Yesterday my family and I began reading Chapter 7, “The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (3) Necessity,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology in our after breakfast Bible reading time. We read the chapter’s introduction and its first section, which aims to show that the Bible is necessary for knowing the Gospel. We expect to spend two or three more days reading from the chapter.
In Romans 10:13-17 Paul argues that no one can be saved without hearing the preaching of the Gospel:
“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ [quoted from Joel 2:32]. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” … So faith comes come hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV.)
Many other Bible passages show that people can be saved only through faith in Jesus Christ. A few of them are:
– (Jesus to Nicodemus) “Whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).
– (Jesus to Thomas) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
– (Peter to the Sanhedrin) “And there is salvation in no one else [but Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by whom we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
– (Paul to Timothy) “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
If this is so, the question arises how believers under the old covenant were saved. These Bible passages suggest that they were also saved by faith in Jesus Christ, with their faith being a forward-looking one based on God’s promise of a Messiah:
– (Jesus to some Jews) “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
– “These [probably Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar” (Hebrews 11:13).
– “He [Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:26).
If “these” in Hebrews 11:13 refers to Abraham (with Sarah), Isaac, and Jacob, then the “homeland that they were seeking” referred to in 11:14 would be Canaan. However in 11:16 the writer indicates they also had a desire for the future “heavenly one” which God “has prepared for them” and for all who have faith in Jesus Christ.
The above passages demonstrate that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and that that faith rests on God’s words. The place where we find those words today is the Bible, which means that reading it or having others tell them what it says is necessary for unbelievers to know the Gospel and be saved.