Looking at the “ one true faith ” of Ephesians chapter fouris an important study. But in Ephesians chapter two we read, “For by grace you have been saved through [the] faith; …” (v 8). While no modern translation includes the definite article before faith [pistiV] it is in the original language. Paul here is speaking of the one true system (i.e. the Gospel) that the grace of God has delivered in order to bring salvation to all mankind. He spoke of this when he wrote to Titus and said, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (vv 11-12).
Peter speaks of the preciousness of this faith (2 Peter 1:1) and when we understand our faith in the system of salvation we will clearly conclude as James did that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:18-20). The great “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 illustrates this truth for us all. Yet Peter also speaks of a “trial” of our faith that is “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:7). What does this trial of faith consist of?
- Sacrifice: God so loved the world that He “gave” His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Jesus Himself is said to have given up His place in heaven in order to become a servant (Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 5:8-9). Jesus gave His life for us, the “ultimate sacrifice.” What does faith teach us? Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). What have you given up?
- Obedience: As we noticed in our first point Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father and is therefore the author of eternal salvation to all who will obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9). In fact Jesus said that the Father’s ever presence with Him was due to the fact that He “always” did the will of the Father (John 8:29). Obedience to the Gospel, to Christ and the Father, is absolutely essential to our salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:8). F.F. Bruce said “Faith and obedience are inseparable in one’s relationship to God.” Have you been obedient?
- Works: James said, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Again, the great examples of faith in Hebrews 11 have a consistent and beautifully interwoven thread of works that proved faith in the Almighty God. Now no one is contending that the kinds of works we are talking about here are works of merit. None can merit the grace of God; that is why it is grace! But there are works of righteousness, good works, that God expects His children to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). Are you doing the good works of faith?
- Persistence: Hebrew 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” The false and deadly doctrine of “once save/always saved” is clearly refuted by this one single passage among many. Jesus laid the groundwork for this when He said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). That’s faith in action! It is called faithfulness. “Be thou faithful unto death…” (Revelation 2:10). Are you being persistent
- Victory: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (1 John 5:4). This is what everything about faith hangs on… our victory in Jesus. When He comes again we will stand before the Judgment Seat of God and hear one of two things: “Depart from me…” or “Well done…” (Matthew 25). Do you and will you know the victory of faith?
Let us not just talk about our faith; let us demonstrate it to God and the world!
Adopted from Handfuls on Purpose – James Smith and Robert Lee, eds., Handfuls on Purpose (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) Vol. 1, I, 211-12.