Monday, June 5, 2017
We had just arrived at the condo where we would be staying during our brief journey in Gatlinburg. A young man was cleaning up the sidewalk on one side of the pool. He saw us pull in and greeted us. After a few pleasant remarks, he stated, “I wonder if I might ask you a question?” We agreed. He asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Coming from an seventeen or eighteen year old person caught us off guard. My reply was, “Faith in Jesus as our Savior!” That reply caught him off guard. He expected us to say something else. However, his face quickly brightened and he said, “You’re right! We must have faith in Jesus as our Savior!” He then told us that most people reply with, “You must join a church,” or “you must be baptized,” or “you must be good,” or “you have to get the Holy Spirit.”
Another young man appeared, needed that young man to help on some work project, so he bid us goodbye and we never saw either one of them again. There are not many, including myself, that would walk up to a stranger and ask that question. So, I admired him for his interruption and faith in doing so. Being caught off guard, and him being called away so soon after our short conversation, I didn’t have time to ask him a question that came to me after they disappeared.
It is true that Jesus saves. If it were not for his sacrifice, I would still be in my sins. If it were not for his resurrection, I would have no hope. If his righteousness had not been bestowed upon me, I would be left with nothing more than my worthless rags (Isaiah 64:6).
The answers given by others may have had some merit, but anything we do which falls into that category isn’t our savior. Paul joined himself to the disciples, but he was already saved (Acts 9:26). Baptism is not our savior, being with Jesus in his death and resurrection is (Romans 6:3-6; 1 Peter 3:21). Being “good” is a result of being saved by Jesus (2 Peter 1:5-10). One receives the Holy Spirit, but that is a gift for those who have already been blessed (Acts 2:37-39).
Faith is important, but it is sometimes believed and taught out of context. Yes, the eunuch wanted to be immersed, but first Philip had to begin with Isaiah’s text to preach Jesus to him (Acts 8:35; Isaiah 53:1-12). Faith comes by hearing the word (Romans 10:17). Without that faith, we cannot be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Without Jesus, immersion is little more than a speedy bath without soap. Yet, some believed or had faith in Jesus but refused to confess him (John 12:42). So, not every faith held was a saving one!
I wanted to see the young man again to ask him if his faith made him tremble. The devils believed so intensely in Jesus that they did (James 2:19). If our faith did not motivate us to tremble, would theirs be stronger that ours? What separates our faith from theirs? If trembling is the criteria, they win! Some believe one must obey Jesus and submit to immersion to prove their faith is a valid one. If one refused to obey, it proves his faith is as bogus as the faith held by the devils. The equation would look like this:
✤Faith + obedience in immersion = a faith that is validated as a saving one.
✤Faith – obedience in immersion = a bogus faith because it has not been validated by one’s submission to Christ Jesus.
Faith or belief is sometimes like the word “love.” Saying “I love chocolate ice cream” is a different kind of love than one spouse saying to the other, “I love you.” James talks about a faith which makes devils tremble, but it isn’t enough to motivate them to be obedient. Their faith is not validated. The faith which Abraham and Rahab possessed was.
If Jesus is your Savior, is it just talk, or have you obeyed him as about three thousand did on Pentecost (Acts 2:41).