Every time I post a video about Perseverance of the Saints, aka one-saved-always-saved, it always gets the most heated comments. It really is tragic how many people have accepted this man-made nonbiblical doctrine. On this episode of Bible Q-n-A we will, once again, look at what the Bible actually says about spiritual security.
Gwendolyn Thomas says
I pray that John will study his Bible!
Me too, Gwen, me too.
@preachernorm mentions that the Bible never says we are saved by faith alone and that the phrase “faith alone” occurs only once in James where it says that we are not saved by faith alone. If this is so, then why do the Protestants say we are justified by faith alone and not by works? Because the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith alone and not by works.
The following is a list of verses about being saved by faith. Please take note that faith and works are contrasted. In other words, we are saved by faith “not by works” and “apart from works,” etc. The point is that there are only two options. (cont.)
We are saved by faith alone, or we are not. Since we have faith and works (both conceptually and in practice), then we are either saved by faith alone or by faith and works. There is no other option.
If we see that the scriptures exclude works in any form as a means of our salvation, then logically, we are saved by faith alone. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about faith and works. Then, afterward, we will tackle James’ statement about “faith alone.”
Rom. 3:28-30, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.”
Rom. 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,”
Rom. 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Rom. 9:30, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith.“
Rom. 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Rom. 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
Gal. 2:16, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”
Gal. 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Gal. 3:5-6, “Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6 Even so, Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”
Gal. 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”
Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9 Not by works, lest any man should boast.”
Phil. 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Again, works/Law is contrasted with faith repeatedly; and we are told that we are not justified by works in any way. Therefore, we are made right with God by faith – not by faith and our works, hence, faith alone.
The scriptures clearly teach that we are saved (justified) by faith in Christ and what He has done on the cross. This faith alone saves us. However, we cannot stop here without addressing what James says in James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”
There is no contradiction. All you need to do is look at the context. James chapter 2 has 26 verses: Verses 1-7 instruct us not to show favoritism. Verses 8-13 are comments on the Law. Verses 14-26 are about the relationship between faith and works.
James begins this section by using the example of someone who says he has faith but has no works, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14).
In other words, James is addressing the issue of a dead faith – a faith that is nothing more than a verbal pronouncement, a public confession of the mind, and is not heartfelt. It is empty of life and action. He begins with the negative and demonstrates what an empty faith is (verses 15-17, words without actions). Then he shows that type of faith isn’t any different from the faith of demons (verse 19). Finally, he gives examples of living faith that has words followed by actions. Works follow true faith and demonstrate that faith to our fellow man but not to God. James writes of Abraham and Rahab as examples of people who demonstrated their faith by their deeds.
In brief, James is examining two kinds of faith: one that leads to godly works and one that does not. One is true, and the other is false. One is dead, the other alive; hence, “Faith without works is dead,” (James 2:20). But, he is not contradicting the verses above that say salvation/justification is by faith alone.
Also, notice that James actually quotes the same verse that Paul quotes in Rom. 4:3 amongst a host of verses dealing with justification by faith. James 2:23 says, “and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’” If James was trying to teach a contradictory doctrine of faith and works than the other New Testament writers, then he would not have used Abraham as an example.
Therefore, we can see that justification is by faith alone and that James was talking about false faith – not real faith – when he said we are not justified by faith alone.
I would like to cover this comment on my next episode of Bible Q-n-A. Hopefully, you can be there as I do. But, if you can’t, at least I’ll have your words.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true (Phl 1:27; 2Th 2:13). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching (Rom 10:14-17). Knowledge is an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as an equivalent to faith (Jhn 10:38; 1Jo 2:3). Yet the two are distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent, which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God.
Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain statements which are regarded as mere facts of history.
Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life inseparably connected with it. It cannot be better defined than in the words of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism: “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.”
The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God. Faith accepts and believes it as the very truth most sure. But the special act of faith which unites to Christ has as its object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Jhn 7:38; Act 16:31). This is the specific act of faith by which a sinner is justified before God (Rom 3:22,25; Gal 2:16; Phl 3:9; Jhn 3:16-36; Act 10:43; 16:31). In this act of faith the believer appropriates and rests on Christ alone as Mediator in all his offices.
Faith is necessary to our salvation, not because there is any merit in it, but simply because it is the sinner’s taking the place assigned him by God, his falling in with what God is doing.
John, maybe it would be helpful if you provided some Bible examples of salvation by faith alone. Acts is full of conversion accounts. Are there any that actually exemplify faith-only salvation? I really don’t have any issues with Easton’s article on faith, with some defining of terms and some additional Scriptures.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and sit is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Especially is this true when the MIND has been enlightened, when our spiritual eyes have been opened, and we are permitted to see the glories of the heavenly world.
This isn’t an example of Christian conversion. Both the blind man and Jesus were already in the Covenant of Moses. It is an example of a Jew accepting his Messiah. Jesus had actually used the encounter with this blind man to refute the false view that physical handicaps were the direct result of sin. Responding to the disciples question, Jesus, used a logical argument to show such an idea to be false. Here was a man born blind. So, if blindness is the direct result of sin, who sinned in this case? The man, who was born that way and couldn’t have possibly been guilty of sin, or his parents, which would contradict clear Scripture (like Ezekiel 18)? Then He says that He was here to work! Shouldn’t those that follow Him also be characterized by works of faithful obedience? Of course we should. The Jews got all up in arms because this healing took place on the Sabbath. The blind man didn’t even know who it was that healed him, other than that His name was Jesus. There’s a really interesting progression that John uses in a couple places. The blind man started out understanding Jesus to be “a man” (Jn. 9:11), then “a prophet” (Jn. 9:17), then Lord (Jn. 9:38). It’s a wonderful passage of Scripture with a lot of great lessons, but it isn’t an example of Christian conversion by “faith only.”
