WHAT KIND OF FAITH IS REQUIRED FOR SALVATION?
by Herbert W. Armstrong 1952 edition
Do you know millions who actually believe in Jesus Christ have no salvation at all becausethey trust in the wrong kind of Faith?
NO SUBJECT pertaining to Christian salvation is more generally misunderstood than that of saving FAITH!
Just BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," is the
popular teaching today. And that statement is absolutely true —
if you understand what kind of BELIEVING is required!
Unfortunately millions are being deceived — led to trust in a
faith that will never save one single soul — by a very popular
and very false teaching.
It is customary to quote only a PART of the Scriptures on this subject
— reading a false meaning into them — and thus by subtle
half-truths, popular teachings shackle most of Christendom to spiritual
blindness and deceptions.
Do These Scriptures Contradict?
God does not usually reveal all the truth respecting a particular
subject in any one passage alone. "Whom shall He teach knowledge ? and
whom shall He make to understand doctrine? ... Precept must be upon
precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a
little and there a little" (Isa. 28:9-10). To understand any general
subject in the Bible, it is necessary to view all the scriptural
evidence touching that particular subject. And we cannot read our
inherited or desired meaning into any particular passage; for "no
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation," (II Pet.
1:20), but each passage is interpreted by, and in the light of, other
For example. It is quite popular to quote Romans 3:20: "Therefore by
the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight,"
and from this passage alone assume that salvation comes by faith in
disobedience to God's law! Those who thus interpret this passage never
tell you that in Romans 2:13 the same Apostle Paul was inspired to
write: "Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS
of the law shall be justified."
Is there contradiction here? If the one Scripture is intended to reveal
that we do not have to make an effort to obey God's Law to be justified
and then saved — but that we are saved by faith without obedience
to God's Law, then, indeed, God contradicts Himself in His Word! And if
you wish to make Romans 3:20 say that, you must consistently
acknowledge there is contradiction in the Scriptures; and if this be
true, you have no basis for your faith!
Again, Ephesians 2:8-9: "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man
should boast." But those who quote this text so freely to teach the
doctrine of "no works," never tell you that the same inspired
Scriptures say also:
"What death it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath
faith, and have not works? can faith save him? ... Even so FAITH, if it
hath not works, IS DEAD, being alone ... I will show thee my faith BY
my works. Thou BELIEVEST that there is one God; thou doest well: the
devils also believe, AND tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that
faith without works IS DEAD?" (James 2:14-20.)
There is no contradiction here!
Rather, by putting all the Scriptures on the subject of "Saving Faith"
together, we learn that there are TWO KINDS of faith. And the kind so
blindly trusted in by the majority of this day is nothing but a DEAD
faith — and a DEAD faith never will save one soul! Notice! James
2:20: "Faith without works is DEAD —- just a DEAD faith.
James continues: "Was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED by works, when
he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how FAITH
wrought with his works, and BY WORKS was faith made perfect? ... You
see then how that BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFIED, and not by faith only"
(James 2:21-24). Then are we saved by works instead of faith? No,
Never! We are saved by FAITH! But faith wrought with our works and BY
WORKS our FAITH is MADE PERFECT! That is LIVING FAITH!
Why do we even need salvation? Because we have SINNED, and the penalty of sin is DEATH!
But how have we sinned? What IS sin, anyhow? Sin is the transgression of THE LAW, is God's answer (I John 3:4).
"Yes," answers the victim of modern fables, "But we are not under the
law today, but UNDER GRACE!" Why certainly! "What then?" asks the
inspired Paul, "shall we SIN" -- transgress the LAW - "because we are
not under the law, but under grace?" And Paul's answer is, "GOD
FORBID"! (Rom. 6:15.) And again, "Shall we continue in SIN,
"transgressing the law — "that grace may abound? GOD FORBID! How
shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans
The law has a penalty — DEATH. It claims the life of the one who
transgresses it. The law has power to take the life of the
transgressor. It therefore is more powerful than the sinner — and
is OVER the sinner, holding a claim on his life. It is the SINNER who
is UNDER the law. But when the sinner REPENTS of his transgression, and
accepts the sacrifice of Christ as payment of the penalty of the law,
then he is PARDONED — UNDER GRACE — the law no longer
stands OVER him, claiming his life. It is those who are sinning that
are UNDER the law! And those who, thru repentance, obedience and FAITH
have turned from disobedience and are, thru faith, KEEPING the law, are
the only ones who are UNDER GRACE!
God's Spiritual Mirror
Let us understand it! "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be
justified in His sight." No, certainly not! That Scripture is 100%
true, and there is no contradiction! You cannot be justified BY the
deeds of the law — not at all !
WHY? The last half of this same verse gives the answer — why do
most preachers never quote it? 'For by the law is the KNOWLEDGE of sin"
(Rom. 3:20). THAT'S WHY!
