Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 12, 1960
NUMBER 2, PAGE 12-13a

Will Faith Only Save?

Tommy McClure, Franklin, Tennessee

(Note: In the latter part of the first article on this theme which appeared in a previous issue of this paper, I was showing that faith only will not save by calling attention to some things "faith only" will not do. First, we saw that faith only will not keep one from perishing, for all must repent or perish (Lk. 13:3,5); and God is not willing that any perish but wants all men to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9.) Second, we saw that faith only will not keep one from being denied by Christ, for according to Matt. 10:32,33 those who deny the Lord will be denied by Him, and a refusal to confess amounts to a denial. For a more complete review of the material that has been introduced, the reader is urged to re-read the first article before reading this one.)

What Faith Only Will Not Do (Continued)

Third, faith only will not wash away sins. To Saul of Tarsus, who was already a believer in Christ, and who had even asked the Lord what He would have him to do, the command given by Ananias was: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16.) Notice that Ananias did not say, "Now that you have believed, arise and be baptized because your sins HAVE ALREADY BEEN WASHED AWAY." That, in substance, is the way denominational preachers talk today. But Ananias was not such a preacher and he didn't talk any such way. He said, "Arise, and he baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." As that command was given to one who had already believed in the Lord, it proves conclusively that more than faith is required to wash away sins. Whatever the washing was, baptism stood between Saul and that washing. His sins were not washed away the "split second" he believed.

Fourth, faith only will not save because faith only will not put one into Christ. There are two passages in the New Testament which tell us how to get into Christ and both of them tell us that people are Baptized Into Christ. To the Roman brethren, Paul said, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Rom. 6:3-5.) To the Galatians, the same apostle said, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been Baptized Into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:26-27.)

The Bible nowhere says that men believe into Christ nor does it say that men repent or confess into Christ. But it does say that men are baptized into Christ. Some have tried to make it appear the "believing in Christ" means "believing into Christ," but the fallacy of that contention is apparent. One can believe in the city of New York (believe in the existence, beauty, economic importance. etc.) but that doesn't mean that he enters into the city of New York by the mere act of believing. One can believe in a ship (believe in its existence, sturdiness, etc.) but that does not mean that he enters into the ship by the mere act of believing. Surely, everyone can see that! Just so, one can believe in Christ (believe in his existence, divinity, etc.) but that doesn't mean that he enters into Christ into his spiritual body, by the mere act of believing. According to the Bible, the only way to get into Christ is to be baptized into him. Question: Can a man be saved out of Christ? Certainly not! According to Peter (Acts 4:11, 12), there is no salvation outside of Christ. According to Paul (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14), redemption and forgiveness of sins are in Christ. Thus, in order to obtain the blessings of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness, something more than faith (baptism) is required of man.

Fifth, faith only will not bring salvation. The Lord said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mk. 16:16.) Notice please that the Lord did not say, "He that believeth is saved at that split second, and should be baptized because he is saved." That is the idea advocated by many preachers, but the Lord said no such thing. The same Lord who placed faith here as a condition of salvation also placed baptism as a condition of salvation and no man has the right to eliminate either faith or baptism. The Lord said, "He that believeth AND . . " What does "and" mean? It certainly doesn't mean "minus." The word "and" means "plus." If I were to say, "Two And two equals four," you would understand that to mean, "Two Plus two equals four." Just so, the Lord's statement, "He that believeth And . . . shall be saved" means that something more than believing is required to bring salvation. What is it, Lord? "He that believeth And Is Baptized shall be saved." Believing that salvation is by faith only necessitates a rejection of this plain statement of our Lord. Friend, when you reject the Words Of Christ you reject Him! The doom of all who do such is plainly set forth by the Lord himself in Jno. 12:48. He said, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." I ask you, which will you reject — the statement of Christ in Mk. 16:16 OR the doctrine of salvation by faith only? They are diametrically opposed the one to the other, and you cannot accept both at the same time. Which will you accept? Which will you reject?

