Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Because James wrote of faith without works being dead, some have imagined that he wrote that works and faith are both together what saves us. But take look at the verse above in the first chapter of James. It is clear that James knew only one way of salvation, that is that someone would hear the gospel – “the implanted word” – and receive it with faith – here represented by “receive with meekness.”
He has, in fact, given us a wonderful illustration of salvation, it is like a seed being planted in the ground. If the ground receives the seed, it will sprout. If the ground is no good, for some reason, or if the seed is not good, nothing will happen, but everything that happens does so because of the act of planting. All the growth and fruit and future of the plant depends on that simple act of planting.
This is how it is with us as well. The seed of the gospel is planted in our hearts, communicated by someone else, but upon the conviction of the Spirit it penetrates our outer crust to go beneath the surface of our lives, and there we embrace it in faith. Like a seed, it does not need to penetrate very deeply at first, later as it grows it will send its roots down into our souls bringing deeper conviction, a deeper work of grace, along with deeper peace and joy. But at first it just needs to be “deep enough” for us to consider our need of grace and to hear the voice of the Spirit saying that Jesus is the answer to our need. And we turn to Him in faith and trust.
All that happens later in our life depends on that salvation moment, on that tiny seed of the gospel germinating in our souls and taking root. How much gospel is required to be saved? That is a good question, and from the apostle’s sermons in Acts we have an idea that the message is about Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, about God’s love and our need of grace, and about our need to turn from sin and to trust in Him. Romans 10:9-10 gives some guidelines for us to believe that Christ is Lord, that He died and is risen. But a salvation event is really more about receiving a person, receiving Christ Himself, and not just accepting some teachings about Him. So He is present in the event and He calls out to people to trust in Him. This seed that is planted is the voice of God calling out to our hearts, and because of this dynamic I am not sure that any of us can say exactly how much of the gospel is needed. “Enough” is needed, but I have seen some people saved before I finished my explanation.
To me this validates the divine nature of salvation. The gospel seed is a living seed and it speaks on its own to the hearer. This is such a great relief to the preacher, evangelist, or witness. Otherwise, we may fear and think, “Did I say enough?” “Did I say the right thing?” But it is not like that. To share the faith is to bring someone to the living Christ who calls to them and urges them to believe in Him and receive Him as Savior and Lord. The messenger is just making the introduction.
Has the seed of the gospel been presented to you? Have you heard the message? Have you heard the voice of God calling to you through the message? Have you put your faith in Him? All that happens in your life here and for all eternity hangs on that experience.