THE JOHN 3:5 PROJECT
into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles...
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. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022
Jesus Christ has provided all that we need to be reconciled to him. He became humanity’s atonement to remove the penalty of sin (1 John 2:2). He has given us baptism to remove personal sin (Romans 6:1-9, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). He has given us his spirit to lead and guide us in the ways of righteousness and to keep the path of holiness (John 14:26). We have prayer to dialog with God, fasting to strengthen God’s spiritual hold and to weaking the power of the flesh (Isaiah 58:6); and we have his word for instruction and inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16). For all God has given us, he only has one requirement of us; faith. We read in:
Hebrews 11:6"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.
Faith is not simply a cognitive acknowledgement of God, his greatness, holy nature, or even his work in redeeming man. True faith, "biblical" faith, "expresses" the characteristics of God through our actions. Faith testifies to "who" God is and exemplifies belief and trust in him as a matter of " fact". That expression is not contrived, but impulsive. "Trust" in God activates the power of God to operate in our lives and in whatever situation we have (Matthew 13:54-58). Our interaction with God and our affirmative response to his will, "is" an expression of faith. At minimum, it is a testimony to the belief that God exists, that he sees and hears and that there is an expectation that he will respond.
The things that we "do" are the expression of what we think and what we believe in our hearts. Our expressions will either confirm or deny our belief and trust in God. The "expression" of faith is essential to salvation. Salvation is not the result of "recitation" and "assertion." That is, repeating a prayer, and then asserting salvation. The penitent heart expressing remorse for sin and a desire for God's forgiveness will always include a figurative "rsvp" from him. God will always respond to the sincere plea for redemption with the gift of the Holy Spirit. "THAT" is the response from God for "true" repentance and it is the new birth (Acts 2:38, Acts 11:15-18). There is no salvation apart from receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We read in:
1 Corinthians 12:13"For by "one Spirit" are we all baptized "into one body" , whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit .
Faith is not conjured within a vacuum; it always has a basis; a justification for "why" one believes and why one acts. It begins with:
Evidence, or the "perception" of evidence, is the basis of "all" belief. It is the "fuel" that powers belief. We place our confidence in things that have been demonstrated to be true, or things we "expect" to be true (based on some evidence). Hebrews 12:2 states "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith...;" We cannot know God exists or is present unless he makes himself known. Since man cannot see God directly (John 1:18) we must rely on God for his provisions of "proof." God is both responsible for our ability to believe in him, and the justification "for" believing in him. We read in:
Romans 1:20"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are "without" excuse."
Belief is the byproduct of evidence (or the perception of evidence). It is the acceptance that something is true. As with "evidence", it is important to recognize that "belief" does not necessarily reflect "truth", but merely reflects the basis, or perceived basis that something "is" true. It is also important to state that "truth", as it pertains to God is never at issue (John 14:6), only acceptance.
Action is the manifestation of "belief"; it authenticates trust in something or someone. True belief is evinced through some action that testifies to an affirmative state of mind. Those of us who drive an automobile rarely give any consideration to our ability to stop the vehicle when necessary. Our primary objective is to navigate to our destination. If being able to stop the car were a concern, would we operate it in the first place; probably not. Starting the car, putting it in gear, and stepping on the accelerator authenticates our trust in the car's ability to stop when necessary. Now of course, brake failure can happen on rare occasions; in such a case, our belief and trust in the car's ability to stop is "perception" as it does not represent truth.
As it applies to God, Jesus said "If you love me, KEEP my commandments" (John 14:15). Jesus clearly predicates love for him on adhering to his commands. In other words, "keeping" God’s commandments is "evidence" that we "love" him. What we "do" authenticates what we believe. In essence, love for God must go beyond a "state of mind." That state of mind must flower into action. Jesus, recalling the prophesy of Esaias to the Scribes and Pharisees, said:
Matthew 15:8"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
The words of Jesus state in "no uncertain terms" that what came out of their mouths was "NOT" reflected in their "actions." Jesus also said in:
John 15:13"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
The "expressions" of the heart are manifest through our actions.
