Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH”

Philippians 3.8c-9

Turn to Philippians chapter three, standing with me for the reading of God’s Word. I begin with the last phrase of verse 8:

8      . . . that I may win Christ,

9      And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

In Luke 13.24 the Lord Jesus Christ declared, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Many will seek to get through heaven’s gate, and shall not be able to. In another passage Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”[1]

Despite the way most churchy folks behave, and despite the shallow façade of optimism that most people display about their own and about other people’s eternal destinies, most people are yet lost in their sins and will go straight to Hell when they die. Thus is it presently and thus has it always been. Remember, when God brought judgment on the entire human race during Noah’s day, though men had been calling on the name of the LORD for centuries according to Genesis 4.26, when the end came only eight souls were saved from God’s wrath. Eight. Out of an entire race of human beings only eight people saved.

My friends, it has always been the way it is today. The incomprehensibly vast majority of souls are lost and shall ever remain. Anyone who denies this simply refuses to pay attention to the words of the Savior in the gospels. The great majority of your family members are lost and shall remain so, though you should exhaust every means to see them brought to Christ. The great majority of those who through the years have passed through our doors are lost and shall remain so. I am not happy to say that. Down through the centuries, however, the reason from a human observation point of view why the lost remain lost has changed somewhat. For most of human history lost men have remained lost because they never once, in their entire lifetimes, ever heard the gospel. Not one time have most who have ever lived heard declared unto them the unsearchable riches of Christ.

However, you wonder if that is true today. With radio, television, the print media, and the Internet, a huge portion of the human race has had some contact with the truth that Jesus saves. Exactly how much of what they have heard or read is true and not a perversion, I do not know. Exactly how much of the truth is presented in a way pleasing to God, which is to say by the foolishness of preaching, I do not know. Let me be so bold as to say that, at least in the United States of America, the reason why so many who are lost are lost is not because they have never been exposed to the truth, or some variation of the truth. The reason why so many, even the overwhelming majority of so-called Christians, are lost and will remain lost is because you do not comprehend that saving faith must have a saving Object.

LET US LOOK, FIRST, AT SAVING FAITH

What is saving faith? Saving faith is faith by means of which the person with faith is actually saved. That may sound trite to you, but there are a great many people who are presumed to be people of faith, and they may be “people of faith” (whatever that means), but they do not have saving faith because they are not, according to the Bible criteria of salvation, saved. Let me tell you some things about saving faith to help you identify it as the real McCoy. Faith, saving faith, is given to sinners by God Himself: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2.8. Specifically, it is the Spirit of God who brings about faith in one’s bosom, Second Corinthians 4.13. And God does not give faith to sinners for them to just hang on to for the longest time. So don’t think there are folks walking around with stagnant faith, ready to believe whenever they decide to. Nonsense. Paul also tells us that “all men have not faith,” Second Thessalonians 3.2. Generally speaking, then, lost people do not have saving faith and could not be saved if they wanted to. This is because God only gives faith to sinners by means of gospel preaching: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Romans 10.17. A study of the entire tenth chapter of Romans reveals how indispensable preaching is to imparting faith to a sinner. To repeat, saving faith is a gift that God gives to sinners, #1, and He deigns to give this gift of faith to sinners by means of gospel preaching, #2. As well, saving faith is a faith that is alone and independent of works of righteousness. Romans 4.5 shows this very clearly: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Therefore, what faith is is a gift that God gives to sinners, by means of gospel preaching, and it functions independently of man’s efforts to save himself. That is what faith, saving faith, is.

