When I ask certain change agents, who have swallowed the modern doctrine of salvation by faith alone, what is included in their “faith alone” things get strangely quiet. Since Muslims have “faith” will their faith save them? We get an answer then that it is a certain faith in a certain person, named Jesus. So, they qualify the faith that saves as “faith in Jesus” by pulling in other verses, and rightly so. So, now we need to explore this a little further. Since it matters about the content of faith, can we be saved by believing in a Jesus that the apostles did not present? Remember, Paul was afraid that some brethren had been taught “another Jesus” (2 Cor.11:3-4). What if people are unwittingly taught “another Jesus” and they believe in that Jesus? Will their faith in THAT Jesus be the means of their salvation? Now the issue of faith in Jesus must be explored a little further because faith in the wrong Jesus will not give us real salvation. It may deceive us into a false assurance. We cannot afford to be believing the wrong Jesus and entertain a false assurance.
What are the necessary ingredients of saving faith?
So, now we explore a little further about the content of saving faith. It has to believe the right Jesus and have knowledge of the right Jesus. Does it have to be a faith in the Jesus who came in the flesh? Reading 1 John we find that some were teaching a Jesus who only appeared to be in the flesh but was not actually come in the flesh. What if we believed in a Jesus that we sincerely believe only appeared to be in the flesh but really wasn’t? Do we have enough of the right Jesus to save us? No, John said that a person believing such “is not of God”(1 John 4:2,3). So, we have to know enough about the right Jesus to be able to confess that He HAS come in the flesh. So, the right ingredients of faith has to be in place before one can have fellowship with God.
Now, there are other facts to believe regarding Jesus that are essential to believe before salvation occurs (1 Cor.15:1-6). So, let me pose a question right here. If belief requires knowledge, then it requires the work of hearing the evidence and considering it. Would the belief in Jesus include a knowledge of our sins and why we need Jesus? And, I think we can safely say that belief in Jesus would have to include conviction of our sins and of our need for what Jesus’ death was all about. So, it is safe to say that belief includes “conviction of sins” and “godly sorrow”. Would anyone say that you can be saved by faith before there is godly sorrow for sin? Now, godly sorrow is not a synonym for “faith”, is it? Yet, in all honesty, we cannot say a person has saving faith that does not have godly sorrow as a necessary ingredient of saving faith.
This leads me to another question about what all else might be necessary ingredients of saving faith. If a person has godly sorrow but has not yet repented, does his faith contain all the necessary ingredients to save him? We really need to know also if the Lord might require believing His requirement of repentance is essential to salvation. IS THAT POSSIBLE? Could it be possible that saving faith MUST have the essential ingredients of godly sorrow AND repentance? Can one really “believe” in Jesus who commanded repentance, and not repent? Or, does true faith require repentance before one is “accounted righteous”? Jesus said “except you repent, you will all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3). Can a person really “believe” in Jesus and be saved before they have decided to leave a life of sin and turn to God? Since repentance is a change of the mind and will, can a person possess saving “faith” before they change their mind and will about sin and God? If not, then repentance is an essential ingredient of the kind of faith that connects us to salvation.
Now, if a person can see that godly sorrow and repentance are indeed necessary ingredients to saving faith, then it should be easy to see why Peter told the sin-convicted Jews on Pentecost to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins”(Acts 2:37-38). Here, we can see that repentance is a necessary ingredient of “faith in Jesus Christ”. In other words, a person who believes in Jesus must possess these necessary ingredients of saving faith.
Remember, faith in Jesus without believing specifically that he “came in the flesh” does not possess the necessary ingredients of the faith that saves. The faith that saves has to have the right ingredients. Faith without believing what Jesus said about repentance is not the faith that possesses the necessary ingredients of saving faith. But, now we see also that baptism is the point in faith where a person buries the old sinful man with Jesus (Rom.6:3-5) and has faith that God will operate to cut away sins (Col.2:12; Acts 2:38; 22:16). This is the point in faith where a person becomes “united together with Christ”(Rom.6:4-5). Do you believe this just as Paul did? Or, do you believe “another Jesus” (2 Cor.11:3-4) that does not teach this?
So, it should be easy to see that scriptural baptism is “for remission of sins” and to “wash away sins” because in being “united together with Christ in baptism”(Rom.6:4-5) we then make the connection with His blood that becomes applied to our account at this moment in saving faith. Thus, repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus are also necessary and essential ingredients of “faith in Jesus”. This is why Paul said that “you are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For (because) as many of you as were baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ”(Gal.3:26-27). This is the point of entering into relationship with God. This is the moment and the ingredient in faith where the connection to the blood is exchanged in the divine books. The question is whether you really believe Jesus in these matters. Can you truly believe in Jesus without the necessary ingredients that HE says is the moment of unity with Him? Did the Lord promise remission of sins without these necessary ingredients? Or, did some people who did not believe Jesus’ words make that promise in spite of what Jesus said?
Remember, if “another Jesus” is teaching that one is saved before and without repentance, you cannot afford to believe that Jesus or that preacher. The right Jesus said, “He that believes AND is baptized shall be saved”(Mark 16:16). Do you believe what He said? If not, how can you claim to believe in Him? You cannot afford to get this wrong. Believe the scriptures. Let the scriptures correct your views and your faith. It DOES matter what the ingredients are in your faith. –Terry W. Benton