By Cecil Willis
Thus far in our discussion of faith we have approached the subject from an objective viewpoint. For the most part, we have been talking solely about the reasons supporting the .Christian’s faith being what it is. We have approached the subject from an apologetical standpoint, that of giving reasons for the faith that is in us. In this lesson we turn the study from an objective to a subjective viewpoint. We want to notice the necessity of the evidence affecting this faith in the heart and mind of every individual. The evidences we have presented for our faith is sufficient to justify one’s believing the propositions about which we have been writing, and these propositions remain just as true whether or not you and I ever believe them. For us to receive the efficacy in them, there must be reproduced in the heart of every person this faith that evidence so well supports.
Faith In God’s Revelation
One can see the imperativeness of faith readily if he will consider the fact that the life of every person must be one of contact with God. It is futile for one to try to live his life without God. But the necessity of having faith is pointed out by the fact that the only way that we can know about God is by faith. It is a necessary connection between man and God. For example, I know that God exists only by my faith that is supported by evidence. Together we have reasoned to the conclusion that the only way that man can know about God is by His revealing Himself to man. Another conclusion is that God did reveal Himself to man and that the Bible is an accurate account of this revelation. These conclusions of former lessons are our premises of the present one. In other words, the only connection that we have with God is through the Bible. God is not coming down to the earth and revealing Himself as He did in days gone by. The only way that we can learn of God is through His Son, Jesus. Christ said, “‘All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father: neither doth any know the Father, save *the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). What Christ affirms is that our knowledge of God comes through His Revelation. Our acceptance of this knowledge is dependent upon our faith in Christ and the accuracy of His Revelation. Further it is said: “God, having of old times spoken unto the Fathers in the prophets by divers portions land in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2). God has revealed Himself “through his Son. Thus, one can see that faith is indispensable to man’s knowledge of God since God has only revealed Himself through his Son. Our knowledge of God is proportionate to our faith in His Son and in His accurate presentation of the truth about God.
Faith and the Forgiveness of Sins
A second reason why faith is so necessary is because throughout Scripture it is .necessary for the forgiveness of past sins. The absolute necessity of faith is emphasized from the beginning to the end of the Bible. It is indispensable to man’s salvation. A refusal to accept faith as a condition of salvation is but a refusal to accept the Bible. The fact of the necessity of faith is the one fact upon which practically every man is agreed. I know of but few people who would teach that a man could be saved from his past sins without faith. This is a fact almost universally accepted.
In this article, we are making a distinction between salvation from past sins and salvation in the world to come. In other words, not all who have obeyed the gospel are going to be saved eternally. After one receives the forgiveness of sins of the past, then his future salvation or his eternal salvation is conditioned upon his faithful life until his death. Jesus says: “Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Suppose at one time those addressed were faithful, but were not faithful until their death. What would happen to them? If Jesus meant that whether you are faithful or not you shall receive the crown of life, then his statement had no meaning.
The passages on the necessity of faith are numerous. Nearly the last remark our Lord made while he was on earth was on this very point. In this statement he placed a premium on belief, and a curse upon unbelief. Hear Him now: “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but He that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” If you believe, you shall be saved; if you disbelieve, condemnation will be yours. Note some other passages re-emphasizing the point. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins, for except that ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24)., “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’` (Heb. 11:6). Twice the necessity of faith is affirmed in this passage: (1) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him;” (2) “He that cometh to God must believe that He is.”
In Acts 16, we read of a man asking what must he do to be saved, and Paul told him to “Believe on the Lord Jesus, thou and thy house, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:32. Again in Acts 15:9, “And he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”
It is not our purpose to discuss the subject of salvation by faith only, but since these passages that we have just cited are prominent passages among a group of like-passages cited by denominationalists as proving the doctrine of justification by faith only, we want to make just one or two observations concerning them. Just what do the passages say? This is a fundamental principle in Bible study. One should argue from what the passages say rather than from what they do not say. Just what is said in the passages under investigation? It is affirmed by these and many other similar -passages that faith is essential to one’s salvation. That is all that is affirmed. It says simply that faith is necessary to one’s salvation. If one can point out a passage that says that this is all that is essential, I would be glad to hear from him and to discuss the issue with him. And yet this is exactly the way that many denominational preachers use these passages. They use them to prove salvation by faith only. The Bible does not teach it and they cannot prove it. They dare not even try. Faith is necessary to receive forgiveness from past sins. I believe this with all of my heart.
