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.
By David Osteen
From Expository Files 18.8; August 2011