In his sermon on our passage for next Sunday, Colossians 1:1-8, John MacArthur offers the following illustration on how faith in Jesus Christ saves:
Spurgeon use to tell a story about two men in a boat. They were caught in a very, very severe rapids and they were going to a place where there was a waterfall and even worse rapids and there was really no way, if they ever hit those rapids, that they would ever live. And they began to struggle for their lives. And as they were carried swiftly down stream, they were carried toward the perilous rocks and the falls and some men on the shore saw them and tried to save the two men and they threw a rope out. By this time the men had fallen out of the little boat, were struggling in the current. One man caught the rope and was saved. At the same instant, said Spurgeon, the other man who could have seized the rope, in the panic of the moment, grabbed onto a log that was floating by and that was a fatal mistake. One man was drawn to the shore because he had a connection with the people on the land. The other clinging to a log was carried down through the rapids and never found again.
Now, yousee, what faith does is faith gives you a connection with the shore. Faith gives you a connection to Jesus Christ. Good worksis grabbing a log. It doesn't go anywhere but along with you to your doom. And Paul says, first of all, Colossians, I want to thank God that you got the rope, not a log.
John MacArthur - The Gospel Truth