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Salvation According to Jesus (II): By Faith


         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)

Most Christians accept that we are saved by God’s grace through faith (Rom 1:16, 17; Eph 2:8). A Christian’s faith, for salvation, should be in Christ and His message of salvation. However, a Christian’s faith should not be in “faith” itself, a confessional moment of weeping, or a touching “faith” experience. All the aforementioned are good, but they don’t serve as a good basis for salvation by faith.

Jesus had much to say about salvation. Jesus’ very name means “The Lord Saves” (Mt 1:21). The story of Jesus Christ, then, is the story of salvation. From His birth until His death on the cross and His resurrection, Jesus came to save His people from their sins. For this reason, it is important to understand what Jesus taught about salvation.


A simple way to describe salvation is in terms of being reconciled with our Creator. Heaven is the place where God rules. And so salvation means we’re able to enter into the heavenly kingdom, where God rules, to be reconciled with our heavenly Father.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6). He said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…” (Jn 10:9). He also said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn 6:44). In other words, apart from Jesus Christ, we will never find the way to salvation. Furthermore, apart from God, we will never find our way to Christ.

For most doors in life, we simply find them, open them, and walk through. But how can we enter through Christ, who said, “I am the door” and “I am the way”? We can go back to Jesus’ own words to help us understand the way.


When Jesus taught about salvation, He emphasized a lot about the heart we need in order to be saved.[1] Faith and trust are related to our heart.[2] The first and most fundamental thing we must have to be saved is faith in Jesus and His message of salvation (Jn 5:24). Jesus often spoke of those who believed as “saved” by saying “your faith has saved you” or “made you whole.”[3] Jesus says “your faith” has saved you. While we can debate the deeper theological discussions of how we come to faith, we can simply take responsibility of the need to extend our faith.

A heart of faith is at the heart of the gospel of salvation. Much of the confusion, among Christians, concerning a “saving faith” comes about because “faith” or “trust” in the New Testament text is often translated simply as “believe.”[4] But the concept of “faithfulness” or “loyalty” in our belief is often lost. Faithfulness is not something we can fake—like a man sleeping around his marriage vows. Man can fool everyone in the world, even himself, but he can never fool God. This is why it’s critical to understand what it truly means to “believe” or “trust” in Christ if we want to be saved.

Jesus never taught that belief—in the abstract, on an intellectual level, apart from action—saves us. Instead, Jesus taught, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). Clearly, some action is required to “do” the will of the heavenly Father.

On the other side are those who focus only on their actions. Jesus said, “…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees had a righteousness that was very action oriented—to the point of becoming habit. Regular prayer, fasting, and almsgiving all seemed good and well, but when the heart is missing it becomes unprofitable. The same can be said about how giving all our goods to feed the poor or sacrificing our body to be burned profits nothing apart from a heart of love (1 Cor 13:3).

Therefore, Jesus was teaching us that salvation is neither a mere profession of faith nor mechanically working our way into heaven through “good” deeds. Jesus did not teach that saving faith can be an abstract, bare, and naked exercise in belief (without action); rather, Jesus taught that saving faith requires trusting in His words with a true heart towards action.

True faith is never unseen or hidden from the world. True faith is like the bright light of a lamp that will always be seen, like a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden from afar (Mt 5:14; 7:24, 26). When we exercise true faith in the Lord our righteousness will exceed “the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,” who say (what to do) but do not do (Mt 23:3).


Doing God’s will brings up the issue of God’s commandments. Do we need to obey God’s commandments to be saved? And if so, which commandments? Can a Christian continue to murder, cheat, steal, and lie and still be saved? These aren’t always easy questions to answer.

Jesus once taught a rich young ruler who asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “…to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man told Jesus, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The young man went away sorrowful; he had too many possessions to give up all that he had (Mt 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-23).

The story of the rich young ruler teaches us about our human limitations, and the limitations of our heart. Although we often know the good we ought to do, we often fail to carry it out. Like a college student failing because he’s too busy enjoying life to study, we too often fail to complete what we know is right due to the limitations of our heart. So Jesus told us of two loves in John Chapter 3: 1) God’s love and 2) man’s love.

