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WHI-1035 | Is Faith in Christ Necessary?

Posted by on in 2011 Show Archive
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According to a recent Pew study, 70% of Americans agreed with the idea that "many religions can lead to eternal life." What's more striking is that when this same question was put to self-identified evangelical Christians, 57% agreed. So is this view correct, or is faith in Christ the only way to heaven? That's the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn as the hosts continue their series through the Great Commission.

According to a recent Pew study, 70% of Americans agreed with the idea that "many religions can lead to eternal life." What's more striking is that when this same question was put to self-identified evangelical Christians, 57% agreed. So is this view correct, or is faith in Christ the only way to heaven? That's the focus of this edition of White Horse Inn as the hosts continue their series through the Great Commission.

The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton
Christ Alone
Rod Rosenbladt
Only One Way
ed. Richard Phillips


[audio:http://www.whitehorseinn.org/whiarchives/2011whi1035feb06.mp3|titles=WHI 1035|artists=White Horse Inn]


Doug Powell

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  • Charles,

    Westminster Confession 10.3 (with its associated Scriptural proofs) is helpful on this question: "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word" (Lk 18:15-16, Acts 2:38-39, John 3:3-8, Rom 8:9, 1John 5:2, Acts 4:12). There is also the verse that Mike mentioned above from 2 Samuel (12:23) in which David expresses confidence that he will eventually be reunited with his recently deceased infant son.

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  • Guest - Marjorie B Clayton

    I, also , was much disturbed by that broadcast1
    I greatly agree that God is the one who judges, because he is the one who chooses-and elects.
    In Roman times what did those who died in the arena believe? They believed in the Jesus Christ who died on the cross to pay their penalty as sinners. They had God's Presence to strenghten them unto death- and not an easy death at that.
    T am 73 years old, raised in the church, attended schools -Episcopal boarding school and Duke University that claimed to be Christian; I graduated from Duke in 1960, married and a mother in 1959. I thought I was a "good girl', walked an aisle so I would be "raptured" instead of going through the tribulation- which I had NEVER heard of in the Methodist Church. I spent the next 20 years in the Methodist Church but had many different experiences, taught Junior high, and senior women's Bible studies- including Precept by Kay Arthur.
    I read and studied God's Word- as if my life dependended on it- and it did!\I grew because I believed, because my mother-inlaw ( simple and innocent as she was) believed in Go's inerrant Word, and I decided I should an COULD believe it, too. It was a simple decision of the Faith given me by God's Holy Spirit.
    I also came to Reformation theology- just from reading and believing the Word. God graciously gave me the Gift of Faith, and I saw my sinfulness and Jesus'perfect Righteousness given to me.
    I think I was about 29 years old.
    My Daddied then and the importance of knowing his location- in a hole with worms eating Him or with the God I saw him praying to as he knelt by his bed at night to pray for his family-added to my change.
    And I grew -also by Go's grace and gifts.
    My husband came to faith when he was 56 years old, and we finally left the Libral Methodists- when he realized the errors our family was taught.
    We joined a Southern Baptist Church- which is also -like most Southern Baptists- Arminian and pre-dispinsastional!
    I was allowed too teach because y husband was in the class. ( He was elected an Elder!)
    I think our pastors are now "reformed" theologically.
    We require the signing of a covenant for membership; our church is now smaller in number, but much bigger in missions throughouh all the world- South and Central America, Turkey and Tajikistan fulltime missions of 30 year olds, Thialand and China, Hungary, Romania as a few.
    There is so much else I would love to share but I have said more than enough.
    Salvation is exclusive as the Bible tells us; that is not to say that others can't be saved- but by Christ ALONE- babies and children of godly parents.Everyone who believes God's promise to Adam and Eve of a Savior, the ministry of Jesus Christ while here on hear, in HIs resurrection from the death on the cross as imputated to those who believed then and now.
    NOT just because they believe in that there is a God of the Jews, or the God the Muslims claim to follow.
    Maybe I misunderstood your "Inclusive' statements.
    God's Word is true. I am a sinnere saved by God's grace, the Holy Spirits action in my life and in Christ's death and resurrection. No One is saved except by God's grace and He is the Judge, the only judge.
    Jesus is my life. Belief in Him is the greatest gift that anyone can have. He is Sovereign over all things, and nothing can separate His Own from their Savior.
    For give me , but I must say that Jesus is all I need. he has healed me from breast cancer, congestive heart failure. He is control, and I am in His hand, and I want my children, and grandchildren and ALL to whom he might send me will realize their inclusion in His ONE family- whether Jew, Jewish, Islamic, paganish or what-ever.
    Marjorie B Clayton


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  • Pew, that study really IS a stinker. It's frightening I think, more than anything. It makes me realize that from now on, I need to be careful with the words I choose when speaking with people who claim to be evangelical christians. I am not going to use buzzwords of modern church-culture anymore, not that I ever really did, but now I will be sure not to.

