We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? (207) In another article (212) we noted that the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God requires absolute perfection of those He allows into His eternal kingdom and gives that perfection as a grant to those who are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith.
But this raises a huge question: What does by faith mean? This is the most confused issue among men. What God means by faith is significantly distorted by men who have a religious agenda to promote. Today we want to address the issue of what God means when He calls upon us to believe Him.
First, when God says believe Me, He says it in relation to something He has promised. This is the most critical observation that we can make about faith: it is a response of willing conviction that what God has promised is true.
There are two ways this issue is distorted by men. First is the divorce of faith from promise; and second is the distortion of promise into law. We want to consider these two issues carefully because God gives perfect righteousness to those who believe and He confines those who distort faith into something else to eternal judgment.
Today we hear a lot of talk about faith, but much of that talk is an expression of a content-confusion at best and a content-void at worst. Faith is a response to something God has promised. That means that He is looking for us to find out what He has promised. Then He is looking for us to trust Him for the fulfillment of the promise. Much of the faith talk today is divorced from His promises either by ignorance or interpretational error. Many people not only do not know the Bible well enough to know what He has promised, they have confused their religion with His Word. We are not trusting God unless we know what He has promised. The key text for this reality is Romans 4:21: "being fully persuaded that what He hath promised He is able also to do" (KJV). This means that the fulfillment of the promise is up to God because He is the one who made the promise. We must understand that faith always has a specific promise in mind.
The second major confusion of men is the distortion of promise into law. What I mean is that men almost invariably turn God's promise into some kind of demand. A promise is a promise and a command is a command. Promises require a response of faith; commands require a response of obedience. The confusion of the two has resulted in men building religious systems that tell people that if they want to go to heaven, they must do...this or that. And all the while God is saying that if we want to go to heaven we must believe what He has promised.
In spite of the fact that God says clearly that He relates to men for salvation by promise/faith, most men believe that He relates to men for salvation by command/obedience. Only those who believe His promise are saved from His wrath.