Really? –Faith Alone & Void Of Works?
June 22, 2015
It is grievous that so much of Christendom teaches the false doctrine of “faith alone”. Adamantly insisting that this is what the Bible teaches in order to be saved, they actually deny Scripture after Scripture verse, as well as God’s Word as a whole, which does, in no uncertain terms, command obedience to God.
Often Eph. 2:8,9 is quoted to support their belief. It says, “For by grace you are having been saved through faith; and this is not of you. [Instead,] of God is the gift. Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (See the literal translation from Greek) An unbiased reading of this should cause a person to understand that it is God’s gift of grace which makes it possible for a person to believe (the Good News) and thereby receive salvation. Another way to state it is, because of God’s goodwill, rather than by any worthiness on the part of the sinner, a sinner is offered salvation if they believe. Or, in other words, God has initiated the offer of salvation, not because we have earned this offer, but because of God’s kindness and mercy.
However we explain the verse, we must understand that the whole counsel of God’s Word and the whole of the Gospel cannot be condensed into these two verses. We cannot base our entire doctrine on these two verses. These verses assist our comprehension of the Gospel, but they do not explain the entirety of the Gospel. Therefore, studying the whole counsel of Scripture should be our pursuit, and this should begin with the very next verse. For after Eph. 2:8,9 comes verse 10, and it says, “For of Him we are a product, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God previously prepared, in order that in them we might walk.”
There is no legitimacy in quoting verses 8 and 9 of Eph. 2 without verse 10, particularly when verse 10 uses the conjunction word “For” to link it to the previous two verses. The three verses must be quoted together if honesty is to be used in teaching the doctrine of Scripture.
So, Eph. 2:8-10 tells us that although the offer of salvation is God’s gracious gift to undeserving humans who could never attain it on their own, we are nevertheless expected to fulfill that for which we were created –the doing of good works.
And what happens if someone, though he claims to be saved, is not willing to walk in those good works which God prepared for him to walk in? Is the man’s faith alone going to justify him before God? It is not. James 2:24 states it clearly: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Thus we see that the Word of God, contrary to what most of Christendom teaches, does not teach “salvation by faith alone”.
Jesus certainly does not teach “salvation by faith alone”. Instead He says, “If you wish to enter Life, keep the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) And, “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.” (7:21) Then in the next two verses (7:22,23) He reveals that works done outside of the will of the Father will result in eternal condemnation. Consequently, it is not hard, if we interpret Scripture with Scripture, (as we are supposed to always do), to recognize that human-inspired works and God-inspired works are not the same thing. The former is worthless to walk in, while the latter we are required to walk in. This is not rocket science. Rather it is simple enough for a child to understand. Even a child can understand that when God offered us, through Christ, the undeserved gift of salvation, our part is to believe, bow our knee to the King, repent of our sins, and turn away from disobedience to obedience.
Jesus has told us that we must love God fervently and that this is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt. 22:37,38) And what is love for God? 1 John 5:3 tells us: “This is love for God: to obey His commands.” Jesus, who is God in bodily form (Col. 2:9) demands the same. As He says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, My commandments you will keep.” And in verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, My Word he will keep.” To keep means to obey, follow, adhere to, commit to, perform, and carry out. It is about action. It is about obedience. This is what true faith produces (Rom. 1:5) and it is a continuous obedience (Luke 9:23) and a total loyalty to Christ. (14:27,33)
This relationship, this continuous action of following Christ, consists of knowing Him and of Him knowing us in intimate friendship. (John 10:27 & 15:14) It is to be unified with Him in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17) and it comes through obedience to His commands. (1 John 3:24) Jesus reveals that knowing God and Christ is eternal life (John 17:3), while 2 Thes. 1:8,9 says that those who do not know God nor obey the Gospel will suffer damnation. Therefore anyone who claims to know Christ, but does not obey His commands, is not saved. (1 John 2:3,4) Anyone who keeps sinning is a rebel (3:4), does not know God (v. 6), belongs to the devil (v. 8,10), and is not born again. (v. 9,10)
We could go on with numerous verses. For example, the whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews shows that faith consists of works. And what about Heb. 5:9 which says that Christ “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him”? We could quote 1 John 2:29, too, which tells us that we “know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” We could refer to Rom. 2:7 which informs us that God will give eternal life to those who seek it through their persistence in doing good. We could mention Paul’s words in Acts 26:20 about the necessity of proving our repentance through our deeds. We could remind ourselves of the scores of times Jesus stated that those who did good would be accepted into Heaven while those who did evil would be condemned to everlasting punishment. (John 5:29, Mt. 13:18-53 & 24:45-25:46, Luke 6:46-49, etc.)
Does God’s Word really teach “salvation by faith alone, not of works”? Or have the false teachers twisted the Scriptures horribly?
Anyone who is reading the Word of God for themselves knows the answer.