WHAT IS FAITH?


DEDICATED TO GOD

WHO GAVE US THIS DIVINE TRUTH ABOUT FAITH

 

What Is Faith?
Faith Means Living The Truth
Faith Means Living In Obedience
Faith Means Devotion
Faith Means Discipleship
Faith Means Being In One With Christ
Living Faith Needs To Grow
Once Saved, Always Saved?
Our Faith Comes From God
The Fruit Of Faith
God’s Grace Does Not Diminish Our Personal Responsibility
Summary

 

What Is Faith?

Faith is a complete trust, confidence and reliance in God. It is a firm belief without proof, a yearning from the bottom of one’s heart for God’s kingdom to come. It means absolute allegiance, loyalty and fidelity to God no matter under what circumstances.

We are justified by faith alone. But many confuse “faith alone” with “the faith that is alone.” They think that work is unnecessary, obedience is optional and one can be justified by an empty belief that results in no fruit. Their logic is that since we are not justified by works, we don’t even need to make any effort to do God’s work. By their doctrine, being unfaithful, lax, worldly or even submitting to sin will not affect one’s salvation. This widespread doctrine interprets “justification by faith alone” as “justified by faith plus nothing,” by which they mean one can be justified without a love for God, without a hatred for sin, without any effort to keep God’s commandments, without any desire to do God’s will, without any sense of responsibility to defend God’s truth. They teach that one can be as carnal as the world, as long as he had a moment of accepting the fact that Christ died for our sin and was raised up to heaven from death, he is justified. This false faith is a deception from Satan in man’s sinful heart. People who hold on to this false religion prove that they have an unsanctified heart and they do not belong to God. They will be condemned as ungodly and held guilty in the Judgment Day for their willingness to accept a lie rather than the truth, as God always looks into man’s heart.

In Romans Chapter 2 it is written: “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8).

 

Faith Means Living The Truth

It is written, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17, bold emphasis added) Faith does not just mean knowing the truth, intellectually accepting the truth, proclaiming the truth, rejoicing with the truth. Most importantly, it means living the truth. It is to exercise God’s principle in every part of life. It is to put the knowledge of God to work. It is not just a momentary sentiment, but a life-long commitment and practice in every deed we do.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17). “You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:20).

 

Faith Means Living In Obedience

To live in obedience means to actively obey Gods commandments. Not only is Christ our savior, He is also our sovereign Lord. To have faith in Jesus Christ means to submit our lives to His lordship and do what He commands us to do.

True faith is the determination to be obedient to God in one’s life. True faith always comes with a desire to do God’s will. It will inevitably result in fruitfulness in terms of good works. Does obedience to God mean we are justified by good works? No, we are justified by the faith, which inevitably produces good works.

When God told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac as a burnt offering to God, Abraham single-heartily obeyed God. Because of this, God was pleased with him and counted him as righteous. True, God counted Abraham as righteous not because of the outcome of his work, since Abraham did not accomplish that work, which was sacrificing his son as a burnt offering. When he took Isaac to the mountain and was about to slay him, God stopped him, and provided him a lamb as the substitute. But it was his complete trust that pleased God. This trust (or faith) was vindicated or proved by his single-minded obedience to God in his action.

The Gospel from God is a call to obedience, as the apostle Paul put it in the very opening chapter of the Book of Romans: “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” (Romans 1:5, bold emphasis added).

Obedience and faith are so inseparable that the Bible often used them interchangeably. For example, in talking about salvation, the author of Hebrews says:

“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3, bold emphasis added).

“Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:16-19, bold emphasis added).

“For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” (Hebrews 4:2, bold emphasis added. Many manuscripts translate the bold part as: because they did not share in the faith of those who obeyed)

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11, bold emphasis added).

So we can see from this that the one who is disobedient is counted as disbelieving and faithless.

Someone may argue from Roman 3:28: “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Romans 3:28). Some evangelists interpret this verse to mean that a Christian need not keep God’s commands or live a holy life because he is justified by faith alone. They are totally wrong. The very meaning of faith includes living a holy life in obedience. The whole purpose of the book of Romans is to call people to the obedience that comes from faith (see Romans 1:5, Romans 12 to 15).

What did Paul mean here? Did he really teach that we do not need to keep God’s commands? By no means! From the context of Romans 3:28 we see that Paul was talking about circumcision. He was opposing the Jews who insisted that salvation came from keeping the written code of rules and traditions apart from faith. Read the following sentences in the same chapter:

“Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:29-31).

From Romans 2:17-29 we can see the same point:

“No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:29).

Again, in 1 Corinthians:

“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.” (1 Corinthians 7:19, bold emphasis added).

Did Paul teach by Romans 3:28 that we are free to live according to our sinful nature, that submitting to sin will not affect our salvation? Absolutely not! Consider this:

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2).

“For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.” (Romans 7:5).

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14, bold emphasis added).

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:12-14, bold emphasis added).

Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.

Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith.

(Ellen G. White, “Steps To Christ”, pp. 47-48).

 

Faith Means Devotion

To devote is to give up oneself with seriousness and earnestness, to give up to wholly. Devotion means loyalty and deep affection, ardent love, affection or dedication (Webster’s Dictionary).

Some evangelists suggest that believers should not be told to give themselves to Christ because the New Testament does not teach that. That is an open lie. Our Lord demands our devotion, as Jesus taught: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38, bold emphasis added)

In the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl, Jesus illustrated the gift of salvation: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46, bold emphasis added)

The Saviour’s life on earth was not a life of ease and devotion to Himself, but He toiled with persistent, earnest, untiring effort for the salvation of lost mankind. From the manger to Calvary He followed the path of self-denial and sought not to be released from arduous tasks, painful travels and exhausting care and labor. He said, The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28. This was the one great object of His life. Everything else was secondary and subservient. It was His meat and drink to do the will of God and to finish His work. Self and self-interest had no part in His labor. (Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 78).

