Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1953

Belief In Christ — Its Necessity

Roy E. Cogdill

Only recently we concluded a series of articles on "What It Means To Preach Christ." We would like to continue that study by writing on "What It Means To Believe In Christ." We are interested in the salvation of every soul possible; we desire to help those of our readers who may not he Christians to become such. To do that we want always to "preach Christ," or, as Paul expressed it, "not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." And we desire to set forth Christ "not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:4,5)

The word "creed" comes from a Latin word credo, which means "I believe." In order for a man to be a Christian he must believe. Faith is essential; faith in something is necessary. No unbeliever can ever be a Christian. Surely no individual who professes Christianity, or has regard for it in any sense of the word, would deny or dispute the essentiality of faith. Faith is a prerequisite to the saving of our souls. There are many passages in the word of God which affirm this to be so. Among them we cite the following:

Romans 5:1: — "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." It is by faith, or through faith, that we are justified; it is by this means that we have "access" into the grace of God. Faith is the door that opens for us, and gives us entrance into all the rich provisions of God's grace. Until faith is exercised upon the part of the individual, the things God has provided for that individual cannot be had or enjoyed. Until faith is exercised in the Lord Jesus Christ, one denies oneself of all that the grace and the power and the mercy of God have provided for the soul. Salvation is indeed by grace, but it is certainly no less "of faith."

Ephesians 2:8-9: — "For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them." So it is not by the "works! which we do ourselves, but through mercy that God has saved us "through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5) God through His grace provides; man by his faith must accept, and use, and employ the provisions God has made. When that is done, salvation is always the consequence or result. There isn't any exception to those principles, or to that fact. Every time the word "salvation" has been recorded in God's word, every time God has "saved" man from anything at all, it is a salvation that has been provided by the grace of God through His mercy, and accepted and appropriated by man through his faith. God has been under no obligation to provide; He has done so only because of grace and mercy. And man has had always to employ and appropriate according to God's own terms and conditions in order for the salvation to become a reality. God by grace provides; man by faith accepts; and salvation thus is secured.

What Must Man Be Believe?

Not only is it required that a man believe, it is also required of him that he believe the right thing. Sometimes people are confused into thinking that what a man believes doesn't matter, "just so he believes sincerely." But God has not only required belief of a man, he has also appointed some particular, specific things that a man must believe.

For example, Paul declares, "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) Faith, in this particular verse, is centered in two things; it is identified as having two elements — the existence of God "that he is," and the goodness of God "and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him." When we return to the first verse of that same 11th chapter of Hebrews, we read, "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen." One element of faith is trust. One must not only believe in God (conviction of things not seen), but one must also have trust or confidence in God (assurance of things hoped for). Thus the two elements, conviction and trust, are essential parts of faith.

The rest of the 11th chapter of Hebrews demonstrates by many examples how these two elements were present in God's dealing with heroes of faith. Take the case of Noah, "By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." (verses 7, 8) Noah was convinced (he had conviction) "concerning things not seen as yet." He was fully convinced that a flood was to come upon the earth, even though there was nothing in the picture to indicate it except that God had said it would be so. Then, upon that conviction, Noah prepared the ark, fully trusting that God, by such means, would save him and his family from the destruction of the flood. God by His grace gave the warning, and told how or by what means salvation might be secured. Noah by his faith appropriated, used, and employed the means set forth in God's warning. It was a salvation "by grace" on God's part which was accepted and appropriated "by faith" on Noah's part.

This is the pattern of all salvation known to God's word. It is always the case that God's grace provides, and man's faith obeys. There are no exceptions to this principle.