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No Christian Was Ever Saved By Faith Alone

by Kent Heaton

The doctrine of salvation by faith alone is a popular means by which many in the religious world have been deceived into believing they have obeyed the will of God and live under the presumption they are disciples of Christ. While the doctrine has been around for many years, Billy Graham did much to propagate the idea of salvation by faith alone. He writes, "Those who surrender their lives to Him and receive Him into their hearts. It is this act which makes you a Christian" (My Answer, 9/15/55). Pulpits throughout the land offer an invitation of false hope when honest people are seeking the way of salvation. What they are given is a doctrine of men that is not found in scripture.

Martin Luther said, "We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone." While he played with semantics, Luther suggested in opposition to the works salvation of the Roman Catholic Church that one had simply to have faith to be saved. Neither is true (salvation by works alone; salvation by faith alone) and yet many people are still being led to believe that accepting Christ as their Savior and Lord is all it takes to "make" a Christian.

Remarkably, the only place in the Bible (all sixty-six books) that "faith" and "alone" is found is written by James in James 2:17 - "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17 - King James Version). The American Standard Version renders the passage, "Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself." Martin Luther believed that James contradicted what Paul wrote but it never changed the truth of Paul's writings nor James because "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (II Peter 1:21).

Not one example of a person becoming a New Testament disciple by "faith alone" is found in scripture. There are many examples of conversion (Acts of the Apostles) but none are told to say "yes" to Christ and at that moment experience the new birth. Does eternal life begin the moment we accept Christ as Savior and Lord? Not according to the Bible. Why do so many people believe in such a doctrine when there is no evidence of teaching in the word of God?

The great tragedy of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is the deception it brings to the hearts of those who honestly are seeking the truth of deliverance from sin and in the mind of God fail to achieve that blessing. Why? The apostle Paul warned Timothy of the dangers of the doctrines of men. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4). The doctrine of salvation by faith alone is a falsehood.

Is faith necessary for salvation? "Without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). What did Peter tell those gathered on Pentecost (Acts 2:36-41)? What instructions were given the Samaritans in Acts 8:5-13? How did the Ethiopian become a disciple of Christ (Acts 8:35-38)? How did Paul explain his conversion (Acts 9:1-19; 22:1-21)? Cornelius found the truth in Acts 10 as did Lydia in Acts 16:13-15; the jailor in Acts 16:25-34 and the Corinthians in Acts 18:8.

What must you do to be saved today? Follow the same pattern as found in the New Testament. That is the only way to be a Christian (Luke 6:46-49).