Throughout the Bible, all God’s prophets and disciples are devoted people. Start from the Old Testament: Moses gave up all the riches and honors in being a prince of Egypt to become a shepherd in the desert. Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jonah….all devoted and risked their lives to preach God’s Word. In the New Testament, all the disciples gave their lives to Christ and suffered for the sake of the Gospel. The apostle Paul, the very man who preached Grace, is the most fervent servant of God who worked till death to preach the truth of Salvation to the Gentiles.

Martin Luther, the great reformer who taught that men are saved by Grace also believed in total devotion to God. Consider this beautiful gem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, where he quoted Luther to make his point.

The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. In the end all his disciples abandoned him. On the cross he was all alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work. “To rule is to be in the midst of your enemies. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 5, pp. 27-28).

Regarding the living faith, Martin Luther also wrote:

Faith is a divine work in us, which transforms us, gives us a new birth out of God (John 1:13), slays the old Adam, makes us altogether different men in heart, affection, mind, and all powers, and brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, energetic, active, mighty thing, this faith! It cannot but do good unceasingly. There is no question asked whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked the works have been done, and there is a continuous doing of them. But any person not doing such works is without faith. He is groping in the dark, looking for faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, although he indulges in a lot of twaddle and nonsense concerning faith and good works. Faith is a living, daring confidence in the grace of God, of such assurance that it would risk a thousand deaths. This confidence and knowledge of divine grace makes a person happy, bold, and full of gladness in his relation to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit is doing this in the believer. Hence it is that a person, without constraint, becomes willing and enthusiastic to do good to everybody, to serve every-body, to suffer all manner of afflictions, from love of God and to the praise of Him who has extended such grace to him. Accordingly, it is impossible to separate works from faith, just as impossible as it is to separate the power to burn and shine from fire. Accordingly, beware of your own false thoughts and of idle talkers, who pretend great wisdom for discerning faith and good works and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God that He may create faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate. (Bold emphasis added).

Is working for God a noble duty for all Christians? Absolutely! Since God always works through man, it is our divine responsibility to cooperate with God. To work earnestly for this great commission is part of being obedient and is the very building block of our faith. God gives all of His people the responsibility to bear witness for Him and to proclaim the truth about Him. This work is not optional, but the solemn command from our Lord (see Matthew 28:18-20).

Some people may argue from Romans Chapter 4: “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5). What did Paul means here? Did he mean that we are not responsible for doing God’s work? Of course not! Again here Paul was opposing the Jews who believed that circumcision, the symbol of God’s covenant with the Jews, is a necessary work for salvation. In other words, he was opposing their wrong understanding that to be right with God, one has to be circumcised. Paul made clear that Jews were not more righteous than the Gentiles simply by observing the Law of circumcision outwardly; that no one can rely on his own righteousness to gain salvation by observing the code, the only way to be justified is through faith in Christ—who has the perfect righteousness; and that Abraham, the father of faith, is the father of all who believe, not just of the circumcised Jews (See Romans 4:9-12). Paul no where taught that one could be justified by a superficial acceptance of the Gospel that is unable to produce any fruit of obedience.

Some people ask: “How much do we need to do to be good enough?” The answer is, no matter how much we do is not enough, no matter how good we are we are not good enough, because we all fall short of God’s perfect requirement. But through Grace, we are justified if we do our best in faith. God knows our capacity and potential, he sees into our heart and knows whether we make the best effort; no one can cheat God. The one who is given more is expected more. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48). God will not judge us for what we can not do, but will judge us what we can do, because He judges our heart. Take the example of the poor widow recorded in Mark and Luke: “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’ (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus valued the poor widow the most because she devoted all she had to God. Her faith is counted as the greatest.

The people who fail the responsibilities entrusted by God will be condemned in God’s Judgment. Read the Parable of the talents in Matthew 25. In talking about the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said:

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’...

(Matthew 25:14-30).

In this parable, the talents of money represent the truth God entrusts to us. We, God’s servants are expected to put this treasure to work, as the two good servants do. The more truth one is given, the more return is expected from him. The two servants who are diligent are called good and faithful servants. But the one who does not multiply what is given to him is called a wicked, lazy and worthless servant. His fate is: the very few treasures which was given to him will be taken away from him since he took it lightly and hid it away; and he will be thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If we fail to meet God’s expectation due to our selfishness and slothfulness, he will rebuke us, if we persist in our selfish way and do not repent, he will spit us out of His mouth, as he said in the message to the church of Laodicea.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. …” (Revelation 3:15-18).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us all be more diligent to work out our salvation, so in the day of His return, we will be called worthy and faithful and we will be able to stand in front of Him without shame.

 

Faith Means Discipleship

What is discipleship? In its usual meaning, a disciple is a student, learner, or pupil. In the Biblical context, a disciple means a follower of Jesus. (The Liberty Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

Some modern evangelists teach that one can be a Christian without being a disciple. They say: “If believer does not live for Christ, it doesn’t change his or her salvation.“ Such teaching is not the true Gospel according to the Scriptures; it is a false gospel! The most essential thing that sets Christians apart from the world is that Christians live for Christ and through Christ, but the world lives for themselves and by themselves. The Bible says: “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23). We are bought at a price; we are purchased by Jesus precious blood; so how can we not belong to Him totally? If we do not want to give ourselves to Christ, if we refuse to disown ourselves, how then can we say that we are indeed redeemed by Him and truly belong to Him?

