Believing On Jesus is Enough!
By David J. Stewart | Monday 2008 | Updated November 2016 | Click for background MIDI sound in a new window
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” —Romans 10:13
A pastor wrote to me recently, asking me to remove his ministry from my website. He was upset about my teaching that repentance does not mean “forsaking one’s sins.” We’ll, it doesn’t. Repentance is “a change of mind” (Greek: metanoia), not the work of ceasing from committing sin. Can anyone stop sinning completely? No! Salvation is turning to Jesus to be forgiven of one's sins, not turning from one's sins in order to be forgiven by Jesus. Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. God will not save anyone who is trying to be saved, He will only save those who are trusting to be saved. We are saved simply by BELIEVING the Gospel.
Are there two Gospels? Either salvation rests solely in Christ's righteousness, and there's absolutely nothing we need to give up to have it; or else there is a degree of self-righteousness (human effort) involved and we must make amends, stop living in sin and change our ways as a prerequisite to saving-faith. The Bible teaches the former. Romans 4:5-6, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” The words “counted” and “imputeth” here are the same exact Greek word. The Holy Bible says that a man's faith is counted (imputed) in place of righteousness. That clearly means we do not need any self-righteousness (turning away from sins) to be saved. Our faith in Christ is acceptable by God in place of a life of righteousness.
This doesn't mean that a believer has a right to sin after being saved. Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” God expects every born-again believer to follow Christ in obedience, but this is entirely a matter of DISCIPLESHIP and not SALVATION. Salvation is a free gift which imposes no obligation upon the recipient; but discipleship has a cost, which requires forsaking all and carrying one's cross.
“There is a vast difference between coming to Jesus for salvation and coming after Jesus for service. Coming to Christ makes one a believer, while coming after Christ makes one a disciple. All believers are not disciples. To become a believer one accepts the invitation of the Gospel, to be a disciple one obeys the challenge to a life of dedicated service and separation. Salvation comes through the sacrifice of Christ; discipleship comes only by sacrifice of self and surrender to His call for devoted service. Salvation is free, but discipleship involves paying the price of a separated walk. Salvation can't be lost because it depends upon God's faithfulness, but discipleship can be lost because it depends upon our faithfulness.” —DeHaan, M. R. Hebrews. Zondervan Publishing House, 1959 (p. 117).
You can't show me one Verse in the Bible that tells us to “repent from sin” to be saved. A criminal in prison can promise to stop breaking the law, and he may, but that is not genuine repentance that brings salvation. We read in Matthew 27:3 that Judas “repented” from his sin of betraying Jesus, but Judas still went to Hell. Judas experienced guilt for what he had done, but he failed to recognize Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Judas also failed to realize his condemnation under God’s holy law (Romans 3:19). Judas did not get born-again by the Holy Spirit of God, just as Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Lordship Salvationists are not saved. Instead of wholly rest in Jesus' name, they believe that salvation requires a drastic change of heart toward one's sins, that results in a changed life. So if you choose to live a lifestyle (deathstyle) of sin, they conclude that you're not saved because you've never repented.
Genuine repentance that leads to salvation must involve a realization of one’s own guilt (and justly deserved penalty of Hell) for violating God’s Holy Law (Romans 3:19), which simultaneously causes that soul to turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ by faith for forgiveness (Acts 13:30,31). Biblical salvation occurs when a lost sinner BELIEVES on the Lord Jesus Christ. Forsaking one’s sins is not a part of saving faith; but rather, is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Christianity, a changed life is produced by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20); but in the heresy of Lordship Salvation, a changed life is produced by manmade repentance. The Bible says that Judas “repented,” but he still went to Hell in his sins, because he didn't believe (Matthew 27:3). You don't get saved by repenting, you get saved by placing your trust in Jesus Christ. But without repentance (a change of mind) you would never believe. Repentance is not part of the Gospel as defined in 1st Corinthians 15:1-6. Repentance enables believing.
