The Faith That Saves – Part I

by The Doctor

“Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that they, too, are evil and unbelieving and are leading you away from the living God. Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of you will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamour of sin.

For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as we did when we first became Christians, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. But now is the time. Never forget the warning, ‘Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him, as the people of Israel did when they rebelled against him in the desert'” (Hebrews 12:13-15).

This part of the Bible raises a question about something that scholar-types call “eternal security.” The question basically goes like this: “If someone accepts Jesus as their Savior, do they ever have to worry about losing their salvation if they do something wrong?” This question becomes even more interesting if we look at it from another viewpoint. For instance, let’s say that someone accepts Jesus as their Savior and then says, “Hey, now I’m a Christian- I can do whatever I want and live however I want because I never have to worry about losing my salvation.” Does that person ever have to worry about losing their salvation?

Well to answer these questions, let’s talk about what salvation means first. What exactly do people mean when they talk about “being saved” in a religious sense? Well in its most basic terms, the word “salvation” simply means “deliverance.” It refers to God’s liberation of people from the problem of separation from Him.

How did people get separated from God? Well, the problem got started when the very first human couple made a choice to disobey God and do something that God had specifically warned them not to do (you can read the whole story for yourself in Genesis chapter three). Unfortunately, everyone since that time has followed the bad example of this first couple in disobeying God in both large and small ways.

Now this might not seem like a big deal until you realize that one of God’s basic characteristics is that He is totally righteous. In other words, God always does those things that are true, honest, good and right. God doesn’t keep double standards and He never “breaks the rules” to favor one person at the expense of another. He always does what is good, right and just (Psalm 11:7).

Since God is totally fair and just, it means that He just can’t “look the other way” whenever someone does something wrong. This means that anyone who breaks the rules has to pay the penalty without any favoritism. Unfortunately in this case, the penalty for doing wrong and disobeying God is death. In fact, the Bible makes God’s warning on this subject very clear and you can check it out for yourself in Genesis 2:16-17.

Now it’s fair to say that most people are likely to think of themselves as “good people” who haven’t really done anything wrong or offensive to God. Of course, this is probably true in the sense that most people aren’t mass murderers or evil tyrants (although The Doctor did have a few teachers who fell into the “evil tyrant” category when he was in school).

Anyway, the problem is that the Scriptures tell us that “…all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). This means that it’s not enough to simply be a “good person”; the standard is that you have to be a perfect person.

You see, there has never been anyone who hasn’t made a mistake, done something that they knew was wrong or said something in error at some time in their life. Everyone, everywhere has messed up and fallen short of what they could and should be before God and we all have failed to live up to God’s standard of perfection.

So the truth is that everybody has sinned- sometimes without knowing it and sometimes on purpose. This is why everyone faces the death penalty for James 2:10 tells us, “…the person who keeps every law of God but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is.”

Remember that God has seen every secret thought, every hidden motive and every shameful thing that you’ve ever done and “…God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). This is why Jesus Christ -who was perfect- took the death penalty that we deserved. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross “paid the penalty” and satisfied God’s righteous requirements for us. Jesus’ death means salvation (or deliverance) from an eternity of separation from the Creator for anyone who chooses to accept it.

John 3:17-18 sums it up like this…

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.”
So if someone is “saved” by accepting Jesus’ death on the cross as the payment for the things that they’ve done wrong, do they ever have to worry about losing that salvation? Well, Romans 10:9 tells us, “…if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The Bible promises that if you do this, you will saved and you’ll never have to worry about being “unsaved.”

You want more? Well, how about the words of Jesus Himself…

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me” (John 10:27-29).
Then there’s this from John 5:24…

“(Jesus said) ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life'” (NIV).
Or how about John 3:16- lots of people know this verse by heart…

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So if you place your faith in Jesus then The Doctor can tell you on the authority of Scripture that you are eternally secure. But what kind of faith is a real, Biblical, God-honoring faith?