This week is the second in my sermon series demonstrating that the Six Steps of Salvation (Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Be Baptised, Grow) are not one-time events. (Read all the posts here.)
I really don’t think I need to spend a lot of words convincing people that their salvation depends upon belief in God, and the Gospel. Of all the steps it seems to me that the necessity of BELIEVE jumps off the page for all Christians. Our beliefs set us apart from each other and other religions. In that sense, our beliefs create our identity.
If we cease to believe in the self-proclaimed identity and mission of Jesus (the Gospel) then we have no reason to follow him and cease relying upon him as our saviour. Our beliefs about Jesus establish the foundation of everything that follows. So when I think about verses like John 1:12 or John 3:16, they don’t say that I only have to believe once at a given point in time. The really say something like “you enter a state of believing in Jesus”. And as long as we’re in that state we’re okay. It follows that if we leave that state of belief we also leave our salvation.
Of all the names available, the new testament writers most often use the term “believers” when referring to Christians. The NIV only uses the name “Christian” 3 times. Yet if you listened to most traditional Church of Christ preachers you’d swear the most numerous term would be “Baptised Believer”. Church of Christ terminology tends to emphasise baptism because our beliefs concerning baptism distinguish us from other churches. We’ll ask, “When were you baptised”, not “When were you converted (or saved)?”. Similarly, we generally don’t refer to ourselves as “believers” because we need to reinforce that there’s more to the story than just belief (and we don’t want to be mistaken for a Baptist).
When it comes to making our beliefs a Daily Step of Salvation, we need to stress the importance of practicing our beliefs. In today’s language I think we generally call this faith. We seem to define belief an intellectual assent to an idea while faith is also academic but has more of a leaning toward action. I find it fascinating that the older versions of the Plan of Salvation use “believe” and “faith” interchangeably.
Scripture consistently teaches the importance of correct beliefs, but also that our lifestyles demonstrate those beliefs. The reverse is also true. Scripture consistently teaches the importance of Godly lifestyles, but also the importance of Godly motivation. So my bottom line question for this Daily Step of Salvation is simply, “To what extent do your beliefs/faith motivate your life?”
- Consider all the places you go in a week. How many of them involve a purpose for God?
- Consider all the people you talk to this week. How many of those conversations express your faith?
- Consider each of the tasks you’ve undertaken this week. How many arise from your belief in the Gospel?
We each have different motivators in our lives. That’s okay. But if you rank their importance, where does your faith fit in? Here are some other possible motivators:
- Putting food on my table
- Providing for my retirement
- Accomplishing goals at work
- Seeking fame and recognition
- Making the world a better place
- Eradicating cancer
Some people wake up each day motivated by these goals. Hebrews 11 lists examples of people who woke up each morning motivated to live by faith in God. As Hebrews 11:6 puts it, they “believe that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
What’s your motivation?
- Do you think it’s helpful to distinguish between faith and belief? Do you know a better way of distinguishing them?
- How long has it been since you did something that could describe as an act of faith?
- Can you suggest some other motivations people have? (leave a comment and I’ll add it to my list above)
Minutes after completing this blog, I walked out the door to attend the memorial service of Glenn Olbricht in Syracuse. Glenn was a missionary in Germany, and a church-planter around Syracuse before settling into a long ministry and eldership with the Wetzel Rd Church of Christ in Liverpool (a suburb of Syracuse), NY.
His 4 children composed a description of their father’s life that they modeled on Hebrews 11. The first words that were read instantly recalled what I had just written, “Everything Glenn said and did was motivated by his faith in God.” What a legacy!