The illustration of where we take our broken-down car tells us a lot about faith. Faith determines our actions. When you have a mechanic you trust, and the car breaks down, you do not even think about what to do, you pick up the phone or drive into his shop. Our faith in him is so strong it becomes a natural impulse to go to him. The amount of trust we have in our mechanic determines the actions we take when our vehicle breaks down.
Our relationship with God is the same way. Salvation is by faith.
• John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
• John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
• Romans 3:28 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
• Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “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.”
Salvation is by faith, but have you ever noticed the emphasis the Bible puts on repentance? The King James Version uses “repent” 43 times and “repentance” 26 times. When Jesus began His public ministry, the Bible tells us the main thrust of His preaching was repentance. Matthew 4:17, “From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus emphasizes repentance so much He repeats the need for it when explaining things to the crowd (Luke 13:3,5). Jesus is stressing the need to repent.
The Bible goes as far as to explain that repentance is the will of God for every person. • 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
So which is it? Is it faith or the works of repentance that saves us?
It is faith. However, saving faith is not just believing something is true. In our mechanic story, let us say my mechanic is Mr. Smith. Jones, however, is a mechanic down the street. I believe Jones is a good mechanic. I think if I took my car to him, he could fix it without a problem, but my faith is in Smith. My faith in Smith dictates my actions. I drive past Jones’ garage and drive into Smith’s. My faith in Jones does not determine what I do; my faith in Smith does.
In other words, saving faith will bring about the action of repentance. Four times the Bible tells us the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). Saving faith puts our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. When we trust in His actions, His death and Resurrection, in the fact that Jesus is the only sacrifice God accepts for our sins (Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2,4:10), that faith will bring about the action of confession (Romans 10:9-10). It will also bring about a love in our heart where we desire to obey God. John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
When saving faith is applied, our heart changes (2 Corinthians 5:17). There will be some sins that as soon as salvation comes, we will no longer want anything to do with; things we may have done every day. I have known alcoholics the day they placed their faith in Christ poured hundreds of dollars of liquor down the drain and never touched another drop – the heart changed at salvation. Instead of loving the booze they now detested it. This immediate hate of alcohol will not be the same with everyone that drinks because just as there are some sins we immediately begin to despise, there will be some that will be difficult to depart from, but the heart will have the desire to leave. What may come immediately for one may be a struggle for another. However, the more faith we place in Him, the more His word will guide our actions. The more natural it will become to do what God tells us to do, just like our mechanic.
When it comes to God; does your faith in Him determine your actions? True faith always will.
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email him at [email protected] Sermons and archived Preacher’s Points may be found at preacherspoint.wordpress.com.