What Is Saving Faith?


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The only condition for salvation is faith in the gospel. But what kind of faith is saving faith? Is there a type of faith that does not save? What about all the other Scriptures in the Bible that seem to state we must believe and do a number of other things such as repent, confess, be baptized, make Jesus Lord, call upon His name, etc. to be saved?

The gospel message as taught today, may indicate a number of terms and phrases as conditions of salvation. Gospel appeals include “believe,” “repent,” “confess,” “deny self,” “yield,” “surrender,” “receive,” “accept,” “make Jesus Lord,” “ask Jesus into your heart,” “forsake all,” etc. Sometimes the terms are combined to give three, four, or five steps to salvation (that is, first repent, then believe, then confess).

Do all these things mean the same thing?

Is there one or more than one condition for salvation?[1]

Faith, The Sole Requirement for Salvation

Salvation requires personal faith in the Person and work of Christ on the cross. No other acts, physically or mentally, are required (such as baptism, partaking of the Eucharist, turning from sin, or declaring a vow of obedience). It cannot be “passed on” passively by family members, church membership, prayers for the dead, etc. It is only you who choose. This “faith” is not intellectual knowledge of the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but an utter unshakeable trust in the promises held within those facts: forgiveness of sin before God, eternal life as a present possession (such that we are sealed into Christ and regenerated by His life), and an eternal destiny of soul, spirit, and new body in Heaven with God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it (salvation) is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9, Acts 16:31)

There are over 150 scriptural texts that present the only condition for salvation as being belief. If any other requirement is added, it will cause these scriptures to be incomplete or misleading. Therefore, all terms that express a condition genuinely necessary for salvation (such as repentance) must be interpreted as to be compatible with a salvation based on faith alone. Terms that cannot be made compatible with faith alone as a condition for salvation are used improperly and dangerously at best, and, at worst, are sheer heresy.[2]

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life: and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) “

“Sirs what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

For the Scripture says, “whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed”… So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:11,17)

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ. ( Gal 3:36)

Other key texts would include John 5:24, 6:47, 20:30-31; Acts 13:39; Rom 3:22, 28, 30, 4:5, 5:1; Gal 2:16, 3:6-7; 3:11, 24, 26; Eph 2:8-9.

All legitimate ways of communicating this one condition for salvation are either synonyms for faith or involve a specialized aspect of it. All terms and phrases that are not compatible with faith alone as the condition for salvation are error. The sole condition for salvation is to trust in the Biblical Christ, the Son of God, as Savior. Salvation takes place when a person believes in the sense of personally appropriating the benefits of Christ’s death by trust (confidence, reliance, dependence, and faith).[3]

Not All Faith Is Saving Faith

A review of Biblical usage makes it clear that not all occurrences of faith and believe refer to saving faith. Faith, which means confidence or trust, can have a number of unique objects… A definition of generic faith includes: When one believes in the truthfulness or reliability of someone or something, he has faith. To believe, have faith, and trust are all ways of expressing the same thing: assurance and confidence in a stated or implied truth.

The (following) passages illustrate that faith is not always saving faith. That is, not all faith has as its object that which will result in eternal salvation. Sometimes faith is generic and non-saving (Luke 1:20, 8:25; 1 Cor 2:5, 11:18; 2 Cor 5:2; 2 Thess 1:4; John 4:56; James 5:15; 1 John 4:1, 16). [4]

A person may have faith or trust in many things in this life: security of finances or possessions, reputation in society, reliance in life upon talents and gifts (atheist scientist, intellect, music, athletics), reliance upon others (my wife will always be there for me, my parents love me no matter what mistakes I make), or the seeing of oneself as a “good person who loves others.” Other dead-end roads leading to misery for those who do not change lanes upon hearing the gospel include: “Since God is love and the law is fulfilled by those who love God and others, as long as I love I will go to heaven.” Due to a rejection of God’s solution for sin and death, the Person and work of Christ Jesus, none of these can solve man’s lack of righteousness and inability to have a God relationship. Like a helpless child, man can do nothing to solve his dilemma. Like a helpless child, man must rely, trust, and depend upon the work of Another.

