In order for one to become a Christian, one must believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). Jesus declared to the Jews, “I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins” (Jn 8:24).
Sin is the transgression of the law (1 Jn 3:4 ff; Jam. 4:17; Rom. 1:16). Sin is the only thing that can separate man from God. As the prophet Isaiah wrote: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Furthermore, all have sinned against God and, thus, are separated from Him and in need of a Savior (Rom. 3:23 cf; 6:23 f; Mat. 18:11).
To be able to believe in something or someone requires substantiated evidence or credible witnesses. As the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “Prove all things; hold firm that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). To believe is taking God at His Word. Jesus said of Himself to His apostles, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by me. If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from henceforth you know him, and have seen him” (Jn 14:6, 7). The apostle John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name (Jn 20:30, 31). Thus, the fundamental purpose of the first four books of the New Testament is to prove that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, the only Savior of the world.
It is impossible to prove that Jesus is the Christ by science or by any other means other than the Holy Bible. Peter preached, “You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22). The apostle also appealed to evidence implying Christ’s Deity when he gave adequate evidence that Christ was raised from the dead to die no more (Acts 2:29-32). Please understand that what may be known by implication is just as knowable as that which is explicitly said. Thus, if our knowledge of Christ is wrong, our faith in Christ based on said erroneous knowledge is also wrong. But one’s faith in Christ comes by the Word of God—the knowledge revealed in the Bible that proves Jesus Christ to have been Deity in the flesh on earth (Jn 1:1, 2, 14). This is the faith that must be formed in one concerning God and His Christ, for it is essential to one’s salvation.
Is one saved by faith only? Absolutely Not! James wrote, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jam. 2:17). Indeed, James also penned, “Faith without works is dead” (2:20). Faith absent of works is a dead faith, saves no one, and is only on the devil level of faith (Jam 2:19). Again James wrote, “You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24).
The works of which James writes are not works of merit, works of men, or works of the Law of Moses. By them, no one can be saved (Eph. 2:9 f; Gal. 2:16). The works of which James writes are works of obedience to the gospel and doctrine of Christ. (Mk 16:16). Jesus stated that faith is a work of God “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (Jn 6:29). Baptism and repentance are also referred to as works of God (Heb 6:1,2). James uses Abraham as an example of faithful obedience to God’s will in writing, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect” (Jam. 2:22)? Thus, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys (Heb. 5:9 f; Rom. 6:17, 18).
Yes, faith in Christ is essential to salvation, but faith alone will save no one, even as baptism without faith saves no one. Salvation requires both faith and baptism (Mk 16:15,16).