About "Saving Faith"
By William Handschumacher
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
To access the other parts click on the
appropriate link below:
Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page
The Apostle Paul, who wrote nearly
half of the New Testament canon,
reveals that true Christian faith
follows the Abrahamic model of
'Justification by Faith without
"What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say?
“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from (or without the need for) works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:1-8)
In Romans chapter 4, Paul speaks about a major characteristic of the authentic Gospel that provides justification and righteousness through a 'faith without works'. Under the previous Old Testament program of the Mosaic Law, the faith of an individual had to be accompanied (or validated) by 'works and obedience to the Law' in order to be righteous and obtain God's salvation. However, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ forever changed these conditions ... by removing the works, since Christ Himself performed all of the work necessary at the cross to obtain both righteousness and justification - for all those who simply beleive on Him. As a result, faith in Christ alone is now the only requirement needed to obtain these benefits.
“Abraham believed God, and it was
accounted to him for righteousness.”
Now to him who works, the wages
are not counted as grace but as
debt. But to him who does not
work but believes on Him who
justifies the ungodly, his faith
is accounted for righteousness
Saint Paul repeats this same
characteristic of 'faith in
Christ' when he said ...
"For by Grace you have been saved
through faith, and that not of
of yourselves; it is the gift of
God, not of works, lest anyone
We can now see that there are two kinds of faith taught in the Bible; an Old testament works-based faith and the New Testament Grace-based faith. Following the cross, God warns that He accepts one - but rejects the other. Yet, both sides insist that they have 'the only faith that saves'. We can now understand why Saint Paul gave this warning to the Church;
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified." (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Many of our studies and commentaries focus on the ongoing war against “the truth of the Gospel of Christ”. The authentic Gospel, which provides our “free justification by faith alone” is how Christ’s salvation operates after the cross. As a result, this subject is one of the most important in the Bible. The authentic Gospel, revealed through the words of Saint Paul in Romans Chapter 4, tells us how the salvation of Christ is obtained today.
The cross of Christ changed
all the previous Old
Testament rules that govern
how salvation is obtained
The New Testament calls this change; "the new and living way of Christ" (See Hebrews 10:19-23), which offends many overly religious people who continue to embrace principles of the previous Old Testament works-based program. In our various studies and commentaries, we attempt to follow Christ’s example, who often taught by contrasting wrong religious teachings with His Father’s truth.
One of the objectives for this study is to draw attention to the hidden spiritual threats to the Gospel that operate from inside the world-wide Christian Church. Since there are so many - it’s impossible to cover them all. For this reason, we limit our discussion to a few of the most dangerous. One very prominent brand of theology corrupts and redefines (or changes) the principles that govern Christ’s salvation. Our Heavenly Father considered this particular theology to be so dangerous that He warned the Church about it in Acts chapter 15. Later, Saint Paul wrote his "Epistle to the Galatians" to expose the same toxic doctrine. This is why some modern-day Bible scholars refer to it as; "the Galatian error - or Galatian religion" - which is a deceptive form of "counterfeit Christianity". Redefining the principles of Christ's salvation is always done with the best of intentions and quietly occurs through the use of out-of-context Bible teaching. Various theologians refer to this popular way of interpreting the Bible as; “allegorizing Scripture” - also called 'spiritualizing Scripture'. Saint Paul referred to such practices as “handling the Word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). This popular, yet flawed method of Bible interpretation, used by popular ministers and major denominations, is not easily recognized by the average church member since all out-of-context Bible teaching continues to look and sound "Biblical".
Saint Paul warned that using Scripture
out-of-context, or what he called
"handling the Word of God deceitfully",
was one of the worst offenses committed
by church leaders
... because it changes or modifies
God's intended definition of the
When ministers subtly change the
principles that govern salvation
into something that God never
intended, it tricks their audience
into thinking they must 'achieve
or earn salvation' the Old
Testament way - through their own
righteous works and piety...when
authentic New Testament salvation
is actually obtained an entirely
different way - as the unmerited
and undeserved 'gift of God'.
Some Christians refer to themselves as; “a Bible believer or fundamentalist”. However, these popular labels do not actually tell us if they are interpreting and believing the Bible correctly. Here's what many fail to realize:
When the Bible is taught
changes God's original
intention ...and therefore
ceases to be 'His Word'.
The Gospel of Christ reveals God's way to receive eternal life (salvation) - after the cross. Since salvation was received a different way in the Old Testament (before the cross) - there is a context connected to any evangelistic message. If salvation is preached according to the Old Testament rules, as many (but thankfully not all) churches do today ... then we are hearing a 'different gospel' that God ultimately rejects. As a result, this issue of 'believing the Bible wrong' is not trivial. Never let anyone tell you that all the different beliefs about Christ's salvation circulating around the church are just “a difference of opinion” that should be set aside to preserve unity. Why should we reject such statements? These “different beliefs" often represent what Saint Paul calls "a different gospel" - which carries horrific eternal consequences (discussed later in this study).
Understanding the Principles
Behind New Testament
In any discussion about the truth of the Gospel of Christ, the subject of "saving faith" (the kind of faith needed to obtain salvation - or eternal life) eventually comes to the forefront. To properly address this subject, we must first look at some basic principles on which our salvation is established.
Contrary to some popular teaching
about salvation, God does not
relate with people living after
the cross - in the same way He did
before the cross. The sacrificial
death of Christ changed all the
previous rules governing salvation.
This “change of rules” takes
place through the New Covenant,
which is also known as;
“The new and living way of Christ”.
