Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 10, 1958
NUMBER 10, PAGE 2-3b

Foolish Preaching On Salvation By Faith Only

James E. 'Cooper, Campbellsville, Ky.

Although salvation by faith only is widely taught, it is not in harmony with the Word of God. You can easily learn that, if you will take the time to study your Bibles closely and prayerfully.

Article of Religion IX, in the Discipline of the Methodist Church reads, "We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour 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." If you will read what the Bible says on the subject, you will see that the comfort mentioned in this sectarian creed is a false comfort, for it is not based upon the promises of God. In Jas. 2:24, we find that "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Almost all of the major denominational bodies teach that salvation is by faith only. Article number V in the declaration of faith contained in J. M. Pendleton's Church Manual Designed for the use of Baptist Churches says, "We believe 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 promise 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 the Redeemer's blood . . . ." In Chapter XI, section II, of the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., we read, "Faith . . . is the alone instrument of justification . . . ." Thus, from the official creed-books of three of the largest Protestant denominations we have their position of salvation by faith only.

This doctrine did not arise until Martin Luther made his break with the Catholic Church, rebelling against her false doctrine of salvation by works. When the German monk, Tetzel, came through the country selling indulgences and declaring, "As soon as your coin clinks in the chest, the souls of your friend will rise out of purgatory to heaven," Luther preached against Tetzel and his selling of indulgences. He denounced Tetzel in no uncertain terms.

After Luther's revolt against the Church, and during the persecution which followed, he spent a year in the Wartburg prison. While there, he wrote his translation of the New Testament into the German language. His translation is the only translation which teaches salvation by faith only. For, in Rom. 5:1, Luther added the word "only" to make it read, "Being justified by faith only, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Luther's mistranslation of this verse was caused by his prejudice and has been the cause of leading thousands into error.

The doctrine of salvation by faith is a prominent theme in the New Testament. "Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him' (Heb. 11:6). "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jno. 3:16). "Except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jno. 8:24). These and many others may be cited to emphasize that salvation by faith is a Bible doctrine.

The Bible teaches salvation by faith, but it does not teach salvation by faith only. Faith without works is a dead faith (Jas. 2:26). James taught that people are to exercise their faith in doing what is pleasing to God, and that faith is dead if it does not work. The type of works is that suggested in Gal. 5:6, "faith working through love." This is the type of faith required of the sinner in order to obtain his salvation. The sinner is not saved by works only, nor by faith only, but by "faith working through love."

The doctrine of salvation by, faith only cannot be true, for it contradicts too many Scriptures. If the sinner is saved by faith only, he is saved before he comes to God, but Heb. 11:6 says, "He that cometh to God must believe." One cannot "come" unless he does believe. If he is saved by faith only, he is saved before he becomes a child of God. In John 1:11-12, we learn that believers are given the right to become children of God. If he is saved by faith only, he is saved before he turns to God. In Acts 11:21, those who believed "turned to the Lord." If he is saved by faith only, he is saved before he will confess Christ. Some of the rulers of the Jews believed, but would not confess it (Jno. 12:42-43). Nobody will argue that they were saved, even though it says they "believed on him." If he is saved by faith only, he is saved while he is no better than devils, for they believe and tremble (Jas. 2:19). Hence, in five different points we have shown that the preaching of salvation by faith only contradicts the Word of God.

In Jno. 6:28-29, we find Jesus teaching the multitudes and they "said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God?" They realized that there were such things as works of God, and were asking the Lord what they must do in order to work the works of God. In his reply Jesus indicated that then faith is a work. He said, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." If you are saved by faith, you are saved by "works" for Jesus taught that faith itself is a work of God.

In Gal. 3:26-27, we find how faith makes us children of God. Paul said, "For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Faith made them children of God, but Paul does not say that faith alone did it. The question is, If faith made them God's children, when did it do it? The next verse says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." In this way Paul explains how one becomes a child of God by faith. They were made children of God by faith when their faith led them to do what God said. Obedience is necessary as an element of saving faith.

If you will study your Bibles, you can learn that faith never did procure a blessing for man without man's first having done some act of obedience. Faith did not save Noah from the flood until his faith led him to build the ark as God has instructed. Faith did not cause Enoch to be translated without his first having lived a life "well pleasing unto God." Abraham did not receive the promise of God by faith until he had left his land and his kindred and had gone out, not knowing whether he went. Jericho was not captured by faith until the children of Israel had marched around the walls according to God's directions.

Neither will faith save today, until it leads a person to do what our Lord commands. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mk. 16:16). If our Saviour's words be true, you can't be saved without doing what he said. To preach salvation by faith only is to engage in "foolish preaching," and to endanger the souls of men rapidly traveling down the road to a never ending eternity.