“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8
The major essence of God’s gift of righteousness or justification is eternal salvation.
From scriptures, we understand that the major salvation of God through the Lord Jesus Christ is salvation from sin and its consequent punishment. Hence, even the very name of our Lord Jesus, means savior.
The bible tells us in Matthew 1:21:
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”.
Then again, the bible is also very clear that the only way to receive this eternal salvation from God through Jesus Christ is, Faith.
Let’s see some scriptures that assert this fact apart from our opening text:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
“And he said unto them, go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned”—Mark 16:15-16
“And brought them out, and said Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house”—Acts 16:30-31.
But the question here is: what kind of faith or believe is the bible referring to, that gives this eternal salvation? To understand the kind of faith that is required for salvation, we need to examine two kinds of faith as presented by Saint James.
“Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, you have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well: the demons also believe, and tremble. But will you know O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:17-20
From the above scripture, Saint James helps us differentiate between two kinds of faith. These are: the demonic faith and the perfect faith.
The Demonic Faith
The demonic faith is the faith that believes in God, but regardless, is not submissive or obedient to God’s commandments. It is the faith that says Jesus is Lord, but does not treat him as Lord indeed. It is the faith that says Jesus is the Lord with the mouth but denies him in deeds.
The demonic faith is the faith without corresponding good works or actions. The demonic faith is a dead faith.
And unfortunately this kind of faith is what has become dominant in Christendom today. A greater percentage of Christ’s believers walk in this kind of faith. Yes, they believe and have even confessed Jesus as their Lord and personal savior.
They confess they are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. They even preach the gospel with all vigor. Most of them are involved in service groups in the church. They even include: Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, Deacons and Deaconesses, Choir Masters and Mistresses.
But in spite of all these, they deny and reproach Christ in their actions and daily lifestyles.
They deny and reproach him in their words, in their dressing; they deny him in their relationship with their spouses and neighbours. They deny and reproach Christ in their business dealings. Yet they believe in Jesus and even profess same with their mouth. To the folks that belong to this group; with this kind of faith, the Lord Jesus asks: “And why call me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say?”—Luke 6:46.
So to believe in Jesus and not do his commandments is to be walking in demonic and dead faith. And of course, this kind of faith doesn’t justify, neither does it give eternal salvation.
The Perfect Faith
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his Son upon the altar? See how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”—James 2:21-22
The scripture above tells us clearly how our father in the faith, Abraham was justified. The scripture tells us that Abraham was justified by faith, but his faith was a perfect faith. His faith was perfected by his work of obedience and love for God.
Hence, we can define the perfect faith, to mean, the faith that is backed with obedience or compliance to God’s instructions. The perfect faith is the faith that works with the fear of God. For after Abraham has laid Isaac on the altar, the Lord said to Abraham, I know that you fear God (Genesis 22:12).
The perfect faith is the faith that works with love for God and people. James 2:15 says:
“If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace; be warmed and filled; yet give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?”
Hence, perfect faith sacrifices for God and man. The perfect faith is the faith that bears or shares the burden of others. Thus, the Apostle Paul, by the Spirit tells us in Galatians 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love”.
So the perfect faith is the justifying and saving faith in Christ Jesus. Put the other way, the saving faith is the perfect faith. And it is the faith that goes along with good works. The word of God tells us that a man is not justified by faith alone, but also by works—James2:24. And of course, works here means, Love, Obedience and godliness or holiness.
The bible also tells us in that same book of James 2:26 that “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”.
So my beloved friend, if you already believe in Jesus Christ, congratulations! You have faith. But to obtain absolute or perfect justification, according to scriptures, engage your faith in good works for God. And as you do and continue doing so to the very end, you’re guaranteed of eternity with Christ in paradise.