Many people love to quote the verse here saying that faith alone saves:
John 3:16 “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Some people think that only belief is enough by reading this verse too.
John 6 “28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
But please read the context. What was Jesus talking about? He had just multiplied the bread and people were following Him to get bread to eat. They were “working for the bread to eat” rather than believing in Him for eternal life. They chased the bread to eat and not Jesus, the bread of eternal life.
John 6 “26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. “28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
So does that mean that “belief” is enough without any obedience to Jesus? No, read the rest of the Gospel of John.
Jesus gave TWO commandments:
- Believe AND
- Love one another like Jesus
John 13 “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.””
A disciple is a believer and they must follow Jesus becoming perfect like Him. Jesus did not sin but loved perfectly.
1 John 3 “23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
The Gospel is TWO commandments – believe AND love to become like Jesus.
God’s commands are not optional. They give the reward of salvation for obedience but punishment for disobedience.
1 John 2 “5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did…..29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”
The 2nd commandment was not optional. It was a requirement for salvation in that time.
This is why Jesus said this to the woman caught in adultery and to the man he healed:
John 8 ““Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 5 “8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked….14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” “
If the believer lived in sin, then they would not be saved.
Why is that? Its because their works would be judged on the last day, and only those who obeyed Christ’s TWO commands would be saved.
John 5 “28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”
Jesus also said the believers had to carry the cross just like He did.
John 12 “23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
John 15 “18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. “
So the Gospel of John clearly matches the pre-cross words of Christ in Matthew/Mark/Luke where salvation is not just by faith but also by obedience to Christ’s commands in fulfilling the law.
When Jesus commanded to love one another like Jesus did, it was the same command from the Sermon on the mount where Jesus commanded them to be PERFECT in obeying the law with radical love and repentance from sin (Mathew 5:48)
When Jesus commanded them to lose their life and be persecuted, it was the same as the command to deny themselves and carry the cross (Luke 12, Luke 14, Matthew 16, Matthew 24) to be saved in the end.
When Jesus warned them to stop sinning, it was the same command in the Sermon on the Mount where He warned them about judgment if they did not fully repent from sins (Matthew 5-7)
So you can clearly see that the Biblical faith was about obeying the law of loving God and people radically. It was because the Biblical faith was about the Law until AD70.
Jesus did not judge the world and the Law passed away because the Church failed to follow Jesus.
There is no future day of judgment. The Bible is an allegory showing us that man cannot be perfect like God.
The Biblical faith does not exist today because nobody follows Jesus.
Jesus has already forgiven all sins on the cross. You are already accepted in God’s unconditional love.
The perfect God will never judge the imperfect world.
Believe in His love and be at rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.