II ROMANS 10
SALVATION DEPENDS ON GOD’S GRACE AND OUR FAITH
The essence of the book of Romans revolves around “faith” and the grace of God. When Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel because it is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes”, the implications of that are vital for every Christian to understand. For man to dwell with God, he must be perfect. Man cannot be perfect, so God must do what man cannot. If man cannot ever be perfect, then God must treat him as if he were. He offered His Son as the sacrifice for sin, the wages of which is death, so that man could be “justified”. The word “justified” does not mean “made perfect”. It means “treated as if one were perfect”. All of this had to be by the grace and mercy of God. The condition upon which man can receive this undeserved blessing is if he places his unreserved faith in the love and mercy of the Father. This is why it is necessary for us to fully understand the Biblical meaning of the word “faith”. It is vital to our salvation…the one thing which will open the door of Heaven to the undeserving sinner.
In chapter 4 Paul makes it very clear that it is not obedience to a set of commands and rules which makes us acceptable to God. He uses
Abraham as his example and points out that the only thing which made Abraham acceptable to God was his faith. His acceptance came before the command of circumcision was given, so obedience to that was not the key. Also, Paul says that if something Abraham did caused him to be acceptable to God, then he could be proud of it, as if
he achieved it. However, acceptance into the household of God is by His decision alone and therefore has to be by grace. No man, not even
Abraham, can achieve perfection. God has to ignore his sins and offer it freely to man. As David said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”. It is God’s decision, not man’s action that does it, and God has made that conditioned on man’s decision to accept what He has to offer and to place his total faith in Him.
So “faith” is not just a step in the process, as some teach. It is the entire process. The rest is just the result of faith and the grace of God.
Some teach that faith, repentance and baptism are the steps that lead to salvation. No. The repentance and baptism are only ways in which our faith is demonstrated. It is the faith alone which saves. Jesus told John to baptize Him to “fulfill all righteousness”, i.e., to the will of God. Not for His sins to be forgiven, for He had none, but because He had supreme faith and love for the Father and wanted to do what God wanted Him to do. Peter says that it is not the washing of the water that is effective in baptism but “the answer of a good conscience before God”. The conscience only tells me to do what is right, and the act of baptism is simply doing what God wants because that is the only definition of “right”. The faith is what saves, the rest is only a demonstration of that faith.
In our next essay we will try to do more to show the contrast between the kind of saving faith we have just described, and the definition of faith held and practiced by too many who consider themselves to be Christians. Christian, means follower of Christ.
The kind of faith He had is far different from the kind many who claim to be His followers have.