Focal Passage: 1 John 5:1-12
Among the foundational doctrines of the Reformation is the belief that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
We are not saved because we deserve it. We are not saved because we worked for it. We are saved only because of what Jesus did for us. We receive this salvation by trusting in Him for it, not as a reward for our efforts.
Yet, like much of John’s letter, these verses seem to imply that salvation involves some action on the part of Christians.
Well, that’s because salvation does involve obedience to the instruction in scripture. However, it is obedience that results from salvation, not obedience that results in salvation.
We must resist the pull towards legalism that has threatened the church throughout history. We cannot earn God’s favor. We do not need to show God or anyone else that we deserve to be saved. Instead, we need to admit that we are unworthy in order to appreciate God’s grace.
At the same time, we must beware the error of antinomianism, which teaches that obedience to the commands of scripture is not necessary.
Martin Luther said, “We are saved by faith alone, but faith that saves is never alone.”
John helps us see that true faith originates from a heart that is simultaneously filled with love and a desire to follow Jesus in obedience to the Word.
If love and obedience are not at work, that is an indication that there is no true faith. He says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4 ESV).
Remember what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-10. We are saved by grace through faith, but we are saved for good works, which God has prepared for us. Trust in Jesus alone for your salvation and follow Jesus alone with your life. As John Sammis wrote in his 1887 hymn, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”