BELIEF IS NOT SALVATION (EXCERPT OF THE PRESENT TRUTH)
From The Present Truth, by Robert B. Thompson
Copyright © 1996 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
There are several areas of knowledge associated with God, His salvation and His Kingdom. Throughout the history of the Christian Church great emphasis has been placed on the individual’s agreement with and profession of the accepted positions and beliefs, the positions and beliefs concerning what is viewed as the correct understanding of the areas of knowledge. However, a correct belief and profession of the facts of the Kingdom of God is not salvation.
Table of Contents
The Facts of the Kingdom
Belief in the Facts of the Kingdom as Distinguished From Salvation
Two Problems That Have Resulted From Incorrect Belief
Forcing Morality on the Secular Society
The Definition of Salvation
BELIEF IS NOT SALVATION
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)
The Facts of the Kingdom
Knowledge plays an important role in the Divine salvation. There is a need for people to be aware of the existence of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of the righteous and holy Nature of God. There are aspects of the rebellion of the angels, and of the entrance of sin into the world, that when we know of them help us understand the presence and results of sin in the human personality and the need for forgiveness and deliverance.
Another realm of knowledge concerns the attitude God has toward sin, and the covenants God has made with people because of their sin. Of special importance is the knowledge of God’s will for the individual as revealed in the Scriptures and also in personal revelation. God’s will for His elect includes their transformation into the moral image of Christ, their union with God through Christ, their readiness to build up the members of the Body of Christ, and their readiness to serve as the light of the world, beginning with their own neighborhood.
It is supremely important that people become aware of the future of mankind with respect to God, that is, the resurrection of the dead in which each person receives the consequences of his or her behavior, and the forceful installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The areas of knowledge associated with the Kingdom of God are as follows:
Knowledge of the existence of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and of the righteous and holy Nature of God.
Knowledge of the aspects of the rebellion of the angels and of the entrance of sin into the world, that when we know of them help us understand the presence and results of sin in the human personality and the need for forgiveness and deliverance.
Knowledge of God’s attitude toward sin and the covenants God has made with people because of their sin.
The knowledge of God’s will for the individual as revealed in the Scriptures and also in personal revelation.
God’s will for people includes their transformation into the moral image of Christ, their union with God through Christ, their readiness to build up the members of the Body of Christ, and their readiness to serve as the light of the world, beginning with their own neighborhood. In addition, the saints, the members of Christ, are being trained in spiritual warfare.
The Kingdom of God will be installed on the earth as Christ and His saints descend from Heaven and drive all sinners, spiritual and physical from the earth. Justice finally will come to the meek of the nations.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, “that will leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1)
Knowledge of the future of mankind with respect to God, that is, the resurrection of each person from the dead that he or she may receive the consequences of his or her behavior; and of the forceful installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Throughout the history of the Christian Church great emphasis has been placed on a correct understanding of the facts of the above areas of knowledge. Theologians have argued. Wars have been fought. Dissenters have been tortured and martyred. The attitude of the Christian leaders and organizations has been that people must agree with the positions and beliefs of the leaders and organizations. The individual who does not conform to the accepted statements concerning the areas of knowledge is cast from the group, organization, or movement, penalized in some manner, and sometimes tortured and slain.
The various Christian denominations exist because of the different understandings of the areas of knowledge associated with God and His Kingdom.
As we are approaching the coming of the Lord and His Kingdom to the earth we are growing aware that belief in what is true in the Kingdom of God is not of itself salvation.
The knowledge of the facts of the Kingdom of God serves as a basis and guide for the Divine salvation. Because the knowledge serves as a basis and guide it is important that it be accurate. But accurate knowledge, and a profession of belief in accurate knowledge, are not salvation. Salvation is not composed of what we know or believe.
The error of current Christian thinking is that if one professes belief in correct doctrine he is saved. Added to this confusion is the unscriptural position that being saved means he will attain permanent residence in Heaven when he dies.
God’s purpose behind all of His covenants is that people practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. By viewing God’s salvation as a profession of belief in the true facts of redemption, with the goal of spending eternity in the spirit realm, we have effectively undermined God’s desire to have righteous people who perform His will in the earth and who are able to bring deliverance and eternal life to others.
Belief in the Facts of the Kingdom as Distinguished From Salvation
The following passage is often used to emphasize that salvation is knowledge and belief, and that to make a profession of belief that conforms to this statement is to ensure one’s entrance into Heaven. It is important for the student to understand that the concept of residence in Heaven as the purpose of salvation is not mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans, which is the context of the following passage, nor is entrance into Heaven mentioned one time in the entire Book of Romans.
