Summary: Only by grace through faith in Christ can we be saved.
BIG IDEA: Only by grace through FAITH can we be saved.
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
REVIEW: I need to be saved because I was born a SINNER and sin’s ultimate consequence is HELL. Salvation is a GIFT to be RECEIVED not a REWARD to be EARNED.
Salvation is a gift from God (there is nothing I can do to earn it or deserve it), but there is something I must do to receive it. I must place my faith in Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul was once asked by an individual, “What must I do to be saved?” His answer was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Faith doesn’t save; GOD saves. Faith allows me to receive the gift of salvation.
What is saving faith? Here are a few dictionary definition of “faith” (Source: Encarta.com).
• Belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof. (Example: I wouldn’t put my faith in him to straighten things out.)
• A system of religious belief, or the group of people who adhere to it. (Example: the Christian faith.)
• Belief in and devotion to God. (Example: Her faith is unwavering.)
• A strongly held set of beliefs or principles. (Example: people of different political faiths.)
• Allegiance or loyalty to somebody or something.
I. Saving faith is more than KNOWLEDGE of the way of salvation.
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).
However, knowledge is necessary.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
II. Saving faith is more than APPROVAL of the way of salvation.
Example: King Agrippa
“‘King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’ Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’” (Acts 26:27-28).
However, approval is necessary.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
III. Saving faith is DEPENDANCE on Jesus to save me.
I must move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Bible to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person.
In today’s world, “trust” might be a better word than “belief” or “faith.”
We can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it.
Example: I can believe that 4 times 4 equals 16 without that affecting my life in any way.
The word “faith” is sometimes used today to refer to an almost irrational commitment to something in spite of strong evidence to the contrary, a sort of irrational decision to believe something that we are sure is not true!
Example #1: Many people still do not believe that man landed on the moon despite the evidence. (NASA’s recent admission that they have lost the original recordings of the moon landing has only fueled suspicion by conspiracy theorists.)
Example #2: “Keep the Faith” was used as a slogan for the Boston Red Sox before they won the World Series. Red Sox fans had no reason to have faith in their team. They had been let down so many times in the past.
Someone has said, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.”
The word “trust” is closer to the biblical idea, since we are familiar with trusting people in everyday life. The more we get to know a person, and the more we see in that person a pattern of life that warrants trust, the more we find ourselves able to place trust in that person to do what he or she promises, or to act in ways that we cay rely on. That’s how it is with trust (dependence, confidence) in Jesus.
John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Here John uses a surprising phrase when he does not simply say, “whoever believes him” (that is, believes that what He says is true and able to be trusted), but rather, “whoever believes in him.” The Greek phrase could also be translated “believe into him” with the sense of trust or confidence that goes into and rests in Jesus as a person.
Saving faith is PERSONAL TRUST in Christ, not just belief in facts about Christ.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).