Don’t Fall for that Old Lie

By Kathy Howard

For by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

My paternal grandfather was a sharecropper, growing cotton in northwest Louisiana. My father worked in the fields with his father and older brothers. As young as four, Dad twisted the cotton from the bolls and dropped the white balls into the rough burlap bag slung across his small chest. Dad’s strong work ethic, which began in that cotton field, moved him to start his own business and successfully guide it for more than forty years.

Dad also instilled a similar attitude towards work in me and my brother. First, he assigned age-appropriate chores. I most disliked sweeping the pine straw off the pebbled driveway. Then, when we were old enough, Dad expected us to have summer jobs. We learned Dad’s lesson. If you want something, you work for it. Don’t expect things to just be handed to you.

Since the world widely operates on these same principles, some have a hard time grasping the truth that salvation is solely by faith in Jesus. In fact, this is one of the foundational biblical truths commonly rejected by “Christian” cults like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although they may initially proclaim salvation by grace through faith, when pressed they cite certain rules that must be followed or acts that must be accomplished in addition to Christ’s sacrifice in order to gain salvation.

Christians must never compromise on the vital truth that we cannot work to earn our salvation. Justification – right standing with God – is only possible by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death. This truth is necessary and non-negotiable. We cannot add anything to faith and call it biblical Christianity.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul used Abraham to show that salvation through faith is not just a New Testament concept. God declared Abraham “righteous” because he believed, not because of anything he had done (Romans 4:3). Even Abraham, whom God called His “friend” (Isaiah 41:8), experienced right standing with God through faith.

The patriarch’s good works and obedience – including circumcision- came after he believed God’s promises. God promised Abraham a son, his own heir. God showed Abraham the stars in the vast sky and promised that his descendants would be too many to count. “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

In this passage, the Greek word translated “believe” is the verb form of the noun translated as “faith.” By definition, belief in Christ is far more than mere intellectual assent to a collection of facts. According to Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “to believe” means “to place confidence in, to trust.” Believing in Jesus means we depend and rely on Him to the degree that we will follow and obey Him.

True faith will produce obedience (Romans 1:5 and 16:26). Although Paul emphatically declared salvation by faith alone, he never minimized obedience. Good works, holy living, and faithful obedience to Christ naturally flow from true faith. But obedience is the result of salvation, not the cause.

This truth – salvation by grace through faith alone – makes salvation available to all. No matter how deep or shallow our unrighteousness. All need saving. No one deserves it. Not one can earn it. Only faith. Only Christ.

This post was adapted from Kathy’s upcoming devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.”

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 12 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with Deep Rooted Romans. Like the rest of the Deep Rooted devotional series, the Romans volume uses the 4-R Bible study framework to help you learn how to interact with and respond to Scripture, not simply read it. These meaty, daily devotions will increase your hunger for God’s Word, encourage spiritual growth and stability, and lay the groundwork for a life-long, spiritually-healthy habit.

Join the Conversation: What does the idea of truth faith mean to you?

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3 thoughts on “Don’t Fall for that Old Lie

  1. Kathy, you gave a good example of why this doctrine of the faith is often difficult to grasp–our “need” to “do something.” We only have to believe and be grateful that Jesus Paid It All. Thank you for this wonderful explanation of faith in Christ alone. Blessings, Fran

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy, I’m so grateful for these truths. As a recovering perfectionist who thought I could earn my way into heaven, I have such freedom from that lie. And your explanation is so important: “In this passage, the Greek word translated “believe” is the verb form of the noun translated as “faith.” By definition, belief in Christ is far more than mere intellectual assent ” Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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