched on for a lifetime, a lifetime to be saved by the Spirit “for if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13).

What does it mean - to live by the Spirit? “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5).

It is a process of renewal, growing in the Lord, not an accumulation of ‘works of righteousness’ but a living by faith, quickened by the Spirit. It is the supreme manifestation of true, saving faith.

It is the Christian who is led by the Spirit that truly loves God and has as his guidelines in life, the commandments of God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1Jn 5:3).

Some professing Christians and even pastors remark that one should not ‘burden’ Christians with ‘unnecessary rituals’ such as baptism, the Holy Communion and keeping the Sabbath. Such concern, though well-intentioned, is not only unscriptural, it undermines the very way of salvation that God has revealed to us through His commandments. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63).

As earlier stated, it is emphasized that saving faith is faith that results in obedience to the Words of the Savior and His commands concerning salvation. And this faith is a continuous faith by which we live. “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17).


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