A Christian, by definition is an adherent or follower of Christ (The Liberty Illustrated Bible Dictionary). The word “Christian“ only occurs three times in the New Testament. The first time it is used is in Acts: “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:25-26, bold emphasis added). From this text we see that, in the Bible, Christian means disciple.

The Bible teacher, John F. MacArthur shared a powerful view regarding discipleship and Christianity:

The word “disciple” is so much a part of our Christian faith that it hardly has any meaning outside of Christianity. You just don’t hear that word outside of Christianity. It is used 262 times in the New Testament. The word is mathetes, the basic root meaning is to be a learner but it has much more content than that. The lexicons tell us that it means “one who shares a close and intimate relationship with a person.” Quote: “the disciple is one who at Jesus’ call follows after Him. He must observe the will of God and even binding upon himself unreservedly to the person of Jesus, go as far as death and the gift of his life out of love,” so says Leon Defur (?) in his wonderful study of the New Testament language. Discipleship…more than just being a learner, being a intimate follower, having an intimate relationship, following to the point where you would go as far as death out of love. There is no question about the fact that the only message Jesus ever proclaimed was a message of discipleship. The call that Jesus gave was a call to follow Him, a call to submission, a call to obedience. It was never a plea to make some kind of momentary decision to acquire forgiveness and peace and heaven and then go on living anyway you want. The invitations of Jesus to the lost were always direct calls to a costly commitment” (Tape transcript by John F. MacArthur, “The Cost of Discipleship”).

I completely agree with his view. Consider these Scriptures:

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ ” (Luke 9:57-62).

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’ Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ ” (Mark 10:17-23).

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:32-39).

Evangelism itself is to make disciples. The great commission given by our Lord before He ascended to heaven as recorded by Matthew is: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, bold emphasis added). Mark’s account of the great commission is: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16). Luke’s account is: This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46-47). From these verses we see the point, which was excellently explained by MacArthur:

Matthew says make disciples. Mark says preach the gospel. Luke says proclaim repentance for forgiveness and speaks of the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s all one and the same. The great commission then is to preach the death and resurrection of Christ, preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins, call for faith to make disciples. That sums it all up. The mission of the church is to make disciples, to bring people into an intimate relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus. Disciples are people who believe the gospel, people who have turned from their sin to embrace the forgiveness of God, people who have had a transformed life so that they are motivated to obey what the Lord has commanded them. (Tape transcript by John F. MacArthur, “The Cost of Discipleship”, bold emphasis added)

This exact same message was also pronounced by the apostle Paul, in the very opening of the Book of Romans.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:1-6, bold emphasis added).

 

Faith Means Being In One With Christ

In the beginning, man had the highest awareness of God. It was through God that man knew all other things, including himself. He knew all things only in God, and God in all things. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Ethics” pp.21). But by disobedience, the fallen man obtained the knowledge of sin; he came to know good and evil. His eyes were opened—instead of seeing God, he started seeing himself independent from God; instead of knowing God as the origin of all, he started seeing himself as the origin. “He has become like God, but against God” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Ethics” pp.23). Self-interest became the measure and the goal of life. Self-seeking came to be the main principle of man’s entire living. Yet he also fell into death, because he separated himself from God, the true source of life—this is the ruin of man recorded in the Bible. Jesus Christ restored man’s original unity with God. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19). Jesus came to the world, lived and died for only one purpose—to obey the will of God. He speaks and acts not by the knowledge of good and evil, but by God’s will. God’ will is his life and means. “In it the origin is recovered; in it there is established the freedom and the simplicity of all action.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Ethics”, pp.34)

To have faith in Christ means to be one with Christ, to bear His likeness, live and die according to the will of God. No longer living by the worldly knowledge of good and evil, but by knowing Him—our origin and reconciliation—we know all. As one who is without knowledge we have become the one who knows only God and all things in Him. We come to the reunion with God through Him.

Being one with Christ is essential for our salvation. Consider these words by Jesus:

I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:53-57).

What did Jesus mean here by his flesh and blood? They are the Word and the Spirit of God. Consider the following Scriptures: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.“ (John 1:1). The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63, bold emphasis added).

To eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood is to metabolize God’s Word and absorb it into our entire being, so that His Spirit will dwell within us and transform us into the new creatures who no longer bind to sin, but participate in His divine nature. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4, bold emphasis added). Just as that the natural food has to be converted to nutrient that enters into every cell of our body to give us physical life, God’s Word have to be metabolize such that it builds into our own character to give us spiritual life.

When we being in one with Christ, our concentration is no longer ourselves but God; our consideration is no longer our own interest, our loss or gain, but His will and glory. Do not seek the riches and the honor that come from the world, because the Bible says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15).

How could we bear the likeness of Christ when we lived in rich and luxury whereas He came as a meek and humble carpenter, born in a barn? How could we truly identify with Him if we were exalted and honored by this world (as were the Pharisees) yet he was battered, despised and rejected by the world?

Do not be afraid of suffering for God, but rather, find comfort in Christ through suffering. What can make us know Jesus better other than going through the same suffering as he did? What can bring us closer to Him other than suffering together with Him? When we suffer for the sake of our Lord, we know that we belong to Him, and that is all that matters, and that shall bring us joy. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20). All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (John 16:1-3).

