BELIEF+OBEDIENCE = SALVATION. The Only Salvation Formula.
Many of us have been taught that belief alone is salvation. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. It is belief coupled with obedience that matters.
Jesus said it continually, over and over, and the apostles and early disciples trumpeted it loudly throughout the New Testament. The Old Testament, just as surely the Word of God, declares faith accompanied by works. It is not just James, but John, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews who declare that faith without works is dead. And dead faith is no faith at all.
So why are we asking for assurance of salvation, when true faith, “saving faith”, as James says, has eluded us?
For fifty years I was a ‘Christian’. And I mean a sincere, Bible-believing, church-going “Christian’ as I thought it was defined. Yet I know now that had Christ come back, I would not have been recognized. Though I had prayed often, and considered myself to have a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’, and had been ‘born again’, yet I was not obedient to the Lord, and lived my life more for my own interests than for the interests of the Lord Jesus. The fruits of the Spirit were few in my life. The fruits of self-will and self-interest were evident, except to my blinded eyes. I had not left all behind to follow Jesus. I was traveling heavy, doing my own thing, but still hoping Christ was there close by.
Many who claim Christ today have the same terrible life, doubled over with hidden doubts and sins, torn by insecurity. That’s because we can’t have assurance of salvation without proof in our own life, which comes in the form of obedience to His commands.
“What good is it, my brethren, 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?” --James 2:14,15
Don’t we hear this?
God is saying to us that we are not saved if we don’t obey the Lord.
Want assurance of salvation? Then obey Jesus in His most basic commands.
That’s what the Apostle John reminds us continually. In his first letter he reminds us over and over that LOVE is the first obedience. And that a man cannot say he loves God without proving it by loving his brothers in practical ways.
Our love for God is proven by our love for the brethren. If you don’t love the brethren, you don’t love God. How else can it be said??? What spirit of disobedience possesses us that we do not hear this?
Our disobedience is the same disobedience Jesus hated in the religious Jews of his time. They figured every way they could around the simple commands of Scripture, in order to do all the little things they wanted to do. They created traditions that countered the very Word of God, and then expected God’s blessings!
The churches today tell us that to be a disciple of Jesus means “accepting Christ as your personal Savior”, and then living a life that consists of church attendance at least once a week, tithing 10% of your income to the church, and perhaps some daily Bible study and prayer.
And with this weak, sickly, powerless religion we are supposed to have assurance of God’s salvation.
Brethren, I declare again the ageless Word that was given us from the beginning, as the prophets gave it, and Jesus fulfilled in His life on earth, and the early Church learned it and lived it.
The man who comes to Christ must “walk as Jesus did.” --1 John 2:6
How did Jesus walk? I would say that is the most important question we’ll ever ask. It should be our constant study, our prayer, our devotion every moment of every day. To learn to walk as Jesus did. To follow His commands, which are simple, and not burdensome.
The reason some don’t have assurance of salvation is this: Many of us who claim to be Christians are not.
We are not obeying the Lord Jesus, and we have settled for some traditional form of “Christianity” that denies the very essence of sacrifice, love, and the power of God in which Jesus walked. We do not have saving faith. We have a “belief system” plus a man-made system of religious rituals that we follow, thinking that through them we will be saved.
Jesus calls us to obedience, which means death to ourselves, and His life lived through us. Paul talks about it constantly in his letters. We cannot serve both God and ourselves. If we do, we are not being saved.
This is the Narrow Gate: Christ. He is the Way. His life becomes ours. Our life becomes His.
There is no such thing as “the Christian life” or a life lived by “Christian principles”. These are phrases that deny the truth, and allow us to live lives of unbelief, patterned after the world.
True discipleship to Jesus is complete self-denial and requires living a life of love and self-sacrifice as He did.
Do you and I have the love of God within us? If we do, we will live a life that is right-side up--meaning a radical, completely committed life that reflects the Lord Jesus and His interests, and we will be a beacon of love and light in the darkness. We will stand against the forces of religion every day, to walk as Jesus walked.