You live in a materialistic world—a world that has lost the knowledge of the true God. Consequently, the whole world is now shaking with convulsions, leading up to a tremendous event. This present world breakdown, with world economic collapse, social unrest and religious confusion, is merely the warning signal that the end of the present civilization is here.
The Second Coming of Christ to establish a new order of world peace on Earth is near—much nearer than people think!
Speaking of His second appearance on Earth, Jesus Himself asked prophetically, “[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). When He uttered those words, He was looking into the future—into our very present generation. He clearly foresaw the almost total absence of faith in our time!
Certainly the world has almost lost sight of real faith. No wonder so few have any faith—no wonder so many say, “My faith isn’t very strong”—or, “I just can’t seem to work up the faith.” People today do not know what faith is or why they do not possess it.
Without faith, one cannot enter into the coming Kingdom of God! However, is faith the sole requirement for salvation? And by whose faith is salvation even possible?
Most professing Christians believe in a dead faith of mere belief in the facts of Christ’s existence and His sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Consequently, they think Christ did everything for them and there is nothing more for them to do. That is not what the Bible teaches.
1. Did the Apostle Paul actually say that Christians must “work out” their own salvation? Philippians 2:12. Also notice 2 Peter 1:10.
Comment: Immediately upon initial conversion, Christians have something they must begin to do, not only then, but for the rest of their natural lives. The Christian life involves “works”—it involves doing something! Christians must put forth the effort to overcome. Christ said: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). God’s way of life is one of productivity, growth and exciting challenge.
2. Then can we earn our salvation by our own works after all? Romans 6:23; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:8-9.
Comment: Eternal life is a gift of God. However, the free, unmerited gift of God does not come without obligations. The Christian still has his part to do! While it is impossible to earn salvation by works, a lack of works can certainly cause one to lose his salvation (Luke 19:11-27).
3. What, or who, is the key to Christian overcoming? Philippians 4:13; John 15:5; 1 John 4:4; Romans 8:37.
Comment: Jesus Christ, who has already defeated Satan (Matthew 4) and qualified to become “King of kings and Lord of lords,” will help Christians defeat Satan and this world’s influences through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the faith it imparts (Galatians 5:22).
What It Means to Live by Faith
1. Are Christians to live by faith? Hebrews 10:38; Romans 1:17.
2. Does faith then void the law—render it unnecessary to keep? Romans 3:31. Is faith without obedience to God a dead faith? James 2:20-22.
Comment: The Bible plainly shows that each individual Christian has a part in the salvation process. Nevertheless, many professing Christians have been taught that Jesus lived a good life for us—that He obeyed God’s law in our stead. Christians are not excused from overcoming, growing in spiritual character, and enduring—in spite of all opposition or temptation to quit. These scriptures make it crystal clear that having faith does not excuse us from obeying God and having spiritual works.
This is a great mystery to those who don’t understand. Since we must do these things to be saved, yet are utterly unable to do so of ourselves, it is natural either to conclude that God sent Jesus to do it for us and thereby excuse us from obeying God, or to become discouraged and be tempted to quit trying!
The true answer is the key to salvation. It is faith. Faith in God’s power—the same living faith Jesus had!
3. By whose faith is a Christian’s “righteousness”—his obedience to God’s spiritual law—made possible? Romans 3:22; Revelation 14:12.
Comment: Spirit-begotten Christians have the very “faith of Jesus.” It’s not just our faith in Him, but His faith—the very faith through which He kept God’s law—placed in us and acting in us.
4. Does the Bible call Jesus the author and finisher of our faith? Hebrews 12:2.
Comment: A more accurate translation of the phrase “author and finisher” is “pioneer and perfecter.” Jesus led the way, as our pioneer, setting us the supreme example of living faith; but, He also perfects His faith in us. Here’s how:
5. Did the Apostle Paul plainly state that Christ lived in him? Galatians 2:20. How did Christ live in him? Philippians 2:5; Romans 8:9-10. Then did Paul live his life by Christ’s faith dwelling in him? Galatians 2:20 once again.
Comment: Paul didn’t live by his own faith. The mind of Jesus Christ dwelt in Paul through the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit of God implanted in Paul’s mind the same faith that can be in your mind. This faith—the very faith of Jesus Christ—will enable you to live a life of overcoming as did the Apostle Paul.
6. Is the very faith of Jesus Christ, by which we receive eternal salvation, a gift of God? Ephesians 2:8. Does this faith come from having the Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:22.
Comment: The faith that saves is Christ’s faith. And Christ can impart His strong faith to us as He lives in us by God’s Spirit.
7. What must you do to receive the Holy Spirit and the very faith of Jesus Christ? Acts 2:38. Must you be willing to obey God? Acts 5:32. And must you first show faith toward Christ before He will give you His faith? Acts 20:21.
Comment: God will give His Holy Spirit and the resulting faith of Christ only to those who meet the prior conditions of repentance and baptism.
Faith and the Law
Many professing Christians believe the Apostle Paul taught that the law was done away with and replaced by faith. Nothing could be further from the truth!
1. How did Paul express the relationship of faith and the law to the Christians at Rome? Romans 3:31. Does faith do away with God’s law? Same verse.
Comment: The New King James Version renders this verse as: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” The word establish means “to cause or make to stand,” “to make firm, fix” or “to be kept intact” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). In other words, rather than doing away with the law, faith upholds God’s law, as other translations show.
As we have already seen, it requires the faith of Christ to be able to properly keep the spiritual law of God. The true commandment-keeper must trust God to make obedience possible.
2. But didn’t Paul say that we are justified by faith, apart from the deeds of the law? Romans 3:28; 20, first part. Yet at the same time, didn’t he also say that the doers of the law are justified? Romans 2:13. Do these scriptures contradict each other?
Comment: Rather than contradict, these scriptures complement each other. It is not by the deeds of the law—the actions themselves apart from faith—that we are justified (made righteous before God); that’s only possible through the faith of Christ in us. Yet all who have His faith and exercise it to make obedience possible—the doers of the law acting in faith—which makes it a living faith—are the ones who are justified by that faith!
3. Why can’t we be justified by the deeds of the law? Romans 3:20, last part.
Comment: The purpose of the law is not to justify. The purpose of the law is to tell us what sin is—to define it, to reveal it—so we can quit it. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
4. What is it that empowers one to fulfill, or obey, God’s law? Romans 13:10. What kind of love? Romans 5:5.
Comment: The law is spiritual (Romans 7:14), and only the “love of God” can fulfill God’s spiritual law! Our own personal human love cannot do so. We cannot keep the commandments by our own power and strength. It takes a spiritual love—through the Holy Spirit placed within us—to fulfill a spiritual law. Since God alone can supply the love that makes us righteous, it becomes God’s righteousness, not ours.