Ray Comfort, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, and many other false prophets today are teaching people that forsaking one’s sins is a part of saving faith. They are wrong! Salvation is a free gift, paid for by Jesus’ precious blood. If a person must give up his or her sins to be saved, then it is an act of self-righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 proclaims that all of our self-righteousness is filth in the eyes of God. I am not saying that believers have a license to sin. We do not (2nd Corinthians 5:10). I am saying that a changed life is the RESULT of genuine repentance, and not a part of saving faith itself.
People sarcastically ask me, “You mean I can be saved and live anyway I want?” Yes and no! Yes, you can live any way you want without risk of losing salvation, but you must give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the life you live (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11; Romans 14:10-12; 1st Thessalonians 4:6; James 4:12; Matthew 12:36; Matthew 18:21-22). Hebrews 12:6-8 teaches us that God scourges and chastises His children. In that same passage, the Holy Bible says if a believer is without chastisement from God, they are not saved (i.e., a bastard). God chastises His children when they disobey. So, no, you cannot just live any way you want if you are saved, because God forbids it, and there are consequences for choosing to commit sin. 1st Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” The Bible is filled with believers who lived in sin. I am not condoning sinful living, I am condemning works salvation. Man has no part in salvation except to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:30-31). Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).
Just BELIEVE the Gospel and Say “Thank You”
If you go into a restaurant to eat, and then find out while checking out that someone paid for your meal, what do you say? You say, “THANK YOU!” Salvation is just as simple, you receive Jesus' free gift of eternal life and then you simply say, “Thank You!” You don't argue that a free meal must include a desire to eat better, do the dishes, make a commitment to come back more often, et cetera. No, you just shut up and say, “Thank You.” Why make salvation hard? Jesus paid for our sins with His own precious blood. Just receive His gift of eternal life and say, “Thank You.”
Of course, God does not require anyone to say anything to be saved, just to believe from the heart.
Confessing Christ is Not Required to Be Saved
Salvation is of the heart. Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The apostle Peter exclaimed in Matthew 16:16, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter confessed with his mouth because he already believed in His heart. This is what Romans 10:9-10 means. Repeatedly in the New Testament we are taught that the way to be saved is to BELIEVE. 1st Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” John 6:28-29, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Confessing Christ vocally is not a requirement to be saved. What if you were mute and couldn't speak? Many of the chief rulers believed on Christ according to John 12:42-43, but they DID NOT CONFESS HIM, for fear of the Christ-hating Pharisees. The Bible says the chief rulers were saved, but they had their priorities wrong and loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. This describes most believers these days. Few believers are bold enough to publicly proclaim their faith in the dear Savior. I make it a habit everywhere I go to announce that I am a Christian. I am not ashamed of my precious Lord, God and Savior! Evangelist Billy Graham foolishly teaches that confessing Christ is required to be saved, which is utter false doctrine.
Oh, that men would leave the Gospel alone!!! God calls the Gospel “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3) for a reason, because it is very simple to be saved—Just admit that you are a guilty sinner in God's eyes, and BELIEVE on the Son of God, Who DIED on the cross for your sins, was BURIED, and three days later miraculously and bodily RESURRECTED from the dead (1st Corinthians 15:1-6). If the Gospel is your only hope for eternal life, you have been born-again and are on your way to Heaven!
Believing (Trust) is Enough to Be Saved
The upset pastor I mentioned earlier cited James 2:19 to me in support of his claim that believing on Jesus Christ is insufficient by itself to save anyone... “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” It is important to interpret this Scripture in the context of the surrounding passage. In James chapter 2, James was speaking about the FRUIT of the believer’s faith, NOT the ROOT. Genesis 15:6 says that “And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This is the “root” of a believer’s faith (Romans 4:3-5). However, James tells us that Abraham’s faith was validated in the eyes of men when he offered up Isaac in Genesis 22:8 (several chapters later). Paul speaks of the ROOT of Abraham’s faith in Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” James speaks of the FRUIT of Abraham’s faith in James 2:21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” Clearly, these are two separate events in time and meaning.
