True saving faith is the sinner recognizing his own hopeless condition and trusting Christ as his righteous and sacrificial substitute the only possible means of escape from God’s just wrath.
The apostle Paul referred to the gospel as “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Salvation is not merely professing to be a Christian, nor is it baptism, moral reform, going to church, receiving sacraments, or living a life of self-discipline and sacrifice. Salvation is believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation comes through giving up on one’s own goodness, works, knowledge, and wisdom and trusting in the finished, perfect work of Christ.
There’s nothing sinners can do to gain a right relationship with God Paul made that point very clear.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Not only does God provide the means of salvation, He gives the very ability to lay hold of that salvation through faith in His Son. That call to believe in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ rings out in the words of the evangelists in the New Testament.
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, a high ranking Jewish scholar, He pointed out “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
When the Philippian jailer cried out to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”.
30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Paul wrote that God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.
26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
John’s specific purpose for writing his gospel was “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name”.
31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
God’s Word is clear: Salvation apart from faith in Christ is impossible. As Peter and John declared under trial before the Sanhedrin, “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved”.
12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
It is critically important for one to distinguish true saving faith from just agreeing to a concept or course of action.