22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
The woman who had continuous bleeding had faith in Jesus for healing. She did nothing to earn or work afterwards.
Of course she did nothing to “earn” the healing. What could she possibly have done to “earn” that? Nothing, of course. But she did do something. She went to Jesus. We have to go to Jesus for spiritual healing and the New Testament is very specific about “how” we go to Jesus. And how do you know that she did nothing after going to Jesus for healing. Jesus said her faith had made her well because it was her trust and assurance that Jesus was the only source of healing for her. It caused her to pursue Jesus and “seek after” that healing that could only come from Him. Right? I don’t believe that kind of working faith just stops after you receive the healing you were seeking from Jesus. Then it would be a dead faith.
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Notice it says “in WHOM they had believed”. Not “in what they had believed”.
It is the person of Jesus Christ that we place our faith in. It is not our actions that saves us. It is our faith (belief) in the Son of God.
Of course saving faith is in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). But doesn’t that saving faith in Jesus Christ produce something? It isn’t a lifeless faith. Saving faith is a living faith, alive with obedient faithfulness. Right?
Heb. 11:1 gives us a definition of Faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Norm claims that an outward showing of works is attached with faith according to his definition and teaching. But as Hebrews explains, it is the evidence of things NOT SEEN.
This outward showing of works is something that CAN be seen.
Your definition of faith fails, Norm.
So, that’s what you’re going with? Are you sure? I really want to give you every opportunity to provide one example of faith-only salvation in the Bible.
Norm, instead of chiding me and mocking my answers, how about you simply have a rebuttle. That would be the adult thing to do.
Okay, I have a snarky streak. I’ll try to reign it in. It’s just that I already know how that is going to work out for you. That definition of faith precedes numerous examples of “by faith” [insert the verb here]. Hebrews 11 is a remarkable chapter of Scripture demonstrating exactly what you said about faith on the podcast. You breath in faith and works is what gets exhaled, I really like that analogy by the way. This chapter is a powerful demonstration of that very thing. Every example says “by faith” every single one of them did something. I don’t think that’s an example of denominational faith-only salvation. That’s an example of the biblical salvation formula of grace + faith + works = salvation.
You would need to define “works” in this formula.
But what you typed out is no different than what Mormons and Roman Catholics believe. If works is required to be saved, how would I know I’ve done enough? By your formula, Christians will never have assurance in knowing they are truly saved.
We are saved by faith apart from works.
I edited out the external link. Please don’t post links in your comments because I don’t have time to track down every link people post and I don’t want them on my site if I haven’t checked them first. Sorry.
I’m not real sure where you’re getting the idea of “enough works.” I thought I already discounted that idea. There is no such thing as “enough works.” It’s a disposition of heart – no matter how much I do, it will never be enough to truly show the love and devotion God is due from me. So, I will do as much as I can for Him. That’s not “enough.” That’s a lifestyle of faithful obedience, not bean counting. With that being said, there are specific things that we must do as the response of genuine faith in Christ. We must first hear the word of God to even have faith (Romans 10:17). We must “receive” the word of God, i.e. believe it (Hebrews 11:6). “By faith” we must respond to the commands of the Gospel; repenting of our sins (Acts 17:30-21), confessing that we believe Jesus to be the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized into Christ to have our sins washed away (Acts 22:16). When we do that, we are saved by the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5) and added to His church by Him (Acts 2:47). We begin to live a new life (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 1:23) walking in the light of God’s word (1 John 1:7). So, where are you getting this idea of “enough works”?
If works is a requirement to be saved, how much work is enough to enter Heaven? It’s a simple question.
So, please, if what you say is true, then there must be a certain amount of works that can save me/
John, I don’t know how I can make it any clearer than I have already. There is no such thing as “enough” works. That kind of thinking is exactly what Paul was refuting in Romans 2 – 11 to the Jewish Christians. It’s the same thing Jesus rebuked the Jews over – doing the works of the Law for works sake. Remember Jesus rebuking them for straining at nats to be so careful to keep the dietary laws while at the same time ignoring their lifestyle requirements. Paul wasn’t discounting works of faithful obedience, that would be a direct contradiction with James. He was refuting the idea of meritorious works, i.e. earning God’s favor by an abundance of works. The very idea of earning salvation is anathema to the gospel. There is no such thing as “enough” work when it comes to faithful obedience. It is the expression of loving devotion to God to just do what He says out of loving trust in Him. When does that ever hit a wall of “enough”? The very idea is absurd. Just as absurd as saying someone is trying to earn their salvation by being baptized into Christ. The very idea of such is ridiculous and not even in the same universe as someone willingly submitting to God’s commands out of love and devotion to Him. If you’re having trouble seeing the distinction there, it is because you’re trying to see it through the lens of Calvinism, a man-made ideology not found in the Bible.
I would like to invite you to a video discussion next Thursday January 20 at 5pm to 7pm Pacific time. I can send you a Streamyard link on Thursday for you to join. I would really appreciate it.
Yes, I would enjoy that.