Salvation by faith
Faith in Jesus as the Christ is the definition of Christianity. But what is FAITH? Is it another word for 'BELIEF?" NO!!
The most common misunderstanding of faith is translating it into
meaning only "BELIEF." But it goes far beyond just 'mere
acceptance' of an ideal, or a creed. In short, it is LIVING TRUST.
“If a random sample of one thousand American Christians were taken today, the majority would define faith as belief in the existence of God. In earlier times it did not take faith to believe that God existed – almost everybody took that for granted. Rather, faith had to do with one’s relationship to God – whether one trusted in God. The difference between faith as ‘belief in something that may or may not exist’ and faith as ‘trusting God’ is enormous. The first is a matter of the head, the second a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged, the second intrinsically brings change.” Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, page 28.
So What Is Christian Faith?
Faith is more than belief - it is LIFE; it is LIVING.
But I'm not saying that we must earn our salvation by our works -
remember that our reconciliation back to God comes from HIM, not from
US. We have learned that we can never be as holy as God,
therefore we can never earn our position with Him. So how do we
get reconciled? He provided a way, with Jesus acting as our
mediator. Belief in Jesus as our mediator is the way to
reconciliation, and the first step toward our 'LIVING' Faith.
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:21-24
"Therefore my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." Acts 13:38-39
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
This overview should clarify the 'easy believism' question that seems to be prevalent today. A misinterpretation of scriptures such as John 3:16 cause many to conclude that simply an affirmation of a fact is salvific. Some interpret these scriptures to mean "Sure I believe that Jesus is God', then turn around and go your own 'way' (in lieu of God's way). This is an example of a person wanting Jesus only on their terms. One of the most sobering verses in the Bible attests to this issue:
"Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 7:21
When a true faith exists, repentance occurs. Repentance is a change of heart, affecting our future behavior as well. Therefore, a real faith by definition produces a changed life - a NEW life (born again), dead to the previous sin nature and obedient to Christ. Obedience to Christ however comes from the changed heart, not the other way around. A changed heart does not come from obedience. The work of obedience does not cause one to be saved to God - only faith does that– but obedience comes then from gratitude and submission to the new Lord of our new life. You can see how faith and obedience are inseparable, but definitely not interchangeable. One can tell a person’s true faith from the obedience to Christ, but this does not mean that obedience to Christ caused a person’s faith.
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? James 18b-20
Finally, the reality of Salvation by Faith in Jesus alone is explained by Paul in his letter to the Romans, which is similar to the salvation attributed to the people of faith described in Hebrews:
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:5