Salvation 2: faith, mankind's response

List of Studies

1. Introduction

In study: ‘Salvation 1: God and Saviour’,2 we see mankind’s great need of salvation, and that mankind is helpless in sin.  Consequently, we can contribute nothing to our salvation - we must rely entirely upon God.

In the introduction to that study, we see how God longs to save mankind.  In fact, the most important issue facing all of us is how to respond to God’s loving plea to turn to Him (Zec 1:3).

However, as much as God desires to save us He will not save a single soul unless they consent to be saved.  Christ Stands at the door of the heart and knocks (Re 3:20) but does not enter unless invited.  To allow Christ entry into the Heart is true conversion.

Here, we address how mankind must consent to be saved, and also the end result of doing so.  

First, we must understand precisely who will be saved. 

Note. The Scriptures given in this study are not exhaustive, but are representative of the topic.

2. Who will be saved?

2.1 All Israel will be saved

Ro 11:26  And so all Israel shall be saved…

To understand this text, we must understand what the apostle Paul means by Israel.

Ro 9:6  Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 

Ro 2:29  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. 

Not everyone who is of the nation of Israel (i.e. a Hebrew) is of Israel. One must be a Jew inwardly, i.e. one who’s heart of sin has been ‘circumcised’ (changed) by faith in God’s promise of salvation.  

Before the Cross, the faith of the 'inward' Jew was in the Messiah to come. After the Cross, the faith of the ‘inward’ Jew was, and is, in Christ, the Messiah already come.

The nation of Israel was raised by God to be His messenger - to tell the whole world about salvation, and to be an example of godliness:

De 14:2  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. 

The Apostle Paul likens Israel to a cultivated olive tree, the root of which is Holy, and he likens  Gentiles to a wild olive tree.

After the Cross, the Gospel of salvation went also to the Gentiles. Because of unbelief, some of the branches were broken off the cultivated olive tree (Israel), and branches of the wild olive tree (Gentiles) were ‘grafted in’:

Ro 11:17  And if some of the branches be broken off [because of unbelief - Verse 20], and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 

Since the Cross, all the peoples of the world have been regarded By God as the same, that He might save them all:

Ro 11:32  For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. 

Ga 3:6,7  Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 

7  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 

Abraham was made the father of many nations (Ge 17:5)), and all nations of the Earth are blessed by Abraham’s obedience (Ge 22:18).

All Israel: they are therefore those from every nation on Earth who are of faith and are thus ‘inward’ Jews - they comprise spiritual Israel.

As Abraham is their father (Ro 4:16), all those of faith (both Jew and Gentile alike)  inherit a legacy from him.  

2.2 Abraham’s legacy - accounted for righteousness

Because He believed God’s promise, Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness.

Ge 15:5,6  And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 

6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 

Ro 4:3  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 

The inheritance of Abraham’s children is to be regarded by God in the same way as Abraham was regarded by God - that is, they also have their faith accounted to them for righteousness.

All, from every nation and every age, who put their trust in God's promise of salvation are Abraham's children and receive the same inheritance.

At the time he was counted as righteous Abraham was not a Jew - he was not yet the father of many nations (Ge 17:5).

Thus salvation was not granted to a Jew, and salvation therefore was never exclusively for the nation of Israel - it was, and is, from Adam to this day, granted to all who are of faith - both Jew and Gentile alike.

A saving faith in Christ is incumbent upon both Jew and Gentile alike.

Ep 3:6  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 

Ga 3:14  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 

Christ died outside the gates of Jerusalem (He 13:12), symbolizing that He died for all mankind, not for the Jews only.  Furthermore, the inscription on Christ’s cross was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (Jn 19:20), the main languages of the day, confirming Christ died for all mankind. 

Spiritual Israel: Gentiles and Jews are equally worthy in Christ of salvation.  Christ paid the penalty for sin for all mankind, and if they are repentant, all (both Jew and Gentile) are counted as spiritual Israel.  Thus indeed all (spiritual) Israel will be saved.

2.3 The greatest question of all - requiring an active response

It is true that we can do nothing of ourselves to contribute to our salvation.  However, God expects us to respond actively to His offer of salvation.  The Apostle Paul and Silas were asked the most important and greatest question of all time:

Act 16:30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 

We must understand what we must do to be saved - the answer is given, from Scripture, in the next section.