    I will give them no chance to sneak through any conversation with ambiguous talk that isn't specifically representative of true biblical christianity. I need to make my words right on target that can only mean I am speaking of The Lord Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father. The one and only creator and sustainer of all life. The one judge of all creation. When I speak of God, I must say the One and only triune God: The Father, His only begotten Son The Lord Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit.

    We all need to sit down and make sure we get our words exactly correct so there can be no wigggle room.

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  • For Shane, Charles, and Rick, and even Kim, Check out this book I have been reading on-line the past day or two, which I found from a link from a commentor at the Parchment & Pen blog. It speaks to exactly what younz guys are discussing. It's a very old book (I think 1910), but very interesting and I've found it to be scriptural so far (I'm up to page 106). Whenever he speculates beyond scripture, he says so, and doesn't dogmatize his speculation, but leaves it up to the reader.

    It's called 'The Gospel of the Hereafter' and it's author is J. Patterson-Smyth (I never heard of him). Cool book though so far! Not many books on this topic around either. The Link:


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  • Guest - Dan Plotner

    Mark/Shane/Mike, thanks for your replies.

    Is there a distinction between exercised faith and non-exercised faith?

    I ask this because I am questioning, along with the title of this post, if faith is necessary to be saved? The impression I got from the show was "no, in some cases faith is not necessary". The impression I get now from the comments is "ordinarily yes, but in exceptional cases, no".

    At 30:24, Ken Jones says that "in the absence of faith, the grace of God, in the person of Christ, is given to this person in a different way". I conclude from that comment that faith is NOT necessary for salvation, since the grace of God is given in a way other than faith. I did not know it was possible to be justified in any way other than through faith, so I am still very surprised to hear that.

    Returning to my question above, is there a qualitatively different sort of faith given in exceptional cases, such as "non-exercised faith", or, as Pastor Jones said, does an elect infant receive the grace of God in a way other than faith?

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  • "Is there a distinction between exercised faith and non-exercised faith?"

    According to James, there's no such thing as non-exercised faith (at least with respect to justification before men). I.e. your faith in Christ causes you to behave righteously - just saying you have faith isn't enough if it doesn't do anything.

    That said, I think the distinction may be more the awareness Christians have vs. non-Christians as to why they're behaving righteously. As Christians we know that all righteousness comes from the faith that Christ has placed in our hearts, and as Marjorie can attest to, that awareness and presence of the Holy Spirit is a great blessing that comforts and guides us throughout our lifetime.

    If it turns out that when we get to heaven and there's a person there we (and they too) swore up and down was a non-Christian (big IF), I'd still say they were saved by their faith in Christ that they, for example, exhibited as they served the widow or orphan. They just didn't consciously attribute it to Jesus, who they may have thought (wrongly in their hindsight) was just some guy these "religious nuts" had gotten overly excited over. But I think we have to acknowledge that by definition, if any behavior is truly righteous, it has to be based on some sort of faith in Christ.

    So I guess that leaves another question: what constitutes "faith in Christ"?

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  • Guest - Marjorie B Clayton

    "Faith" is necessary to all who have the ,ability to understand- to understand with intelligence which God has given to then.
    IF for any reason the person has not the ability to understand- preborn, infant, mentally deficient for what ever reason- God in His Mercy for whatever His reason is the one to save ; God saves and is the only one who saves- because of the sacrificial death of Jesus and the work of His Holy Spirit
    God saves Who He will, How He will, in any way as He who is sovereign determines.
    I trust Him with the salvation of ANY one in my family or among my friends, enemies because He is Sovereign over ALL THings.

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  • Guest - Matt S Holst

    If faith is a gift of God (per Ephesians 2), then could not God give the gift of faith to an infant, mentally handicapped, etc. who can then in turn exercise that faith as God sees fit? Since the Reformed understanding of salvation is that regeneration (the new birth) precedes faith, who is to say that an infant could not be born again in the womb and also be given the gift of faith, even if that faith is not exercised in any visible way here on earth?

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  • It seems to me that Job's confession of faith in 19:25-27 is clear scriptural proof that God has been in the business of teaching and saving His elect in all ages including a wide variety of folks who, for a multitude of reasons, never heard the Gospel and expressed faith in Christ, yet by God's grace were saved by his merit.

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  • I don't think the most important question has been answered in the comments. The show clearly seems to say that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation. The comments have addressed exceptional cases and stated that those exceptional cases don't have faith. I will have to conclude that the position here is to deny that true faith is necessary.

    I agree with Matt above. I don't see why God cannot grant true faith to an infant or mentally handicapped person, however. Can someone answer why elect infants, for example, do not have faith, but must be saved in some other way?

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