Can Someone Believe in Jesus, and not be Saved?
Unfortunately there is much error in Christianity today, but without a doubt the most damaging doctrine taught is that of “Faith Only” salvation. The doctrine was born and developed in the protestant reformation by such men as Martin Luther and John Wesley, and has grown rapidly over the last several hundred years. We know the Bible warns us about believing the doctrines of men, and we must always see if any teaching of man can be supported by the New Testament Scriptures.
The doctrine of Faith only salvation teaches that all one must do to become saved and have his sins forgiven is believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and ask Him into his heart. There are many ways to prove this doctrine false by simply opening our New Testament and studying it. One of those many ways is to simply ask the question stated above and answer it from the New testament. According to this false teaching all one must do is simply believe in Jesus Christ and they are saved. So I would ask you to consider the question. Is it possible to Believe in Jesus Christ and not be saved? If we can show the Scriptures answer this question in the affirmative, then we would have successfully proven the doctrine to be false.
The first, and most obvious, passage we should turn to is in the book of James. James said, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble” (Jam. 2:19)! Here James tells us that the demons believe in God, but it is obvious that they are not saved. Why is that? Even though the demons believe, they cannot be saved because they do not have an obedient faith. They have a dead faith that does not lead to obedience and cannot justify anyone (James 2:24).
Another good example of some people who believed in Jesus Christ, but were not in a saved condition, were some of the chief Jewish rulers of Jesus’ day. Listen to how the apostle John described them. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42,43). Again we see an example of people who believe, but they do not have a Biblical faith, which is willing to act on their belief in obedience to all of God’s commands. There is an example of some other chief Jewish rulers who showed the proper kind of belief in the sixth chapter of Acts. “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). So what is different about these rulers? They heard the Word of God, believed it, and were obedient to it. They not only claimed to believe, but they showed their belief by obeying the faith. Just believing is not enough. On the day of Pentecost three thousand Jews yelled out to Peter and the apostles, “men and brethren, what should we do” (Acts 2:37). If believing was all it took, then Peter should have told them just to believe. Peter told them something else they had to do in addition to their belief, and it was for them to “repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). Belief is vitally important to one’s salvation, but faith alone will not save anyone (James 2:14,24). The Biblical faith that saves is the kind that faithfully obeys the commands of God, especially the ones that are conditions of our salvation. -Ed