Saving faith occurs when faith meets the right object—the gospel. “The saving power resides exclusively… in the object of faith (the Person and work of Christ Jesus). [5]

Saving faith is the channel through which the grace of God exhibits His power in love and mercy to save man.

Man Declared Righteous by Gospel Faith

Faith in the gospel results in the declaration of righteousness. God’s acceptance of man is not works, obedience to the law, discipline, a vow of allegiance, or turning from sin – only gospel faith.

For what does the Scripture say? “ Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3)… But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom 4:5)… Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “ Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness” (Rom 4:9)… I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Gal 2:21). But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Gal 3:22).

Saving Faith Is Personal – Intellectual Faith is Not

The content of the gospel must fully engage the heart of man in his mind, emotions, and will.

…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness… Rom 10:10a

Knowing about Christ is not the same as trusting in Him. It is often quoted how Satan and the demons “know” Christ… but the issue is, they do not trust in Him.

It is critical to observe the personal aspect of this definition of saving faith. Saving faith occurs when one accepts as true the proposition that Jesus Christ alone, the Son of God, who died and rose again, paid his penalty for sin and has given him eternal life.

Comprehending the component parts of the gospel, such as the death and resurrection of Christ, is not enough to save someone. Many unbelievers believe that these facts are true. But they do not believe that Jesus died for them personally and that He is the only hope for their personal salvation. It is in this way that the personal and propositional aspects of saving faith unite.

For example, someone might suggest that Roman Catholics in general accept as true (believe) the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again. However, most do not believe that He is their only hope of personal salvation. Rather they rest their hope in additional sacramental components, thus violating the essential components of the content of saving faith discussed above. [6]

What is Saving Faith?

Saving Faith and the Human Heart

A heart that expresses saving faith has: trust in the content of the gospel; conviction about the value of His substitution for us (by dying in my place as penalty for my sins); and complete confidence so that there is commitment of the soul into the safekeeping of Christ Jesus for eternal life. Saving faith is an expression of the whole man from the heart.

Genuine saving faith involves activity on the part of all three main components of the human heart or soul: mind (or intellect), emotion, and will…

With the mind, a person must intellectually believe certain truths about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the content of faith.

Although a person believes the gospel to be factually true with his mind, it is with the emotions that one develops a conviction about the facts. He views this not only as true, but also as an important need in his/her life. It is with the emotions that we assign value to the gospel and believe it in a personal (as opposed to a theological) way.

The faith expressed by the mind and the emotions is incomplete without the faith expressed by the will. With the will a sinner chooses to place confidence (trust, faith, reliance, dependence) in Christ and His shed blood, believing in Christ and his cross for salvation. It is the nature of saving faith such that it also involves a choice to commit the soul’s eternal destiny to Jesus Christ and His perfect work on the cross.[7] [8]

From all the evidence above, it’s clear the mind, emotions, and the will (the heart of man) all play a part in genuine saving faith (although the process often takes place simultaneously). There is a Person and work that must be not only understood by the mind, but given value by the emotions, such that one willfully and assuredly chooses Jesus Christ. This is done knowing that the wellbeing of one’s soul is fully emplaced into His care.

Content, Confidence, and Commitment of Saving Faith

The definition of saving faith can best be studied under these two headings: 1) Content, and, 2) Confidence and Commitment.

The Content of Saving Faith – There is content to saving faith as to what must be believed. Certain basic truths about Jesus Christ and His cross must be believed so that the One he believes in is the Christ of the Bible and not a Christ of his own imagination or man’s fabrication. 

A sinner must believe:

Christ died on the cross for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-4).

“That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30-31; John 8:24; 11:27).

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31

If one claims to believe in God or be a Christian and yet denies the deity of Christ or the resurrection, he is either lying or badly deceived.

The outcome of faith in the gospel is the reception of eternal life (John 6:40; John 11:26; 1 John 5:11-13).

Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?  John 11:25-26

Other Scriptures include: John 3:15-16, 3:36, 5:24, 6:47, 10:28, 17:23; Acts 13:46, 48; Rom 5:21, 6:22-23; 1 Tim 1:16; 1 John 2:25, 5:11-13. 

Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9). Works are excluded. The object of our faith is in Him and Him alone.

They said, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:26

Other key texts include John 5:24,6:47, 20:30-31; Acts 13:39; Rom 3:22, 28, 30, 4:5, 5:1; Gal 2:16, 3:6-7, 3:11, 24, 26; Eph 2:8-9.

