Here’s an older version of this article: TRUE FAITH IS FAITHFULNESS AND OBEDIENCE PT. 1.
In this relatively short post, I will highlight verses which testify that saving faith is being faithful to obey God’s commandments.
Note, for instance, what John wrote in his inspired Gospel:
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:14-21 English Standard Version (ESV)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24 ESV
“‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” John 6:27-29 ESV
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”” John 6:35-40
The words rendered as “whoever hears/believes/believed/does/comes/looks” are all present active participles and literally mean that it is the one who is continuously hearing, believing, coming, and looking to the Son that shall be saved. I.e., everlasting life is granted to those who are actively trusting and continuously believing in Christ till the end:
“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13 ESV
And the way one does so is by obeying Christ’s commandments, just as the following verses show:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36 ESV
“As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32 ESV
“‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments… In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.’” John 14:15, 20-24 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one WHO DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and DOES THEM will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them (lit. the one not doing them) will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:21-27 ESV – Cf. 25:34-45
“but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope… For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:6, 14 ESV
“And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” Hebrews 5:9 ESV
Here are examples where individuals are said to be condemned for being disobedient:
“For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened… Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,” Hebrews 4:2, 6 ESV
“‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” 1 Peter 2:8 ESV
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives… because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.” 1 Peter 3:1, 20 ESV
This again highlights that true saving faith is being obedient to God’s commandments.
The following case is quite interesting:
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Hebrews 11:30-31 ESV
Contrast this with what James writes:
“And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:25-26 ESV
Note that what Hebrews calls faith, James describes as the works of faith. I.e., the faith that Rahab exhibited and which pleased God is said to be her very works that resulted in God justifying her!
These next examples are illustrative of faith being faithful to do and carry out God’s will:
“For we through the Spirit, by faith (ek pisteos), are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith WORKING through love (alla pistis di’ agapes energoumene)… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (pistis),” Galatians 5:5-6, 22 New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995)
Here’s another version:
“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith WORKING through love. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians 5:5-6, 22 ESV
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:7-9 NASB1995
Here, Paul defines justifying faith as active obedience and righteous deeds done in love which results in obtaining everlasting life.
Lord willing, I will have more to say concerning the biblical understanding of what true saving faith actually means in future posts.