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. (Romans 10:9,10)
If we were to remove this passage from the Book of Romans and make it the only statement in the Scriptures we could make a case for salvation as being belief in certain facts.
Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus. That Jesus is Lord and rightfully our personal Lord is a true fact. Confession of this true fact is essential to salvation.
Believe in your heart that God has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. The physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead is the cornerstone of our faith. Apart from the physical resurrection of the Lord we have no hope for our own resurrection.
You shall be saved. What it means to be saved must be determined from the entire Scriptures. Being saved has little to do with going to the spirit Paradise.
With his heart man believes unto righteousness. God counts us as righteous when we believe that God has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.
With his mouth man confesses that Jesus is his Lord and God saves him on the basis of this confession.
The above is an accurate statement concerning God’s plan of salvation. The statement serves as a basis and guide for the working out of our salvation. He who does not regard Jesus as his Lord and who does not believe that God has raised Him from the dead is not likely to find the road to eternal life.
The problem today is that the above passage is lifted from its context and made to mean that if a person confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God has raised Him from the dead he is saved and on his way to Heaven; not that he shall be saved, as the Scripture states, but that he is saved.
If there were no other verses in the Bible we could make a case for this point of view. However, this would be to make salvation a mental position having little impact on our life on the earth (which is exactly what Satan desires!).
Let us look at a passage also from the Book of Romans that reveals the folly of making the Divine salvation a mental position.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)
Speaking to the Christian people (certainly not to the unsaved because they cannot choose to live righteously and thus receive eternal life on the basis of their behavior), Paul tells us that if we (Christians) choose to obey sin we will die spiritually.
Let us say the individual believes that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead. After this profession of belief he is baptized in water into Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Then he chooses to sin. What then? He dies spiritually, according to the Apostle Paul!
We could give numerous examples from the New Testament that portray clearly the association of righteous behavior with salvation. Salvation is a not a profession of belief. A correct profession of belief is the basis and guide to salvation but the profession of belief is not salvation. Neither is residence in Heaven the goal of salvation. True salvation always produces righteous, holy behavior. Righteous, holy behavior brings us the most valuable reward of all, which is fellowship with God.
Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. (I John 3:7)
Christian theology is far off course. As a result sin is increasing rapidly throughout the Christian churches as well as the rest of the world. The work of demons is protected by law in the United States of America, for example. There is no standard, no plumb line. Why is there no plumb line? It is because God’s people view the Christian salvation as a doctrinal position rather than the re-creation of the individual.
Two Problems That Have Resulted From Incorrect Belief
Belief is redeeming when it serves as a base and guide for the actual Divine redemption, and when its facts are accurate.
We already have referred to the fact that the sin in the society of today is resulting from the position of the Christian churches that salvation is belief. If one holds to the correct beliefs he is on his way to Heaven, it is supposed. But since faith apart from works is dead, and righteous works are not considered necessary by Christians, the churches are filled with dead faith.
It is stressed vigorously today that Christ performed a finished work of salvation and that any effort on our part to make righteous behavior a necessary aspect of salvation is an unrighteous attempt to add to the perfect work of Christ.
How Satan must rejoice over this concept! The effect of such an unscriptural concept has been to destroy nearly every bit of righteous, holy behavior from God’s people. The light of good works, which is the true testimony of the Church, has been extinguished by a faulty knowledge of the new covenant.
The irony here is that not only is belief stressed in place of behavior, but the belief itself is based on an inaccurate understanding because the true knowledge of the facts of the Kingdom reveals that belief itself is not salvation.
The result of dead faith in the Christian churches is, first of all, loss of the Presence of God from the churches. The Christians churches have much to say about God and about God’s plan of salvation through Christ. However, the churches are preaching about Christ rather than preaching Christ. To preach Christ is to bring the very Presence of God to people, not just a message about God and His Gospel. One can preach about God and Christ and still continue in unrighteous, unholy behavior. But one cannot bring the Presence of God and Christ apart from a righteous, holy, sternly obedient life.
The second problem resulting from the dead faith of the Christian churches is sin in the unchurched society. If the moral light goes out in the Christian churches the world has no moral light to live by.
Because the necessity for righteous behavior has been removed from the Divine salvation, the historic Christian nations, such as America, England, France, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, have become addicted to lust and pornography. Every vile lust flourishes in the nations that at one time carried the Gospel light. Their judgment is soon to come and shall be devastating beyond comprehension. They have failed the Lord.