The purpose of the law is not to forgive, to justify, to wash away, to
cleanse. Only THE BLOOD OF CHRIST can do that! Sin is the transgression
of the law - that's what sin IS. The purpose of the law is to tell us
what sin is — to define it — to REVEAL it, so we can quit
All women ought to understand this. In every woman's handbag is a
little mirror. She knows what it is for. Every little while she takes
out this mirror and steals a glance at her face. Sometimes it reveals a
speck of dirt. And we might truthfully say, "by the use of these
mirrors are no dirty faces washed clean." You women understand what we
mean! But do you throw your mirrors away because by them your faces are
not washed? Of course not — what a silly question it seems, when
applied to a MATERIAL case! And if we ask you WHY your faces are not
washed clean by your mirrors, you answer: "Because by the mirror comes
the KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIRT.
God's LAW is His spiritual mirror. We look into it, and see the dirt on
our hearts! But by looking at the law, or keeping it, no dirt is WASHED
from our hearts — only Christ's BLOOD can do that. By the law
comes the KNOWLEDGE OF SIN!
Listen to James explain it! "But be ye DOERS OF the word, and not
hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the
word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face
in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and
straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh
into the perfect LAW of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a
forgetful hearer but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in
his deed" (James 1:22-25).
Is It Possible to Keep the Law?
"But," argues the "no law" deceiver, "no man can keep the Commandments.
It is not humanly possible. Since FAITH has come, we keep no law
— faith has made it VOID."
Thus even "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of LIGHT.
Therefore it is no great thing if HIS MINISTERS also be transformed as
the ministers of righteousness — For such are false apostles,
deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of CHRIST
(II Cor. 11:13-15).
"Do we then make void the law through faith?" comes the question in
inspired Scripture - and the answer: GOD FORBID: yea, we ESTABLISH THE
LAW ! (Rom. 3:31.)
Yes, faith establishes the Law! By keeping it, is faith made PERFECT!
Yet, can we keep the Commandments? Is it possible? Satan's "No Law" deceivers say NO! What is the PLAIN TRUTH?
A man came to Jesus and asked how to be saved. The Savior Himself
replied, "If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" (Mat.
19:17). "When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed,
saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them and said unto
them, With men this is impossible; but with God, all things are
possible" (Verses 25-26).
There is Christ's own answer! With men it IS impossible — utterly
impossible to really KEEP His Commandments. But — here's the
blessed truth — WITH GOD, it is possible, even to keep His
Commandments. Do you begin to see? IT TAKES FAITH! Faith in the power
of GOD! And, just as your own diligent effort coupled with faith makes
faith perfect, so faith coupled with your effort makes PERFECT
OBEDIENCE! The two go hand in hand. And you cannot have the one without
A LIVING FAITH -- the only kind that will SAVE - is an active
faith -- one that TRUSTS GOD to make it possible to OBEY HIM -- to live
the true Christian life - to KEEP HIS blessed Commandments!
Think! Could a just God command men to do what is IMPOSSIBLE to do? Or
can we conceive of Jesus as a smart-aleck young man who knew more than
HIS FATHER, and who did away with His Father's commandments? How
absurd! Yet this is the popular conception today!
The Law is Eternal
God's Law is not a horrible monster! Just and right laws are a terror
only to the criminal -- they are made to PROTECT the good! God's law is
PERFECT (Psalm 19:7), it is a SPIRITUAL law, (Rom. 7:14), HOLY, and
just, and good.(Rom. 7:12). ALL His commandments are SURE, and stand
fast FOREVER AND EVER (Psalm 111:7-8). Don't you believe it, when men
tell you differently!
God's Law is, simply, LOVE! It is the perfect way of life. Every
particle of human suffering, unhappiness, misery and death has come
solely from its transgression! It was given to make man HAPPY, and is
the only philosophy of life that can do so! It came from a God of LOVE,
and LOVE is the fulfilling of the law!
But not YOUR own natural love! It requires "the love of GOD, shed
abroad in our hearts BY THE HOLY GHOST" (Rom. 5:5). God has, and will
give you, the love that will fulfill His law. And so, praise His
blessed Name! — it is possible, through FAITH, and the GIFT of
God's Holy Spirit, for man to keep His Commandments! And whoever claims
differently, God calls a plain LIAR (I John 2:4).
The true Commandment-keeper is forced to trust God to make obedience
possible. And thus faith does not void, but establishes the Law! And to
keep the law requires FAITH!
A thrilling example of this eternal truth is recorded in the Book of
Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, erected a great golden image.
"Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations,
and languages, that at the time ye hear the sound of the (band) ... ye
fall down and worship the golden image" (Dan. 3:4-5). "And whoso
falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the
midst of a burning fiery furnace" (Verse 6).
