Faith Alone?

The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)

The doctrine of justification by "faith only" is contributing to disobedience to God's word, more than anything else we know. It is proclaimed by nearly every protestant denomination in one way or another. That man is saved by "faith alone" is almost a touchstone to judge the genuineness of Protestantism. Preachers who fill thousands of pulpits all over the country are teaching their hearers that all that is necessary on their part, in order to be saved, is to "just believe." They are teaching that the moment one believes he is saved. By this they mean an assent of the mind short of doing what the Lord has plainly commanded. We shall prove by God's word of eternal truth that God saves no man short of obedience to the things He commands.

Ladies and gentlemen, when there is a matter over which we differ, we should not turn to what some man thinks, says or imagines, but what we should turn to is the infallible guide book, the Bible. The Bible contains the Word of God and we must accept it as our only rule of faith and practice; we must accept it as our only standard in matters of religion. Every difference that has ever arisen among us will be settled if we follow these simply demands.
It isn't what the Bible teaches that is causing the religious confusion that is so prevalent in the land; it is what the Bible doesn't teach. Our constant prayer is that we might be able to teach in such a way as to get people to forsake their own petty human thoughts and opinions and take God's word as their only guide in religious matters. If people will do this, the prayer for unity petitioned by our Lord while in the very shadow of the cross (John 17:20) would soon be a realization in the land.
Friends, God has a perfect law by which men and women are saved (Ps. 19:7). Men cannot ignore that law and at the same time receive the forgiveness of sins. Here we are taught that, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." This law requires more than faith. However, faith is the thing that causes one to comply with the terms set forth in God's "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25). Because the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith, some have concluded that we are justified by faith alone.

The Orgin of the Doctrine

While others may have taught that sinners are saved through "faith alone," the great reformer, Martin Luther, gave it world wide attention and distribution. His greatest works include a translation of the very first German Bible. In it he was so engulfed in the doctrine of "faith only" that he added the word "allein" (alone) to Paul's statement in Romans 5:1. There is nothing in any Greek text to justify the addition of the word for only. Luther read the New Testament in the light of the Pauline message that the just shall live by faith and not by works of the law. That this doctrine appears to be denied in the book of James did not escape Luther. In his preface to the New Testament of 1522, the book of James was stigmatized as 'an epistle of straw.' Once Luther remarked that he would give his “doctor's beret to anyone who could reconcile James and Paul." {Here I Stand, Abington - Cokesbury Press, page 331.} From that day forward the doctrine of justification by "faith alone" became the cornerstone of Protestantism throughout the world. 

Friends, we are persuaded that the doctrine of "faith only" is the most damnable doctrine in the land today. The reason we consider it the most damnable is because such doctrine causes the believer of the same to refuse to obey God or comply with the other terms which God has given in order to become children of God. The Bible does not teach the doctrine of "justification by faith only." This teaching is the doctrine and commandment of men (Matt. 15:9), which is basically the doctrine of the devil (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1).

Human Guides that Teach Faith Only

We now call your attention to some human guides in which we find the doctrine of "faith only" or "faith alone" being taught. You will have to go to these humanly devised, authorized, and published disciplines or guides to find this doctrine, for it is certainly not taught in the Word of God. We shall prove that the Bible teaches altogether to the contrary of such doctrines. We first call your attention to the Methodist Discipline, article 9, of their articles of religion. "We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” {Discipline of the Methodist Church, 1952, page 28.}


The Baptist Church teaches the same doctrine. "We believe the Scriptures teach that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in Christ; by means of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us by God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needed for time and eternity." {The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, Edward T. Hiscox, D.D., page 62.}


Our Baptist friends have reacted to commands such as baptism as follows: "The scriptures manifestly make a distinction between the relations which faith, and that which baptism bears to the remission of sins. We read in the Scriptures, and many such passages may be found, 'He that believeth not shall be damned.' 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' 'If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathama maran-atha.' Now, we do not read, nor is it intimated, nor is any thing recorded, from which it may be fairly inferred, that if a man is not immersed, he is condemned, doomed to perish – and to be anathematized at the coming of our Lord." {Campbellism Examined, Jeremiah B. Jeter, 1855, page 250.} Thus, the Baptists will argue that if a person relies on baptism for salvation that excludes salvation by faith. However, the contrary is true. Faith that saves is expressed in obedience to the command Christ gave to be baptized (Read Mark 16:15-16). 

We see then that the doctrine of justification by faith only is plainly taught by the Methodists and Baptist and set forth in their Discipline and Manual in no mistakable terms; saving the mistake they make in teaching it and the mistake they make in publishing it to the world. This is a mistake because the Bible, which contains the Word of God, does not sustain such a doctrine and it is therefore false. But, let us notice another human guide. This time we call your attention to the Discipline of the Pentecostal Holiness church. Note, article seven of their articles of faith: "We believe, teach and firmly maintain the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith alone - Rom. 5:1."


