Romans 10:9-10 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
While I am no Calvinist, John Calvin once said, “Faith alone saves, but the kind of faith that saves is not alone.” Now make no mistake about it. Jesus saves. Jesus alone saves. That’s not just true, that’s the truest of the true. But He saves those who have “Faith” in Him. The great danger of our day, and any day for that matter is the issue of what kind of faith does He receive in order to save. When He said, “He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live;” what kind of believing was He talking about?
For many years now there has been a battle between two competing philosophies that have given labels to each other, and those labels have stuck. There is a theological belief that has been labeled as the “Lordship Salvation” theory that accuses the preachers of such as proclaiming a faith plus works salvation. John MacArthur wrote his famous book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” back in the late 80’s as an attempt to “clarify” the gospel in contrast to the theology of the other “camp” of preachers – those whose teachings have been labeled “Easy Believism.” One of the modern figureheads of that theology was Charles Ryrie, who wrote his book, “So Great Salvation” in response to the “Lordship Salvation” controversy.
While there are extreme teachings that arise from people in both camps, ultimately they are trying to answer the question of “what constitutes saving faith.”
Those in the “Lordship Salvation” theology teach, (if I may oversimplify) that Saving Faith is submission to Jesus as Lord. Those in the other camp teach that Saving Faith is the willful acceptance of Jesus as Savior; and then after one is saved, they can grow into submitting to Him as Lord. While some think that this is just a minor difference of opinion, others will label their respective opponents as teaching a false gospel, and leading people straight to hell. The zeal, and passion for their position is not lacking at all upon either side.
What is important is that one must understand what the Bible says, and let the Bible say it. There are some facts that every believer must believe.
1.) Not every kind of faith is saving faith. Just because someone has “faith” does not mean that they are born again. The Apostle Paul warned of those who “believed in vain.” He spoke of having “shipwrecked faith.” James tells us of “dead faith.” Of course we are told that some people’s faith do not even rise to the level of demonic faith. The devils believe and tremble, and there are many who “believe” that don’t even get nervous. Yes, “faith alone saves”, but not every KIND of faith saves.
2.) Jesus is the LORD who saves, not the Savior who happens to be Lord. – In the verse of our heading we see that there is a “confession” that Jesus is Lord in order for the salvation transaction to happen. Confession apart from a willingness to submit, does not rise to the level of Biblical confession. A cursory search of the New Testament will find that Jesus is called LORD far more times than He is called Savior. Now He is our Savior. He is our only Savior. But He is the Lord who Saves. Adrian Rogers used to say, “There’s no such thing as having a Savior, but not having a Lord.”
3.) Faith that saves is a faith that works. In other words saving faith is a faith that has within it, repentance of sin, trust in Jesus as Savior, a genuine desire to obey, and a change of mind, heart, and will. All of those “nuances” are not individual requirements to be saved, but rather they are individual characteristics of the kind of faith that does save. The greatest illustration that I have ever seen that pictures the scriptural demands for salvation is the picture of the old-fashioned wagon wheel. Imagine an old-fashioned wagon wheel with different spokes moving from the center hub to the larger wheel. On each spoke imagine a different necessity for the new birth. Imagine on one spoke, “Repentance of sins;” on the next spoke over; “Trust in Christ;” and on the next spoke, “Believing that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again the third day;” on the next spoke “Calling upon the Lord for Salvation;” and on the next spoke “Following Jesus as Lord.” Now with a good view of each spoke connecting the hub to the wheel, turn the wheel, and see which one moves first.
Of course that’s silly preacher, they all move at the same time. – Yep. Faith that saves is the kind of faith that contains within it, “repentance, trust, a willingness to obey, an eagerness to surrender, and confession of Christ” all wrapped up in one mustard seed of Biblical saving faith.
It’s like the three men sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room. One of them picks up a magazine, and reads a little article that says, “Smoking will kill you.” He nods his head, and says, “man that’s right, I believe that.” Then he steps outside and lights up a cigarette like the magazine was wasted paper. The second man picks up the same article, reads it and says, “I believe that, I’d better quit.” He puts his cigarettes in the trash, decides never to smoke again, – until he gets out of the doctor’s office, and forgets all about what he read. He stops at the gas station buys a box, and acts like he never even read it. Then there is the third man who reads the article, and is cut to the heart. He says, “I believe that. It’s true. I’ve been hurting myself.” He asks to keep the magazine, throws away his cigarettes, tells the doctor he wants to quit, and he takes every action necessary to not smoke again. Which one of those men actually believed the article on smoking? The third one of course. The first two had an intellectual acknowledgment, but the third one got it in the heart.
Remember what Paul said in Romans 10:10, – “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” – Intellectual faith never saves. Heart faith never fails to save. Yet heart faith contains within it everything the Lord calls us to; repentance, trust and a desire to be obedient. No one is saved by works. No one is saved by dead faith. No one is saved by an intellectual easy believism. Yet anyone can be saved who will place the kind of faith that saves in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Christ that is the object of that kind of faith, that produces changes worth making.