Shelby G. Floyd
Near the close of Paul’s brief letter to the young preacher Titus, he penned these words:
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7; NKJV).
SINFUL MEN NEED SALVATION
First we notice why salvation is needed by the human race. In verse three Paul describes the way people lived without God: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). That is not a pretty picture and deep down most people would not like to live like that. Sin is universal, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, every person accountable for their attitude and actions needs salvation from sin.
GOD’S LOVE IS THE BASIS OF SALVATION
Lost sinful man was without hope until the kindness, love, mercy and grace of God appeared to man in the person of Jesus Christ. If man is to be saved or pardoned from his sins, God must save him. When the Christ was born it was stated that his name would be JESUS—Savior, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God’s part in the salvation of man is the large part: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:4-5). While no work of man’s righteousness can be the basis of salvation, this does not mean that man has no part in his salvation.
Someone made the ridiculous statement that salvation is “by grace alone, through faith alone, to God alone be the glory!” If salvation is by any one of these alone, it excludes the others. Salvation “by faith alone,” as taught by the followers of John Calvin is “the doctrine of devils.” According to James the devils have “faith only” and are lost: “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)? Furthermore, James teaches just the opposite of the “faith only” of Calvin and his “fellow travelers! After illustrating that Abraham, the father of the faithful was justified by his works growing out of his faith when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar, he declared, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). Salvation from sin is “not by faith only.” I prefer James over Calvin and demons!
Shelby G. Floyd, minister, Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142