Doctrine Of Salvation By Faith Only Refuted In James 2

One of the clearest refutations of the doctrine of salvation by faith only is the latter part of James 2.

First, James shows that faith without works is dead. In verse 14, he said, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" James is simply asking the question, "Can faith without works, or can faith alone save a man?" What is your answer to that question, friend? If your answer is in the affirmative, it flatly contradicts the answer of James. In verses 15, 16, James illustrates the matter by saying, "'If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; not-withstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" Well, what WILL it profit? All of the "well-wishing" on our part will not help the destitute brother or sister if we don't give them those things that are needful to the body. According to James, the very same thing is true of faith only or faith without — it profits nothing! In verse 17, look at the application which James himself makes of the illustration he had given in verses 15, 16, "Even So Faith, If It Hath Not Works, Is Dead Being Alone." Faith only, faith without works, is Dead! Question: Is man saved by a Dead Faith or by a Living Faith? If you say that man is Not saved by a dead faith, you automatically take the position that man is not saved by faith only For faith only, faith without works, Is The Faith That Is Dead!!! Or, if you say that man is saved by a living faith, you again automatically take the position that salvation is not by faith only, for if a dead faith is faith Without works and it is), a living faith is bound to be a faith With works! That question — is man saved by a dead faith or by a living faith? — has long been, and still is, a thorn in the flesh to the advocates of salvation by faith only. In verses 20, 26 of James 2, the writer says the same thing he had said in verse 17: "But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead?" And, "For as the body without the spirit is dead so faith without works is dead also."

Second, James shows that faith and works are to go hand in hand. In verse 18, he says, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works." In answer to that James says, "Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." To further show that faith and works are to go hand in hand, the writer calls attention to Abraham, verses 21,22, saying "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?" In connection with this, Paul said "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith Which Worketh By Love." (Gal. 5:6). Again, Jesus said, "If a man LOVE me, he will Keep My Words ..." (Jno. 14:23.) Thus, the faith that avails — the faith that saves — is the faith which works by love, the faith which causes one to obey the commands of Christ. Faith and works — works that are performed in obedience to the commands of Christ — are to go hand in hand.

Third, James shows that, as far as salvation is concerned, the man of faith only is no better off than the devils. In verse 19, he said, "Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble." Thus, if salvation is to be had by faith only, the devils will be saved. Who is ready to accept that conclusion? "Oh," people often tell me, "the devils don't believe in the sense of ACCEPTING Christ." My answer is, "Neither do the advocates of salvation by faith only." The Lord says, "He that believeth And Is Baptized shall be saved." (Mk. 16:16). But they contend that man is saved the very moment he believes And That He Doesn't Have To Be Baptized To Be Saved! Tell me that is accepting Christ? It is no such thing! It is a rejection of His word, and a rejection of His word is a rejection of Him! The devils believe and tremble but they don't accept Christ. The advocates of salvation by faith only claim to believe in Christ but they don't accept his word (Mk. 16:16) about salvation! Basically, what is the difference?

Then, in the fourth place, James plainly says that man is not justified by faith only. Look at Jas. 2:24. "Ye See Then How That By Works A Man Is Justified, And Not By Faith Only." This passage is the only one in the word of God which contains the expression "faith only," And It Says That Justification Is Not By Faith Only! In view of this passage, it is beyond me how anyone ever got the idea that it is. It is strange, indeed, that men who claimed to believe the Bible would ever say, " . . . that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." But they did say it, and it is recorded in the Methodist Discipline, 1952, page 28. It is strange, indeed, that such men would ever say that justification is . . . solely through faith in Christ. . . " But they did say it, and it is recorded in Hiscox's Manual For Baptist Churches, page 62. That is what Uninspired Men have said in the Books Of Men. Yet, James an Inspired Man, says in the BOOK OF GOD, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, And Not By Faith Only." The question is: Which will you accept? The words of uninspired men or the words of the inspired James? The books of men or the book of God Almighty?