Doesn't Romans 5:1 teach that we are saved by faith alone?


Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." This proves that justification requires faith, but your stated goal was to prove that justification was by faith alone. There is no indication of exclusiveness in this verse. James tells us clearly that it is not exclusively faith when he said, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Now you are in a pickle. Do you claim that James is wrong and, therefore, uninspired? Paul's statement in Romans 5:1 and James' statement in James 2:24 do not contradict as they are written. The contradiction only occurs when you try to make Paul's statement exclusive.

Yet, even for "faith alone" people, they cannot fully subscribe to the statement. I know of no one who actually claims that salvation comes from man's faith alone. After all:

  • Jesus said, "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). Oops! That isn't faith.
  • Paul said, "for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified" (Romans 2:13). Oops! There is that nasty four-letter word "work".
  • Paul said, "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). Here justification is through the redemption which is in Jesus. Faith is involved (verse 25), but it is not faith alone.
  • Paul said, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:9). Here we clearly see that it is not faith alone. Notice that it is just a few verses past Romans 5:1. Jesus had a hand in our justification, so justification is not by man's faith alone.
  • Romans 5:16-18 - Justification came by the act of one man, Jesus the Christ.
  • Romans 8:30 - Those God called are justified.
  • I Corinthians 6:11 - "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." Notice the word"washed," this calls to mind Acts 22:16. By baptism a person is sanctified and justified.
  • Titus 3:7 - We are justified by God's grace.
  • James 2:21 - We are justified when our faith is demonstrated by our works. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?"
It is not faith alone, but faith working in harmony with working obedience. You see when Paul talked about faith in Romans, his concept of faith was one that worked. He started the letter with, "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:5-6). And he ended his letter on the same note. "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith" (Romans 16:25-26).

The Bible doesn't teach that salvation is exclusively by faith. That was a doctrine that originated with men. The Bible has always taught that salvation occurs when faith is joined by obedient action to the commands of God.

July 16, 2010