By Grant Phillips
The Bible makes it very clear we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and there is no other way to be saved. (John 14:6)
What does “to be saved” mean? It means to be born again. (John 3:3)
What does “to be born again” mean? It means to be born spiritually into the family of God. (John 3:5-8)
How is one saved? He/she is saved by God’s grace of accepting our faith in His Son Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin. (Ephesians 2:8-9) When we are lost, we are locked in Satan’s slave market of sin, but by putting our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Jesus buys us from that slave market, frees us, and adopts us as His own. In effect, we trust Him to save us and He does, becoming our Savior and Lord.
As our Savior, we worship Him because He saved us by us own shed blood that paid all our sin debt. He bought us in other words.
As our Lord, we serve Him out of gratitude and love.
If He saved us by faith, it is reasonable to assume we live for Him each day the same way … by faith. Actually, it’s more than an assumption, it is true.
Most people believe we must do something to be saved. We must add something to faith, but that is not what God says.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Another problem arises, and that is, so many people who are actually saved think they must do something to keep being saved. The Bible teaches just the opposite though. Why would any rational person think that God uses our faith to save us by His grace, and then decides to keep a tab of our works to determine if we remain saved?
Martin Luther wrestled with Romans 1:17 for years. Due to his Catholic indoctrination, he just could not separate faith and works, until one day it finally hit him. It wasn’t HIS righteousness that saves, it was JESUS’ righteousness. (Nothing has changed.) Then on October 31, 1517 he posted his 95 thesis on the church door of Wittenberg, Germany. From that point on, his life of misery became a life of inner peace.
At this point I am going to provide a list of Scriptures just showing those that have the phrase “by faith” and what “by faith” is referring to in each Scripture.
Acts 15:9 purifying their hearts by faith
Act 26:18 sanctified by faith
Romans 1:17 faith to faith; live by faith
Romans 3:22 righteousness of God by faith
Romans 3:28 justified by faith
Romans 3:30 justify circumcision by faith and uncircumcision by faith
Romans 5:1 justified by faith
Romans 5:2 access by faith
Romans 9:32 (Israel) sought it (law of righteousness) not by faith
Romans 11:20 stand by faith
2 Corinthians 1:24 stand by faith
2 Corinthians 5:7 walk by faith
Galatians 3:11 live by faith
Galatians 3:22 promise by faith
Galatians 3:24 justified by faith
Galatians 3:26 children of God by faith
Galatians 5:5 hope of righteousness by faith
Ephesians 3:17 Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith
Philippians 3:9 righteousness by faith
Hebrews 10:38 live by faith
And then in the following passages the writer of Hebrews mentions a few who lived by faith:
Hebrews 11:4 Abel
Hebrews 11:5 Enoch
Hebrews 11:7 Noah
Hebrews 11:8 Abraham and Sarah
Hebrews 11:20 Isaac
Hebrews 11:21 Jacob
Hebrews 11:22 Joseph
Hebrews 11:23 Moses’ parents
Hebrews 11:24 Moses
Hebrews 11:31 Rahab
Hebrews 11:32 Others
None of these people were without sin. Not one of them is perfect, but they are God’s people. How is that? Could it be that their lives were in God’s hands and it was up to God to guarantee they remain there?
My point is we are saved by faith and as a Christian we live each day by faith. That does not mean that if our faith is weak one day we are in trouble of losing it all. We can no more be unborn spiritually than we can be unborn physically. Once we are saved, we are always saved, held in God’s strong grasp.
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)
Once saved, we are sealed by God with His own Spirit to keep us, teach us and guide us.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
“But what about James 2:24,” someone says? Now if I could ask a question, “Did you read it all, or just that one verse?”
The Bible was not written with man’s interruption. It was written by the Holy Spirit using different men over a long period of time to write the words of God.
“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.
“For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)
With that in mind, GOD NEVER CONTRADICTS HIMSELF. Everything God wrote for us through Moses will agree with everything He wrote for us through the apostle John. Everything Jesus said in the Gospels agrees perfectly with the rest of His word.
Therefore, there is no disagreement between James 2:24 and Galatians 2:16 (for example). The problem is with our interruptions. God speaks plainly and clearly, but we can’t read one little verse and take it out of context. We must read it all. If we can’t understand something in the Bible, we need to keep studying it and ask for His guidance.
We are spiritually born by faith in Jesus Christ … plus NOTHING. We live each day the same way. God does the saving and keeping. Our part is, “just trust Him.”
Do works ever count in our life as something God acknowledges? They most certainly do, but only after we’re saved. Please remember this: When we are saved, we then have a relationship with God. He becomes our Father, our Savior and bridegroom and the Deposit guaranteeing that relationship never changes. Also, because of that relationship we can now fellowship with Him. So now as a new Christian, two things exist between us and God; (1) relationship and (2) fellowship. We are now in the family of God (relationship) and we can interact (fellowship) within the family of God.
Let me give an example.
When you were born, you automatically had relatives, those you are related to, such as your parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. That is a relationship.
Now that you are in that family you have interactions between you and your family members throughout your life. That is fellowship.
You may be a rapscallion, but you will always have that relationship. Your fellowship may suffer, but you cannot change the relationship.
What do parents expect of their children? They expect the children to trust them and follow their leadership. Do they always do that? No, but they are still their children.
If we are in God’s family, the relationship will never be broken, but He expects us, as His children, to trust Him and follow His leadership. Do we always do that? No, but we are still in the family, even though we hurt our fellowship with Him. This is exactly why the Lord had the apostle John write these words:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
He wants us to live by faith just as we trusted Him to save and keep us. When we fall, come to Him, admit it, and ask forgiveness to restore the fellowship, and then continue living by faith.