It is tragic, and false doctrine, to pervert James 2:19 to mean that simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is insufficient to save anyone. Genesis 15:6 clearly states that Abram (i.e., Abraham) was saved by simple TRUST in the Lord. Romans 4:3-5 confirms this truth. I am saddened at the ignorance of a professed Gospel pastor, in this case, a man who runs a boy's home, that he would be so naive concerning the simplicity of salvation. I'm not asking you to take my word for it friend. Examine the Scriptures for yourself.
For example: Galatians 3:2, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” I love that Verse. Notice the last part of the Scripture... OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH? There's the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul said he just wanted to know one thing: How did you become indwelt by the Holy Spirit? That is, how did you get saved? Did you get saved by turning away from your sins (the keeping of the law), or by the hearing of faith? Isn't that beautiful? The hearing of faith means that you place your faith in the Gospel when you hear it preached. This is how 3,000 souls were saved in one day on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:41. It is that easy and simple to be saved. Many preachers today embellish (add to) God's plan of salvation, requiring people to do a bunch of things that God does not require (such as, inviting Christ into your life, asking Jesus into your heart, following Jesus, making Jesus the Lord of your life, turning away from sins, inviting Christ to come in and take control, confessing Christ publicly, surrendering all to Christ, making a commitment to the Lord, being willing to turn from sins, et cetera).
James was simply saying that a believer's faith should be confirmed by his FRUITS. We do see a lot of phonies today in religious circles. However, we must not pervert the simplicity of the gift of salvation in an attempt to force people to live right. Holy living is a result of growing in grace (1st Peter 2:2), and NOT a part of saving faith. A changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is, when you get saved, God instantly comes to live inside you as the Holy Spirit. When God lives inside you, things change. But the change is produced by the Holy Spirit, and not manmade repentance as so many preachers errantly teach today in th churches. It is a false Gospel to mandate changing one's ways and course of life as a prerequisite to placing one's faith in Christ. This is what all the pseudo-Christian cults teach. Check out what the Mormons believe about repentance.
The word “believe” appears 85 times in the Gospel of John; but the word “repent” isn’t mentioned even once. Clearly, repentance unto life means turning towards God to be saved from the penalty, guilt, and condemnation of sin. As a new believer grows in the grace of the Lord, the Holy Spirit will bring forth a changed life (2nd Corinthians 5:17). To require a changed life as a prerequisite to be saved is damnable heresy.
Godly Sorrow Worketh Repentance
I’ve heard some proponents of the Lordship Salvation heresy pervert 2nd Corinthians 7:8-10, which states:
“For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
Such proponents of Lordship Salvation claim that a lost sinner must experience “godly sorrow” in order to be saved. Thus, they allege that mere belief in the Lord is insufficient to be saved, and that a sinner MUST have remorse and a sincere willingness to depart from sin to be saved. This is reformation, not regeneration. Jesus said we must be “born again,” nor reformed again!
The believer's in the church at Corinth prove that godly sorrow is not required to be saved. These believers were “carnal” (1st Corinthians 3:1), so the Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle of 1st Corinthians to rebuke the Church's pastor and congregation, and plead with them to repent and do right. They didn't have any “godly sorrow” until Paul rebuked them in the Lord. The believers at Corinth afterwards repented, and now Paul writes them again a second time, explaining his “tough love” approach. Paul says “godly sorrow worketh repentance.” Many false prophets pervert 2nd Corinthians 7:10 in an attempt to support their heresy that a sinner MUST be sorry for their sins in order to be saved, but this is not Biblical at all.
You don’t need to be sorry for your sins to get saved, you simply need to realize that you are a guilty sinner deserving of Hellfire. The believers at Corinth WEREN’T sorry for their sins until Paul rebuked them as carnal believers. The messed up church at Corinth evidences that salvation does not requiring turning from sins to be saved. Turning from sinful bad habits is a work! It is Jesus Christ Who transforms a man once he is saved, and not a man's own repentant heart as a requirement to be saved. Lordship Salvation is rooted in manmade transformation; whereas Christianity is rooted in Jesus Christ transforming a man.
