Step One and Two - Hearing and Believing

"For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11). We are saved from our sins by the grace of God (Eph. 2:8), which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). But how do we become recipients of God's grace in Christ? What is it that God requires of us for us to be forgiven of our sins by the blood of Christ, which he extends to us by his grace?

Since salvation is from God through Christ, we must begin in Scripture, which is the word of God. It is God to whom we are responsible, and his only inspired communication to us is the Bible. It alone contains words of life, able to make us complete and whole before him (2 Tim. 3:16-17). As the word of God, it is not comprised of cunningly devised fables (2 Pet. 1:16), nor is it a matter of someone's private interpretation, the product of human imagination. "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). One must come with an open mind and honest heart to hear what God says in his word. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:16-17).

Hearing the word of God, then, is essential, as it produces faith. "So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). John reminds us, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31). The Hebrew writer also informs us, "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Heb. 11:6). From the testimony of Scripture, we have assurance in spiritual realities, a conviction in God and the truthfulness of all he has revealed to us through Scripture.

Faith, however, is more than just a mental acceptance of the truthfulness of Scripture. Faith must motivate one to obey God to be genuine, saving faith. James reminds us, "Ye see that by works a man is justified and not only by faith" (James 2:24). Only a faith that obeys God is a faith that can save. "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). If we truly believe what God tells us in his word, we will do what he tells us to find life in him.

Think of hearing the word, faith that comes from the word and obedience to the word, as a three-legged stool. If one of the legs is missing, the stool cannot stand. Spiritually, without one hearing the word, there can be no faith. Without faith, obedience is worthless. Without obedience, hearing and believing is in vain. These elements are essential to finding salvation in Christ. We must pay attention, then, to these things, as Jesus will render "vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thess. 1:8).

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX