This is a new installment in the series by Greg Schliesmann.
My previous posts in this series referenced dozens of passages that prove there is a particular message called “the gospel” in the New Testament that the lost must believe in order to be saved. I would like to offer a second line of proof to support the same point.
Early in my Christian life, I was struck by the number of passages that predicate salvation/eternal life upon the single condition of faith. There are 85 instances in 61 different verses that I would say explicitly predicate salvation upon the sole condition of faith in the New Testament:
Matthew 21:31-32 (3x); Luke 7:48-50; 8:12; John 1:12-13; 3:15, 16, 18 (3x), 36 (2x); 5:24; 6:35, 39-40, 47; 7:38-39 (2x); 8:24; 11:25-27 (4x), 40; 17:20-21; 20:31 (2x); Acts 10:43-44; 11:17 (should be translated “when they believed”); 13:39, 48; 15:8-9; 16:31; 26:18; Romans 1:16; 3:19-26 (4x), 28, 30 (2x); 4:3, 4-5, 6-11 (3x), 13, 16 (2x), 21-22, 23-25; 5:1; 9:30-32 (2x); 10:3-4, 9-10, 11; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 2:16 (3x); 3:1-2, 6, 8-9 (2x), 11, 14, 22, 23-29 (2x); Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:12; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1 John 5:1, 4-5, 9-13 (3x).
I found that these verses supported the conclusion that salvation was by faith alone. Having been so encouraged by them, I created this list of verses, which I can still recite from memory. These verses encouraged me when I was challenged by different arguments for salvation by works.
Memorizing the verses above also gave me a perspective on the way Scripture describes the object of faith for salvation. Forty of these were spoken within the Church Age about salvation in the Church Age. Believers may be interested to know that the object of faith is described in various ways in these passages—
“the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31)
“He who justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5)
“on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:24)
“that God hath raised Him from the dead” (Rom. 10:9-10)
“the preaching of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18)
“the foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor. 1:21)
“our testimony” (2 Thess. 1:10)
“that Jesus is the Son of God—This is He that came by water and by blood” (1 John 5:5-6)
“the Son of God” (1 John 5:10)
Some passages just use “believe” intransitively (e.g. Acts 13:39, 48; Gal. 3:22) or “faith,” without specifying the object (e.g. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Eph. 2:8), though of course the object of faith is implied.
What I want to point out specifically, though, is that several of these passages (6 of 40) use the term “the gospel” to describe what is believed for salvation. Consider the following verses:
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith,” (Acts 15:7-9; cf. Acts 11:14-17).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” (Romans 1:16)
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13).
Furthermore, notice that each of the following passages predicates salvation upon believing the gospel both positively and negatively (belief in the gospel is what separates the saved from the lost):
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 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. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (1 Corinthians 1:17-23).
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day,” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
The same truth is taught in many other passages, which teach sola fide implicitly (e.g. see Romans 10:16; 1 Cor. 4:15; 15:1; Gal. 1:6; Col. 1:5; 1:23; 2 Thes. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 4:17).
Crossless gospel proponents have pointed out that many passages share the threads of 1) belief 2) in Jesus 3) results in eternal life. Please notice that the same threads are found in respect to the gospel: 1) belief 2) in the gospel 3) results in salvation/eternal life.
Some passages indicate both positively and negatively that belief in God’s only begotten Son is the condition for eternal life (e.g. John 3:18). The same point is made with respect to the gospel (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:17-23; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; 2 Thes. 1:8-10).
Some passages indicate that a person is born again through belief in the name of the eternal Word (John 1:12). Others indicate a person is born again through the gospel (1 Cor. 4:15).
Contrary to the claims of Crossless gospel proponents, there is no contradiction between believing the gospel and believing in Jesus Christ. The gospel is the necessary content of that faith in Christ. There are many different versions of “Jesus.” The true Jesus is identified and apprehended by the truths of the gospel: He is the Son of God who came in the flesh, died for our sins, and rose again to reconcile us to God by faith in Him alone.