The Expository Files

 


 Saved by Faith?

 
 
Forget about what you think you know for just a moment, and take a fresh look at the scriptures. What does your Bible say? Are we really saved by faith?

Well that depends. Faith is a big word. Big in what it can encompass that is. Sort of like the word love. People today often use “love” to describe anything from their affection to their spouse to their affection for a popsicle! So the question isn’t “Are we saved by faith?”, but instead is, “By what faith are we saved?” What does your Bible say?

Are we saved by a “workless” faith? You may have heard the passage “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) So one may be led to believe by false reasoning that we are saved by a “workless faith”. But the context clearly relates these “works” to works of the Law of Moses like circumcision of the flesh. Did you know in the first century church there were Jews preaching you had to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses to be saved? Well there were, and that is what the Holy Spirit is dealing with in Ephesians 2. Furthermore, in James 2:20 “But are you willing to recognize… that faith without works is dead?” Again verse 24 “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” A “workless” faith is a dead faith. So that can’t be the faith of Ephesians 2:8-9. So what sort of faith are we saved by?

Are we saved by a “Confessing Jesus” faith? Many will still claim that all one has to do is “Say this sinner’s prayer” and /or “Confess Jesus Christ as your personal Savior”. Is Jesus our personal Savior? Well, of course He is to those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9), but not simply to those who declare Him to be so (Mt. 7:21). There is Romans 10:9, that speaks of confessing “Jesus as Lord”, but nothing about that “personal Savior” business. So where did that come from? Who knows; but we do know this – that just confessing “Jesus is Lord” is not a faith that saves. James 2:19 – “You believe that God is one. You do well, the demons also believe, and shudder.” But that’s not all they do. A legion of demons also confessed Jesus as Lord – “What do I have to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, do not torment me!” They recognized Jesus as Lord, Master, and pleaded with Him as one pleads with a Master. No, simply a “Confessing Jesus” faith is not one that saves. So what sort of faith are we saved by?

Are we saved by a “good person” faith? Some people truly believe that “If I am just a good person and believe in God then I am saved.” But what does the Bible say? “For we have all sinned…” (Romans 3:23) and that, “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) So if I just have a “good person” faith, will God forgive my sins? Cornelius is described in Acts 10:2 as a “devout man”, that “feared God”, and “prayed continually”, and was generously benevolent as well. But yet, Cornelius still told Peter that God had told him Peter would, “speak words to you by which you will be saved.” (Acts 11:14) So just being a “good guy” wasn’t enough. Cornelius was a great guy, but he still needed gospel obedience. So what sort of faith are we saved by?

We are saved by a living (working) faith; whose works are expressed through obedience! The Lord is returning in judgment against the lost, who are described in II Thess. 1:7-9 as those who, “do not know God and… do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” You may have gone to church all your life, and STILL have not obeyed the gospel if you haven’t done everything God’s way. If all you did was “Say this sinners prayer” or “confess Christ as my personal Savior”, and have not repented of sin and been baptized for the remission of your sins… then you are lost in sin. That’s not what I say, that’s what the Bible says. “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away…” (Acts 3:19) “And now, why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins…” (Acts 22:16) “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you…” (I Peter 3:21) “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (Acts 2:38)

So by what faith are you saved? By a gospel obedient faith. A living faith. By the faith as taught by God’s word (Rom. 10:17). A faith that glorifies the Savior of our lives. Any other faith, and you are still lost in your sins. Act according to the gospel, and there is still time for your salvation. (II Pt. 3:9)

By David Osteen 
From Expository Files 18.8; August 2011 

 

 

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