Set over the affairs of the province of Babylon were Daniel's three
young Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. One of the
Commandments of God's eternal spiritual law forbids such worship of
Had you been in their place, what would YOU have done? Would you not
have said, "Well, I have to bow down to this image — I have to do
it or be killed!" And perhaps you would have excused yourself by
reasoning thus: "I don't think God would be fair if He punished me for
this, when He knows I am FORCED to do it. Anyway, He tells us to be
subject to the power of the state!" Yes, it is easy to use reason to
excuse disobedience to God. But God is not looking for chances to
punish us — but rather for opportunities to SAVE us thru faith!
To save us from the folly of SIN and the sad consequence our own acts
impose! Whatever we sow we shall reap. God's Law is intended to protect
us from suffering. It is not God who punishes us when we do wrong, it
is merely our own acts rebounding like a boomerang!
But these three young Jews knew the truth — that we should
OBEY GOD, rather than men — that thru FAITH God makes it
possible. When they firmly REFUSED to bow down to worship the king's
image, Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded they be brought
before him (Verse 13).
Listen to the quiet, trusting, unafraid answer of these lads. "O
Nebuchadnezzar, ... our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from
the burning fiery furnace"! ... (Verses 16-18.)
Sometimes God tries our faith. He tried theirs. You might think He failed them, but He only permitted their faith to be tested.
"Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was
changed ... therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the
furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated ... Then
these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and
their other garments," — surely the God whom they trusted would
have them released now? But no — there was no physical evidence
whatever that God so much as heard! — "and were cast into the
midst of the burning fiery furnace"! (Verses 19-21.)
The furnace was so hot the flames leaped out and "slew those men that
took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." And they fell down "bound into
the midst of the burning fiery furnace!"
God permitted them actually to be thrown in! Was He unmindful of those
who trusted in Him to make possible the keeping of His Commandments?
The king looked into the furnace, and said "Lo, I see four men loose,
walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form
of the fourth is like the Son of GOD"! (Verse 25.) So Nebuchadnezzar
came near the mouth of the furnace and called to them.
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come
forth, and come hither! Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came forth
of the midst of the fire .... these men, upon whose bodies the fire had
no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their
coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then
Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and DELIVERED his servants that
TRUSTED IN HIM"! ... (Verses 26-28.)
THERE was an example of living FAITH! A faith that TRUSTED God to make
it possible to live the way of His law! Yes, WITH GOD, it is possible
to keep all His Commandments - and don't let any man deceive you to the
Can You Believe and Worship Christ in Vain?
When God's Word says, "BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt
be saved," it does not mean the DEAD faith now popularly taught! The
common teachings of this day distort this to mean a mere belief in the
FACTS of Christ's existence, His sacrifice, and His saving work. Just
accept these FACTS, and accept HIM — without any obedience to
God's Laws! But the devils believe these things — and they
Christ was the Messenger of the New Covenant — a Messenger sent
from God. You cannot BELIEVE on such a divine Messenger, unless you
believe, and obey the MESSAGE that He brought! "If thou wilt enter into
LIFE," was His teaching, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS!
"REPENT," said the inspired Peter, and then believe and be baptized for
the remission of sins, and "ye SHALL receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost" (Acts 2:38). God gives His Holy Spirit only to them that OBEY
HIM (Acts 5:32). And His Holy Spirit is the LOVE which God gives us to
fulfill and to keep His Commandments! And it all comes BY FAITH!
Christ came to save us FROM, not in, our sins! TO FREE US from the
enslavement of sin and the unhappiness and wretchedness it brings
— not to make us free to commit sin!
Is it possible to BELIEVE in Christ — to worship Him — in
the customary manner of the day, and yet be lost? Christ Himself says,
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord! Lord! shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in
heaven," He said (Mat. 7:21).
Hear Him again!
"Howbeit IN VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold
the tradition of men"! (Mark 7:7-8.)
There it is! From Jesus' own lips! Such a dead faith — such
worship — is IN VAIN ! Those who trust in it, and in the men and
denominations which teach it, ARE LOST! And the quicker we come to
realize it, the better!
God's PURPOSE in salvation is to rescue men from SIN, and its resulting
unhappiness, misery, and death! To REPENT of sin is the first step!
Then the BLOOD OF CHRIST, upon acceptance and faith, cleanses of all
past sins. And by FAITH we are kept from sin in the future. Thus the
resulting righteousness is of FAITH — the righteousness imparted
We are not justified BY THE LAW — we are justified by the blood
of Jesus Christ! But this justification will be given only on condition
that we REPENT of our transgressions of God's Law - and so it is, after
all, only the DOERS of the law that shall be JUSTIFIED (Rom. 2:13).
How Plain, and how beautiful is God's TRUTH!