by Raymond KwongWhat is saving faith (James 2:14)? After much study, I believe the prospect needs to trust Christ as Savior with a heart-surrender to His Lordship. He needs to realize Christ has a claim on his life, that it needs to be changed. When he is saved, in all likelihood he will not yet know all that Lordship entails. But as he grows in Christ, he will be ready for the changes Christ demands because he has surrendered himself to the Lord. He is not saved by any of his works, but by grace through saving faith. This I call biblical salvation. I believe there are three conditions that need to be present in a sinner's heart for him to be saved: faith, repentance, and confession of Lordship (Rom. 10:9). They are three sides of the same triangle. All have to do with the condition of the heart and nothing to do with works. It is as Paul Little wrote: "It is significant that marriage is one of the illustrations…for being a Christian.…One finally has to come to a commitment of the will and say, ‘I do. For better or for worse, I will stick with you.'" Notice Christ's yoke (heart surrender to new management) in the context of salvation in Matthew 11. Notice also the marks of obedience ("followership") in many Scriptures, such as John 10:27 #/("My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me…"/#) and Hebrews 5:9 (#/"…he [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."/# In the parable of the four soils in Matthew 13, only the good soil (right heart condition) represents the converted, as many commentators agree. No roots, no fruits. A Christian will bear some fruits, no matter how little. But where there is life, there must inevitably be growth. Christians, however, may have different rates of growth. Just as there is no perfect marriage, there is no perfect Christian walk. Greek scholar A.T. Robertson wrote on Romans 10:9 "‘#/If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord…./#' This is the reading of nearly all the MSS." Spurgeon declared: "You must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord: that is, Ruler and Master." Numerous quotes of respected, spiritual giants like Drs. R. A. Torrey, H. A. Ironside, John Rice, Truman Dollar, Fred Barlow, Hyman Appelman, R. G. Lee, Tom Malone, and Herschel Hobbs could be cited to support the fact that they all believed one should confess Jesus as Savior and Lord at the time of salvation. Dr. John Balyo, who spoke before a Baptist Congress in 1966, said, "Voluntary submission means salvation; compulsory submission means damnation….The Lordship of Christ is essential to salvation." Then he added, "Judas, who betrayed Jesus, never once called Jesus Lord." The thief on the cross (Luke 23:42), Saul (Acts 9:5), the Philippian jailor, and doubting Thomas (John 20:28 ) all confessed Him as Lord. What About Backslidden Christians? Yes, genuine Christians may sin and backslide, but like Samson they will get right eventually. A pig would continue to wallow in sin, but a sheep would want to get out of the mud. Lot was "#/vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked…"/# (2 Pet. 2:7-8). All Christians, including Paul, have struggles and even hang-ups (Rom 7). This subject may be uncomfortable but my hope and prayer is that it will result in responsible evangelism and self-examination (2 Cor. 13:5). (Why this command to examine ourselves, if there are no pseudo-conversions?) I preached a series of seven sermons on this topic to my church, which resulted in much-needed soul-searching. May God bless you in your quest for the truth! I would welcome feedback from you. Email me at #mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org# Raymond Kwong has been pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in San Francisco, Ca. for 16 years. He is a popular talk show host and has spoken at numerous family, revival, prophecy conferences and retreats.