And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him... - Hebrews 5:9
The truth is the only way one can find peace with God is by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9). However, faithful Christians have always proclaimed that while it is faith alone that saves, saving faith is never alone (see Eph 2:10). In other words, one evidence of saving faith is that a person is obedient to Christ.
Now, perhaps someone will look at Hebrews 5:9 and simply say that all one needs to do to be obedient to Christ is to 'believe' Him. So, to 'obey' is to have faith. It's not that I disagree with this, but I would emphasize that the obedience mentioned here is more than just to believe. In context, the author of Hebrews mentions the Son's obedience to the Father (5:8) and so we can safely assume that in v.9 our obedience ought to imitate that of Christ's.
Let's be very clear here- we ARE NOT saved by our 'works'. If you hear the gospel and respond by saying "yeah I'll try harder to be a better person," you have missed the point. We are saved by Christ's work on our behalf. There is nothing left to 'do' to earn God's love or favor. We must run to Jesus in faith resting in His propitiatory work on our behalf.
However, we have erred greatly in the Bible Belt by preaching an assurance of salvation based on what someone did in the past. Commonly it goes like this:
"I'm really struggling with assurance of salvation."
"Well, did you ask Jesus in your heart?"
"Did you mean it?"
"Well, you're saved! It's just the devil trying to mess you up."
But what does our text say? Does it say Jesus is the source of eternal life to those who asked Him in their heart? Or those who obey Him?
Part of what it means to be a Believer is that we desire to have every ounce of our life joyfully submitted to Christ's sovereign reign.
What does this look like? Just a few examples:
A life that knows, believes, loves, and shares the gospel
A life that desires to read, know, and apply Scripture
A life that loves the local church
A life that hates sin and desires to be free from its power and presence
A life that is generous
A life that shows mercy, kindness, and compassion
A life in awe of God's holiness and that delights in worshiping Him
Again, this doesn't mean we hope in our works. That God will find our works good enough so we can get into heaven. No beloved, we must rest in Christ's finished work on our behalf. But a faith that rests in Christ, is a faith that lives. And a faith that lives is a faith that obeys.
Based on Hebrews 5:9, a person that is not walking in obedience has no right to claim Jesus as the source of his or her eternal salvation. (There are so many applications for the local church in this but I'll levee that for another blog sometime!)
Grace and peace.