Do you ask, “How am I to abide in Christ?” In the same way as you received Him at first. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” “The just shall live by faith.” Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 10:38. You gave yourself to God, to be His wholly, to serve and obey Him, and you took Christ as your Saviour. You could not yourself atone for your sins or change your heart; but having given yourself to God, you believe that He for Christ’s sake did all this for you. By faith you became Christ's, and by faith you are to grow up in Him– by giving and taking. You are to give all,—your heart, your will, your service,—give yourself to Him to obey all His requirements; and you must take all,—Christ, the fullness of all blessing, to abide in your heart, to be your strength, your righteousness, your everlasting helper,—to give you power to obey.

Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.

A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself; it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to His strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty to His enduring might. So you are not to look to yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look to Christ. Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon the beauty, the perfection, of His character. Christ in His self-denial, Christ in His humiliation, Christ in His purity and holiness, Christ in His matchless love—this is the subject for the soul’s contemplation. It is by loving Him, copying Him, depending wholly upon Him, that you are to be transformed into His likeness.

Jesus says, Abide in Me.” These words convey the idea of rest, stability, confidence. Again He invites, Come unto Me, . . . and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28. The words of the psalmist express the same thought: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.“ And Isaiah gives the assurance, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 30:15. This rest is not found in inactivity; for in the Saviour’s invitation the promise of rest is united with the call to labor: “Take My yoke upon you: . . . and ye shall find rest.” Matthew 11:29. The heart that rests most fully upon Christ will be most earnest and active in labor for Him.

When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections—to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices. Many who are really conscientious, and who desire to live for God, he too often leads to dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to gain the victory. We should not make self the center and indulge anxiety and fear as to whether we shall be saved. All this turns the soul away from the Source of our strength. Commit the keeping of your soul to God, and trust in Him. Talk and think of Jesus. Let self be lost in Him. Put away all doubt; dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, “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.” Galatians 2:20. Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him. If you will leave yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more than conqueror through Him that has loved you.

When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

(Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 69-72).

 

Living Faith Needs To Grow

Perfect faith does not appear overnight. Perfect Obedience, devotion and discipleship is a result of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. The more we know the truth, the more we can see the reality of God, the stronger our faith is. The better we know Christ, the closer we unite with Him, the firmer we stand in the time of trials and tests.

The change of heart by which we become children of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth. Again, it is compared to the germination of the good seed sown by the husbandman. In like manner those who are just converted to Christ are, “as new-born babes to “grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15. Or like the good seed sown in the field, they are to grow up and bring forth fruit. Isaiah says that they shall “be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3. (Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ“, pp. 67).

Spiritual growth is essential to our salvation, because it is the only way to sustain our faith. Like all living things, when they stop growing, they tend to die. So does our faith. True, some people physically die just after they receive the initial faith, like the criminal who died on the cross with Jesus, they are saved by God’s Grace through their initial faith. But most of us live longer and are given the opportunity to grow. Yet if we do not actively grow our faith, we are in danger of losing our faith and will jeopardize our salvation.

Some people disagree, they say that it is impossible for a person to loose his faith because it is a gift from God. But their logic is wrong. True, our faith is a gift from God; our life is a gift from God, too. But does it mean that the new babies whose lives are given by God could never die prematurely? If a baby is deprived of food, will he be able to live? If he is not given any care and protection, what is his chance to survive? If no one teaches him how to live, is he ever be able to become a useful person?

Faith is the same way. Faith is our spiritual life. In the moment of accepting Christ, the seed of this spiritual life is planted into our heart by God. It is God who gives it the life energy to grow. But if we do not nurture it, if we do not feed it with God’s word, if we do not exercise it, if we do not take personal responsibility to protect it from the world’s pollution, our faith will inevitably die away. We live in a world that is controlled by Satan, there are all kinds of temptations around us. These temptations may come from external adversities or from our own sinful nature. They can cause our faith to die. For example, our worldly desires and worries may chock our faith; persecutions from Satan’s power may smash it; hardship in life may shatter it; our own negligence may cause it to wither. It may also be poisoned to death by the false doctrines and false teachers’ deceptions. If we do not watch carefully and work diligently to promote our faith to grow stronger and stronger, even though we are saved through our initial faith, we may looses our faith and lose our salvation in the end.

How to sustain our faith, then? To answer this, think about our physical life. We know that to grow our body, we need good nutritious food and a lot of exercise. The same thing is true for our spiritual growth. Three things are important for spiritual growth; they are learning God’s Word, putting it to practice and constant prayer.

God’s Word is the foundation of our faith. A faith that is not based on God’s Word is a blind faith and is dangerous. For this reason, we need to diligently study the Bible. If we do not do so, we will be easily led astray by the deceptions of false doctrines. When Jesus was in the wilderness facing Satan’s temptation, the only weapon He was equipped with was the Word of God. Three times the Devil tempted Him, he answered Devil’s temptations with God’s Word. He answered with a faithful It is written (Matthew 4:4-10). The Son of Man defeated Satan not by manifesting his divine power, not by calling the aid of angels, but by his perfect trust in the Word of God. Jesus set an example for us, who are called to be his disciples, so that we too, can overcome Satan by clinging to the Word of God.

Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven. Jesus declares, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. And He explains Himself by saying, The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:53, 63. Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink; and as in the natural economy, so in the spiritual economy: it is what we meditate upon that will give tone and strength to our spiritual nature. (Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 88).

