Sunday, July 21, 2013

Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?

This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question is the cause of the Reformation, the split between the Protestant churches and Catholic Church. This question is a key difference between biblical Christianity and most of the “Christian” cults. Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? Am I saved just by believing in Jesus, or do I have to believe in Jesus and do certain things?

The question of faith alone or faith plus works is made difficult by some hard-to-reconcile Bible passages. Compare Romans 3:285:1 and Galatians 3:24 with James 2:24. Some see a difference between Paul (salvation is by faith alone) and James (salvation is by faith plus works). Paul dogmatically says that justification is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), while James appears to be saying that justification is by faith plus works. This apparent problem is answered by examining what exactly James is talking about. James is refuting the belief that a person can have faith without producing any good works (James 2:17-18). James is emphasizing the point that genuine faith in Christ will produce a changed life and good works (James 2:20-26). James is not saying that justification is by faith plus works, but rather that a person who is truly justified by faith will have good works in his/her life. If a person claims to be a believer, but has no good works in his/her life, then he/she likely does not have genuine faith in Christ (James 2:14,17,20,26).

Paul says the same thing in his writings. The good fruit believers should have in their lives is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Immediately after telling us that we are saved by faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul informs us that we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Paul expects just as much of a changed life as James does: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). James and Paul do not disagree in their teaching regarding salvation. They approach the same subject from different perspectives. Paul simply emphasized that justification is by faith alone while James put emphasis on the fact that genuine faith in Christ produces good works

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This article was reprinted with permission and was originally published at


  1. Faith and works or vice versa?
    Reminiscent to me when growing up how you had to do all of these "THINGS" to be a Christian.
    When it is the exact opposite. GOD beckons us just as we are, "SINNERS" and always will be. Just forgiven.
    As we grow in Christ all of those have to become want to.Convicted of our sins one or so a time.Eventually the old is replaced with the new as in the parable of the New Wine Skins.

    Hence I feel it is the same with works. As we grow they become natural. Initially a conscious effort but in time becomes a normal part of our Christian journey.

    No we are not saved by works we are saved by faith, but they go in hand like salvation and sanctification
    favorites are Titus 3:5&3:8-Heb. 11 1-40- Romans 3:23-28

    Wishing and praying for the abundant Grace given by our "LORD&SAVIORAMEN

  2. I think you are correct. In the fact that it is not faith plus works that saves. Only the blood of Jesus Christ saves. Nothing plus faith equils salvation. There is nothing you can do to add to the work of Jesus.

    I think that question one should be asking his or her self. Is am I a believer or can I be a believer if I am constantly disobedient to God? Simply put. Works is a by product of a believer in Christ. One does not have to work his way In. Because when you are a believer in Christ you want to serve God. You are not perfect from that day forward just perfectly forgiven, with that attude the one that is a sinner who deserves hell. Deserves the wrath of God poured appon him. But Jesus took that bitter wrath on him for me. So that makes me who is the chiefest of sinners as Paul puts it. Perfectly forgiven. I have been baught with a price, a cost to Jesus. He took appon my sins and all the sins of those who accept him and do his will. Yes I say do his will. I guess not I say but Jesus in mark 16:16 says "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
    So Jesus dose comand us to do according to the text Jesus comands us to believe and be baptized. If we do not we are to damned. There will be a hell. There will be the wrath of God poured out to a Christ rejecting people. Ones that DO NOT Do what he commands us to do. So can one be a believer if one dose not believe. I think not.

    In mathew 28:19 Jesus says the same thing. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
    These texts are congruent, or saying the same thing. All of the bible is congruent not one piece contrudicting another. All scripture must agree. As we see here Jesus dose not mention works here. One can not add to the works of Jesus. But he dose commands us to observe what he commanded us to do. This is the gospel in a nut shell. How can one call him self or her self a believer if you do not DO what he commands you to do. I believe he says you are not a believer and like mark 16:16 puts it one who dose not do what he commands us to do will be DAMNED.

    So good works will be a after product of one who observes what Jesus comands us to do.

  3. So Before Jesus the Jews had a covenant of works with God.

    Then Jesus came and abolished the concept it was only for the Jews. Now the gentiles were to have a covenant as well, and for the next 1500 years it would be works based, there was a light at the end of the tunnel for those who came up short, Indulgences!

    Luther came along and gave the good news to man that Salvation was to be by faith ALONE. That was great news, especially for Luther who was seriously lacking in the works department.

    Calvin one-upped him by showing us all another mystery about Faith. The Covenant of faith was actually a covenant of Grace that was solely bestowed upon whosoever God willed. So accordingly not only were you not responsible for the deeds you have done, but you were not even expected to have faith, as long as you were elected. Of course preaching now became much duller, since those that occupied the pulpits were not really doing any good.

    So which is it? salvation by a predestined election of grace, by faith alone, or of works?

    Seems to me that grace, works, and faith are not to be divorced from each other. In fact the only reference in the bible using the term "faith alone" shows it to be an empty faith. "You see that a man is justified by works and not by FAITH ALONE." (James 2:24) The works we should possess are those which are based upon faith, and not upon the law, as Paul said, "FAITH WORKING through love." (Gal 5:6)

    "And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us." (1 Jn 3:23-24)


    Faith only believer want Mark 16:16 to just go away. It will not go away, so they try to explain it away. Over 100 translations of the Bible include Mark 16:16, however, that does deter some faith only believers from insinuating or simply stating that Mark 16:16 should not be including in the Bible because it was missing from a couple of manuscripts. If you believe God has a hand in guiding men to translate the Bible correctly, then have to believe Mark 16:16 should be included. If you do not believe the Bible has been translated accurately, then I would suggest that you burn all of your Bibles.


    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    The most popular way of explaining away Mark 16:16 is to say that it does not say, that he who has not been baptized will be condemned, therefore water baptism is not essential to be saved.

    If a secular law were written as such: He who does not commit robbery and does not murder will not go to prison; but he who commits robbery will go to jail. Would that mean you can still murder and not go to jail; because it does not state murderers will go to jail? NOT MURDERING IS ESSENTIAL TO NOT GOING TO JAIL!

    Being baptized is essential to not being condemned.

    There have been many attempts to explain water baptism away from Mark 16:16, including denying that, and, is a conjunction linking belief and baptism. Many attempts at distorting the simple meaning of words and sentence structure are used. Grammatical distortions are used in order to make Mark 16:16 fit the "faith only" narrative.


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  5. There is not contradiction between St Paul & St James. To understand their writings you need to understand the audiencies they are writing. In St. Paul case, he speaking of those that hear the Gospel for the first time. For them, believing is enough for the initial justification. On the other hand, St. James speak to mature Christians. For them, just have faith is not suficient. The first seed needs to grow. That initial grace needs mature. In other words, a Christian needs to live in Charity (love). That is how these passages reconcile.

  6. "Seems to me that grace, works, and faith are not to be divorced from each other."

    Can I say "Amen"?

    I think this is one of those things that believers can make an issue out of when there's no payoff is arguing over such things;
    You make a decision to follow god based on *faith* do *good works* as part of your obedience and it's by his *grace* that we are offered this opportunity.

    Is there really any reason to get hung up on god's methodology?

    Just believe, repent and obey.
    Leave the rest up to him.


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