It is important to realize that the believer’s at Corinth had not yet turned away from their sins. They were still “babes in Christ” (1st Corinthians 3:1). They were a bad bunch. True repentance always leads to “SALVATION,” not a change of action as Ray Comfort, Aiden Z. Tozer, John MacArthur and others falsely claim. There is the consistent Biblical pattern—The Holy Spirit changes your mind and you get saved, then the Holy Spirit works in your life to make necessary changes! (1st Peter 2:2; 2nd Corinthians 5:17). The BELIEVER'S at Corinth in 1st Corinthians were not sorrowful over their sins! They were suing each other (1st Corinthians 6:6), eating meats offered to idols (1st Corinthians 8:12), allowing fornication within the church (1st Corinthians 5:1), showing up drunk at the Lord's Supper (1st Corinthians 11:21), et cetera.
The idea of “turning away from sins” (or of being sorry for one's sins) prior to salvation is not taught anywhere in the Word of God, and is nigh unto the heresy of works salvation, if not altogether so. If forsaking one’s sins were necessary for salvation, then the believer’s at Corinth certainly never got saved. If being sorry for one’s sins were necessary for salvation, then the believer’s at Corinth certainly never got saved. Yet, the Apostle Paul refers to them as “babes in Christ” (1st Corinthians 3:1). Clearly, from studying God’s Word, we can see that forsaking one’s sins (or being sorry for one's sins) is NOT part of saving faith.
Clearly, the immature believers in 1st Corinthians had issues, and were living in horrible sin, yet Paul called them “carnal” and “babes in Christ.” Ray Comfort, Paul Washer, and John MacArthur would call them “unsaved.”
Also, carefully notice that the Bible does not call godly sorrow “repentance”; but rather, sorrow leads to repentance. Many people's lives have been ruined because of sin, and they have much sorrow for what they have done, and in many cases it has led to their salvation. But godly sorrow is not a requirement to be saved. Repentance concerning salvation is simply a change of mind unto the Gospel itself. It is a man thinking differently about sin, Christ and the Gospel. True repentance produces faith in Christ; false repentance produces a changed life. There are churchgoers all across the world, such as the wicked religious workers in Matthew 7:21-23, who perform “MANY WONDERFUL WORKS” in Jesus' name, yet they are not saved, hellbound in their self-righteousness. On judgment day they will hear the Lord say these horrifying words... “I NEVER KNEW YOU: DEPART FROM ME YE WORKERS OF INIQUITY”!
Believer's at Rome NOT Surrendered Yet
In Romans 12:1, Paul begged the believers at Rome to surrender their lives to God. They were saved, but they hadn't presented their bodies to God "a living sacrifice" yet. It is absurd for any minister today to require sinners to “make Jesus Lord” to be saved. Folks, Jesus is Lord, you don’t make Him Lord!!! Salvation is receiving; NOT giving. If John MacArthur is correct that a person must surrender their life to God to be saved, then the believer’s at Rome weren’t really saved — because Paul is beseeching them to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice.
Biblical repentance simply means “a change of mind.” In order to “repent” (i.e., turn) a person must have something to turn TO as well as FROM. In salvation a lost sinner turns TO Jesus Christ to be saved FROM their sins. Turning from sin is not enough. Making a commitment to Christ is not enough. Genuine repentance must involve a realization of one’s own guilt (and justly deserved penalty in Hell) for violating God’s Holy Law (Romans 3:19), which causes that soul to turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ by faith for forgiveness and salvation (Acts 13:30,31). Biblical salvation occurs when a lost sinner turns (i.e. repents) towards Jesus Christ to be forgiven of his or her sins. Salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. God will not save anyone who is trying to be saved, He will only save those who are trusting to be saved.
Jesus paid for our sins with His own precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19). Just receive His gift of eternal life. Remember, Jesus doesn't forgive sin, He has already paid for everyone's sins, which is why forgiveness of sins and eternal life are free gifts. To be saved, you simply receive God's gift of forgiveness of sins and He gives you eternal life. If you admit that you are a guilty sinner in God's sight, and you receive Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins, believing that He DIED, was BURIED and bodily RESURRECTED three days later, you are saved immediately, irrevocably and permanently! Jesus is precious! END
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