Our knowledge of the God’s Word needs to be put into practice, so that our faith becomes a living faith. If we do not put God’s Word into practice, our faith will become weaker and weaker, and eventually become a dead faith and collapse. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught: Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27, bold emphasis added)

The only way to grow in grace is to be disinterestedly doing the very work which Christ has enjoined upon us – to engage, to the extent of our ability, in helping and blessing those who need the help we can give them. Strength comes by exercise; activity is the very condition of life. Those who endeavor to maintain Christian life by passively accepting the blessings that come through the means of grace, and doing nothing for Christ, are simply trying to live by eating without working. And in the spiritual as in the natural world, this always results in degeneration and decay. A man who would refuse to exercise his limbs would soon lose all power to use them. Thus the Christian who will not exercise his God-given powers not only fails to grow up into Christ, but he loses the strength that he already had. (Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 80-81).

Prayer is our greatest privilege as a Christian. It is personal communion with God. Yet too often, we neglect prayer. Is there anything sweeter than pouring our heart to our Heavenly Father? Is there anything more joyful than to be in communion with the Creator of the Universe? Is there any king on earth so kind and capable as to allow all his people to access him directly? No! Yet our Heavenly King gives each one of us the direct access to Him! How foolish we are to ignore such a great privilege!

Prayer takes a vital part in our spiritual life. It is our spiritual breath. It is through prayer that we stay close to God. Everyday we face trials and temptations. Everyday we need His Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Everyday we need His loving care to sustain us. Everyday we need His divine wisdom to guide us. We should take all our needs to Him through prayer.

Many people are reluctant to pray because of their lack of faith. They often forget that God is a true and living God, that He is ready to listen to our prayer. When they lack something, they grumble and complain instead of praying and asking. This is a bad attitude. Imagine how offensive it is if we do this to our parents, let alone our Heavenly King? When we pray we should have a humble heart and fervent faith. We should have a confidence in God’s goodness. We should let our prayer be like sweet incense going up to Heaven of His presence.

How much more could we have if we only asked Him? In illustrating God’s willingness to give, Jesus said:

Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)

Some people think that since God knows everything, our petition is not important. This is not true. Even though God knows what we need, he still wants us to take initiative to ask because He is a personal God. In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable to illustrate that we should always pray and not give up.

In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.

When Jesus was upon the earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon Him. And the assurance He gave them that their petitions should be heard, is assurance also to us.

Jesus Himself, while He dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weakness, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, “in all points tempted like as we are;” but as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil; He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer.

Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.

The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching we are in danger of growing careless and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to resist temptation.

(Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 93-95).

 

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Some evangelists preach that spiritual growth has nothing to do with salvation; a person once saved is always saved. I disagree with that.

True, if everyone has a perfect faith at the first moment he hears the word of God, then once saved, always saved; because a perfect faith will inevitably lead to life long obedience and fruitfulness. But most people do not have a perfect faith at the first moment when they hear God’s Word.

For most of us, when we first believe God, we do not know God fully, our faith is weak, and we stumble easily. Our spiritual condition is immature like baby walking. As Paul described in 1 Corinthians: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

Does it mean that our faith is not genuine because it is imperfect? Rest assured: it is not true. Our faith is genuine. We have experienced the truth about God. We recognize that we need God in our life and we love Him from our heart.

Does it mean that we can not be justified by this imperfect faith, however genuine it is? The Bible says the opposite. The Bible says that when we hear the word and believe, we are saved. “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. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.“ (John 5:24-25). It also says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved(Roman 10:13). “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9); “…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned,… (John 3:16-18). So we can see that because of God’s grace we are saved through our initial faith even when it is imperfect.

Does it means that all the imperfect faiths will inevitably leads to a perfect faith, and that once having an initial faith, it is impossible for it to die? No true either. There are many examples and warnings in the Bible about the faith that did not last. For example, in the parable of the seeds Jesus told: A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown (Luke 8:5-8). Then Jesus explained the parable: This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:11-15, bold emphasis added). It is clear that the seed that falls on the rock and the seed that fells among the thorns both represent an initial faith that is germinated but then dies.

The Bible explicitly predicts that many people will loose their faith during a great apostasy near the end time. In talking about the last day in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said: At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other (Matthew 24:10). Also, according to Paul, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Timothy 4:1, bold emphasis added).

Then, does it mean once a true believer is saved through his initial faith, he will remain saved even if he looses his faith and becomes unfaithful? God forbid! In the Book of John, Jesus clearly taught that we would not be saved unless we remain in Him: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:1-6).

Some evangelists, in defending their “Once Saved Always Saved” theory, misinterpret Jesus’ word. They said that if you are a true believer, once you have a genuine faith, it is impossible for you to loose that faith, therefore the branches referred by Jesus that do not bear fruit can only refer to the professed Christians who have never had a genuine faith in the first place; they just pretended to believe. But such interpretation does not make any sense. How can Jesus tell someone to remain in Him unless he is already in Him? And how can a person be in Christ unless he has true faith. To a person who did not have a genuine faith, Jesus should have told him: “Repent, and get the real faith. Do not continue in such pretended faith.” “Remain” means “continue”. If their professed faith was never genuine in the first place, was Jesus saying that the professed Christians should continue in their professed faith? Evidently, it can’t be that way. The branches can only refer to the true believers, since the branches are born from the true vine, Jesus Christ.

Some other “Once Saved Always Saved” adherents say that if a true believer looses his faith and no longer bears fruit, he will loose his reward, but is still saved. They say that the versessuch branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned means the same as the verses in the 1 Corinthians 3:14: “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:14). But how can these two verses have the same meaning? In John 15:6, Jesus was talking about branches being thrown into the fire to be burned up, while in 1 Corinthians, Paul was talking about someone escaping out of the fire from being burned up. (In fact, even the verse in 1 Corinthians 3:14 implies that such person can loose his salvation if he backslide a little further—he will be consumed by the fire.) Obviously in John 15:1-6, Jesus means that the unfaithful will lose his salvation and be destroyed in the fire of the Judgment.