The Christians are concerned as they see the effect of their doctrinal confusion on the moral condition of the United States and the other nations. They are upset at the abortion, the child molestation, the gangs, the drugs. What do the Christians expect when they no longer are doing good works but counting on flying away from trouble in a “rapture”?
Forcing Morality on the Secular Society
In spite of the Scriptures that exhort us to bear witness by letting the light of good works shine, we intend to heap confusion on confusion. We are going to go forth in our self-will (not with the Lord you may be sure) and force the secular community to stop the aborting of infants, to stop the sexual perversions, to cease permitting gang membership, and to put an end to drugs.
We are going to use force—guns, if necessary—and compel the unsaved population to do what we think is proper.
To employ force to compel sinners to behave according to the Christian standards is to seek to bring in the Kingdom before the Lord returns. The Kingdom of God indeed will be installed by dreadful authority and power when the Lord Jesus appears. His enemies will be consumed by the fire of His holy Presence. But our task before the Lord returns is not to begin to employ force but to bear witness of God’s righteousness, of the covenant of water baptism available to every individual who hopes to avoid God’s wrath, and of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The result of the Christian militancy will be a terrible backlash. The unsaved community, which includes the majority of people, will rise up in fury and the persecution of the Christians will be severe and widespread. Why? Because the Lord is not with us.
From the beginning of the Church Age various institutions, particularly the Catholic Church, have attempted to force their will on the unsaved community. The Lord alone knows how many good people were imprisoned, tortured and killed because they refused to conform to the ecclesiastical notions. Only a few hundred years ago some of the Catholic monasteries were sending out “soldiers” to force the populace to be “Christians.”
Have we learned nothing?
The humanistic people today outnumber us. They are not going to bow down to our attempts to force our values on them—especially when the Christian churches themselves are filled with every sin of the flesh as well as self-will and self-love.
The present government of the United States is an abomination to multitudes of politically conservative people. We yet may have an armed uprising by conservatives. The Christians are not to participate in an armed uprising. We may think that we have made a temporary gain by such action but the end shall be bitter.
Evil cannot be overcome by evil, only by good. We are called to deliver and heal those for whom Christ died, not to kill them. It is only when our government commands us to sin that we are to resist the government, and then not by killing our opponents but by doing what good we can and by holding fast our testimony during imprisonment, torture, and death.
How many believers of today are true Christians? How many churchgoers have turned aside from their own life and are carrying their cross of self-denial behind the Lord?
And these fleshly, self-willed believers intend to force the unbelievers to live a moral life? The Scriptures command God’s people, not the unsaved community, to repent and turn from their wicked ways! What are we thinking of?
The Lord Jesus taught us that if His Kingdom were of this world His servants would fight but that His Kingdom is not of this world. We are told that we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against fallen lords in the heavenlies. We are informed that the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh and blood but mighty through the Holy Spirit to the pulling down of strongholds.
The Lord is not commanding the unsaved people to repent. He is commanding His own people to repent, for the Christian churches are filled with people who are sinning, who are leading spiritually lukewarm, worldly lives. They do not know the Lord’s will. They do not understand the new covenant. They believe in a silly “rapture” that will deliver them from suffering (as though suffering were not one of the characteristics of the Christian discipleship throughout the centuries). They have heaped to themselves teachers to tickle their ears. They have not presented their bodies a living sacrifice. They are in love with themselves.
Now they are disobeying the Lord by running ahead of Him, attempting to set up the Kingdom of God by human means. Surely, God has sent a powerful delusion upon us because we do not love the truth. Truly, great suffering is ahead for the Lord’s people.
The Definition of Salvation
We have said that salvation is not composed of an accurate understanding and profession of belief in the truths of the several areas of knowledge of the Kingdom of God. “The righteous shall live by faith” has to do with how the righteous live, not with their profession of belief in the facts of redemption. The righteous live by trusting in God and not in themselves, by obeying the Lord in each decision of life.
Well then, if salvation is not a statement of “faith,” just what is salvation?
Salvation is, first of all, deliverance from the wrath of God that will be poured out in the last days.
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)
After that, salvation is our change from Satan to God. The purpose of delivering us from wrath is to authorize us to begin the transformation of personality that is salvation.
‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:18)
- Deliverance from the wrath of God.
- The opening of the individual’s eyes.
- The turning of the believer from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
- The forgiveness of the believer’s sins.
- An inheritance among those who are sanctified [set apart to God as holy] by faith that is in the Lord Jesus.
Salvation is the change from the bondage of Satan to the moral image of Christ and to untroubled union with the Father through Christ.
