The Bible says sinners are saved by faith. This truth is frequently repeated as a central component of the gospel. For example, the Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:15) “By Him all that believe are justified.” (Acts 15:7) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Christians around the world invite others to place their faith in Jesus so they will be saved. This call to faith raises a question that some struggle to answer. How can faith save a person?
The Bible speaks of salvation as forgiveness of sin, deliverance from condemnation, escape from wrath, redemption from bondage, inheritance of eternal life, adoption into the family of God and reception of the Holy Spirit. How does faith get all this for a person?
In a technical sense, faith does not save. The act of faith itself does not take way sin or confer righteousness. Instead, faith receives what someone else has done to take away sin and give life. Jesus is the One who has done what is necessary for sinners to be saved. Faith receives from Jesus the salvation He purchased by His death on the cross.
Faith that brings salvation accepts as true the teachings of the Bible about God, man, sin and salvation. Faith confesses as true God’s condemnation of sin and His promise of salvation. Faith believes the Bible when it says Jesus is God who became man and then died on the cross. Faith believes Jesus died on the cross for your sin. Faith believes Jesus was placed in a tomb and the third day after His death He was restored to life.
Faith believes these truths and personally applies them to the individual’s own heart. Faith does more than believe certain facts as true. Faith believes the facts of regarding salvation are true for yourself. Faith believes all have sinned and it believes I have sinned. Faith believes I am a sinner and Jesus is my God who died for my sin. Faith asks Jesus to forgive my sin and make me His child. Faith applies the warnings and promises of God directly to yourself.
Faith that saves receives salvation like a person receives a free meal. A person sits at a table and food is placed on the person’s plate. The meal has been freely given to the person but the food does the person no good until it is internalized. The food must be taken in to be efficacious for the person. Faith internalizes the truths of the gospel. Faith accepts the gospel as true and applies its truths to the individual’s own life.
Faith saves by receiving what Jesus has done. Faith is not a work that merits salvation. A person is not saved because believing makes him deserving of salvation. Faith does not cleanse sin. Faith simply receives salvation. Jesus forgives, makes righteous and gives eternal life. The person is saved by faith because saving faith relies fully on Jesus to take away his guilt before God. Faith saves when you personally receive the salvation Jesus purchased for you on the cross.