Also, in talking about the last day in the Olivette Discourse, Jesus said: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13, bold emphasis added).

The apostles also warned us again and again to stand firm and keep our faith firmly, because if we become unfaithful, we loose our salvation. Read these:

“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:2, bold emphasis added).

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” (Hebrews 6:4-8, bold emphasis added).

In warning the Christians who were in danger of giving up their faith, The book of Hebrews urged:

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:25-31).

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.’ ” (Hebrews 10:35-38, bold emphasis added).

Jesus told numerous parables to warn us that we may loose our salvation if we are not watchful and diligent in keeping our faith. In the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30, the lazy servant looses his salvation because he fails the divine duty God entrusted him due to his selfishness and irresponsibility. In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the five foolish virgins lost their salvation because they were not accustomed to continually replenishing their vessels with the Holy Spirit.

The most alarming example of people loosing their salvation is the historical record of the Exodus in the Bible. It is the record of the Israelites being led out of Egypt by Moses for the Promised Land. On their way to the Promised Land, they committed grievous sins against God. God poured down anger on them by making them wander in the wilderness for forty years. Eventually most of them died in the desert without seeing God’s Promised Land. Didn’t those Israelites ever have a moment of belief? Yes, they must have. If they had not an initial faith, they could not have escaped the angel of death sent by God by putting the blood of the lamb on their door; if they had not an initial faith, they would not have left their established dwellings in Egypt and risked their life to follow Moses into the desert. As a matter of fact they personally eye-witnessed God working miracles one after another, including the miracles of opening a path across the Red sea for them to pass through, a mighty pillar of clouds by day and an awesome pillar of fire by night. They were in God’s presence so much that they had to know that God was with them at those moments. But they did not act according to what God had given them; instead they became unfaithful to God: they grumbled, worshipped idols, conducted sexual immorality during the time of test. As a result, God poured down His wrath on them. Eventually all of the first generation who sinned against God died in the desert except the faithful Joshua and Aaron. Only their second generation was able to enter the Promised Land.

One “Once Saved Always Saved” teacher says in his book: even though physically they died in the desert without seeing the Promised Land, spiritually they were saved and they will be in heaven. What does the Holy Spirit say?

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” (Hebrews 3:7-11, bold emphasis added).

Some other “Once Saved Always Saved” believers argue: “This example does not apply to us, because it happened in the time of the Old Testament, before Jesus came.” Well then, what does the New Testament say? Read this:

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:1-12, bold emphasis added).

“The righteous will live by faith (Roman 1:17, bold emphasis added). “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (Hebrews 3:14, bold emphasis added). If being righteous in God means to live a life of obedience till the very end, how can anyone say salvation is solely based on a momentary commitment?

Some people argue, if one may loose his faith, we may well just wait till the last moment of our life to believe in Jesus, this way we will have no opportunity to loose faith and salvation. This kind of thinking is foolish. How do you know that faith will be given to you at the last minute before you die? How do you know that you will have a heart to believe in Jesus after you persistently reject His calling? It is not up to us to decide when we believe. Our faith comes from God. As fallen human beings, we can never come to God through our own wisdom because we are totally depraved by nature. God in His mercy leads us to his truth for us to be saved. The only thing we can do and ought to do is to response to His calling when we hear it. As it is said in the Scripture over and over and again: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Psalm 95:7:8, 2 Corinthian 6:2, Hebrews 3:7-8, Hebrews 3:15, Hebrews 4:7).

 

Our Faith Comes From God

God is the initiator and finisher of our faith. It is He who gives us a heart of repentance, obedience and devotion. Therefore no one should boast about his own merits. Faith is a divine work of God on our heart that cooperates with our willingness to surrender into His mighty hand.

Not all the wisdom and skill of man can produce life in the smallest object in nature. It is only through the life which God Himself has imparted, that either plant or animal can live. So it is only through the life from God that spiritual life is begotten in the hearts of men. Unless a man is “born from above,” he cannot become a partaker of the life which Christ came to give. John 3:3, margin.

As with life, so it is with growth. It is God who brings the bud to bloom and the flower to fruit. It is by His power that the seed develops, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. And the prophet Hosea says of Israel, that “he shall grow as the lily.” “They shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine.” Hosea 14:5, 7. And Jesus bids us consider the lilies how they grow.” Luke 12:27. The plants and flowers grow not by their own care or anxiety or effort, but by receiving that which God has furnished to minister to their life. The child cannot, by any anxiety or power of its own, add to its stature. No more can you, by anxiety or effort of yourself, secure spiritual growth. The plant, the child, grows by receiving from its surroundings that which ministers to its life—air, sunshine, and food. What these gifts of nature are to animal and plant, such is Christ to those who trust in Him. He is their “everlasting light,” “a sun and shield. Isaiah 60:19; Psalm 84:11. He shall be as “the dew unto Israel.” “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass.” Hosea 14:5; Psalm 72:6. He is the living water, “the Bread of God . . . which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” John 6:33.

In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.

As the flower turns to the sun, that the bright beams may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry, so should we turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that heaven’s light may shine upon us, that our character may be developed into the likeness of Christ.

Jesus teaches the same thing when He says, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. . . . Without Me ye can do nothing. John 15:4, 5. You are just as dependent upon Christ, in order to live a holy life, as is the branch upon the parent stock for growth and fruitfulness. Apart from Him you have no life. You have no power to resist temptation or to grow in grace and holiness. Abiding in Him, you may flourish. Drawing your life from Him, you will not wither nor be fruitless. You will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.

