In This We Believe, it states,
"We reject every teaching that man in any way contributes to his salvation. We reject all efforts to present faith as a condition man must fulfill to complete his justification. We likewise reject any teaching which says that it does not matter what one believes so long as one has faith. " This seems to pertain to a question of mine. I informed someone that we are saved "apart from our own freewill, or choosing" and that only those who believe this are saved, but he said, "That's where we disagree. I believe someone can be saved whether they believe that, or not." My question is - how do I respond? What scriptural proof may I present him that rejection of the Gospel as we teach it (i.e. salvation apart from our own freewill or choosing) is in fact a rejection of salvation?
Also, I was wondering if you would be able to provide the This We Believe Q&A pdf file online, as I unfortunately do not have the means at this time to obtain a copy - I also believe it would be beneficial for others, as well.
Faith in Jesus Christ as the promised Savior and the Son of God is absolutely necessary for salvation. Your question has us look at Christian faith that links people to Christ. Is it possible for people who misunderstand the origin of faith to enjoy the benefits of Christian faith?
Let me pass along some thoughts from two of my predecessors in this position. They address your question well.
“Many people who supposedly ask Jesus into their hearts already have saving faith. They got this saving faith from the Holy Spirit working through the gospel and not from any human cooperation or work or contribution — or by asking for it. In fact, by nature we are all opposed to the gospel and do not appreciate the things of God one bit — so if a person is saying, ‘I want Jesus to enter my heart and life; I want him to have his way with me,’ that in itself may be evidence that the Holy Spirit has already created saving faith in that person.
“What is happening, then, is not that these people are necessarily unbelievers, but they are (100% by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work through the gospel) believers who also are very confused or wrong in their words about how a person (including themselves) obtains saving faith. They have what we want them to have (saving faith), but they are not giving God all glory by ascribing this 100% to God’s love and power — but are in some way including human effort, human cooperation, or human obedience in the matter. Thanks be to God that he still maintains saving faith in some people despite poisonous errors that may also be in a person’s heart.”
Also, “Decision theology makes human sense. However, it is biblical nonsense. In addition to crediting dead sinners with spiritual power they don’t possess, the whole concept of ‘faith’ is distorted. Scripture clearly pictures faith as God’s gift. It is the polar opposite of works. In decision theology, faith becomes at least partially a human work. Adding even the tiniest factor of human effort to God’s salvation equation yields the result of pride (‘I made my decision when others failed’) or despair (‘Was my decision genuine?). Instead of fixing believers’ eyes alone on Jesus where they find certainty (Hebrews 12:2), decision theology directs believers to the vagaries of the human heart where they find uncertainty (Jeremiah 17:9).
“Are those who claim to believe in decision theology our brothers and sisters in Christ? Clinging to false doctrine prevents outward fellowship between us. But are they part of the invisible fellowship of Christ’s church? There is grave danger that false belief leads to unbelieving pride or despair. Such is the danger of all false doctrine. But what if, despite unbiblical reasoning, hearts cling to Christ alone and don’t depend on some ‘decision? Then, despite misunderstanding the ‘how’ of their conversion, they possess Spirit-worked faith! God grant such a ‘happy inconsistency’ to the vast majority of those who claim a ‘decision’ for Jesus.”
I am not able to pass along a digital file of This We Believe: Questions and Answers. It is available from Northwestern Publishing House.