“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV)
A Bible class teacher asked her class one morning, “What is faith?” and a young girl raised her hand, answering “Faith is doing what God says without asking any questions.”. I suppose that is a great attitude to have towards the commands of God, although it may not give the best definition of what faith truly is. There is a large amount of people that hold fast to the false teaching that salvation may be obtained by “faith only” (ignoring that the only time that phrase is found in Scripture is to tell us that we are not saved by “faith only”; James 2:24), but the Bible clearly teaches that a person is saved by faith. It was by faith that mankind has been saved in every dispensation of time. Noah (patriarch) was saved by his faith, Israel was saved by their faith (Mosaic), and today if a person desires to be saved it is by faith (Christian dispensation), but the question arises, when does faith save? In the closing of the great chapter of love, there are three characteristics that are mentioned that will abide when all else is dissolved, and among those three, faith is listed (1 Cor. 13:13). What type of faith must a person possess in order to abide when everything else is dissolved?
Is faith in God simply a mental recognition of God and believing He will save because one has a mental acknowledgement of Him, or is faith more than mental recognition? Faith is necessary in order to be saved by God, and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). The letter to the Romans informed the readers that it was by faith that one is justified and able to have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). To say that the type of faith that saves is a “faith only” (mental recognition) type of salvation would exclude several necessary elements from God’s scheme of redemption. Faith only would exclude the Gospel, which is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18ff. Rom. 10:17). Faith only would exclude the blood of Christ that was shed for the remission of sins (Heb. 9:22; Matt. 26:28). Faith only would exclude the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith only would exclude God’s love (John 3:16). Faith only would exclude repentance (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9). Faith only would exclude confession (Rom. 10:9-10). Faith only would exclude hope (Rom. 8:24). Faith only would exclude baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:27). The type of faith that saves is not a “believing only” type of faith, just as the devils also believe (James 2:19).
The type of faith that saves is the faith that obeys the Word of God. Jesus clearly stated that those that will be saved are those that did the will of the Father in heaven (Matt. 7:21-23). The Bible is filled with examples of people that are saved by faith. The Christians in Rome were justified by their faith (Rom. 5:1) and as we examine the entirety of the book of Romans, we understand that they were justified by confessing (Rom. 10:9-10), they were justified by baptism (Rom. 6:3-4), they were justified by the Gospel (Rom. 10:17), or in other words, they were justified because they “obeyed the form of doctrine that was delivered” to them (Rom. 6:17-18). The household of Cornelius was saved by “purifying their hearts by faith,” but notice the type of faith they possessed as they were baptized (Acts 10:47-48). Saul of Tarsus was one that was saved by his faith but notice when Saul was saved; it was not when He met Jesus on the road to Damascus, it was not when he had an experience, being blinded, it was not when he went into Damascus and prayed and fasted for three days, but as he later recalled, he was saved when he had his sins washed away in the waters of baptism (Acts 22:16). For further study of the type of faith that pleases God, examine every example that is given in Hebrews 11, and notice these individuals heard the commands coming from God, and then acted upon what was told to them, having a faith that is pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6), which is according to the Word(s) of God (Rom. 10:17).
Knowing that a faith that saves is a faith that acts upon the commands of God, when does that faith save? Is it the moment that we acknowledge the truth of God’s Word, when we accept the truth of the Word of God? Our faith saves when we hear the Gospel (Rom. 10:17). Our faith saves when we believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 8:24). Our faith saves when we confess that Jesus is the Christ (Matt. 10:32; Matt. 16:13-18; Rom. 10:9-10). Our faith saves when we repent of our sins (Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3). Our faith saves when we are baptized into Christ (Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:26-27). Our faith saves when we continue in the things we have been taught (1 Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10). Our faith saves us when we obey the commands found within the book that God has given having all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). May we search the Scriptures that are able to save our souls, and given to us to produce faith (Rom. 10:17), keeping the commands found therein in order that we might be saved.