Right in The Sight of God?
Many in the religious world today are guilty of what is commonly referred to as “cafeteria style religion”. What is meant by this term is that you can go through the scriptures and decide which passages you like to apply to your life that will let you believe that you are right in the sight of God. One example of this is Romans 10:9, 10, where Paul says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
If you look at this passage only, then it would be easy to say that all you have to do is believe that Jesus died for our sins, God the Father raised Him from the dead, and confess these things and you will be saved. However, James says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2: 19, 20) Jesus Himself said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16: 16)
So which is it, faith, works, baptism, or all of the above? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches concerning our salvation, and see what God’s word says. Salvation certainly starts with hearing the gospel. Paul said that “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” James said we need to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The questions is, will just hearing the gospel and believing what the Bible says be enough to save us ? Even the demons believe, but that’s not enough to save them. So what about works, will that be enough to save us ? Paul writes to the church in Rome that “if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” (Rom 4: 2) Paul again writes to the church in Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2: 8 9) So we understand that the Bible teaches we can not be saved by our works alone.
What about baptism ? Peter wrote, “There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)", (1 Peter 3:21). Can baptism alone save us ? The Bible teaches we are saved by faith, we are saved by the blood of Christ, we are saved by baptism, we are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, and we are saved by calling on the name of the Lord. Romans 2 teaches us that we will be judged according to our deeds, eternal life for those that do good, and punishment for those that are self seeking and do not obey the truth.
Is there a dilemma here ? What must we do in order to be saved ? Salvation isn’t just a matter of doing or saying one thing, it’s a combination of doing all that God has told us we must do. We must have and continue to grow in faith, we must be baptized for the remission of our sins, and we must be active in good works or deeds. Not the works of men according to the old law, but the works of God, which is a display of love and compassion for our brethren and fellow man.
Christianity is not a “cafeteria style religion” that allows us to pick and choose the passages that we feel comfortable with in our lives. Christianity was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, and if Jesus did all of the things that the Father required of Him, including suffering and dying on that cruel cross, how much more should we respect God’s word and do all of the things he asks of us in order to be saved from the wrath we truly deserve.