Of course, the belief that one is a sinner and in need of help is implied in coming to Christ to find salvation. Notice that saving faith does not include making a commitment to live for Christ. That will be an issue for discipleship once the family member is instructed upon doctrines of the Christian way of life.

The Confidence and Commitment of Saving Faith

An unbeliever is not just being asked whether or not Jesus was telling the truth, or to accept certain facts about him. He is being urged to believe in, on, or upon Jesus Christ, meaning he should place his confidence, trust and reliance upon Christ and His cross (a Person and His work).

This confidence in Christ must be expressed by and is inseparable from a commitment of the soul’s eternal destiny to Christ. Belief in every fact of the Apostle’s Creed cannot bring one to salvation without a confidence in Christ and entrusting of the soul’s safekeeping to Him. [9]

Salvation takes place when a person believes in the sense of personally appropriating the benefits of Christ’s death by trust. (confidence, reliance, dependence, and faith). The sole condition for salvation is to trust in the Biblical Christ, the Son of God, as Savior. All legitimate ways of communicating this one condition for salvation are either synonyms for faith or involve a specialized aspect of it. All terms and phrases that are not compatible with faith alone as the condition for salvation are error.[10]

 Three Categories of Disciples in the New Testament

Shockingly, not all who were called disciples in the New Testament were believers in Christ Jesus as the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Pentecost states there were three categories of disciples; the curious, the convinced, and the committed.[11] The curious disciples represent those who are deficient in faith and/or the gospel they believe is not the gospel of God. They are an example of those who do not receive His word by faith.

Curious – This described the ones who followed Jesus because of curiosity, but never accepted the truth of Jesus as the Son of God. These included the ones who sought Him out for the joy of healing, excitement of manifested power over nature and the demonic world, and the expectation/hope of overthrowing the Roman oppressors by making Him king. These disciples all fell away after His “hard sayings” and the persecution from the religious leaders. The basis of their “faith” in Him was their own desires, not the gospel. They had little interest in anyone who could take away their sin.

Convinced – Those who travelled with Him, accepted Him, and were convinced that all His claims are true. They became Christians at Pentecost. These are believers.

Committed – Those who not only believed in Him for eternal salvation, but were faithful in following Him and obeying His commands. These were willing to deny self, pick up their cross, and to follow Him. These are true disciples.

What is The Faith That Does Not Save?

Ryrie, in agreeing that there is a faith that does not save, also states the vital importance of the eternal security of all those who have received the grace gift of salvation by faith in the gospel.

Everyone, regardless of which doctrinal side of eternal security you rest on, agree that there is a type of “faith” that does not save. The most pressing issue regarding salvation is to scripturally manifest the truth that once salvation has occurred, there is no way that anything or anyone can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29-39). This especially is true for personal sins, all of which were paid for at the cross of Christ ( 2 Cor 5:18-19).

The parable of the sower and the seed (Luke 8:5-15) illustrates some of the differences between a faith that saves and one that does not.

Ryrie explains that the soils of the parable, the human heart, is the obstacle to the sower (Christ Jesus) and the seed (His gospel).

This parable relates that Jesus knew that most who followed Him did not hear the Word He spoke and receive it in their heart by faith. The problem with the results of ministry did not lie in the sower or the seed, but in the hearts of the hearers exemplified by the four soils. The problem in salvation ministry is the human heart that will not submit to God, repent (change their mind) regarding the work and person of Jesus Christ, receive His Word, and be saved. All of this occurs simultaneously in the heart that accepts the free grace gift through saving faith.[12]

Faith That Is Not Whole-Hearted – “Intellectual” and “Emotional” Faith

The completion of this section will follow the work of Waterhouse. He clearly classifies intellectual and self-serving emotional faith as a type of “faith” that does not save.

1. The New Testament is clear that saving faith is more than intellectual faith about Jesus Christ or certain orthodox doctrines (James 2:19; John 2:23-24; 3:2).

