The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8 and 9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." Notice that the Bible here says that faith itself is a "gift of God." And according to Acts 5:31, so are repentance and the forgiveness of sins gifts of God.
As I said before, God would not command a sinner to do something that God did not give him the ability to do. God gives every human being the ability to repent of their sin, and to believe the gospel so that they might be saved.
The Bible says in Acts 10, verse 43: "To him (Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
When we speak of faith and believing, we must realize that there are two kinds of faith, or two kinds of believing, in the Bible. There is blind faith, and there is saving faith. There is head belief, and there is heart belief. This is why we say that the distance between heaven and hell is only about 18 inches - the distance from your head to your heart.
It is not blind faith or head belief that saves. The Bible says that the devils believe, and yet they tremble. Why? Because they are not saved. They do not have what we refer to as "saving faith." What is "saving faith"? Let me explain.
There are three elements to "saving faith."
First, there is Knowledge. Knowledge is KNOWING THE FACTS. I hear the gospel, how that Christ was virgin born, lived a sinless life, kept the law of God, was betrayed, condemned, crucified, buried, rose again from the dead, and ascended up to heaven. Having heard that and even read it in the Bible for myself, I can say I have KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS. But that is not faith. I don't have to believe what I've heard or read. That takes me to the 2nd element of "saving faith," and that is belief.
Belief. has to be based upon facts, or else it is mere superstition. If I hear the facts, and know the facts, then I make a decision to accept them as true or to reject them as false. Most of you listening to my voice have KNOWLEDGE of the facts of the Gospel, and I would say that most, if not all of you, BELIEVE those facts. You probably believe that Christ lived a sinless life, and that He went to the Cross and died for your sins and rose again the 3rd day, just like the Bible says. And many of you believe that we are in the last days, and that Jesus will soon return. And yet some of you are not sure of heaven, not sure that your sins are forgiven, not sure that you are saved. WHY? Because you don't yet have "saving faith."
You say, what are you talking about, preacher? Just what do you mean. That brings us to the 3rd element of "saving faith," the clincher, if you will. Many of you know the gospel and believe that the gospel is true, but you're not saved. Again the question - WHY? The answer is because you haven't yet - and here's the key element of "saving faith" - you haven't yet TRUSTED in that gospel and the Saviour who died for you.
Trust is the kind of faith the Bible is speaking of that saves and gives assurance of salvation. When the Bible says "that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins," it means that you must depend upon and rely upon and count on Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the Cross to save you and get you to heaven.
Let me try to illustrate. You've heard of Abraham Lincoln. You know the facts about his birth, his youth, his career, his fame as president, and his assassination. Everyone knows the facts about Lincoln and what he did. Not only does everyone know the facts, but everyone believes they are true. But does anyone TRUST Abraham Lincoln to do anything for them today? Can you rely on him, can you depend upon Abe Lincoln to help you out? Of course the answer is no. Why? Because he is dead, and he can't help anybody.
Now, think of this. You know the facts about Christ. You believe those facts. And you can also do more than that. You can TRUST the Lord Jesus Christ in this life to get you to heaven in the next life. HOW? By accepting by faith what He did for you. He died for your sins. He paid the penalty of your sins. He suffered the judgment of God for you. He was bruised for your iniquities. He was wounded for your transgressions. He rose again for your justification. He says that if you'll come to Him by faith, and accept Him as your personal Saviour, that He'll forgive your sins so you won't have to go to hell, and He'll give you eternal life so you can go to heaven. Not only that, but He'll come and live inside your heart and He'll change your life. The Bible says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)
Let me conclude by reiterating the fact that the Bible teaches that salvation is conditioned upon repentance and faith. Neither one of these is a work. Both are matters of the heart. Not baptism, church membership, tithing, nor any other good work can merit salvation or get your sins forgiven.
Throughout the Bible we see that the forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon repentance and faith. All you need is a Bible and concordance to see this fact. The verse we began with said that the "gospel of the grace of God" was "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
Have you done what the Bible says to do? Have you repented and believed the gospel?
Remember what we said that John Wesley said? Repentance is the porch, and faith is the door, that leads to salvation.
Maybe this morning God has spoken to you heart about being saved. If so, why don't you repent, and come up on the porch, and then believe the gospel by trusting Christ as your Saviour, and come through the door and be saved today?
Some of you are on the porch right now. You agree with the Bible. You know you need to be saved. But you haven't yet come through the door of faith. You're still standing on the porch. You know you can die on the porch, and be lost forever. You need to come through the door by putting your faith and trust in the Saviour. Some of you are so close. Some of you are almost persuaded, yet you still hesitate. Why not, right now, where you are, accept Christ as your Savior, and come on through the door and be saved? Don't put the Lord off anymore. Be saved today.
From your heart, just say, "Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I now repent of my sin, and accept you into my heart as my Saviour this very moment."
We hope that many of you listening today have trusted Christ as Saviour. If you haven't, before the day is out, we pray that you will settle the matter and be saved.
Until next week, may God bless you and keep you is our prayer.
Are you saved? Are you studying your Bible? Are you living for Christ? I hope that you are. If you are not, our prayer is that you will come to know Christ as your Saviour today, get in the word of God, and live for Him.
Solid Rock Baptist Church - Serving the Lord in the Memphis/Mid-South area