(Continued from previous post)
3) Why do we preach belief only but not perseverance (v.15) as part of the gospel?
We preach belief because that’s the model in the NT e.g. in Acts:
- Acts 2:38, 40 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. … And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
- Acts 3:16, 19 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. … Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
- Acts 8:35-37 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]
- Acts 10:42-43 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
- Acts 13:38-39 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
- Acts 16:30-31 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
- Acts 17:3-4 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.
- Acts 17:30-31 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
In all 8 evangelistic sermons to non-believers, whether by Peter, Phillip, or Paul, the focus is always on believe in Jesus, not perseverance. Do they preach perseverance at all? Yes, but to disciples, not to non-believers:
- Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
The sequence is therefore first faith in Christ to be saved, then strengthen their faith to persevere. We do it not to sugarcoat the gospel, but to follow the natural order of first new birth, then nurture.
4) While justification is by faith, faith by itself without deeds is dead, but we don’t mention it as part of the gospel presentation. Why?
Faith is “proven” by works to show that it is “saving faith”:
- Jas 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
- Jas 2:17-18 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
- Jas 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
- Jas 2:22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;
- Jas 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
- Jas 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
It’s not that we don’t mention deeds as part of the gospel. We do, but we are careful to point out that “works” is a result of faith, not a cause for our salvation. We emphasize this because the teaching of world religions, as well as the prevalent secular worldview, is that you save yourself by doing good deeds, which is wrong.
We know the value of good works:
- Mt 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
- Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- 1 Tim 2:10 [adorn themselves] … but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
- 1 Tim 5:10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.
- 1 Tim 6:18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
We just don’t want non-believers to confuse “works” as a means to salvation. It isn’t. It is an “end”, not a “means”.
(To be continued)