In the third place, faith is necessary to guide our lives in our walk from the cradle to the grave. There must be a guiding principle in our lives, a principle by which every action and decision must be measured. That principle is our faith in God and his teaching. Paul says, “We walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). To walk by faith is to live by faith, therefore Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me; and that life which, I now live in the flesh I .live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). By our faith we are able to enjoy as present realities things that were it not for faith would be non-entities to us. Thus, faith is a motivating factor in our lives that prompts us to walk a life of faith looking ever toward the things that are unseen. Paul describes these things like this: “For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17, 18).
We are further instructed to walk according to the spirit, “That the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” (Rom. 8:4). It is further stated: “But I say, walk by the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).. There are but two walks that one might pursue: (1) the life of the flesh; (2) the life of the Spirit. Each of these walks has a consequence which is plainly described by Paul: “For the mind of. the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace.” Rom. 8:6. In Galatians 5, we find what the fruit of the Spirit is: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23). A fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness. Paul had just said: “For we through the spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal. 5:5). Paul describes our stay here as a waiting. This waiting is not an inactive, passive waiting, but it is a life, a walk of waiting. We are to be doing something while we are waiting, but in this waiting, Paul says it is done by faith and through the Spirit. Here, inseparably, we have connected the life of the Spirit and the life of faith. Our life here has to be of the flesh or of the Spirit, and since the life of the flesh ends in death, then we must walk the life of the Spirit. This life of the Spirit is described as a walking by faith, so they are one and the same. It simply is a walking with faith in the teaching of the Spirit and a fulfillment of those teachings of the Spirit in our lives.
Thus it is that faith is an essential prerequisite to our walking the, life of the Spirit. In Hebrews the eleventh chapter, in what is often called the honor roll of the Bible, we find the great men of old walking according to faith. Hear Paul as he says: “By faith Abel offered unto God . . . By faith Enoch was. translated . . . . By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house . . . . By faith Abraham obeyed to go out, unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance .. . By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age . . . . By faith Abraham offered up Isaac . . . By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter . . . . By faith he (Moses) forsook Egypt . . . .” These passages show the walk of faith. So faith is essential to our walking the life of the Spirit. So since faith is a part of our life; our walk here, we say it is necessary.
Eternal Salvation Depends on Faith
The final reason; that we are suggesting, why faith is essential is that our salvation in the world to come is dependent upon our faith here and our keeping of that faith. Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Peter says that this inheritance in heaven is,reserved for those who are kept by faith. So faith is necessary to my receiving my place in heaven. Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept ‘the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me in that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). Because Paul had kept the faith the crown was to be given to him. Paul further said, “for I know him whom I; have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Paul argues from the premise that the soul which has been committed unto Jesus Christ,’ will be guarded in that day. Faith is going to be so important in that day. Then we will find Christ applying those commandments that He gave while yet on the earth, as he judges our souls. Notice again: “If so be that ye continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven: where of I Paul was made a minister” (Col. 1:23). Paul says our hope of eternal life is dependent upon our not being’ moved away from the hope of the gospel, and in our continuing in the faith. Jesus says “Be thou faithful unto death, and ye shall receive the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Thus we see that faith is necessary to an understanding of God’s will and our coming into a living relationship with Him; faith is necessary to our salvation from past sins; faith is necessary to our walking according to the teachings of the Spirit; and finally faith is necessary to our entering into heaven, so we can well say “he that believeth not shall be condemned.” Won’t you submit yourself to Christ, believe in Him and obey his commandments and then walk according to them until death, rather than continue in rebellion again Him until you stand before Him in judgment only to be rejected and denied? On that day, one will truly recognize the necessity of faith.
Truth Magazine XIX: 38, pp. 595-597
August 7, 1975