Belief without following Jesus is simply belief…anyone can believe in God intellectually—in fact even those who hate God can believe He exists, Ex. Satan and his demons. There’s a difference in someone saying I believe in God and someone living out their salvation. The Bible is clear that we must believe and we must follow, but in order to follow we must first be saved.
Pastor J.D. Greear shares his thoughts on salvation in his devotional on jdgreear.com titled “Four Crucial Elements of Salvation.” He concludes that the four most important things to understand about salvation, “the basis, the instrument, the result, and the confidence,” can be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
1. "The basis of salvation is grace."
Without grace salvation is not possible. Whose grace? If this is a fallen world and we can produce nothing good apart from God, then this grace has to come from outside of us. This is God’s grace. Grace must come from the one you are indebted to.
The Creator who knew His creation would turn against Him loved His creation enough to carry out a plan across thousands and thousands of years to deliver them and fulfill His promise through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son on a cross. Death was defeated and eternal salvation was made possible for all those who believed through faith before Jesus’ resurrection and after.
The dead can come to life…this is grace by way of substitution. This substitution—Jesus paying the penalty of sin instead of you—is a gift, and by this extraordinary gift (called grace) your debt has been paid.
Greear points out,
“Notice that little word ‘this’ in verse 8. What does ‘this’ point to? In Greek, the ‘this’ refers back to the entire earlier phrase, including both salvation and faith. God didn’t just offer salvation as a gift; he also freely gave us the faith to believe in the first place.”
2. "The instrument of salvation is faith."
So in order to have faith, you must first receive grace. As Greear expressed, both grace and faith come from God. Saving grace was made possible through a one-time act of substitution, and faith is something God can produce in you through the Holy Spirit. So it is God who opens your eyes to His grace and gives you the means to have faith.
Through faith you believe that Jesus is who He said He is and that He did what the Bible said He did. You believe in Him for your salvation that He alone can remove death’s hold on you.
“Faith is the hand that lays hold of Jesus. It’s the belief that Christ has accomplished it all, just like he said he did, and simply resting our hope on that.
The best picture of this is in the Old Testament—where all the best pictures are. When you brought a lamb to sacrifice for your sins, the priest would put it on the altar. Then, you would reach your hand out and put it on the head of the lamb, and you would begin to confess your sinfulness. As you confessed, the priest would take a knife and cut the throat of the lamb, and the blood would drain out. Your hand symbolized your sinfulness being transferred onto the innocent lamb.”
3. "The result of salvation is good works."
Those who are saved believe in Christ through faith alone by grace alone, and they continue to follow Jesus through obedience and good works. However, obedience and good works are not done in order to receive something or to climb the ladder higher than other believers. Followers of Christ obey and do good works because they are already loved; it is the response of a transformed soul to God’s existing and lasting love.
“We’re not saved by good works; but if we are saved, we will do good works.
That’s because when God saves us, he unites us to Christ and begins to infuse his life into us. There’s no way to be hit with that kind of force, to have that kind of power working in us, and not change.”
James 2:17 tells us,
“ In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
4. "The confidence of salvation is that what God started, he will finish."
God gives us grace and the means to believe through faith, our faith is acted out through good works, which we do in obedience because of God’s great love for us. And we continue to live out our faith for God’s glory because we believe that what God has started in us He will finish. Because God’s promises are true and lasting, we can have complete assurance in our salvation and our heavenly futures.
“When God saved you, he took a righteousness that did not exist in you and spoke it into being. The same powers that spoke the universe into existence began to create righteousness in us.
Which means that all we have to do is yield ourselves to Jesus to let him do his work through us. Christianity is not about us doing anything for God but letting Christ do everything through us.”
John 10:28-29 tells us,
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will 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.”
And Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To read J.D. Greear’s article in its entirety please visit jdgreear.com.
Crosswalk contributor Jaquelle Crowe states,
“Being a Christian means that we love God more. Every day we die a little more to our old selves and live a little more like Christ (John 3:30). That’s why we are called Christians, because we are of Christ, for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ alone.”
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/leolintang
Publication date: April 17, 2017
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.