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).
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).
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
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
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;
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
A Simple Illustration of Faith
in Its True Sense
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
“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
(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).
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).
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.”