But what is saving faith not? Sometimes you can more clearly understand what something is by seeing clearly what it is not. Let me illustrate for you what saving faith is not by providing for you two examples: Saving faith is not something you conjure up yourself in the absence of God’s Word and gospel preaching. Years ago some retired folks were riding a bus back to San Francisco from a gambling excursion to Reno when the bus wrecked in the mountains. One lady talked about her experiences while the bus was over on its side, before rescue workers came for them. In the televised interview she said, “I knew we would be okay if we could just get everyone to believe.” My friends, in the absence of both the Word of God and preaching, the faith that lady described was not saving faith, but some conjured up notion that people concentrating really hard could somehow alter reality and affect the outcome. And, of course, their rescue convinced them it all came about as the result of this so-called “faith.” Neither is saving faith an intellectual conclusion drawn by someone who merely ponders things spiritual and then reaches a decision. So many in religion today exercise a faith that is nothing more than a logical conclusion. Such is the religion of many in the evangelical community. However, such is not saving faith which is given by God under the preaching of the gospel. My friends, understand that saving faith comes through or is given as the result of gospel preaching.

NOW WE LOOK AT THE SAVING OBJECT

First, look at Who it is. We learn in the Old Testament that imputed righteousness comes by faith. The examples of both Abraham and David show this. In the New Testament our focus is sharpened, so that we might see what the proper Object of such saving faith is. And what do we clearly see? We clearly see that the only proper Object of saving faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4.12. This is what Paul means when he repeats the phrase in his letters to the Romans, Galatians and Philippians, “the faith of Christ.” This is what he and Silas meant when they responded to the Philippian jailor’s question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” by telling him to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”[2] This, too, is what the Lord Jesus meant when He declared Himself to be the resurrection and the life, when He declared Himself to be the bread of life, when He declared Himself to be the water of life, when He declared Himself to be the door, when He declared Himself to be the light of the world, when He declared Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life, and when He declared Himself to be the True Vine.[3] This is Jesus, the second Person of the triune Godhead, the eternal, coequal, uncreated, Son of the living God. This is Jesus Who came from heaven’s glory to be born of a virgin named Mary, Who suffered and bled and died for our sins, Who rose the third day victorious over sin, death, Hell and the grave, and Who even now lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of the Father. This One Who is the author and finisher of the Christian faith is the only proper object of saving faith.

That established, it is important to show who is not the proper object of saving faith. First, let me say, reverently, that the Father, God, is not the proper object of saving faith. Believing in God is a wonderful thing, but no sinner will be saved by believing in God. It is God’s Son, Jesus Christ, Who is the Savior of sinful men, for He it is Whose blood was shed to cleanse you from your sins. To try to come to God by bypassing His Son is to denigrate the sacrifice of His Son and is a sign that your faith is not saving faith.[4] Next, let me respectfully say that the precious Holy Spirit is not the Object of saving faith. True, the Holy Spirit is the Author of faith, Second Corinthians 4.13. True, the Holy Spirit is the One Who works the indispensable miracle of the New Birth, John 3.5. True, the Holy Spirit is the actual Author of God’s infallible and innerrant Word, Second Timothy 3.16 and Second Peter 1.21. Thus, though the Holy Spirit is an integral part of every saint’s salvation experience, the Spirit points sinners to Jesus Christ for salvation, John 16.13, not speaking of Himself but of Christ to the sinner. Third, saving faith will not have for its object the Mary of Roman Catholicism or the Roman Catholic Church. The Mary of Romanism is not the Mary of the Bible, the mother of Jesus, in my opinion. The Mary of the Bible admitted her own sinfulness and need of a Savior, in Luke 1.47. The real mother of Jesus Christ offered up sacrifices for her own sins, Luke 2.21-24. Saving faith will never look to Mary for forgiveness of sins and salvation, since the real Mary, the Mary of the Bible, pointed all to her Son, the Lord Jesus. The same is true of the blasphemous Roman Catholic Church and its Mass and exaltation of their Mary as the sinless Medatrix between man and God, though Christ alone is shown to be the one Mediator between God and man, First Timothy 2.5. Fourth, saving faith will not have for its object the infallible Word of God. The infallible Word of God points men to Jesus Christ as the Savior, not to the pages of the blessed Book. To the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” John 5.39. Fifth, saving faith will not have for its object a good deed or an admission of historical fact. Titus 3.5 begins, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” So, can a prayer save you? Can baptism save you? Can tithing save you? Can good deeds of any kind save you? No. Neither can reliance on any historical event save you. Jesus did die on the cross. But believing that saves no one. Large numbers of unbelievers grant that not only did Jesus Christ die on the cross, but that He rose from the dead, but such admissions do not save them.[5]

