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)
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.
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.
RECONCILED WITH OUR CREATOR
AND HEAVENLY FATHER THROUGH CHRIST
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
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.
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.
FAITH IN CHRIST
taught about salvation, He emphasized a lot about the heart we need in order to
Faith and trust are related to our heart.
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.” 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.”
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.
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.
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).
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
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,”
(what to do) but do not do (Mt 23:3).
KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
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.
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).
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,
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.