“Faith Only Salvation”–a Devil’s Lie

Jesus said to those who rejected him and his word and instead held to their own prejudice and what they had always believed, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

One of the devil’s most persistent lies is that justification comes through faith only. This false doctrine has been believed and taught by Martin Luther and by most evangelicals since his day. Luther felt so strongly about it that he added the word “only” after the word “faith” in his “translation” of Romans 3:28. As you can imagine, the book of James caused Luther much consternation, so to deal with it he declared it to be “a right strawy epistle” and wrote, “I will not have it in my Bible in the number of the proper chief books, but do not intend thereby to forbid anyone to place and exalt it as he pleases, for there is many a good saying in it.” When I read that the voice of Dana Carvey as the church lady rang in my ears, “Well, isn’t that special?!” He won’t have it in his Bible but he won’t forbid you having it in yours! This would be comical were it not so deadly. Who knows how many people have been lulled into believing that the only thing they have to do is believe?! They go to eternity with a false sense of security that, as long as they believe, nothing else matters! That nonsense ought to frighten us and anger us.

There are people who really do believe that the Bible teaches that you’re saved by faith alone. Yet here is the one place in God’s Holy Word where those two words are side by side:

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

One might be tempted to think that if the devil were going to try to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes in the arena of false doctrine, he would at least word that false doctrine in a way where it is not clearly and diametrically opposed by a statement of Scripture. Yet people have bought it lock, stock and barrel.

Does the Bible teach elsewhere that there is something more than faith that is necessary to be saved? You tell me.

Mark 16:16 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 Luke 6:46 46“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

 James 1:22 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 Romans 8:12–13 12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 Acts 10:34–35 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

 Revelation 20:12 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.


Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Flat-Lined Faith

Have you ever tried to rebuild your faith? Has there ever been a time when your faith has felt worn out, barely able to draw a breath? Maybe in such a time some well-intended soul directed you to James 2 and showed you that “faith without works is dead”. So you were told or told yourself that you needed to get to work. You worked on praying more. You worked on going to church more. You worked on reading your Bible more. You worked on being a better neighbor and a better Christian. You worked and you worked and you worked, all in an effort to bring your faith back from the dead. But sooner or later you found out that working harder doesn’t work. So finally you acknowledge that not only is your faith dead, but it’s time to bury it and walk away.

There are times in our lives when the answer to our problem is not to try harder but to listen more. And not just listen to anyone and anything but listen to God in his word. The Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Look again at James 2. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (v.26). Are works the life-giving elixir to a dead faith? Or are works proof that one’s faith is not dead? James says it’s the latter (v.18). Some Christians in Galatia had convinced themselves that the keys to being right with God were being better and working harder. So the apostle Paul responded, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”(Galatians 3:2–3).

If your faith feels old and worn out, stop trying to whip it into shape by working harder. It won’t work. Works are like the monitors hooked up to a patient. They indicate life and health, they don’t produce them. When there are no works it is equivalent to a patient who has flat-lined. No works show that faith has died. The CPR to a dead faith is that which produces faith in the first place. Then, as that faith revives and becomes reinvigorated, it will work.

You can’t do for yourself what only God can do for you. Open your Bible, listen to his word, and before long you’ll hear again the heartbeat of your faith.

Brad Fry

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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