Faith: Not a Condition of Salvation, but the Evidence of It
Salvation belongs to the Lord in its entirety (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1). God’s chosen people are saved by the grace of God (Eph 2:8); and God’s grace is whatever God does to will and to do His good pleasure in saving His people from their sins (Mt 1:21; Phil 2:13). This grace includes His giving elect, redeemed sinners the gift of the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13; Acts 2:38; 10:45).
In sending the Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26), God the Father and God the Son have a purpose. God’s purpose is to give life (new, abundant, eternal) to spiritually dead men (Jn 6:63; 1 Cor 2:14–15; Eph 2:1, 5). This is not just a change, even a participatory transformation. It is a new creation manifesting a new life in the new creature said to be “in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).”
Ungodly, guilty, sinners are justified before the judgment of God, only by the blood of Christ (Jesus’ death on the cross), only if they are elect before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4–5; Rev 13:8; 17:8). The natural man, at enmity with God (Rom 1:30; Jn 7:7), cannot believe this good news by His own wisdom or will. The death of a substitute sacrifice (Lev 16; Mt 26:28), for his sins against the holy God, is untenable to him. It is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18).
Man-centered theology loves to focus on man. Man is responsible for his sin problem (Rom 3:23; 5:12; 6:23; Heb 9:27; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11), which causes his separation from God. There is nothing, however, in God’s salvation that demands man’s partnership with God in His work of salvation (a Trinitarian work). The unbiblical schemes of men vary in how much man must purportedly contribute to execute a successful salvation. This is the work of religion that places conditions on every person to perform some act, in order to meet the prescribed condition.
In works-based salvation, man must “do” something in order to be saved. This ranges from an uncertain number and types of works — to a simple, singular “just make a decision to have faith” conditional work. The point is that whether one condition or many, this is a false gospel. Our focus here will be to remove faith as a condition of salvation without denying its mandatory place in the order of salvation.
We begin by establishing the proposition that faith is a manifested reality predicated on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the soul of a man. Stated differently, if one has faith in Jesus Christ, it is because he has the indwelling Holy Spirit. If one does not have faith, it is because he does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11).
Men want faith to be a condition of salvation, so they might maintain man’s responsibility. Faith, however, is a gift of God, granted to whomever God wills to give it (Rom 12:3; 1 Cor 12:9; Gal 3:22; 5:22; Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2). It is a product of the Spirit’s work in the one He permanently occupies. The fruit of the Spirit is…faithfulness (Gal 5:22). A person is a professor/practitioner of faith because the indwelling Spirit is willing and doing His good pleasure in and through the saint (Ps 57:2; 138:8; Phil 1:6; 2:13).
In terms of the covenant of grace, Jesus Christ is the sole covenant keeper. Unconditional salvation presents to us an unconditional covenant, in which God the Father sets the terms which are exclusively met by God the Son, incarnate (Jn 1:14). In Christ, the second Adam, a reconciliation between offender man and offended God is achieved (Rom 5:12–21; 2 Cor 5:18–20).
Imagine the covenant as a fortress/shelter/safe house where the occupants are saved from trouble outside, as with Noah’s Ark (Gen 6–9). Christ is the ark of our salvation both in the Noahic use of the term and the Temple sense (blood of the unblemished lamb upon the mercy seat). The key is to be “in” the ark or “in” the covenant agreement kept. Outside and one is a dead man, but inside is salvation (life). Like real estate, the issue is location.
Being outside (state) and being inside (state) did demand a condition be met for one’s juxtaposition. Perfect compliance for the covenant demanded perfect obedience to the Law. Only Jesus, as the federal Head of His new race of people (Rom 5:12–21), fulfilled the Law (Mt 5:17), hence, the covenant (Mt 26:28). Grace, by definition, is the work of God for the benefit (salvation) of His chosen people (1 Pet 2:9). What the elect needed was to be moved from one state (outside) to the preferable state (inside). Jesus met the condition which made the transfer, not just possible…but a reality. There is one Mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).
To claim that faith is a condition of salvation is to claim that Jesus did not successfully meet the covenant condition in whole. In truth, He did. There is nothing required of dead men in their trespasses and sins to do…nothing (Rom 4:5; Eph 2:1). An assured salvation means one must be made alive, born again, be grafted in, transferred, etc. and these concepts all point to the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; Rom 11:17, 19, 23–24; Eph 2:5; Col 1:13; 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3).
Faith is evidence of new life (receipt of the Spirit of Christ). It is acceptable for preachers to call all people to repentance and faith (Acts 16:30–31; 17:30). These are elements that illumine one’s status (outside/inside) and what must happen for a status change. Far better than the Arminian altar call for sinners to “do” something is the pastor’s call upon the Lord, at the altar of God, for Him to pour out His Spirit upon those He intends to save. Instead of asking dead men to self-generate spiritual life, by deciding to love the One they hate (Rom 1:30; Jn 7:7), it is far more prudent to ask God to grant faith in the measure of His choosing upon vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23; 12:3; Phil 1:29).
Faith is not a condition of the covenant of grace. That is an oxymoron. Faith is evidence of a fulfilled covenant (all conditions met by Christ the Mediator) and the successful application of the blessings of the covenant — a work of the Spirit. Gifted from God, not as a condition, but as an assurance, means that faith is far superior to an unachievable condition to facilitate a change of state. The believer, having received the grace of faith, has no choice but to believe. He believes because God has given him His Spirit, who has made him believe.
If one were to preach, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,” the proper response is not, “Ok, I will do that,” The proper response is, “Yes, I agree that is the truth.” To positionally be “in” Christ is to manifestly believe “on.” The only reason for this manifestation of faith is the Holy Spirit, “the faith manifester.” The Holy Spirit is not a condition of salvation. He is salvation. One person has the Spirit, and one does not. Thus, one person has faith, and one does not. Faith in Jesus Christ is the evidence of things not seen…like the invisible Spirit of the Living God.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 18, 2022