Many have an idea that they must do some part of the work alone. They have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, but now they seek by their own efforts to live aright. But every such effort must fail. Jesus says, Without Me ye can do nothing. Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness,—all depend upon our union with Christ. It is by communion with Him, daily, hourly,—by abiding in Him,—that we are to grow in grace. He is not only the Author, but the Finisher of our faith. It is Christ first and last and always. He is to be with us, not only at the beginning and the end of our course, but at every step of the way.

(Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ“, pp. 67-69).

Dear friends, if you feel far away from God, if you feel your faith being weak, look upon Jesus, and pray earnestly to Him. Repent of your sin and ask forgiveness. He will use His mighty hand to hold you. He will not forsake you. Jesus said: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-30).

(By the way, the Once Saved Always Saved teachers often quote this verses as a proof for their doctrine. On the other hand, they also tell people that after being saved (based on a momentary commitment) they do not have to follow Jesus. They are obviously contradicting Jesus words. The Lord here was talking about His sheep, who always listens to his voice and follows him.)

 

The Fruit Of Faith

The fruit of faith of is the fruit of the Holy Spirit—the Godly character. It is the opposite of the fruit of the sinful nature, as illustrated by Paul in the following passage.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:19-24, bold emphasis added).

To bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit is vitally important for our salvation. Without the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can not enter the kingdom of God. The “Once Saved Always Saved” believers teach that Christian living has nothing to do with salvation. Many of them boldly claim that even if a Christian indulges in sin and lives as a “carnal Christian”, his salvation will not be forfeited. They often confuse people by many false arguments and sophistries. Here is a short list with refutations:

Sophistry 1:

“Bearing fruit is a human work. We are saved by grace alone, not by works. Therefore bearing fruit is unnecessary for salvation.”

The truth is:

The very purpose of our salvation is to make possible for us to bear the fruit of the Spirit. As said in the Bible: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)

Sophistry 2

“Because God is loving, a person who yields to sin is outside of God’s perfect will but never outside of His eternal love. Therefore this person will not be cast away by God even if he submits to sin.”

The truth is:

Even though God is loving, He hates sin. A person who submits to sin and refuses to turn away from it makes himself God’s enemy. He is putting himself under God’s wrath and subjecting himself to be destroyed.

Sophistry 3

“God is faithful. Therefore even if we are unfaithful and turn against Him, he will still accept us.”

The truth is:

God’s faithfulness means He is immutable in His holy character. It means He will faithfully accept those who accept Him and faithfully reject those who reject Him. It means He will faithfully reward those who embrace His holiness, those who follow the Holy Spirit and will faithfully judge those who disregard His holiness, those who follow their sinful nature. It means He will faithfully sustain those who surrender unto His mercy and turn away from evil and will faithfully punish those who harden their heart and persist in their evil way. Since God’s law is the transcript of his holy character, He will not tolerate lawlessness.

Sophistry 4

“Jesus paid the penalty for all of our sin, past, present and future. Nothing we do can out-weight Jesus’ great sacrifice. Therefore indulging in sin will not bring judgment.”

The truth is:

The very work of salvation of Jesus Christ is for us to turn away from evil and live by the Holy Spirit. If a person continues to live by the sinful nature and becomes entangled in sin, he is rejecting Christ and denying his salvation work. According to 2 Peter 2:20-21, his situation will be worse than an unbeliever’s. He will certainly be subject to eternal judgment.

Sophistry 5

“If a person has accepted Christ as his Savior, he belongs to God’s family. Nothing can change this fact.”

The truth is:

Satan also belonged to God’s family before he rebelled. He turned himself into God’s enemy by self-indulgence and pride. Those who embrace Satan’s principles by living a life of self-indulgence and self-seeking are the followers of Satan. They will certainly be destroyed.

The apostle Paul confirmed that those who live according to their sinful nature will not inherit the kingdom of God:

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.” (Ephesians 5:5-7, bold emphasis added).

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

In the parable of the wedding banquet, Jesus taught the same truth: God does not accept the unrighteous.

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:2-14)

By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess. To the church it is given “that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,” “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Eph. 5:27. The fine linen, says the Scripture, “is the righteousness of saints.” Rev. 19:8. It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour. (Ellen G. White, “Christ’s Object Lessons”, pp. 310).

If anyone persists in sinning and embracing unrighteousness after knowing the truth, he is denying God’s saving power and rejecting God’s sovereign grace with his very own deeds, and he is putting himself under greater damnation, unless he repents and turns away from his sin. As the Scripture says: “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21).

If anyone turns the grace of God into a license for immorality and lawlessness by teaching others the fallacy that submitting to sin does not bring eternal judgment, he is playing with fire. As it is written: “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 1:11-13).

 

God’s Grace Does Not Diminish Our Personal Responsibility

Does God’s grace exempt us from personal responsibility? Does God’s election nullify our free will? Does the foreknowledge of God mean that human effort plays no role in a person’s destiny?

Some theologians teach that salvation coming from God’s grace means human effort has absolutely no impact in one’s salvation, and that the sovereign power of God implies that man is incapable of resisting (or falling away from) the faith given by God. From this they conclude that once saved, it is impossible for a believer to loose his salvation, since God will not permit such a free choice. Such doctrine is not only totally unbiblical but also a lethal poison that can turn people into deep darkness.