Nicodemas believed in the existence of God and that He sent Jesus as a miracle worker, but the Lord told him he still needed salvation. (John 3:3 ff.) James reminds us that even demons intellectually believe in correct doctrines. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder.” James 2:19

2. If intellectual agreement to doctrine is not saving faith, then neither is the attitude that could be called emotional or temporal faith. Emotional faith which lacks understanding of the gospel, has nointerest in the content and truths of the gospel.

Emotional faith is the kind of faith the crowds expressed when they proclaimed Christ as their King during the Triumphal or Palm Procession (Matt 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19). Yet, less than one week later they demanded that He be crucified and His blood be upon them and their children (Matt 27:22,25) as they had no king but Caesar (John 19:15). These “disciples” of Jesus earlier desired to make Him king by force (John 6:15) because of His distribution of bread to them. These crowds did not care about a spiritual Savior from sin. They wanted Jesus to solve their temporal problems with food and sickness or deliver them politically from the Romans (John 6:26).

It is neither wrong nor unwise to seek help from temporal problems, but this type of faith by itself is not saving faith. Many may emotionally respond to a gospel invitation seeking help for their problems, and they may believe He can solve these problems and beg Him to do so. But, if there is not also trust in Jesus Christ to save from sin, then all that results is an emotional religious experience that makes one temporarily feel better about life’s problems. [13]

Intellectual faith does not appropriate the Person of Christ or accept the proposition of the gospel personally. They elevate their own righteousness while ignoring their sin.

The lie: “Jesus was a moral and good man who did many great and amazing things, but He did not die to pay for my sin. I’ve never killed anyone or done anything serious. We are responsible to be good people and do good things so that our good outweighs the bad.”

The other “types of faith” express confidence in a fact or truth that is not the content of the gospel of God. They have substituted their own desires for God’s. God’s heart is to redeem man from sin and death so that man receives eternal life. If one does not trust and depend upon these facts of the gospel for the salvation of their soul, there is no saving faith.

Confusion in Saving Faith

The Reformation and the Redefining of Catholic Faith

Hixson, in his excellent book, Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis That No One is Talking About, states the following regarding the modern day confusion regarding saving faith.

The origin of the confusion regarding the nature of saving faith can be traced to the Protestant Reformation and the reaction to the Roman Catholic understanding of faith. The Reformers were concerned that Roman Catholicism was bestowing eternal salvation on anyone who desired it even if he expressed no explicit faith in the truths of Scripture. One’s self-identification with The Church (combined with a system of “works”) was enough to secure eternal salvation. Often called “the baptism of desire,” this Catholic notion taught that anyone who sincerely seeks God as best he can is saved by “implicit faith.”

The Reformers were right in rejecting the Catholic notion of “implicit faith.” But in seeking to make faith in the gospel more explicit rather than implicit, Reformed theologians have appealed not just to a clearly defined, biblical content of faith, but to a redefinition of the meaning of faith itself. [14]

Definition of Saving Faith in Reformed Theology

Hixson states the following regarding the Reformed definition of saving faith. The issue will be with the third component, (in Latin) fidicua, which they interpret to mean obedience.

Real saving faith, it is suggested has three components each identified by a Latin designation: a knowledge element (notitia), which is understanding the content of truth (i.e., mentally comprehending it); an agreement element (assensus), which is the mental assent to the truth (i.e., agreement that it is true); and a volitional element (fiducia), which is the personal determination to submit to the truth. Thus, it is said, eternal salvation is gained by acknowledging, accepting, and obeying the demands of the gospel. [15]

The Error of Adding “Commitment to Obey” to Saving Faith

One can easily see how the first two components of faith made it into the Reformed creed. To believe a proposition one must certainly understand it (notitia) and assent to its truthfulness (i.e., accept it as true, assensus). But what justification is there for including the idea of volitional willingness to trust or follow (fiducia)…. (T)he Reformed view of faith has thus manufactured a new definition of saving faith. This definition is reflected in the writings of many contemporary advocates of the Reformed view. …(T)he essence of saving faith in Reformed thought: Saving faith requires a pledge of allegiance to Christ; it must promise to follow and obey Him. Without such commitment, faith will not save. [16]

This level of commitment seen in Reformed theology’s view of saving faith is very different from the ideas expressed by Waterhouse or Ryrie. In contrast, the “commitment” aspect of saving faith for the latter involves the choice to entrust into the safekeeping of Christ, by faith in the gospel, the eternal destiny of one’s soul. For the Reformed, “commitment” means to make Jesus the Lord of my life as a vow of allegiance. In this case, faith is not saving without “discipleship” obedience and forsaking of sin. This adds works to the grace gospel of God against the clear statement of Ephesians 2:8-9.