Faith as it applies to salvation
With God’s choice to redeem man, and man’s opportunity for securing his eternal existence, we begin to see the dichotomous nature within salvation separating the work of God and the criteria applicable to man. This "acquisition-availability" model describes salvation as:
The scriptural basis for the "availability-acquisition" model of salvation is found in Ephesians 2:8-9. This verse specifies the boundaries between the work of God and the response of man “to” the work of God. We read in:
Ephesians 2:8-9"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
Clearly Ephesians 2:8-9 illustrates that God is the engineer of the road back to eternal life by way of divine prerogative; and that man is the beneficiary of eternal life by way of a designated "criteria." God has specified that criteria as being "faith." Not a cognitive acknowledgement of God or affirmative assertion of his ways, but a living, active "response" to God by way of compliance (Romans 12). In dissecting Ephesians 2:8-9 in to smaller components we see that faith is not separate from our response to God, but the very testament of faith itself. We read:
"For it is by grace "you have been" saved"…
• Grace is defined as "unmerited" favor. Despite man’s rebellion against God, and God’s complete justification in judgement, God "opted " to give man a second chance to a restored relationship, and as such, eternal life. This was "solely " out of “his” goodness, and love for man (John 3:16).
• Salvation comes THROUGH faith – faith is the "active" manifestation of belief in God. God provided the "path" to eternal life, but man must "walk" (action) that path. This doesn’t omit God "from" the path. God equips man "to" walk the path and is there with each step "along" the way. We read the definition of biblical faith in Hebrews 11. In these verses, we see how "belief", a confident trust in God, manifests itself into some "action" from man and "response" from God. Faith is NOT a cognitive acknowledgement "alone." It is a cognitive acknowledgement AND a physical response to it; some action.
• The bible says in Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh(action) to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder (response) of them that diligently seek him. " Trust in God must go beyond acknowledgement. That trust must bloom into some discernable "action" or it is no more than an idea. James 2:26 says "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
"and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…"
• The chance at a restored relationship with God, and eternal life, was purely the result of "divine prerogative." A second chance at the utopian existence that man unfortunately forfeited, is truly a "gift" of "gifts" that he must "accept". Acceptance of God gift is "demonstrated" through action, not cognition alone (James 2:26).
"not by works, so that no one can boast."
• It has already been established that the "second chance" to live eternally and in harmony with God was "purely" divine entitlement. There were no actions man could contrive as reparations to God for his rebellion against him. " However", the provision of eternal life is not "imparted" to man by "default." If man is to be granted eternal life (Acts 11:15-18) then we MUST operate (verb - action) "within" the salvation framework erected by God; that is the "application" of "faith." Simple "acknowledgment" through recitation and an assertion of salvation is not salvation nor is it faith. It does not, will not, and cannot save anyone.
• Cornelius (Romans 10) had belief in God, so much so that God sent an angel to him. We know Cornelius believed, because he didn’t dismiss his encounter with the angel as hallucination or dream, and because he followed (action) the instruction of God through the angel. However, despite his belief in God, he was incomplete. Clearly, Cornelius’ had faith, and his heart was sincere, but sincerity and a belief in God is not enough. Jesus said “ye must be born again (John 3:7). God sent Peter to Cornelius, to give him the gospel and to "instruct" him on what "he must do" (Acts 10:6). There were only two actions Cornelius could have taken in response to Peter’s instructions, which are completely consistent with Peter’s instructions to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:38, and that is REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED IN WATER. Cornelius received forgiveness for sin through water baptism and the new birth through the infilling of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues (Acts 10:44-48). Peter confirms this as the new birth experience in Acts 11:15-18, emphasis on verse 18 (last verse), which reads:
According to the bible, Cornelius received the new birth "first", THEN, water baptism, but the order is irrelevant. We read in:
Acts 11:15-18"And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. "
Acts 5:32"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath "given" to them "that obey him." "
God filled Cornelius because he knew Cornelius would submit to the edict of Jesus Christ for water baptism (Matthew 28:19-20).
Faith is as vital to a relationship with God as the new birth itself. However, the bible does not treat "repentance" or "water baptism" a work of man" for salvation; neither does the bible treat repentance or water baptism as something "apart" from faith or appendages to "faith" , they are in fact the very essence of faith, belief, and trust in God.