We often hear the phrase, “Faith Saves”. What precisely does that mean? “Saved by grace through faith” is a Biblical concept, to be sure, but it is often framed in such a way that it becomes a “do-nothing” salvation. False teaching has been carried throughout generations in this manner on the basic plan of salvation. Often, there is little consideration for the kind of Faith that is required for Salvation to occur. Is it just a “mental assent”, in agreeing that Jesus is the Son of God, and that God raised Him from the dead? Is it just simple belief, or is it something more?
The only kind of faith that will play any part in our salvation is a living faith. If our faith is not living, we don’t have the faith that Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:8 (“For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”). In James 2:14-26, we see the need for works in our faith. Works are not a separate thing; true, biblical, living faith is shown in the obedience we display in following Christ.
This message is consistent in the entire Bible. In Number 21:4-9, the Israelites were commanded to look upon a brass serpent to be healed of venomous snake bites. In Joshua 6:1-21, the Israelites had to walk around Jericho 13 times in 7 days, blow the horns of rams, and shout so that the walls would fall down and the city could be taken. In both of these examples, we see actions that would not immediately make sense to us were we in their shoes. A living faith does not question whether everything makes sense; only that God has given the command.
Understand that salvation is not achieved through out works. It is only God’s grace that saves us. God has given us conditions to fulfill so that His grace can be bestowed upon us, however. Galatians 3:26-27 reveals that in order to be a child of God, we must be baptized in Christ, clothed in Him. This is simply one of the things that God has given us in order to manifest a living faith in Him.
As we have seen, the faith of the Bible is not just a mental activity; it involves our whole being. If we seek to have a faith that is alive, we will do whatever God expects of us; if our faith is dead, we will do nothing. -Steven McCrary