The sad truth is that most people will live out their lives and die and go to Hell. Most people, the vast majority, will never be saved. Now, it is true that each and every sinner who goes to Hell very much deserves to suffer the wrath of God, but it is a great tragedy, nevertheless, that every sinner has not heard the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.[6] This is why we must bring the lost to church to hear the gospel. An even greater tragedy, in my mind, is to ruin a perfectly good opportunity to preach the gospel to sinners by confusing them with unscriptural and imprecise notions about faith and Who or what to embrace by faith for forgiveness of sins. Keep in mind that our Savior was very direct in pointing out the narrowness of God’s plan for saving sinners from their sins, as He pointed out in Matthew 7.13-14:

13     Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14     Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

My friends, it is highly likely that I have attended a great many more church services in a great many more different kinds of churches than you have. I’ve been to Roman Catholic services, Mormon services, Episcopalian services, Lutheran services, Brethren services, Pentecostal services, Charismatic services, Southern Baptist services, Independent Baptist services, military ecumenical services, Indian religious services called long house ceremonies, rescue mission services, convalescent hospital services, jail house services, Chinese language services, Thai language services, Spanish language services, Seminole language services, Korean language services, Nepalese language services, and Arabic language services. I’ve got more experience in this than you do, okay?

Additionally, those who know me know that I strive to be a human vacuum cleaner when it comes to gathering information about various beliefs and perversions of Christianity and doctrinal deviancy. I am not bragging about being infallible. Those of you now know me know that I would never pretend to be infallible. My ability to forget, misstate, and get confused about dates and times are well known to all. However, I am familiar with your spiritual condition and why you are probably not saved. The underlying reason, of course, is that you are a sinner and your depraved heart has demonstrated its capacity to deceive and delude you. That is common to all sinners throughout human history.

What may distinguish you from those in times past, and those in many other countries, is your exposure to God’s Word. You have heard Bible teachers and expositors, and you think you think you are saved. But you are not saved, and in all likelihood you will not be saved. Let me tell you why: First, you do not have saving faith. Second, you do not have the Biblical Object of faith. I’m not striving to convince you of this. I only declare to you the truth. You do not have saving faith. You do not have saving Object. You may think you do. Perhaps you’re convinced you do. But you likely do not. If you did have saving faith in a saving object, if you did have saving faith in Jesus Christ, instead of what it is you do have, you would be saved now and living a quite different life than you currently are.

I cannot conclude without speaking to those of you who are lost and you know you are lost. Perhaps you are lost and discouraged by the frustration of false hopes. Do not allow a false hope to so discourage you that you pass up an opportunity for that false hope to be a learning experience. Sit down and talk with me so we can discover the cause of the false hope and prayerfully correct the matter. Perhaps it will lead to your genuine conversion. The most important issue for each of us is to be truly converted, so that you will someday win Christ and be found in Him. But will this happen to you in your present condition? Not until you are saved for real.



[1] Matthew 22.14

[2] Acts 16.31

[3] John 6.35; 8.12; 10.7; 11.25; 14.6; 15.1

[4] Matthew 26.28; John 6.53-56; Acts 20.28; Romans 3.25; 5.9; Ephesians 1.7; 2.13; Colossians 1.14, 20; Hebrews 9.14, 22; 10.19; 12.24; 13.12; 1 Peter 1.2, 19; 1 John 1.7; 5.6, 8; Revelation 1.5; 5.9; 12.11; 19.13

[5] Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2004) pages 48-77.

[6] Romans 1.16



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org