Question:

The Bible teaches throughout the New Testament that FAITH and FAITH ALONE is necessary for salvation.

John 1:12-13; John 3:15; John 3:16; John 3:18; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:35; John 6:40; John 6:47; John 7:38-39; John 11:25-26; John 20:31; Acts 2:21; Acts 10:43; Acts 11:17; Acts 13:38-39; Acts 15:11; Acts 16:31; Acts 20:21; Romans 1:16; Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Romans 3:28; Romans 3:30; Romans 5:1; Romans 10:9; Romans 10:11; Romans 10:13; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2-9; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 3:24; ; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Timothy 3:15; Titus 3:8; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:11-13

In all of these passages FAITH is mentioned as being essential for salvation. In none of these passages is water baptism mentioned. If baptism is a necessary part or an essential part of salvation, then why is nothing said about baptism in these passages? If a man must be baptized to be saved, then why do all these verses fail to say so?


Answer:

To illustrate why the argument is fallicious, let me reword the questions. In the above set of passages, the shedding of Christ's blood is not mentioned in all the passages. If Christ's blood was necessary for salvation, then why isn't it mentioned in every passage?

The fact that every item is not mentioned in every passage does not make a particular item is unimportant. In fact, I would go so far as to say that all of God's Word is important and nothing that it mentions is unimportant. This is why God warned against subtracting from His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19).

The problem is that the list of verses is supposed to prove that salvation is by faith only. However, the only part is assumed. That salvation involves faith is proven, but he doesn't prove that it is exclusive, which was supposed to be his point.

For a moment, let us just focus on the letter John wrote and see some of the things John mentioned as being connected to salvation. Here are the verses the questioner gave:

  • John 1:12-13 - Receive him and believe him
  • John 3:15-18 - Must believe or will perish (Have you ever looked at verses 19-21 which shifts to talking about a person's deeds. The shift is reasonable because James 2 tells us that faith is interwined with works.)
  • John 5:24 - Must hear and believe (oops! not faith alone!)
  • John 6:35 - Must come and believe
  • John 6:40 - Must believe
  • John 6:47 - Believe
  • John 7:38-39 - Believe
  • John 11:25-26 - Believe
  • John 20:31 - Believe

These are what John wrote, but none of the verses indicate that faith is exclusively required. All state that faith is necessary. So did John indicate that only faith was needed for salvation, or eternal life? You see, the above list is incomplete. Here are more verses from John which deals with salvation:

  • John 8:31 - If you stay in Jesus' words, then you are a disciple
  • John 12:46-48 - Must hear, accept Jesus' words, and believe to avoid being judged
  • John 6:29 - Faith is a work of God which man is expected to do
  • John 14:15 - If you love Christ, you will keep his commandments
  • John 14:21 - Must have and keep Jesus' commandments
  • John 14:23-24 - If you love Jesus you will keep his word
  • John 15:10 - If you keep Jesus' commands, Jesus will be with you
  • John 15:14 - You are Jesus' friend if you keep his commands

Hence, we see that obedience to Jesus' commands are just as important as faith in Jesus. In fact, John 6:29 indicates that faith is one of the commands of Jesus, so when you believe you are keeping one of the commands of God. But it is not the only command. For example, Jesus says you must love him in John 14:15. Can someone have faith without love? I submit that the demons are of such a nature. James 2:19 states that they believe without obedience and without obedience there is no love.

In John 3:3-8, Jesus told Nicodemus that a person cannot see the kingdom without being born of two elements - water and the Spirit. The water cannot refer to physical birth because this was something Nicodemus needed to do (future), but his birth was a past event. To say that someone needs to be physically born to enter the kingdom is a redunant statment. I could just as easily say that you must be physically born to believe -- true, but it is a given. So what are the two elements?

Just after this conversation, we find "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized" (John 3:22). This upset John's disciples. "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified--behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!" (John 3:26). It got to the point that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John" (John 4:1). The baptism was in water. Paul tells us plainly that baptism brings new life (rebirth) in Romans 6:4

But what about born of the Spirit? In John 3 again, John explained why Jesus would become greater. "What He has seen and heard, of that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:32-36). The word for "does not obey" is an interesting one because it actually combines the idea of disbelief and disobedience in one word. However, notice the need to receive Jesus' testimony because Jesus speaks the words of God and those words give the Spirit. Hence, we have the idea as prescented in I Peter 1:22-25 that Christians are born of the word of God. Or, as James stated, "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21) James then follows this with the urging to obey the word and not merely listen to it (James 1:22-25).

A selective presentation of evidence is a classic logical fallacy. The claim is that salvation is by faith alone and I notice that the questioner avoided one mention of faith. "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Hence, his claim is false both by a lack of exclusivity and by direct contradiction.

September 7, 2012