This is what salvation is. It is a change of what we are. It is a new creation. The first man, Adam, must be crucified. The new Man is Christ, who Himself is the Kingdom of God.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
The mainspring of the Christian salvation is death and resurrection. If we would experience the new covenant we must enter the death of the Lord and enter the resurrection of the Lord. The degree of the Divine inheritance assigned to a son of God depends directly on his or her willingness to enter the death and resurrection of Christ.
- Deliverance and healing.
- Change into the image of the Lord.
- Union with the Father through Christ.
- A redeemed body.
The grace of God is the Presence and power of Christ that produces the salvation we have mentioned.
Grace is the Divine enablement that creates salvation.
Image and union, and participation in the roles and functions of the Kingdom of God, which we shall mention in a moment, are made possible by the following elements of grace:
The body and blood of the Lord Jesus. The body and blood of the Lord Jesus provide:
- Protection from Divine judgment.
- The forgiveness of sin.
- Deliverance from sin.
- Nourishment for the new man.
The born-again experience. When we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior He is born in us. After that He must continue to be formed until He indeed is our Life.
The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us:
- Eternal Life.
- Power and wisdom to overcome sin.
- Power and wisdom to bear witness.
The written and personal Word of God. These include:
The Old and New Testaments.
The wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.
The gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives ministries and gifts to every member of the Body of Christ.
The ordering of tribulation and offenses. We usually do not think of offenses and tribulation as being part of the grace of God under the new covenant. However, the various chastenings that come upon us are a very important tool that the Lord uses to purge us from sin and to bring forth in us the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, (I Peter 4:1)
Every element of grace is necessary if we are to save ourselves and those who hear us.
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16)
Current Christian doctrine has no place for the concept of saving ourselves by the things we do. Therefore current Christian doctrine is not taking into consideration the whole counsel of God. Today’s preaching is not a balanced presentation of God’s plan of salvation. We are to save ourselves by examining ourselves in terms of the doctrine taught by the Apostles of the Lamb to determine whether or not we actually are doing that which has been commanded by Christ through His apostles and prophets.
Saving ourselves and those who hear us means bringing us from the bondage of Satan all the way to the moral image of Christ and to untroubled union with the Father through Christ.
The following are roles and functions in the Kingdom of God that are possible to us only to the degree that we are in the image of Christ and in untroubled union with the Father through Christ. We are being prepared by the Spirit of God in order that we may serve in these roles:
- A member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).
- A part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22).
- A member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12).
- A part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2).
- A restorer of Paradise on earth (Romans 8:21)
- A member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).
- A witness of God (Isaiah 43:10).
- A son of God (Revelation 21:7).
- A brother of Christ (Romans 8:29).
- An overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11).
- A governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).
- A judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3).
- A wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14).
- A part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12).
A thoughtful consideration of the above roles may help the student understand why the current emphasis on a flight to the spirit realm is so destructive of God’s plan for man. Instead of sons of God and brothers of Christ we have the vision of untransformed people lounging in mansions with their jewels and golden slippers.
The truth is, the purpose for bringing the members of the Body of Christ to maturity as measured by the standard that is the fullness of Christ, is that these members may return with Christ and bring justice to the meek peoples of the earth. The meek shall inherit the earth, but it will require Christ and His Body to make it possible for decent people to inherit the works of God’s hands. It appears that we do not as yet really understand the Gospel of the Kingdom of God—the coming of justice to the earth.
The concept that the Divine salvation consists of our believing and professing accurately the facts pertaining to the Kingdom of God, with the goal of going to live eternally in the spirit Paradise when we die, has prevented the Christian people from bearing witness and affecting society as they should. Satan has managed to put out the light of good works. The supreme goal of God under all covenants, which is to produce people who behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, doing His will in the earth, has been successfully thwarted by today’s teaching and preaching.
We are in a time of reformation of Christian thinking. The coming of the Kingdom of God is at hand. God is ready to meet every person who seeks Him with a pure heart and to bless him or her with the wisdom and strength necessary to grow in Christ’s image and to serve his or her own generation according to the will of God.
The harvest field is white. Everywhere we go we find people who are depressed, whose sons or daughters are in jail or have run away from home, who are distraught because of sickness or their job, who have AIDS, who are confused about where they stand with God. Multitudes are perishing for lack of the Spirit of God. If we will seek the Lord and obey Him we most likely will soon find ourselves working in some corner of the Kingdom.
Let us turn from the false teachings, the Christian fables of our day, and follow the Lord Jesus to the fullness of salvation and ministry.
(“Belief Is Not Salvation”, 3925-1)