         God so loved the world, but men loved the darkness of this world rather than light. (Jn 3:16, 19)

Jesus said He did not come to condemn the world living in darkness; He came to save it (Jn 3:17). Yes, we all have weaknesses in the flesh, but Jesus came to help us overcome these weaknesses through trust in Him and His message of salvation. If we truly believe in Him and His words, we can and will find hope and a path to our salvation. Finding the truth and living in it frees us from a life of slavery to sin and darkness (Jn 3:21; 8:31, 32). And, instead of death, we will find eternal life—in the very Creator of life itself.

So the relationship between a saving faith and obeying the commandments (which are good and bring life) are complementary, not in opposition (Rom 3:31:7:7, 12).

Some Christians today are critical of True Jesus Church observing the Sabbath on Saturday, even though this was written by the very finger of God as part of the Ten Commandments (Ex 31:18). Or they may criticize True Jesus Church as a heretical cult for asserting that a person must receive water baptism and the promised Holy Spirit as part of the process of a believer’s salvation, even though this was commanded by Christ Himself (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4; Jn 3:5; 20:22). Such criticisms are based upon a misconstrued viewpoint, that True Jesus Church promotes going back to bondage under the Mosaic law, through obedience to God’s commandments, and salvation by acts of faithful obedience.

But if we go back to Scripture itself, we will realize that, although keeping the commandments is not the basis of our salvation, Jesus taught us that keeping God’s commandments is essential to entering into eternal life.[5] This is paradoxical but not contradictory. Jesus was never against keeping God’s commandments (Mt 23:2-3; Mk 7:6-9). Jesus Himself gave a new commandment to His disciples (Jn 13:34). Jesus also taught the great commandment is to love God and man, which implies an obligation and moral duty (Mt 22:36-40; Mk 12:29-31; cf. 1 Jn 5:3).

Like a branch that cannot bear fruit apart from its connection to the main vine or stem, a branch’s fruit is not the source of the connection to the stem; rather, a branch bears fruit due to its connection to the life of the stem (Jn 15:4). So it should be clearly understood: keeping the commandments is not the source of our salvation, but we keep the commandments due to the fact that we are connected to Christ and are saved by and through Him.

Further, some Christians mistakenly assume that since salvation is not due to keeping the commandments, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of how we live and/or if we keep any of God’s commandments at all. Just because we are not under the condemnation of the law does not mean we are free to violate God’s law (1 Pet 2:6; Rom 6:15-23)—just as a person, free from the confinements of jail, can’t go around breaking societal laws and still expect to remain free. Jesus warned that the consequences of not keeping God’s commandments are deadly, especially if we do not turn away from a life that disregards God’s moral law.[6]

Jesus came to save us—from our own fallen nature, so we can be renewed in the divine image of our Creator, and so that we will not perish in a place of everlasting destruction.

Getting our concept of salvation right is very important. We all know there are consequences to going down the wrong path in our day-to-day life. In our spiritual life, it is even more important to make good choices—ones that place our full faith in Christ, our Savior, and His word. Just as important, however, is continuing to strive to keep Christ’s teachings and commandments after we place our initial faith in Christ and His offer of salvation.

There are many other important teachings of Christ concerning salvation. If you’d like to receive more information concerning your path to salvation in Christ, please get in touch with a True Jesus Church near you. Amen.

[1] Mt 5:8, 21, 28; 12:34-37; 13:15, 19; 15:8-20

[2] Mt 6:21; 12:35; Rom 10:8; 1 Tim 1:5; Heb 10:22

[3] Jn 3:15f, 18; Mk 16:16; Lk 7:50; Lk 8:48; 17:19; 18:42

[4] Greek pístis (faith), associated with the verb pisteuō (to believe), can be translated in English as “fidelity”, “reliance”, “trust”, and “belief”.  

[5] Mt 5:18f; 7:23; 19:17; 28:20; Jn 14:15, 21, 23, 31; cf. Rom 3:31; 7:10; 1 Tim 1:5-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 3:23f

[6] Mt 5:17-19; 7:21-27; 11:20-24; Jn 15:6; cf. 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 5:16