Monday, Mar. 20
Christian leaders have gone ’round and ’round on exactly what an unbeliever must do to be saved. Evangelicals are particularly concerned that “works” is not a part of it. It is by grace alone through faith alone. This was a key subject back in the Reformation period. It still is one of the sticking points between Roman Catholics and Protestants. John’s focus in the gospel of John is entirely on belief. But the focus is not on the cross per se, but on Jesus’ claim that he was the promised Messiah. That has to be basic, particularly to the Jews. If he was the Messiah, his message would have to be accepted and followed. Conversely, if he was not the Messiah, he would be out of his mind or a liar—and rejected. To convince the Jews that he was the Messiah, Jesus performed many miracles, which both demonstrated his divine power, and attracted people to him so that they would hear his message. That he fulfilled all the O.T. prophecies was further witness to his claim of being the Messiah. Although believing that Jesus was the Messiah or that he was God is necessary, that alone will not save anyone. Believing that Jesus used divine power to heal people won’t save anyone. Even believing that Jesus died for your sins won’t save you. Mental assent is not enough. Determining to live a righteous life, whether under the Law or apart from it, won’t do it. Neither will reciting a prayer dictated by someone else. Belief is more than knowing, more than understanding, and more than doing. Knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of the truth is needed, but not sufficient. The sin nature will never be abolished by human understanding or effort; it requires an act of God. Salvation occurs when a person abandons all human efforts, and places his trust in Christ, the One who paid the bill for our sin. Grace alone and faith alone.