Loved ones, if you will read Romans 5:1 you will find that the word "alone" does not occur in this verse. Now, just why will people add to the Word of God? They have added the words "only" and "alone," which is not the teaching of the Word of God at all. To say that one is justified by "faith only" means that nothing but faith is involved in justification. If it is by faith alone it is not by anything else. It is only by faith! Repentance and loving God are excluded as well as any other act of obedience. The word only means, "alone,” of its or their kind; by itself or by themselves; sole. Salvation is not by faith only if anything else is essential. It is on this premise that such things as baptism, and other acts of obedience, are regarded as optional. Obedience is the RESULT of salvation, they say, but obedience to commands is not essential to salvation.


It is a mystery how men can see the first verse of Romans chapter 5 and cannot see the 9th verse of the same chapter. The 9th verse teaches that we are justified by something else also. It says, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." This doesn't look or sound like we are justified by faith only. It teaches that we are justified by the blood of Christ. Again, the 4th chapter of Romans and the 25th verse teaches that we are justified by the resurrection of Christ. Again, Romans 3:24 teaches that we are justified by grace: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Thus, we have justification by faith, blood, grace, and the resurrection of Christ. So the doctrine of justification by faith ONLY is false.


But, let us examine their proof text further: Romans 5:1 - "Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you notice, my friends, that Paul includes himself? He said, "Therefore, being justified by faith WE have peace with God." WE have peace! Now friends, if we want to know when Paul was justified, just check the record and find out when he had peace with God. Then we will know when he was justified, for it is clearly seen that he did not have peace until he was justified. This was true of Paul and the same was true of the Romans to whom Paul was writing, for he told them that, being justified by faith, they had peace with God.
Now to the record, for it is important that we learn when Paul had peace in order to learn when he was justified. Did he have peace on the Damascus road when Christ appeared to him, and he was blinded by a light from heaven above the brightness of a noonday sun? If so, Saul didn't know it, for he asked the Lord what to do. Christ didn't know it either, for he told him to "go into the city and it would be told him what he must do" (Acts 9:6). Furthermore, blind Saul had to be led into the city by those who accompanied him (Acts 9:8). No man in this condition has peace.
Well, did he have peace upon reaching the city? Certainly not, for he was there three days without sight, and neither did he eat nor drink (verse 9). Certainly one does not have peace that will not eat or drink. Did he have peace at the time the preacher reached him? Absolutely not, for he was still fasting and praying. If he had peace then, he didn't know it and neither did the preacher know it, for he asked him, "Brother Saul...why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
According to the record, Saul arose and was baptized (Acts 9:18) and he took food and was strengthened (verse 19). When did he start eating again? Certainly it was when he had peace, for he did neither eat nor drink until he had peace. But when did he have peace? Ladies and gentlemen, Saul had peace when he started eating and he did not start eating until he had obeyed the command to "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16; Acts 9:18-19). Therefore, it is clearly seen that Saul had peace after being baptized. But one has peace when justified, so one is justified and has peace when he is baptized.
What is it that leads man into justification and peace? Surely anyone can see that it is faith in and obedience to the Word of God. That is how Paul and the Romans were justified and had peace. They believed and obeyed. Paul said that he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). Thus we see that Saul not only had faith, but his faith led him to obey the commandment of the Lord.

What Does The Bible Say?

Now that we have seen what men teach (contrasted with the Bible example of Saul), let us go deeper into the Word of God and see more of the Spirit's teaching on this subject. The book of Hebrews presents faith as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith originates with God. "So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith is accomplished in man. "For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). Faith then is man's belief of what God reveals. Without revelation there is no faith. Relying on anything other than what God reveals cannot result in faith. Being justified by grace through faith means one is saved, pardoned, or redeemed. But saying justification comes through or by faith is one thing; saying justification results from faith only is another. The expression "by faith" includes everything God has revealed for man to do in order to justification. Remember, faith is the act of the sinner who wants salvation.


The real issue is not that men are justified through faith; it is WHEN faith justifies a sinner. Is a sinner justified through faith before and without obedience? Or is a sinner justified only when faith leads him to obey what God has revealed? If it is the latter, it cannot be by faith alone. NOTE: When and if you study with someone who holds the doctrine of faith only, make sure this point is clear. It is useless to proceed until this point is well established


