Recently we did a three-part series on what we must do to be saved; to be justified before God. You can find them posted on 7/21, 8/5, 8/14. We had some positive and negative responses. One concern expressed – is easy believism being advocated? We will address that here.
An example we gave is found in Acts 16 when the Philippian jailer asks what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (v.31). Notice that “Belief” is the only stated requirement for justification. Then Paul and Silas “…spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (v.32) They believed. The jailer then washed Paul and Silas’ wounds, and the entire family was baptized. (v.33)
What does one have to believe to be saved? One must acknowledge the truth, that one is a sinner before a Holy God. One must understand that Jesus Christ came as God in the flesh. Through His death, burial, and resurrection He paid the penalty for all sins – the past, present, and future. The moment a person believes (meaning to trust in or rely on) in Him and His work on his/her behalf, that person immediately possesses forgiveness and everlasting life. That’s justification, God declares a guilty sinner righteous by faith. (Phil 3:9, Eph 2:5-9)
Is that easy believism? Well, one thing we know – the Gospel is easy enough for a child to understand and believe. We also know the simplicity of the very same Gospel confounds the proud and shames the wise. (1Cor 1:22, 27) They stumble and fall over it all the time. On the other hand, the humble will not stumble when they sincerely inquire “What must I do to be saved?”
Believing that God so loved He “Gave to Save” can boggle the mind. But getting out of the way of our pride and self-importance is where we truly bang our head. The Fall severely bent us toward being egocentric rather than theocentric. It’s more about us, and less about Him. This can be true even when we approach Him to receive the GIFT of salvation. We want to DO something, anything, dress in fig leaves, be circumcised or baptized, self-flagellate or self-congratulate. It is we who insist in the add-ons to be saved, not God!
Another time the Apostle Paul would remind the foolish Galatians: “…a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (2:16)
Returning to Philippi: “Now when he (the jailer) had brought them (Paul & Silas) into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (v.34)