The Error of Adding “Repentance from Sins” to Saving Faith

Similar to the contention that real saving faith is obedient faith is the related view that real saving faith requires repentance of sins. That is, eternal salvation is imparted only to those who are willing to forsake all their sins and pledge to avoid them in the future.

To require sinners to make the purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pledge to follow Christ as a condition for receiving eternal life is a bit like asking a child to get cleaned up so he can take a bath. To the extent that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is required in order for anyone to experience moral reformation, no one will be able to change his behavior until after he has been saved by faith alone.

In Reformed theology saving faith not only has been redefined to include a pledge of obedience and repentance of sins, but also and by consequence, a new kind of faith altogether has been manufactured: spurious faith. Faith that does not meet the threefold standard of the Reformers is said to be spurious faith. [17]

Spurious or false faith that does not save is leveled at those who profess, but whose turning from sin or evidence of good works do not meet what one might expect of a Christian. With this emphasis on evidence, salvation becomes dependent upon turning from sin and works, such that believers lack assurance of their eternal security. The simplicity of the grace gospel must now be backed by works, according to the Reformed view, for salvation to be real.

The Error of Labeling the Grace Gospel as Easy-Believism

Those who espouse the classic Reformed view of saving faith often label the opposing view easy-believism. This is because to them, it seems too easy that salvation can result from simple faith in the gospel, apart from any commitment to good works or abandonment of sin or pledge of obedience, or surrendering of the will, etc.

Unfortunately human pride often makes it very difficult for people to believe that something as valuable as eternal life can be obtained merely by faith. Therefore like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23), many find it very difficult to abandon their misplaced trust in self, or riches, or works, or baptism, and trust only in Christ for eternal life. Remember, saving faith must be exclusively in Christ alone. In this sense it is by no means easy to believe the gospel. “[I]t is not easy to believe that Someone whom you and every other living person has never seen did something nearly 2,000 years ago that can take away sin and make you acceptable before a holy God. But it is believing that brings eternal life.” [18]

Conclusion Regarding the “Reformed View” of Saving Faith

Followers of the above Reformed doctrines, desiring to ensure obedience in the church, declare that those in sin (professors of faith who do not demonstrate it in their lives) were not likely to have been saved anyway. Their faith was spurious or not of the saving kind, as salvation always results in obedience.

This view requires saving faith to include the turning from sin and the conditions of discipleship to be met before eternal salvation can be declared. How can a person who doesn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit possibly turn from sin and declare discipleship? This requires one to be regenerated before he could express saving faith, something that has no biblical support. If one is regenerated prior to faith, why would faith be needed… we are already saved. This removes the assurance of eternal security, and places some believers in a continual state of uncertainty regarding their eternal destiny. Which sins and of what quantity or duration provides conclusive evidence one is not of the family of God? Haven’t all sins been paid for on the cross?

Opponents of the Reformed notion of saving faith simply contend that the Bible conditions eternal salvation solely on simple faith alone in Christ alone, and that to express faith in Jesus is to be convinced that He has given eternal life to the one who simply believes in Him for it. No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in Jesus Christ, such as a promise to obey, repentance of sin, pledge of obedience or surrendering to the lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving eternal life. [19]

Conclusion Regarding Biblical Saving Faith

Intellectual, self-serving emotional, or temporary faith is a generic form of faith that does not save. The object of intellectual faith may be an understanding of the gospel, but the heart does not personally appropriate its truth and apply its promises to their destiny. Christ, the Son of God, must be seen to pay the price for my sins, redeeming my soul, so that “I” receive eternal life. Without this personal application and trusting the destiny of my soul into the care of Jesus, salvation cannot occur. This is a deficient faith that does not include all facets of the heart of man.

The object of emotional or temporary faith is not the gospel of God. Here, both the object and the declared “faith or trust” is deficient. Emotional faith subscribes to following Christ for reasons other than the forgiveness of my sins and the reception of eternal life.

