Lessons on Evangelism: Addressing Faith Alone

by Andrew S. Hamilton

  1. Class Objective
    1. Preparing the members to handle common questions that will come up when running the tables. (1 Peter 3:15)
  2. Foundation Material
    1. Statements and Logic
      1. All chickens have three legs. Henry has three legs; therefore, Henry is a chicken.
      2. Only chickens have two legs. Henry has three legs; therefore, Henry is not a chicken.
      3. Neither conclusion is required by the statements.
    2. Oversimplifying and Overextending
      1. Using one or two passages as everything about a subject.
        1. John 3:16 “believe” - A common approach by faith-alone proponents.
      2. Every time a word is used, it refers to the same thing.
        1. “wine” - The word translated as “wine” may not be the same word. Some of the words so translated have a broad range of meanings.
      3. Synonyms are not the same because they are different words.
        1. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “washed, sanctified, justified” - We have found these to be referring to the result of a single event. Some insist they all refer to different events.
      4. The conclusion is false if the premise is false.
        1. Mark 16:16 – The premise “believes and is baptized” is true and results in salvation when both actions are true. Those who do not “believe” are condemned, baptized or not. But the verse doesn't give the result for the state of “believes and not baptized”. You cannot have the salvation of this verse without both, but you cannot speak for the result of the last state from this verse. Going elsewhere is required to find a conclusion for this indeterminate state.
    3. Arguing Exclusiveness
      1. Two ways to prove an exclusive:
        1. A direct exclusive statement.
          1. 1 Corinthians 8:4 “no other God but one” - a direct statement.
        2. A complete lack of other means to achieve the goal.
          1. Leviticus 10:1-2 “Nadab and Abihu” - God hadn't said “Only use this fire.” But He did not authorize any other fire, as illustrated here.
          2. 1 Chronicles 13 “Uzzah” - God hadn't said “Only move the Ark by having the priests carry it.” But it is the only method He said to use, and He was serious.
          3. “Instrumental music” - Most are quite familiar with the fact that there is no direct exclusion of using instruments in the worship service. If you are asked about this issue, the only method of correctly arguing the point is to look at all of the passages on the subject of music in the New Testament. Not easy to address on the spot. Be careful with this and other subjects.
      2. Exclusive statements are proven false by a single counter-example.
        1. Since all of the passages on a subject need to agree, one only needs to demonstrate one passage to the contrary to establish the falsehood of a exclusive statement.
      3. Only two choices
        1. Not all situations are black or white. Many times we need to take a moment and see if there isn't another way to view the situation.
        2. Luke 20:21-25 “paying taxes” - One of the Pharisees' attempts to trap Jesus. In this and most of the other situations, Jesus answers with a third option.
    4. Context and Isolation
      1. Harmony of God's word
        1. 1 Corinthians 14:33 - God is not the author of confusion.
        2. 2 Timothy 2:15 “rightly dividing” - We need to know the proper context.
      2. Three types of context:
        1. Immediate context
          1. Luke 10:37 “Go and do likewise.” - “Judas went and hanged himself.” We know we are not to “do likewise.” The idea is to have mercy like the Samaritan.
        2. Book context
          1. Revelation 1:1,3; 22:6 “soon” - This book was written for the benefit of the first century church as they faced severe persecution. Yet people keep saying that it is prophecy about England, or Russia, or Germany, or America, or etc. etc.
        3. Biblical context
          1. Galatians 1:6-9 - Anything God says will agree with what He has said before, and after. Cross-reference with the rest of the Scriptures to find clarity as needed.
      3. Raising the bar
        1. Demanding more precise evidence.
        2. Limiting the range. “Romans doesn't say that.”
        3. When they reject a particular book, ask if they are sure they want to say that book is not inspired.
        4. Do not waste time. Facts are facts, accepted or not.
  3. Discussion
    1. Four arguments to take home now; four more next week.
    2. Read them, look for errors.
    3. Add context. Prove the Biblical case.
    4. Try not to use any of the above irrational methods.

Sample Arguments

Doesn't Romans 5:1 teach that we are saved by faith alone? Isn't justification by faith alone? Did Paul lie to the prison guard when he said "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"?

Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.” To say that you are saved by baptism is a misinterpretation of scripture. Jesus said in John 3:16 “that whoever believes in Him should never perish but have eternal life.” Salvation is based on faith alone and I firmly believe that the Church of Christ has made baptism a work that is required to be saved and scripture point to us clearly that salvation comes from faith alone. Baptism is important I agree with you. All of those who have trusted in Christ should be baptized but it is not how you are saved. Like communion it is an important sacrament that is upheld but does not have the power to save. Only the blood of Jesus has the power to save and wash our sins away.

The old law was nailed to the cross because no law was ever intended to save us. You church of Christ boys are good at that, you lead us down the right path until you switch gears, right back into reverse.
"For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe" (Galatians 3:21-22)
If you have an ounce of honesty, you know that this refers to any law on either side of the cross. Salvation is never by obedience or anything physical that we do to achieve our part. Salvation is all of God's doing.

Paul says our own righteousness comes from the law (Philippians 3:9). In Galatians 5:4 Paul says: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Any attempt to do works for salvation will cause you to fall from grace and nullifies Christ's sacrifice. The righteousness that saves comes from faith. “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:22)
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

How can you read Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” and 2 Timothy 1:9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” and say that works have anything to do with being saved?

Works seem to be a part of making one's faith known to man on an earthly level. James is making it clear that man must see the works in order to justify the faith; however, God does not need to see works: "for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."

Works do not advance a Christian in seeking salvation. Doing works insults God because you are not trusting in His sacrifice. All God wants you to do is: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10) If you simply accept Jesus into your heart then you will be saved. After that, the believer should do good works because they are profitable. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. . . . And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” (Titus 3:8,14 KJV)

Telling others about Christ is a work. "For by grace we are saved through faith, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)