Countless times I have ministered to people who seemed to be misled into believing that they were a Christian. They have defended their “salvation” with their good church attendance, activity in the church, good note taking, tithing, relationship to someone in ministry, and the list goes on and on. Many have even clearly articulated the Gospel. Said it back to me even, but still miss that they haven’t actually done it, like their “works” spoke for themselves.
It’s sad really. These people sit in our pews, go to our Bible studies and continue to believe the lie that other options for salvation besides saved by grace through faith are available.
Paul was addressing this issue in Romans 2:12-16 but it isn’t a simple passage.
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Romans 2:12-16 KJV
The passage becomes more clear when we read it in context and realize who and what he is attempting to address. In Paul’s time there was a sentiment among the Jewish teachers, that all who heard and listened to the Law would be saved. That was it! Just hearing and listening to the Law was understood to be enough to be saved.
The fallacy in that way of thinking was that it was inconsistent. Listening to the Law, one could never comply with the Law, to comply with the Law, enough to be “saved”, one would have to actually “do” something and not just hear. The other problem is that they would have to comply entirely with its demands… all of them, all the time. It just isn’t possible. Paul makes it perfectly clear that no one is saved by the “privilege” he might be born into, or to those he’s related to, or by any religion or religious ties.
Paul will later in Romans clarify this more, but here is an important place to be reminded. We should not be confused if there were multiple ways of salvation prior to the coming of Jesus to die as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In the Old Testament, the Gospel theme was set forth that people were saved from sin by grace through saving faith in the Lord and His promises (1 Peter 1:10-12). There is and has never been any other way of salvation, Paul explains in Romans 4. Salvation has always been and will always be by God’s grace and received through faith alone. No Law, no works, nothing else!
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
November 7, 2022