Fathom Mag

Why do we have to “accept” Christ to make our salvation count?

A Fathom reader asked for our thoughts on faith and works.

Published on:
February 8, 2017
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2 min.
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Why do we have to “accept” Christ to make our salvation count? If Christ’s sacrifice is wholly sufficient, why do I have to do something (“believe”) to get it? Doesn’t that make it not truly “Christ alone”? 

Does that even make any sense? I think this more of a problem for those not of the Reformed tradition, but it could lead to interesting discussion on free will, predestination, universalism, and works versus faith.

Kim C.

True faith leads to work.

Kim, the question makes complete sense. The primary underpinning for “accepting Christ” comes from Romans 10:9, which says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The former follows the latter—a true belief leads to confession. 

The claim of Solo Christo, or “in Christ alone,” states that salvation is found only in the person and work of Christ. To say that you have trusted or received that gift does not steal the credit for providing it. 

I don’t think “accepting” Christ has to be a sinner’s prayer or even an altar call, but neither should it be private. We only hide that of which we are ashamed. The gospel is a secret belief only if we find it shameful or inconvenient. But to ascribe shame or inconvenience to God’s work—his grace to the Undeserving at ultimate cost to himself—is a proof that you have not been wholly convinced of, or accepted, the truth of the gospel. 

The debate over the nature of that belief is where we get into the interesting discussion you mentioned. Quickly, I would like to touch on some of that.

First, I would be careful to not conflate sufficiency with imputation as many universalists do. To say Christ’s work was sufficient for salvation means that it is enough to forgive sin and completely justify sinners before God. But it does not necessarily follow that God then imputes Christ’s righteousness to all humanity. I have some serious and practical challenges for that assertion whenever I watch the news.

Second, we are saved by faith alone, but that faith is always followed by works. Romans 6:13–19 and 12:1 make it excruciatingly clear that those who have been saved are required to live lives of serious commitment and effort. Complacent Christianity owes more to ignorance than the faux maturity it often hides behind.

Drew Fitzgerald
After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary, Drew moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to help plant The Hill Church where he still serves as an elder. He has a habit of collecting hobbies and mastering none of them. The only real thing he has mastered is eating ice cream, which really isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Cover image by Jess Orrico.

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