Recently a member from Mabelvale (Sam Rowlett) and I have been studying with some people from Maumelle that I met through Craigslist.
They attend a local denominational church that is known for doing really good in our community, but they are lacking in the area of authentic worship in the process of becoming a Christian.
Last week we progressed in our studies to the point of discussing how we are saved. They believe that we are saved by belief alone, and that it is not necessary to be baptized.
I thought long and hard about how to approach our study. I re-examined scripture and realized that I have been approaching this discussion in the wrong way.
Normally, I would avoid the following passage that many “faith only” people cling to:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This time I decided to let the Bible speak and listen to what Paul was really saying. The only reason it is even possible for us to be right with God—saved from our sins— is because of the grace of God. Period. There is no way we can “earn” God’s grace. If we try, we will fail.
Paul continues and tells us that in order to receive God’s grace we must have faith. We are saved BY grace THROUGH faith.
Now our denominational friends would stop right there. They equate faith with simply having a belief in God and that Jesus is the Son of God. However, the Bible teaches us that faith is not simply a belief. Faith is a belief that leads you to entrust your life to God. The words trust and follow are fundamental to the way the word faith is used in Scripture.
Therefore, in order to experience the grace of God we must respond to God’s grace through faith. This is where we part ways with our denominational friends. What does is mean to respond through faith?
The only way faith can be developed and grown is through reading, meditation and internalizing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
This may sounds redundant, but faith must believe “that God is and that he is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24), but this belief must lead to life change through following Jesus daily (Luke 9:23).
You cannot claim to live for Christ and openly live an un-repented life (Luke 13:3). When we decide to give our life as a living sacrifice to God, there is a transformation that is to take place (Romans 12:1-2). This transformation takes place through God’s power, but we have to be willing to repent and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:7-9).
You cannot claim to have faith if you are ashamed to confess Christ (Romans 1:16-17). Faith is in our heart but a confession of the mouth must take place (Romans 10:9-10).
Faith Submits in Baptism
Often people think of Baptism as a work. It is not. It is a response that says to God , “I submit to you in humble faith and commit to follow you all the days of my life.” It is at this point the Bible teaches us that our sins are forgiven and wash away (Acts 2:38). Through baptism (immersion in water) we are buried in the grave with Christ and rise to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). We cannot be saved without this action of faith (1 Peter 3:21).
Responding “through faith” does not end after baptism. The Christian lives their entire life trusting and living for God. We were created in Christ for “good works” (Ephesians 2:10) in order to live a beautiful life of faith and trust, as so many have before us.
by Noah Icenhour