Salvation + Faith
It can be incredibly easy for us to run from one false doctrine into the arms of another.
In an attempt to run out of the grasp of “salvation through works”, we can very easily find ourselves running into a life without works. Both of these extremes are contrary to the truth found in Scripture. The former, because it places our salvation in something other than Jesus Christ. The latter, because it removes our need for obedience to God. When we understand what salvation is, the truths of Scripture will be made all the more clear to us.
scripture does not teach us to “earn our salvation”.
Scripture does not teach us to “accept salvation from God”. Scripture does not teach us to “earn our salvation”. Scripture does not even teach us to “accept Jesus as our Savior”. Salvation is the free gift of God, a gift that comes as the result of the Lordship of Jesus Christ,
“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10:9, New American Standard Bible).
Salvation is not accepted, rather, we are saved when we declare the Lordship of Christ and that God raised Him from the dead.
Salvation is the result of an action and not an action in itself. The act that causes salvation (confessing that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead) is an act of faith. When Martin Luther proclaimed, “sola fide”, (by faith alone) he was acknowledging that salvation was given to us as the result of our faith, and not earned by us through some action. He was not proclaiming that there is no action, but that actions were not the catalyst for salvation.
As explained by James,
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17, New American Standard Bible).
It is our faith that saves us, not our works. But faith in Jesus Christ will cause works to exist in our life. Works do not demonstrate the existence of faith, but the lack of works demonstrates a lack of faith. A life without faith is a life that cannot please God,
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6, New American Standard Bible).
How then can the writer of Hebrews proclaim, just a few pages later, that God is pleased with our sacrifices?
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16, New American Standard Bible).
Because the writer of Hebrews understood the intricate connection between faith and works. Faith *will* produce works. A life without works is a life without authentic faith. It is the works, produced by faith, that are pleasing to God. Again, works cannot, and will not, save a man; simultaneously, faith cannot, and will not, exist without affecting our lives so as to produce works in us.
Salvation is the result of faith.
Faith is dead if works are not present. Salvation is not earned by works but is rather a result of faith -- the same faith that causes works to be present. Both salvation and works are the result of faith, a faith that is authored by and perfected in Jesus Christ