Consequences With Being Saved by Faith Only
A small boy asked the preacher: “sir, what can I do to be saved?” The preacher replied: “Son, you’re too late!” “What!” exclaimed the boy, “too late to be saved?” “No,” said the preacher: “too late to do anything. You see, son, Jesus did it all two thousand years ago.”
However, He did not do everything. One’s faith is involved in salvation. Many denominations of Christianity hold that salvation is of faith only. This view is based on Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” If one is saved by “faith only,” then James contradicts Paul. James 2:24 reads, “by works a man is justified and not by faith only.” Luther simply disregarded James and called it, “a right strawy epistle.”
If Saved by Faith Only Then…
Saved With a Dead Faith
If one is saved by “faith only,” then one is saved with a dead faith. James said, “faith apart from works is dead” (2:17). Just as the human body may exist in either the living state or in the dead state, so faith may also be either alive or dead. Living faith, like the living body, is manifest by action. Dead faith like the dead body by inactivity. James thus stated that just as a dead body is useless without the spirit, so dead faith is useless without the works of obedience to Christ’s divine law (see 2:26).
Saved With an Imperfect Faith
“Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22). Therefore, without works (obedience) a man’s faith is imperfect or incomplete.
Saved Without Being Justified
“Faith only” will not justify. Faith plus works will justify. Consider the example of Abraham’s faith. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?” (James 2:21). Another example of this type of faith is seen in Rahab. “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” (James 2:25). Not all works will justify or save the sinner. James does not affirm such. He is saying that true saving faith must by active in doing the will of God. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Saved Without a New Birth
Nicodemas came to Jesus by night to ask him a question concerning how one could enter the Kingdom of God. “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (John 3:5). To be saved by faith alone is to be saved apart from the new birth via water baptism.
Saved Without Baptism
Denominationalists say, “If you say that one must be baptized in order to be saved, then you would have us saved by men’s works.” Yet Paul said, “according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Faith plus baptism, the works commanded by God that justify the sinner, equals salvation. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned: (Mark 16:16). But anything that is commanded of God, is not a work of man, but it is a work of God.
Saved Without Obedience
Are the actions of obedience considered works? If so, obedient faith involves works. Look at Hebrews chapter eleven and notice that every single example of faith is coupled with obedience. Abel who by faith offered a more excellent sacrifice (11:4). Noah who by faith built an ark as God directed (11:7). This does not mean Noah earned salvation by building as ark. Abraham by faith left his home and offered his son,(11:8,17), did not earn justification before God. The Israelites did not earn the promised land. Every case of Bible conversion shows that people were saved only when their faith was coupled with the works of obedience to God’s law. On the day of Pentecost those Jews who felt guilty for crucifying the Son of God asked about they needed to do about this great sin, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Many think that John 3:16 teaches salvation at the point of faith. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But the word “believes” according to Thayer’s Lexicon means, “Faith conjoined with obedience.”
Saved Without Love
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Faith must exist before it can work and it must work through love before it can avail anything. If saved by faith only, one is saved without love.
Saved Without Repentance
“Faith only” doctrine would leave out not only baptism but would exclude the necessity of repentance. Peter required repentance for remission of sins in Acts 2:38.
Saved Without Confession
If saved by faith only, one is saved without confessing their faith. Is a faith too weak to openly proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, a saving faith? “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). Paul spoke of the necessity of confession for salvation, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9,10).
Saved Without Faith
Faith is a work of God. Some of the Jews asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’” (John 6:28,29). God has commanded us to believe; therefore, believing is a work of God. It is not a work God must do, or will do for us, it is a work we must accomplish. If all works are excluded by “faith only” then an obedient, active faith must be excluded.
Saved Without Good Works
According to Titus 2:7; 2:14; 3:1 “good works” are required by the Lord. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Tit. 2:11,12). Note the “grace of God” teaches us how we should live! We are created in Christ to produce good works (Eph. 2:10). The saved are to abound in good works (1 Cor. 15:58). “Good works” are not whatever actions men think are good.
“Good Works” are those things taught in the Word. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). To be saved sinners must hear God’s Word, believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, repent of their sins, confess verbally and publicly that Jesus is the Son of God, and be baptized in water.
– Daniel R. Vess