3. Our part – what we must do to be saved

3.1 Love God

This is the first criterion - all else stems from this.  If we take the time to consider God (Ps 46:10), the Holy Spirit will stir the heart with a realization of God’s love for us, which leads us to love Him:

1Jn 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us. 

To love Him unreservedly is what God first requires of us:

De 6:5  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

When the heart is filled with love for God, the following steps occur naturally.

3.2 Be sorrowful for sin and repent

We see in study: ‘The Triune God’,6.2 that we cannot come to repentance unless the Holy Spirit first convicts us of sin.  Once convicted, our hard hearts of sin must become broken and contrite:

Ps 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 

God's will: all should repent

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

In Scripture there are many calls to repentance. Repentance is God's starting place with us, and repentance is our starting place with God.

God requires zealous repentance - only heartfelt sorrow for sin is sufficient. 

Re 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 

3.3 Confess

Pr 28:13  He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. 

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

In Scripture, confession of sin, forgiveness, and cleansing go hand-in-hand.

As with repentance, confession must be a heartfelt sorrow for sin - a deep sorrow that we have offended God.  Confessing because we merely lament the consequences of sin will not result in forgiveness.  God reads every heart.

3.4 Believe

Ac 16:31  And they said, Believe [Strong’s G4100, have faith] on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 

This is Paul’s and Silas’s answer to the question: ‘what must I do to be saved’ (section 2.3).

Christ Himself confirms this:

Jn 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Ro 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

1Jn 5:13  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know [Strong's G1492, see - in the past perfect tense] that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 

In 1 John 5:13, 'know' is in the past perfect tense, indicating that belief in eternal life is based on 'seeing', i.e. understanding, that eternal life is settled, and is therefore certain. 

Defined: faith is not mere belief, it is an utter conviction that God's Word is truth. Having faith is placing hope in something we cannot see, but which is evidenced in our experience:

He 11:1  Now faith [Strong’s G4102, persuasion, conviction] is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Origin of: faith is found by hearing (studying) Scripture, in which we find the living Christ, who is the originator of our faith and in whom faith is consummated (made valid and complete):

Ro 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

He 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher [Strong’s G5051, completer, consummator] of our faith…

Justified by: we are made right with God (justified) by faith, not by our deeds:

Ro 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Ga 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

The precise meaning of ‘justification’ occupies the minds of many theologians.  However, we see in Scripture that the Greek word translated ‘justified’ means ‘to render innocent’ (Strong’s G1342)

Thus we may understand simply that the repentant believer, in Christ, is free from condemnation and guilt - of this we may be sure.

Faith is what governs the life of the justified:

Ro 1:17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 

He 10:38  Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

The justified life

We see two things:

1. The repentant are justified by faith.

2. The justified live by faith. 

Therefore the repentant live a justified life, in which justification is a state of being, not merely a single event - it is a state of continuing ‘in Christ’, in which the justified one is a new creature  (2Co 5:17), seeking the things of Heaven (Col 3:1,2) - see section 3.6.

2Ti 1:12  For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know [Strong’s G1492, know - past perfect tense] whom I have believed, and am persuaded [Strong’s G3982, convince - perfect tense] that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 

In this verse, Paul expresses His absolute conviction that He is saved in Christ.  The term ‘know’ is in the past perfect tense, indicating something that is completed and settled.  The term ‘persuaded’ is also in the perfect tense, again indicating settled completion.

Furthermore, Paul's use of the relative pronoun 'whom' confirms that it is his knowledge of Christ as God and Saviour that is the basis of his absolute conviction.

Paul’s faith in Christ is complete and settled - doubt is banished from his mind, he has invested everything in Christ.  All who profess Christ as Saviour must exhibit the same faith - nothing else will do.  Such faith enables the believer to endure all things for Christ’s sake.

3.5 Obey

1Sa 15:22  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 

Ac 5:29  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 

He 5:9  And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Php 2:8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

If Christ, our example, was obedient, then we also should be obedient.

3.6 Forsake sin

Is 55:7  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 

He 12:1  … let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 

Rom 6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve [Strong’s G1398, to be a slave to] sin [Strong’s G266, sin- abstract form: sinfulness].

