In this week’s article, we will pick up where we left off last time concerning the loopholes that people often invent regarding SALVATION. Let’s examine another of these popular loopholes:
LOOPHOLE #2 – “The Bible says that all I have to do is believe in Jesus to be saved, so that’s all I’m doing.”
This is basically the opposite of our previous loophole. This line of thinking suggests that our good works have NOTHING to do with accepting/receiving salvation. This concept is commonly referred to as “faith only” salvation, which can admittedly be a somewhat “fuzzy” concept, and varies in its meanings within our current religious landscape. Because of the wide spectrum of thought that might be included in this idea, it is something that must be dealt with biblically and carefully. This means that our treatment of this issue within the scope of this article will obviously not be exhaustive.
Again, let’s start with the TRUTH contained in this statement: it is TRUE that belief in Jesus is absolutely ESSENTIAL to salvation! According to the Bible, it is “impossible to please” God without faith (Heb. 11:6), and salvation is promised ONLY to those who DO believe that Jesus was/is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24; Jn. 3:16; etc.).
Belief and faith are absolutely indispensable components when it comes to accepting/receiving the salvation that comes through Christ!
However, let’s notice a few things that might need a closer look…
The first problem with this perceived loophole is that many people attempt to DEFINE “belief” and “faith” using their own parameters, instead of submitting to what God has to say. Let’s notice a few key passages regarding these issues:
- 1.Faith without works is DEAD – James tells us, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” The implied answer is, “No. It can’t.” James further explains in verse 17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Here we find at least ONE thing that must accompany our faith, otherwise it becomes worthless, “useless” (Js. 2:20), and ineffective! In other words, you and I are not allowed to define faith apart from God’s definition, and His definition involves WORKS!
- 2.True faith is manifested BY works – In Hebrews chapter 11, we have a host of examples from human history of how faith WORKED in the lives of the people who had it. Faith, as we saw in the book of James, was never intended to be unaccompanied by the visible, observable, and evident signs of its presence in someone’s life. According to this amazing chapter, faith “offered,” “constructed,” “obeyed,” “refused,” “left,” “conquered,” “escaped,” and “suffered.” Anyone who thinks that faith is some fuzzy, subjective concept that exists apart from an active and changed life has never truly studied God’s Word!
Secondly, faith and belief in Jesus Christ are NOT the only things that God prescribes as prerequisites for receiving salvation. Here are a couple of examples (again, this list is not exhaustive):
- 1.Repentance – Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; etc. – If Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” and He says it TWICE in one passage, what does that mean? If Peter tells the hearers of the very first gospel message that they must “Repent and be baptized every one of you…for the forgiveness of your sins,” what does that mean? It means that faith alone must NOT be enough if we want to receive salvation! Without true repentance, I can’t/won’t receive God’s salvation, whether I have faith or not!
- 2.Baptism – I Pet. 3:21; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3ff; etc. – There is perhaps no issue among Christianity that is more controversial than the issue of baptism. Many within Christendom teach that baptism is an “outward sign of inward grace,” and that salvation happens BEFORE this symbolic event. The Bible, however, does not teach this to be true. Interestingly, baptism does not seem to have been an issue among the 1st century churches. While baptism is mentioned, explained, demonstrated, and referred to CONSTANTLY within the pages of the New Testament, none of the inspired writers ever needed to settle a dispute or argument about it among God’s people! It seems as though it was pretty simple: if a person wanted to be saved, he/she understood that they had to be baptized. As Ananias told Paul, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). Evidently, even if a person had faith and was willing to repent, he/she still needed to be “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). If the Bible teaches that I am baptized into Christ, how could I possibly be “in Christ” before I am baptized?
There is much more that could be said on this issue, but perhaps these few explanations will at least cause us to study God’s Word further on the subject. May God help us all to seek truth, and to submit to HIS plan regarding the precious salvation that He has made possible for all of us!