If Adam and Eve were capable of falling away into sin when they were perfect, what makes us think we are incapable of falling away, being imperfect? True, God’s grace will empower us to overcome sin, but we are still capable of deliberately submitting to sin if we do not put our will under His will. True, God’s grace will enable us to preserve our faith, but it is still possible that we willfully give up faith if we do not abide in Him. True, God’s grace will equip us to overcome temptation, but that doesn’t exempt us from the danger of temptation. God is the initiator of our faith; but we still need to take responsibilities and to make personal efforts to respond to His gracious calling and to hold fast to the faith He gives us. God’s grace draws us to Him and unites us with Him; yet we still need to take human initiative to cooperate with God.

God never takes away men’s capacity to choose; for when God first created man, He created man in God’s image, with free will so that man is capable of taking initiative, capable of love and communion with Him. God is only delighted in the willful obedience of man that comes from man’s heart, by his free choice. After man’s fall, man’s free will was perverted and ruined. As man fell under the control of sin, he was separated from God; he can no longer exercise free will to please God, but only to against God. Jesus Christ our Savior, who died for our sin and paid for our penalty, through his own perfect and willful obedience, made it possible for us to be restored as free creatures again. So through our free will to trust in Him, which is our faith, we can choose to belong to God and please Him. How can God’s election nullify our free will and turn us into totally passive robots that are unable to choose, but only to be arranged. That defeats God’s own good purpose when He originally created us. God’s will is ultimately higher than our will and we are saved all because of his love and mercy; but that doesn’t mean our heart and our desire is unimportant to him. It doesn’t mean that personal effort makes no difference in our salvation. Jesus said: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24, bold emphasis added). By this Jesus meant that in order to get into heaven, we must make every effort to die to our sinful nature, to conform ourselves into His likeness through constant prayer, constant meditation in God’s Word, and constant practice of self-denial and self-sacrifice.

When we were fallen men, we were slaves to sin. We had no other choice other than death. We had no power to choose freely because we were under sin’s magic spell that prevented us from choosing what is good. As said by the apostle Paul: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:21-24). Thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who redeems us by his precious blood: now we freely receive God’s Spirit of life, which frees us from the bondage of sin. By God’s grace we are now given not only the freedom, but also the power to choose the way of life. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, bold emphasis added).

From here we can see that God’s grace does not nullify our freedom of choice, but restores our freedom of choice. God’s Grace does not exempt us from bearing the consequence of our choice, but gives us true freedom and power to exercise our free choice to unite with Him. We are able to exercise free will in every choice we make, in every step we walk, and in every deed we do. Every time we exercise that free choice, we either strengthen our connection to God or weaken it, and it will affect our salvation either positively or negatively.

Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself; it is hardening the heart, depraving the will, benumbing the understanding, and not only making you less inclined to yield, but less capable of yielding, to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit.

Many are quieting a troubled conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose; that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed. They think that after doing despite to the Spirit of grace, after casting their influence on the side of Satan, in a moment of terrible extremity they can change their course. But this is not so easily done. The experience, the education, of a lifetime, has so thoroughly molded the character that few then desire to receive the image of Jesus.

Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. Every sinful indulgence strengthens the soul’s aversion to God. The man who manifests an infidel hardihood, or a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. In all the Bible there is not a more fearful warning against trifling with evil than the words of the wise man that the sinner “shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22.

Christ is ready to set us free from sin, but He does not force the will; and if by persistent transgression the will itself is wholly bent on evil, and we do not desire to be set free, if we will not accept His grace, what more can He do? We have destroyed ourselves by our determined rejection of His love. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 8.

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart—human heart, with its conflicting emotions of joy and sorrow; the wandering, wayward heart, which is the abode of so much impurity and deceit. 1 Samuel 16:7. He knows its motives, its very intents and purposes. Go to Him with your soul all stained as it is. Like the psalmist, throw its chambers open to the all-seeing eye, exclaiming, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23, 24.

Many accept an intellectual religion, a form of godliness, when the heart is not cleansed. Let it be your prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. Deal truly with your own soul. Be as earnest, as persistent, as you would be if your mortal life were at stake. This is a matter to be settled between God and your own soul, settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin.

(Ellen G. White, “Steps to Christ”, pp. 33-35).

The whole Bible is a call for Man to take initiatives and personal responsibilities to cooperate with God. That is the very purpose of the Bible. God reveals himself though the Bible, so that by knowing Him we can unite with Him. God’s grace does not diminish our personal responsibility but increases our responsibility for our own salvation. Since God has provided everything for us to be saved, it is then up to us to hold fast to God’s wonderful gift. As Peter exhorted:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11).

 

Summary

Dear friends,

Do NOT be deceived by the false doctrine that faith is only a mental assent to the truth. Rather, faith is the total abandonment of self to embrace Jesus Christ. It is the complete surrender to God. Faith means living the truth in obedience, putting our own will under God’s will. It means dying to the world in order to live in Christ.

Do NOT be deceived by the false doctrine that faith is merely a momentary commitment to God. On the contrary, faith is a life-long commitment of obedience, devotion and allegiance to God. Faith means enduring to the end under all circumstances.

Do NOT be deceived by the false doctrine that there is no need to take personal responsibility to maintain our faith for our salvation. True faith upholds our responsibility because it is our free will to continually abide in God.

Do NOT think that faith comes from your own merit. God is the initiator and finisher of our faith. Rely on Him. Give your whole heart to Him. Let Him live in you.

Let us make every effort to contend for the truth, so that we will be able to overcome Satan in the great battlefield of this world.

 

Copyright © 2001 by Come To Christ, All Rights Reserved

This article was written by members of Come To Christ in July, 2000.  You are welcome to circulate this article for nonprofit evangelical or educational purposes.  For any other use, please contact Come To Christ at the administrative section of our forum

 

 

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