Paul teaches in this verse that in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sinfulness, i.e. the state of sin, which is the underlying problem from which acts of sin stem (see study: ‘Sin’,6.1).

A slave cannot choose whom he serves.  In Christ, however, we are no longer slaves - we may choose whom we serve: Christ or sin.

Wilful sin forsaken

1Jn 3:9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 

Upon confession and repentance, one cannot continue in wilful sin - for instance, a habitual thief cannot continue to steal, the old life of wilful sin must end.

1Jn 5:18  We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 

The sinner who is born again of God, by God’s power, overcomes wilful sin and the Devil.

3.7 Be baptized

Baptism is the culmination of repentance and faith.  In baptism we are both buried with Christ, and resurrected with Him to new life.

Rom 6:4,5  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 

5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 

Ac 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

Col 2:12  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 

Burial is a complete covering of the body. Thus Biblical baptism is by full immersion - Scripture supports neither baptism by sprinkling nor the Christening of infants (Baptism is valid only after a decision to repent).

In Baptism the sinner is identified fully with Christ. Full immersion symbolizes the full, complete cleansing, in Christ, from sin - no part can be left unburied (unwashed), and thereby left unclean.

3.8 Allow God to create a new, clean heart in you

While baptism is the culmination of repentance and faith, it is also the beginning of a new life in Christ, with a heart that is cleansed of sin:

Ps 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 

Eze 36:26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 

The old stony heart of sin must be broken and replaced with a new heart of flesh, which is Christ living in you:

Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Ro 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

2Co 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

Ac 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 

The greatest testimony to a loving, saving God is the marked change for good in the believer.

4. Must we be perfect?

Mt 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect [Strong’s G5046, complete], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect [Strong's G5046]. 

This verse is a source of concern to many -  they see both their own imperfect condition, and also an apparent contradiction with the following verse:

1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

Additionally, we see in the study: ‘Sin’, section 4, that all have sinned, and that sin is natural to us.  We must then take care to properly understand Mt 5:48 (above), as follows

The Greek word (Strong’s G5046) used in Mt 5:48 means ‘complete’ - it does not mean ‘without sin’, i.e. sinless perfection, for which there is a different Greek word (Strong’s G361, ‘anamartetos’, as in Jn 8:7).  

Thus we must understand Mt 5:48 (above) to mean that we must be as ‘complete’ as we are able to be in our sphere, just as God is ‘complete’ in His Heavenly sphere.

Furthermore, scripture tells us how we may achieve such ‘completeness’:

Col 1:28  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect [Strong’s G5046 complete] in Christ Jesus

We may be complete, not of ourselves, but in Christ only.

Now we see that Mt 5:48 does not contradict 1Jn 1:8, which condemns those who claim they are perfect because they do not sin.

Nevertheless, absolute sinless perfection is the final condition of the redeemed.  Because Christ was made what we are, we can be made what He is: the righteousness of God (2Co 5:21).  

This is achieved fully only when Christ returns to take His redeemed to Himself.  In that moment they will be changed (1Co 15:51,52).  

Until then, we must allow Christ to work in us (i.e. to sanctify us), that we can be as ‘complete’ as we are able to be, now.

5. The end result

5.1 Freedom from condemnation

Jn 5:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 

Ro 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 

5.2 Reconciled to God

2Co 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Col 1:21  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 

He 2:17  Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 

5.3 Peace with God

Ro 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 

Ep 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 

5.4 Eternal life

Ro 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

1Jn 2:25  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 

1Jn 5:11,12  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 

All these Scriptures speak for themselves - there is an eternity of peace and joy in store for those who desire it above all other things.

6. Summary

The free gift of saving Grace is available to all, without exception.  Yet we must consent, actively, to be saved.  

God has presented each one a lifeline - as individuals we must reach out and grasp that lifeline.  

We must first love God with all our being, then repent of sin and believe in Christ as Saviour, and demonstrate our repentance and faith by being baptized.  We must then begin a new life by allowing God to change us into Christ’s image.

If any are lost, it will be by their own hand because they will have refused to allow God to save them.  It is in our own hands - life or death - choose life (De 30:19).

List of Studies