Jesus proclaimed this "changing of
the rules" at the Last Supper when
He said ...
"This cup is the New Covenant
in My blood, which is shed for
you." (Luke 22:20)
Additional information is available
at the following links:
What Does It Mean When God Says
'I Do Not Change"?
The Holy Spirit's Role in Salvation
After the Cross
After the crucifixion of Christ, the Bible reveals that we now obtain eternal life through a special kind of Grace-based faith that does not require works (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 8:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). This is why Saint Paul sternly warned the Church to “examine themselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure they were walking according to this “New Covenant faith in Christ” - which didn’t begin to operate until after the cross. Tragically, this incredible spiritual truth runs contrary to the beliefs held by many professing Christians. Receiving salvation through "a faith without works" (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 8:4-8, Titus 3:5-7) is made possible through something Scripture calls "Grace". We see Grace in operation when God freely gives an individual a valuable benefit without any behavioral or meritorious requirements. He offers it freely to undeserving people. God emphasizes the free nature of His salvation by referring to it as "the gift of eternal life". A gift is something that is previously bought and paid for by the 'giver' - then freely given to someone else without cost.
Just because the gift is provided
at 'no charge' does not mean that
it's cheap or worthless.
Not Just a Difference of
The Demonic Roots of
In an effort to propagate a historic, yet counterfeit gospel - certain Bible teachers and their devoted followers attempt to characterize God's gift as being 'cheap' - simply because it is given freely. As a result, we often hear Christ's Grace Gospel called such things as; greasy grace, easy believism or "the watered-down gospel". They call it “easy or watered-down” because it threatens a popular denominational theology that insists salvation (or eternal life) is only obtained through a combination of grace, good works, righteous living and human merit. Yet, in the Epistles of Saint Paul, this brand of theology that mixes works and grace is called "walking according to the flesh" ... which is a characteristic of those who are unknowingly "enemies of the cross".
Paul warned both the Roman and the
Philippian Churches about this
prominent group of 'professing
Christians' when he said ...
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (or the Old Testament program of the Law). For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (or imputed to us) who do not walk according to the flesh (or trying to qualify/earn salvation through righteous works and religious merit) but according to the Spirit (or faith in the finished work of Christ that does not require our works)." (Romans 8:1-4 – Emphasis and Comments Added)
"For many walk (speaking of those who walk according to the flesh - and the Old Testament program of the Law), of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things." (Philippians 3:18-19)
On his daily radio program, one angry fundamentalist preacher condemned those who believed in the free and unmerited nature of salvation as; "belonging to the grace cult" ... and said that such people were “of the devil”. Obviously, this preacher doesn't agree with the New Testament, which states that God is the one who said His gift of eternal life is now free and unmerited ... or given according to Grace. Discrediting a truth that comes from God by claiming its followers are “of the devil” continues to be a popular practice in some churches. The Pharisees used this same tactic against Jesus during His earthly ministry. Jesus called it “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” ... because the supernatural works He performed were empowered by the Holy Spirit Who indwelled Him as the Son of God. As a result, the Pharisees were calling these 'miraculous works of the Holy Spirit' ... the works of the devil.
The following is how the gospel
account of Matthew describes
Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He (Jesus) healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:22-32)
Unfortunately, we hear similar accusations, either directly or indirectly, made by prominent preachers, ministries, denominations - and those who claim to be "Bible-believers". Speaking from various positions of church leadership, they can easily lead many astray.
According to Webster's Dictionary,
the definition of blasphemy is ...
"The act of insulting or showing
contempt or lack of reverence for
In the New Testament we see this term used in at least two different ways. In Matthew 12:22-32, Jesus referred to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - as attributing the supernatural works and miracles of the Holy Spirit - to the devil or Satan. We also see the reverse of this form of blasphemy when a counterfeit gospel (Paul called it 'a perverted gospel') is presented as the true 'Gospel of Christ'. In this situation, a counterfeit gospel - designed to replace the authentic Gospel - actually comes from the devil and not from God. This counterfeit gospel is created through the popular practice of teaching the Holy Scriptures 'out-of-context' - which happens to be one of the devil's favorite and most effective tactics. As a result, the counterfeit gospel appears, on the surface, to be rock-solid Bible teaching (some call it 'fundamentalism') to those who are inexperienced in the Christian faith. This is why Paul warned that those who preach this misleading "different or counterfeit gospel" are accursed - or under the anathema of God (or denounced by God as evil). In both cases an act is committed, often by misguided church leaders and their devoted followers - that insults God.
In modern Christendom words such as hell, blasphemy, heresy and accursed - are removed from most sermons because they offend church members. Many try to ignore these issues as just 'a difference of opinion'. Yet, both our Lord Jesus Christ and Saint Paul used such terminology to warn about the severe spiritual consequences connected to misrepresenting, both the miraculous works of God - and the Gospel His Son died to give us.
Redefining 'Saving Faith' is
a practice connected to a
counterfeit gospel and is
therefore under this same
We mention these shocking examples to warn about those who take the forbidden liberty of attaching additional character, behavioral and performance conditions to the gift of eternal life, which were not originally placed there by our Heavenly Father. As a result, we should never just believe someone because they represent 'the clergy' and hold a seminary degree. Regardless of their religious title or office, the Bible commands us to closely examine a minister's doctrine, which also includes the kind of gospel they preach and believe.
This is part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
To access the other parts click on the
appropriate link below:
Return To Home Page
Return To Basics of Salvation Page