The apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith , and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” ( Eph. 2:8 ). In his letter to Timothy he wrote, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise forsalvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus ” ( 2 Tim. 3:15 ). Clearly, faith is central to salvation. But what is saving faith?
Some people insist that it is simply believing in God as our Heavenly Father and in Jesus as our Savior. Jesus stated, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life ” ( Jn. 3:16 ). Paul wrote,“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved ” (Rom. 10:9 ).
But do these verses really teach that all a person has to do to be saved is believe ? Actually, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he said that salvation is “ by grace …through faith .” In his Romans letter he linked salvation not just to believing in Christ but also to verbally confessingHim. When Jesus issued the Great Commission, on the day He ascended back to Heaven, He said that whoever “believes and is baptized will be saved” ( Mk. 16:16 ). Peter stated, “baptism doth also now save us” ( KJV 1 Pet. 3:21 ). He didn’t even mention faith.
Numerous other passages having to do with salvation speak of something more than just believing as being necessary ( Matt. 10:32; 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27; Heb. 5:8-9 ). In addition, the only verse of scripture that bears the phrase “by faith only”is preceded by the word “not” - “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only ” ( Jas. 2:24 ). That verse also states directly that “a man is justified by works.”
Obviously, salvation involves more than just believing. Faith all by itself, just belief, is not saving faith. James wrote, “…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” ( Jas. 2:17 ).
So what is saving faith? It is faith that is obedient to the point of obeying all that God‘s word states is necessary to come to salvation. It is faith that is active in turning away from sin- repentance . It is faith that is committed to living a life of ongoing faithful, dedicated service to the Lord. It is faith that consistently lives by the teachings of God’s word. Jesus said, “Be faithful until death , and I will give you the crown of life” ( Rev. 2:10 ). Saving faith is not just faith that leads a person to believe in Christ, it is faith that leads a person to obey Christ and live the rest of his life for Him…
Gary L. Hutchens