Not By Faith Only

Are we saved by faith alone?  Many would say,
“Yes,” but is that what the Bible actually teaches?
Let’s see.

On this subject, James asks, “What does it profit, my
brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not
have works?  Can faith save him?”
(Jas. 2:14)  As he
goes on to prove, that kind of faith will save no one.
Please understand that James does not minimize the
importance of faith.  The doctrine of salvation by faith
is clearly taught in the New Testament (Rom. 5:1;
1 Jn. 5:1; Jn. 3:16; 3:36; etc.), but nowhere in the
New Testament is the doctrine of salvation by faith
ONLY taught.  The faith that saves is of the type that
expresses itself in obedience to the commandments
of the Lord (cf. 1 Jn. 2:3-6); and it produces a
blessing only when it does so.  Hence why James
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have
works, is dead”
(Jas. 2:17).

Yet, someone may say, “But Paul said we are not
saved by works.”  Paul said “that a man is justified
by faith apart from the deeds of the law”
(Rom. 3:28);
whereas James said,
“You see then that a man is
justified by works, and not by faith only”
(Jas. 2:24).
Is this a contradiction?  Certainly not.  The difference
is that Paul was referring to works that are
EXCLUDED from God’s plan to save (e.g.,
meritorious works – Rom. 4:2-8; works of human
achievement or devising – Tit. 3:5, Eph. 2:8-9; etc.)
and James was referring to works that are
INCLUDED in God’s plan to save (i.e., obeying, by
faith, the commands of God – cf. Heb. 11:7,17-19;
Mk. 16:16; Acts 10:35; etc.)  They are that which
perfects faith (Jas. 2:20-24).  Please understand that
even Paul taught the necessity of obedience to the
commands of Christ (Rom. 6:17-18) in order to be
saved (Phil. 2:12; Rom. 2:8-9; 2 Thess. 1:8).  Those
who hold to a “faith only” doctrine (who reject any
works whatsoever) ought to also consider that Jesus
said that faith itself is a work (Jn. 6:28-29).

Faith by itself cannot be seen.  Its existence is
evidenced only through the works that it produces
(Jas. 2:18).  If all one had to do to be saved was
have the mental acceptance of Christ then the
demons could be saved (v. 19); yet that is not
possible (cf. Matt. 8:28-29).  I find it interesting that
the only passage in the Bible that says, “faith only”
(Jas. 2:24), is a passage that explicitly rejects the
doctrine of salvation by faith only.  In fact James said,
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith
without works is dead also”
(v. 26)

So then, friend, is your faith a saving faith?

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