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.
The Bible says in Hebrews 10:26 that if we sin willfully after coming to the knowledge of the truth, then there is no more sacrifice for sin. Does this mean that those who knowingly commit sin cannot be saved? Does this mean that those who live in sin will lose their salvation? What sacrifice is it talking about? What does this verse mean?
The book of Hebrews was written at a time when Christian Jews were being persecuted for their confession of Jesus. As a result of the persecution, some of them were leaving Christianity to return to Judaism. They were leaving the church to go back to the sacrifices and temple worship. The recipients of Hebrews had known the truth of the gospel, seen God’s working in the church and professed to be Christians. When Hebrews 10 says, “If we sin willfully,” it is addressing the particular sin the entire book of Hebrews was written to address. The willful sin is that of turning back on Christ. The willful sin is that of abandoning Jesus, the church and Christianity to return to false religion, self-righteousness or unbelief. For those who knowingly refused Jesus there was no more sacrifice that could be made for their sin.
Those who left Christianity to return to Judaism were returning to make sacrifices and offerings in accord with the Old Testament. However, “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.” (Hebrews 10:14) What sacrifice could an observant Jew offer for sin if they refused the sacrifice made by Jesus? If the great sacrifice provided by God is rejected, He is not going to accept a lesser sacrifice made by those who rejected His Son. Only the blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) To reject Jesus is to reject the only means of forgiveness. If Jesus is refused as Savior, no other hope of salvation can be found. No other sacrifice for sin can be made.
The warning of Hebrews applies to American Christians today just as fully as it did to Jewish Christians in the first century. The willful sin of Hebrews 10 is the sin of apostasy and is the unpardonable sin. The sin of apostasy is unpardonable because the one who turn from Christ refuses the only means of pardon God provides. If any knows the truths of salvation and refuses to receive Christ or if any walks away from the Christianity they once professed, then no more sacrifice can be found for their sin. No one can give enough money, be authentic enough, change the world enough or do enough good works to make payment for their own sin. If Christ is rejected, nothing else can be done to take away their sin.
Profession of Christ and participation in Christianity are not proof a person is truly saved. A person may attend church, may profess to be a Christian, may appear to be a Christian, but not be a Christian. A person may know the truth of the Gospel and live for a time as a Christian without accepting Christ as Savior. Every year professed Christians, some famous and many unknown, abandon the faith. Those who do so turn away from the only sacrifice for their sin to something which offers no salvation, no forgiveness, no reconciliation to God and no eternal life.
Hebrews warns that those who knowingly reject Jesus as Savior have no sacrifice that can be offered for their sin. No goats, lambs or bulls can be offered to take away your sin. No hope for forgiveness is found except through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. No salvation is available except through faith in Jesus. Any who turn to Jesus and trust Him will be pardoned of all their sin.
Name three words that are heard at church, but rarely heard anywhere else. Words like redeem, partake, communion, eucharist or disciple are rarely used by any one who is not a faithful churchgoer. One of the most important words in Christianity is also a word little used outside of Christianity. Despite it’s foundational nature, “gospel” is a term that is unfamiliar to many
Ask a group of Christians to give a simple definition of the gospel and each Christian will give a slightly different answer. The essential truths will be the same but how they communicate those truths is as individual as the Christian. Some define the gospel with the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Others define the gospel based on First Corinthians 15:3-4: Jesus died for our sins, He was buried and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.
The gospel is the good news of God’s promise to save. The gospel is the message from God to men of how they can be forgiven and have eternal life. The gospel can be defined with wonderful simplicity and yet it cannot be fully understood because of it’s great complexity. The gospel message contains four key facts. The sinfulness of people. The Deity of Jesus. The death and resurrection of Jesus for sin. The only way to be forgiven is through faith in Jesus.
Every person is a sinner and guilty before God. God is holy- free from all sin. He created all things perfect, including mankind. The first two people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Their sin brought a curse on themselves and the entire world. Because Adam and Eve are the parents of all people, they passed their sinfulness to their children. As a result, all descendants of Adam and Eve are sinners under the curse of death. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Man is sinful, but God is gracious. On the same day man rebelled against God, He promised to send a Savior who would deliver men from the punishment of sin. The promised Savior was Jesus. Jesus is far more than a great teacher, a holy man, a beautiful example or an incredible sacrifice. Jesus is God. He is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. Jesus is fully equal with God the Father. God in His grace gave His Son to be the Rescuer of man. “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Jesus became humanity’s Savior through His death on the cross. Because the punishment of sin is death, the only way sinners could be saved is for someone else to pay the punishment in their place. Jesus is the substitute provided and accepted by God. Jesus’ death on the cross was a death in place of sinners. He fully suffered the entire penalty of man’s sin. After His death Jesus was buried. The third day after Jesus’ death God raised Him to life again. Jesus rose from the dead in the same physical body that He had before His death. His resurrection is God’s testimony that Jesus is God and that His payment for sin was accepted by the Father. “Jesus our Lord . . . was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25)
Jesus is the only way man can be forgiven. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) “Jesus said unto him, I am the way tthe truth and the lfie, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) No one can do anything to bring salvation to themselves. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:5) Salvation is entirely a gift of God, never a payment or reward. The only way to receive salvation is through faith in Jesus. Those will be saved who acknowledge they are sinners, believe Jesus is God who died for their sin and call out to Him for salvation. Those who attempt to gain salvation by their works are not saved and will not be saved until they repent of their works and rely on Jesus alone. Any attempt to work for salvation is a rejection of Jesus. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of yoru are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
The gospel is the good news that God gave His Son to save you from your sin. The gospel is the good news that salvation is offered freely to all people. The gospel is the good news that whoever believes and trusts Jesus will be saved. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Jesus claimed to be God. The New Testament claims Jesus is God. The early church believed Jesus is God. Jesus is God. The Deity of Jesus is one of several most important truths in all of Christianity. As important as the deity of Jesus is, does a person have to believe Jesus is God before he can be saved? Is the Deity of Jesus something the Christian can grow to believe after salvation?
The gospel message includes a series of significant facts which must be believed for salvation. These facts include the death of Jesus on the cross for sin, the guilt of the individual, the resurrection of Jesus and the willingness of God to give salvation to those who trust Him. The Bible also teaches a person must believe Jesus is God to be saved.
Romans 10:9 connects the confession of Jesus as God with salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Whenever the New Testament always uses the title Lord to refer to Jesus it is always a declaration of His Deity. The title hearkens back Jehovah, the name of God given in the Old Testament. To call Jesus Lord is to declare that He is God. Romans 10 promises you will be saved if you confess the Lord Jesus. Believing the Deity of Jesus is clearly a condition of salvation.
1 John 5 says that those who are born of God are those who believe Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 says salvation is given to those who confess the Deity of Jesus. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” John 20:31 says eternal life comes through believing Jesus is God the Son. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” These verses plainly declare that believing the Deity of Jesus is essential for salvation. No one can be saved without first acknowledging that Jesus is God.
Likewise, any one who denies the Deity of Jesus is not saved. First John is equally plain on this point. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” Denying the Deity of Jesus is proof a person is not saved, and those who deny Jesus make themselves His enemies. They are antichrist.
The Bible claims Jesus is God. The New Testament gives an abundance of evidence that Jesus is God. If you believe He is God who died for your sin and rose to life again you can be saved.