“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).
Salvation is given to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinners are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Scripture is explicit on this matter: He that believes is saved, and he that does not believe is damned (Mark 16:16). Believing on Christ is essential.
The Scriptural Obligation of Faith
Every sinner is commanded to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith in Christ is necessary to salvation. In regeneration—the new birth—God enables one to repent and believe; however, in the gospel message the responsibility of the sinner is clear. No man will ever be saved unless he is brought to actually trust in Christ. This is taught throughout the New Testament. You must believe if you are to be saved. C.H. Spurgeon once wrote: “A road to York will not take me there. I must travel along it for myself. All the sound doctrine that ever was believed will never save a man unless he puts his trust in the Lord Jesus for himself.” God’s commandment is that you believe on His Son. You must not only believe the record God has given concerning His Son—the historical facts contained in the Bible—but consciously place your trust in Him as your Lord and Savior.
The Sole Object of Faith
Our only hope of salvation is in the Lord Jesus. It lies alone and completely in Him. There is a general object of faith in salvation: it is the Word of God. You must believe its warnings, its commands, and its promises. You must believe all that God has recorded concerning sin and your need of salvation. But saving faith also has a specific object: the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:14-16; Acts 16:31). True faith looks to Christ’s spotless Person and sacrificial work. In Galatians 2:16, 20 Paul refers to “the faith of Christ.” In the original language, this is the “objective genitive”—meaning faith toward Jesus Christ, or that which rests entirely upon His work. The apostle’s meaning is clear: at one time our trust rested in our own works of law, but now all our trust has come to be utterly removed from all such works, and rests only in Christ Jesus. All saving merit is in Him. The sinner is only viewed as righteous before God on the basis of what Christ is, and on what He has done. Do you have faith in the Son of God? “Jesus, and Jesus only, is the object on which your anxious eyes must rest for peace with God and a change of heart. ‘It is Christ that died’ (Romans 8:34), and the Spirit’s office is to direct you to Him who said on Calvary, ‘It is finished ‘”(William Reid). The hymn writer Robert Critchley puts it succinctly:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.
The Satisfying Outcome of Faith
The “obedience of faith” results in justification. Being justified by faith “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith itself has no merit, of course. All the merit dwells in that One in whom the sinner places his trust: Jesus Christ. C.H. Spurgeon wrote: “Faith saves us because it makes us cling to Christ Jesus, and He is one with God, and thus brings us into connection with God.” Faith is not a meritorious work. No-one is saved on account of his faith, but through his faith.
Faith is the means by which the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Christ’s death to the individual soul. Trusting in Christ brings peace with God. Do you possess this saving faith?
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
— Nicolaus von Zinzendorf