Christ compares saving faith to the trust and dependence of a child. The child believes all that he is told. They fully place themselves and all that they are into the care and safekeeping of others, specifically authority figures. A believer with a childlike faith knows he must depend upon Him and that there is nothing they can do to take care of themselves.

Intellectuals hold themselves back from this commitment. The self-serving emotional ones only see what they can get out of the circumstance, never desiring to hear or accept the gift that is being offered.

“Perhaps one of the clearest statements of the necessary content to saving faith is found in the words of the Lord to the sinful Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. He said, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him and He would give you living water.” John 4:10   Ryrie, Basic Theology

The condition for salvation is belief in Him. (In this context, most were mere professors of belief in Christ Jesus who later deny Him. The fact remains that faith alone in Christ alone is the way of salvation, John 1:12.)

So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. John 8:28-30

The condition for discipleship is to abide in a close and intimate fellowship and walk.

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “ If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

The error of the Reformers, and those who teach their doctrines regarding salvation, is that they mistakenly include the condition of obedience found in discipleship in the act of saving faith. We cannot turn from sin and obey Christ Jesus until we have been indwelt by the Spirit at conversion such that we are in possession of the life of God. Those who make “discipleship” a conditional part of the “salvation package” add works of man to the completed work of God.

We believe with the heart. The heart that expresses saving faith undergoes a process that any child can do. We must trust and depend, realizing that there is nothing we can do to change our situation. As we believe and trust Christ Jesus, the Son of God, for the payment of our sins, salvation of our souls, and the reception of His eternal life our destinies change from darkness and death to light and life. God does the work of substitution, conviction, and election. Man chooses to believe and trust the gospel in a moment in time. That is saving faith. Saving faith is the channel for the grace of God

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, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Eph 2:8-10

Saving faith is the channel for God’s grace gift of salvation. When someone gives you a gift, we don’t do anything for it except to reach out our hands (and hearts) and receive it (eternal life). This is saving faith, which, by definition, is always void of works.

Upon entrance into the family of God, we now are to walk in the good works God has prepared for us. This is His will and purpose in man, for we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” This is an abiding discipleship that leads to His works in faith obedience.


[1] Waterhouse, Steven, (2007), Not by Bread Alone, Amarillo, TX: Westcliff Press, www.webtheology.com, p.130.

[2] Ibid. pp. 130-131.

[3] Ibid. p. 138.

[4] Hixson, J. B. (2014-05-01). Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About, (Kindle Location 1722, 1748, 1769, 1801-1810), Grace Gospel Press, Kindle Edition.

[5] Ibid. (Kindle Location 1807-8).

[6] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 2472-2479).

[7] Waterhouse, Steven, (2007), Not by Bread Alone, Amarillo, TX: Westcliff Press, www.webtheology.com, pp. 134-135.

[8] Ryrie agrees with Waterhouse in his assessment of saving faith. Saving faith is simultaneously expressed in the heart in all its constituent components. He describes this as the facets of faith, all of which must be present in saving faith: 1) Intellectual – Understanding the facts of the gospel and the Person of Christ. 2) Emotional – The truth and Person of Christ engages who I am and all that I am (These valuable truths to my destiny apply to me personally). 3) Volition (Will) – The truth of the gospel and the Person of Christ is appropriated. There is trust and reliance upon Jesus Christ in paying the debt for my sin and in His offer of eternal life. Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, (1999), BasicTheology: A popular Systemic Guide to Biblical Truth, Chicago, IL: Moody Press, p. 377. 

[9] Waterhouse, Steven, Not By Bread Alone, pp. 134-138..      

[10] Ibid. p. 138.

[11] Pentecost, Dwight J., (1996), Design for Discipleship, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, p. 36.

[12] Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, (1999), Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth, Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

[13] Waterhouse, Not by Bread Alone, pp. 133-134.

[14] Hixson, J. B. (2014-05-01). Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About (Kindle Locations 1831-32, 1836-39, 1861-1863). Grace Gospel Press. Kindle Edition.

[15] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 1820-1828).

[16] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 1970-72, 1890-1894).

[17] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 1908-16, 1924-27, 1937-1939).

[18] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 1937-39, 2014-2019).

[19] Ibid. (Kindle Locations 2007-2010).