Thanks be to God that salvation is in the reach of everyone, whether North American or Central American or whoever. God is not a respecter of persons.
And the kindness of God has made salvation possible for you by a simple system of faith. It is not necessary to be a brilliant genius. It is not necessary to be a famous athlete. It is not necessary to be rich or powerful. Perhaps these things are desirable, but they cannot save us.
Neither can anyone earn salvation by good works. Of course, good works are necessary, but they cannot save us. In Luke 17:10, Jesus says, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” So, it is not possible to earn salvation by good works.
The Bible teaches that we are saved by faith. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Also, in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
These scriptures, then, make clear to us that if anyone is saved, he is saved by faith.
However, the Bible also teaches that although we are saved by faith, we are not saved by a misguided faith.
Only the truth can save us. In John 8:32, Jesus says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth will make us free, says Jesus. No one has been saved by faith in a lie. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls. . . .” How were their souls purified? By obedience to the truth. The soul of no one has been purified by obedience to a lie.
A person can believe in error and be lost. . 1 Timothy 4:1 says, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Question: Can faith in the doctrine of demons save us? Certainly not! Then it is possible to have faith and still be lost because it is faith in error, not in the truth.
In Galatians 1:6-9, we read, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” Paul is amazed that those Christians had abandoned the truth, which can save them, for other doctrines, which cannot save them.
Although they believed, they did not believe that which saves. They were following doctrines that took them far away from Christ, although they sincerely believed those doctrines. We see, then, that although we are saved by faith, we are not saved by a faith that is misguided.
Also, it is true that even though we are saved by faith, we are not saved by faith only. This is clear in the teaching in James chapter 2.
In verses 14-16, James says, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” In these verses, James says clearly that faith without action is useless, unfruitful. It is not a faith that saves.
Then in verse17, James says, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” What does it say? It says that faith by itself is dead.
Then observe verse18: “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” Here James says that faith can demonstrate itself only by works.
Without works there is no evidence of faith.
Observe verse19: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” Question: Are the demons saved? Certainly not! But James says “the demons also believe.” Actually they believe so much that they tremble. But they are not saved because their faith is without obedience. And if your faith is without obedience, if you have faith only, you are no better than the demons.
In verse 20, James says clearly, “faith without works is useless.” We cannot go to heaven with a useless faith! We must have a faith with works of obedience to the commandments of God..
Now, observe verses 21-24: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”
These scriptures say that Abraham was saved by faith, but not by faith alone; he was saved by a faith that acted.
We are saved by an obedient faith that is based on the truth. Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” What kind of faith has value? A faith that works.
In Hebrews 11, the inspired writer gives us some examples of faith that has value. He shows the activity of a saving faith.
Verse 4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain. .
. .” Observe how Abel did not simply say, “I believe in God” and then worship God according to his own will, as Caín did. He worshiped according to the will of God because he had an active faith.
Verse 7 says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” What did the faith of Noah do? It caused Noah to prepare the ark. Noah did not refuse to build the ark thinking that he should not be saved by works. By his faith, Noah obeyed.
There are many other examples in Hebrews 11, but these are sufficient to show that a faith that is pleasing to God is an active faith. These men and women were known by their faith; not a dead faith, but an active faith; not a misguided faith, but a faith that was guided by the word of God.
The same kind of faith will save you. A faith that will save you is a faith that will move you to repent of sin. In Luke 13:3 Jesus says, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” And Acts 17:30 says, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent.” Observe: “declaring to men that all everywhere. . ..” That is you! That is me! “All everywhere.”
Also, a faith that will save you is a faith that will move you to confess your faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus says, “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” How magnificent it will be to hear the Lord confess your own name before the Father! But how terrible if you hear Him deny you before the Father. We must not be ashamed to confess our faith in Christ. We must not be like the men in Juan 12:42: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” What kind of faith did those rulers have? A dead faith! “They believed” says the scripture, but they did not confess Him; they were ashamed to confess their faith in Christ, and in the day of judgment, Christ will deny them before His Father.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Also, a faith that will save you is a faith that will move you to obey the commandment of Christ to be baptized. In Mark 16:16 Jesus says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved. . .” He does not say, “He who has believed shall be saved,” but He says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.” And if we believe in Christ with an active faith, we will be baptized.
After teaching Cornelius and others with him, Peter “ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:48). Observe that Peter commanded it. He did not say, “Be baptized or do not be baptized, according to your will.” No! Because baptism is a commandment of the Lord, Peter did not give them a choice. With the authority of the Lord, he ordered them to be baptized..
Colossians 2:12 says, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” In this verse, we learn two things. First: Baptism is a burial; it is not sprinkling or pouring water over someone. Second: We learn that we are baptized because of our faith in the power of God. Baptism is not a denial of faith; it is a result of faith.
We encourage you to have an active faith. Let your faith move you to repentance. Let your faith move you to confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord. Let your faith move you to baptism into Christ in order that His blood might wash away your sins.