We next call your attention to James 2:12-24, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding, ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith (or just like that - faith), if it hath not works is dead, being alone (or by itself). Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only."
There you have it, dear friends, man says we are justified by faith only and God says NOT by faith only. It is truly beyond us to figure out how an honest person can remain in a church and support any man who teaches people to practice that which God plainly condemns. According to the Bible, no man is justified by faith only. However, just because the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith, some men conclude that we are justified by faith ALONE. This is not true!
The cook makes biscuits with flour, but any simpleton knows that she doesn't make the biscuits by flour only. After complimenting the cook for making such good biscuits, we have had them tell us often that they made the biscuits out of Gold Medal or Pillsbury flour. As ignorant as I am about cooking, I knew that the cook did not make the biscuits out of flour alone. Not withstanding the fact that flour only was mentioned. I had judgment enough to know that it took more than flour to make the biscuits. The cook had to add salt to the flour and if she had stopped there, she still would not have had biscuits. She would have just had salty flour. She had to add leavening and if she had stopped there, she still would not have had biscuits. She would have had only salty flour with leavening in it. She had to add shortening to it, but she still would not have biscuits. She would just have salty flour with leavening and shortening in it. But hear me, friends, when she takes flour, add salt, leavening, shortening and baptizes all that together in milk, properly mixed, she gets herself some real biscuits. No one can make biscuits out of flour only, and no one can be saved by faith only (James 2:24).
Likewise, the fisherman says, "I caught lots of fish with that pole." Do we understand that he caught the fish with the pole alone? Certainly not! We know that he has to have a line on the pole, but he still cannot catch fish. He has to have a hook on the line, but that still isn't enough. He has to have lead on the line to sink it. That still isn't enough, he still cannot catch fish, for he has to have bait on the hook. He only mentioned the pole, but all intelligent people understand that the other things are essential and understood to be included in the statement, "I caught lots of fish with that pole."
It is indeed a mystery that some people display such fine intelligence when it comes to temporal things, but will go completely hay-wire when it comes to things spiritual. But let us now examine more of the proof texts that are used by the faith “only” teachers. John 5:24 is one of their strongholds. However, this scripture does not teach the faith only theory. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." It is strange indeed that men will run to this scripture to prove that salvation is by faith only. It is true that faith is the only condition mentioned here, but to any honest student of the Bible, the other conditions are understood to be included. Just because they are not mentioned in this verse is no proof that one can be saved without them.

What kind of believer does Christ here refer to? There are different kinds of believers. There are OBEDIENT believers and there are DISOBEDIENT believers. We read about disobedient believers in John 12:42, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Now here are some disobedient believers. Were they saved? Surely the justification by faith only teachers would not contend that these disobedient rulers were saved. Yet, the Bible says that they believed. You can read about obedient believers in Acts 18:8.
We could run to John 5:24 and resort to the same procedure of these false teachers and contend that one can be saved without repenting. They say that a man can be saved without baptism, because it isn't mentioned in John 5:24. Well, neither is repentance mentioned there. Confession isn't mentioned there, either, but only those who confess Christ before men have the promise of being confessed by Christ before his Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33). But they are quick to say that John 5:24 has reference to a penitent believer. That's right, but it also has reference to a baptized believer. Thus, this verse does not teach the doctrine of justification by faith only. This is true of John 3:36 and every other verse that mentions faith and leaves out the other essentials.
Another stronghold of these false teachers is Ephesians 2:8. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." This does not teach the doctrine of justification by faith only. Two elements are mentioned here: one is grace and the other faith. This does not teach that one is saved by faith only. This verse doesn't even say that we are saved by faith. It says that we are saved by grace. "By grace are ye saved through faith," not at faith, but through faith. They say that we are saved by faith only, yet their proof text says that we are saved by grace. Don't you see it? Faith is the thing that leads one to obey, or in other words, faith leads one into the grace of God. Saved by grace!
But, what is this grace by which men are saved? We answer: it is what God gave. It isn't something made possible by man, for he said, "And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." But, what is the gift of God? It is that which God gave, that by which the Ephesians were saved. Well, what is that? We answer: Jesus Christ Himself. God gave Christ and by Christ the Ephesians were saved. No man or group of men did anything to cause God to give His Son. That is why the Holy Spirit said, "And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." Had man done something to cause God to give His Son, he would have something about which to boast, but man did nothing to cause God to give His Son. It was wholly God's love. Hear Him, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
And again, Titus 3:4-5, "After that the kindness and love of God, our Savior toward man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Thus we see that it was God's love that caused him to give Christ. Hear him again in Romans 3:24-25. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God." Notice, he again said through faith, not at faith.
But how were the Ephesians saved by grace through faith? If we want to know, just find out what they did. According to God's word they heard the gospel (Eph. 1:13), they believed the gospel (Eph. 1:13), they repented (Acts 20:21), they confessed (Acts 19:18), and they were baptized (Eph. 4:5; Acts 19:5), and that is what everyone will have to do if they are saved by grace through faith. Grace teaches (Titus 2:11-12), and no man can be saved by grace as long as he rejects the teaching of grace. James 2:17 affirms, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead being alone." Again, verse 24 says, "Ye see then, how that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith only." Every time someone mentions salvation by faith - remind them that the Bible nowhere puts either the word "only" or "alone" by it - with the exception of James 2:24. That passage denies salvation is by faith only. 

Faith, that comes from God through revelation, includes obedience to all God Almighty has commanded the sinner to do. FAITH NEVER EXCLUDES OBEDIENCE! One who has faith and does not act on it cannot have God's blessing. The chief priests believed, but refused to confess their faith in Christ (John 12:42-43). They would not demonstrate (confess) their faith in the Lord, so they deserved to be rejected.

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