The Greatest Question
by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
The question of all questions is "What think ye of the Christ?" What one thinks of Christ determines his thoughts and actions on every question. The correctness of faith depends on the correct answer to the superlative question "What think ye of Christ?" The question of how and when one is saved by faith through Christ is answered when the first question is resolved. The value of faith in salvation is determined by the use that is made of faith. How faith is to be used must be decided by what the Gospel of Christ says, for, apart from the testimony of the divine records, no one can settle any question as to salvation through Christ.
Before all men today there are two plans of salvation offered. One is of human origin and contradicts the teaching of Christ and His apostles. The other is Christ's own plan, and it was revealed through the apostles.
Since the time of Martin Luther, the doctrine of justification by faith alone has been taught as a leading theological tenet. It is taught in opposition to the teaching of Christ through His apostles. We should and do emphasize justification by faith, as the apostles of the Lord taught it, but we refuse to add the word "alone," and because we refuse to do that, we are charged with teaching justification by works and water salvation. Paul and all of the apostles taught justification by faith, but never did they say faith alone. Why? There's a reason — quite a sufficient reason. First, they would have contradicted the commission of Mark 16:15-16, which gave them authority to preach. Second, they knew that faith is a continuing state of mind. Faith was to be ever present, hence a life of faith. Hence, Paul said "Christ liveth in me." Do you ask how? "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the son of God" (Galatians 2:20). Thus, Paul teaches that faith is ever present, all through life, and is directed all the way by "the faith" of Christ. All students of language know that we may employ transposition of clauses in a sentence without changing its meaning, but rather making its meaning clearer. Transposing Romans 1:16, it reads: To every one that believeth it (the Gospel) is the power or God unto salvation." So, here is the order:
- There is a believer;
- the believer is in possession of "the power" that is "unto" salvation;
- when that "power" is used, the believer becomes saved.
Power is necessary to accomplish anything, physical or spiritual. The power must be used before there can be result. The power unto salvation is the Gospel. That power and the use of it stands between the believer and salvation. Is the believer saved before and without the use of the power which is "unto" — in order to — his salvation? Thus it is that this passage, and every other passage quoted as a faith alone text, condemns the doctrine of salvation at the moment one believes.
What one thinks of Christ is determined by what he thinks of the Gospel of Christ.