Faith is the quintessential aspect of our role in salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (ESV).” The grace comes from God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We receive the grace through faith. We need to believe that we are sinners and incapable of achieving salvation on our own. We also need to believe that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He then defeated Satan, took the keys of death and resurrected back to life. He now freely offers eternal life to those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9 ESV).”
The book of Hebrews probably provides more information about faith than any other book in the Bible. Chapter one establishes Jesus as our Savior. Chapter two verses 1-4 state, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (ESV).” It then goes on to establish Jesus as the Savior and man (and woman) as the intend recipients of salvation.
Chapter three starts by establishing Jesus as a greater priest than Moses. The chapter goes on to draw a parallel between the children of Israel traveling through the wilderness and Christians traveling through life. The generation of Israelites who first left Egypt did not get to enter the promise land (except for Joshua and Caleb) because they hardened their hearts and did not continue to believe in God through their wilderness journey. Verses 12-14 states, “Take care, brother, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (ESV).”
Many Christians debate over the topic of whether or not we can lose our salvation. Some believe that salvation cannot be lost and those who “loose” it never really had it to begin with. Other’s believe that salvation may not be able to be lost (as in taken away), but it can be forfeited. I feel that most of these arguments are missing the point. As we read Ephesians 2:8-9 earlier, remember the roles of grace, faith and works that were mentioned. The only man capable of providing grace through works was (and is) Jesus. Our responsibility is to have faith in Him. The arguments for and against the loss of salvation seem to lean toward a focus on our works. They debate whether or not we can do something that disqualifies us from salvation. If we cannot do anything to earn salvation, then we cannot do anything to lose it.
However, we are required to “…confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead …(Romans 10:9 ESV).” The question is, can a person believe something (have faith) and then lose or renounce that belief. Hebrews chaper 3 answers that question with a resounding yes. This passage states that the Isrealites went “astray in their hearts (verse 10 ESV)” and warns believers stating, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God (verse 12 ESV). One cannot argue that such a person was never truly saved because if that were true then what is he or she “falling away” from. We cannot fall away from something we never had. This is confirmed by vers 14 wich encourages believers to “… hold our original confidence firm to the end (ESV).”
How could someone obtain the faith which leads to salvation and then allow his heart to go astray (losing that faith). That is an excellent question; however, I have already extended beyond the usual length of my blog entries. At least now I know what I will be writing about next week.