“For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.” (Romans 3:28)
The scripture above led to Martin Luther’s doctrine of Justification by Faith. And it led to my rebirth experience from reading Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith in one of his letters. But I have continued to read the Bible and in Romans 5:17 Paul writes about Adam’s trespass, “If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” But if faith is necessary to be saved, then the gift of God’s grace is not free. There is a requirement for salvation, which is faith in Jesus Christ. So that requirement for faith in Jesus Christ is like a necessary work for salvation. And John Calvin said that if anything is required for him to be saved, he will mess it up and lose it.
So when I was asked at a school of religion if faith was necessary to be saved, I said, “I hope not, because some days I may have little faith and other times I will have complete faith. What if I die when I have little or no faith?”
Indeed, a Hospise Chaplain discovered that patients facing their death who had been certain of their faith, sometimes doubted or lost their faith as their death neared. So my faith is not in my faith, but in the love of God. It is not my faith that will save me. It will be the love of God that will save me. Yet faith gives me the blessed assurance of God, who is love, saving me. But God’s love is a far more certain basis for my faith than my mood at any particular moment or any of my other works.
So I John 4:18 says, “There is not fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” And I John 4:17 says, “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment.” So I trust the perfect love of God to save me on that day. And God’s love is so perfect and great that I have faith that God will save not only me, but everyone. For in Romans 5:18 Paul writes, “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.” Of course, it was Christ’s willingness to be crucified to show how much God loves us, which was that one act of righteousness.
Despite the fact that Paul wrote “all” for both who was condemned and who was acquitted, it may be hard to believe that God’s love is great enough to save everyone eventually. Yet that inability to believe that may be because of the limits of your ability to love. So I John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” The more unconditional and unlimited your love is for everyone, the more you will know God and trust that his unconditional and unlimited love will eventually save everyone, including you. There is no more solid basis for salvation.