“By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And he’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that he conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And that he’s coming back again
– “We Believe” (Newsboys)
Some people think that believing in Jesus’ deity – his death, resurrection, and second coming – is enough to save them. It isn’t. Minus the “new life” part, demons believe each and every word of this song’s refrain (James 2:19). More than that, they know. Demons, or fallen angels, once served Almighty God in heaven (Isaiah 14:13-15, Ezekiel 28:14-16). They witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection, and they scream when they see a person receive new life in Christ. But this knowledge won’t save demons. They “tremble” instead (James 2:19) because they know that their time is short (Revelation 12:12). One day, Jesus will cast every demon – Satan included – into a lake of fire (20:10). So, if demons can sing this refrain and mean it, then why should the same faith save us?
Because Jesus Christ lived and died in human form, not that of an angel or another creation of Almighty God, only humans can be saved. There is no redemption for fallen angels or the animal and plant kingdoms (which don’t need it). However, just because we have the ability to be saved doesn’t mean that we will be. Millions of people are suffering in hell right now, from which there is no escape. Millions more will join them before God wraps up time. So, what is “saving” faith? And how can we keep from deceiving ourselves about where we’ll spend eternity?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Saving faith is a “gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8), who “has mercy on whom he wills” (Romans 9:18). It begins with conviction of sin, a work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). Conviction must lead to confession and confession to repentance (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30). But we’re not done. Here’s the crux. We must then cast our spiritual eyes on the cross and have “faith in his blood,” believing that Jesus paid the price for our sin (Romans 3:25). We must die with Christ and be resurrected with him into “newness of life” (6:3-11). Finally, we must receive the Father’s forgiveness, the Son’s cleansing (through his blood), and the Holy Spirit’s seal (Acts 2:38, 5:31, 13:38, 26:18; 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:7, 13, 4:30; Colossians 1:14, 1 John 1:9).
Saving faith is belief in Jesus’ blood as atonement for our sin. Anything else is a fantasy. So, are we “saved through faith,” or have we deceived ourselves? Is our faith like “gold refined in the fire,” or have we bought fool’s gold (Revelation 3:18)? Will we spend eternity in heaven or hell? Let us examine ourselves and repent (2 Corinthians 13:5).