Believe trust and exercise faith westcliff bible church

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What Must I Do To Be Saved

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If one browses a typical tract rack in a Biblebelieving church, he may be surprised at the number of terms and phrases that are given as conditions for salvation. Gospel appeals come across variously as "believe," "repent," "confess," "deny self," "yield," "surrender," "receive," "accept," "make Jesus Lord," "ask Jesus into the heart," "forsake all," etc. Sometimes the terms are combined to give three, four, or five steps to salvation (e.g., first repent, then believe, then confess, and so forth). Do all of these terms mean the same thing? Is there one, or is there more than one, condition for salvation? Before a Christian is ready to witness, and certainly before an evangelist is equipped to speak in public, the question, "What must I do to be saved?" must be answered with precision!

Believe, Trust, and Exercise Faith

Many Scriptural texts present the only condition for salvation as being belief (synonyms: trust and faith). In fact, there are more than 150 New Testament passages where salvation is conditioned upon believing alone. If any other requirement is added, it will cause these verses to be incomplete and misleading. Therefore, all terms that express a condition genuinely necessary for salvation (such as repentance) must be interpreted as to be compatible with a salvation based upon faith alone. Terms that cannot be made compatible with faith alone as a condition for salvation are used improperly and dangerously at best and, at worst, are sheer heresy.

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What must I do to be Saved?

All Protestant theologians began with that basic tenet of the Reformation, sola fide, faith alone. Here are some of the key texts where the Bible declares faith alone brings salvation:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" [John 3:16].

"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" [John 3:18].

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" [John 5:24].

"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day" [John 6:40].

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life" [John 6:47].

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" [John 11:25-26].

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples,

What Must I Do To Be Saved

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which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name [John 20:30-31].

"[A]nd through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things..." [Acts 13:39].

"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household" [Acts 16:30-31].

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes... [Rom. 1:16].

...even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe...[Rom. 3:22].

...whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith [Rom. 3:25].

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law [Rom. 3:28 ].

...since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one [Rom. 3:30].

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness...[Rom. 4:5].

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What must I do to be Saved?

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [Rom. 5:1].

For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed"....So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ [Rom. 10:11, 17].

"[N]evertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" [Gal. 2:16].

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham [Gal. 3:6-7].

Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "the righteous man shall live by faith" [Gal. 3:11].

But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe [Gal. 3:22].

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith [Gal. 3:24].

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus [Gal. 3:26].

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For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast [Eph. 2:8-9].

It is possible to accept the Scriptural fact that faith alone saves but give a wrong definition to faith. It is imperative that saving faith be accurately defined by Scriptural contexts.

The Hebrew Background

for the Meaning of Faith

With the exception of Dr. Luke, all the New Testament authors were Jews, and all the authors were conversant with the Old Testament. Their understanding of faith would be based upon the meaning of faith in the Old Testament.

The Hebrew word for "to believe" is aman, which relates to our word Amen. In some verbal stems (qal/hiphil), the word means "to be firm, to support, to be secure, to be faithful." B.B. Warfield, that great theologian from Princeton, says aman describes "whatever holds, is steady, or can be depended upon."1 This definition is based upon observation of how aman is used in the Old Testament.

Aman (in the qal stem) is used of people who are caretakers for children who support and sustain them (support by literally carrying them or by financial support). The word means "foster father" or "nurse"

1 Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, ed. Samuel G. Craig, reprint ed. (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1968) 429.

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What must I do to be Saved?

in Num. 11:12; Ruth 4:16; 2 Sam. 4:4; 2 Kings 10:1, 5; Esth. 2:7; Isa. 49:23; Lam. 4:5. A guardian, nurse, nanny, or foster father, is someone on whom the infant utterly depends. He or she is reliable, trustworthy, dependable, firm, and supportive. Aman is used (in the qal stem) of door posts and pillars which are supportive, secure, firm, in 2 Kings 18:16 and with a negative in Jer. 15:18 to describe an unreliable stream.

Another grammatical form of aman (the niphal) yields the same meaning. The word refers to something that is firm, supportive, and dependable. Isaiah uses the word of a wall that can securely hold a nail in Isa. 22:23, 25 and of supporting children in Isa. 60:4. There are references to a stream that can be relied upon to provide water and not go dry in Isa. 33:16 and a kingdom that will be stable in 2 Sam. 7:16. When this form of aman is used of personal beings, the meaning is that God can be depended upon to keep a promise (e.g., Deut. 7:9; Psa. 89:28) and that a treasurer can be relied upon in handling money (Neh. 13:13). These examples prove that the Hebrew word aman refers to firmness, dependability, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and reliability.

From these usages one would expect that the causative form of aman (the hiphil) means not so much to be firm, dependable so forth but to "consider someone or something to be firm, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, reliable." The change is from being a faithful one to considering another to be a faithful one. When we consider another to have these characteristics we are trusting them, depending upon

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