Salvation by Faith Alone

On Bible Studies

The Bible teaches that a person is saved by faith alone, not by faith and works combined. Faith is defined as “an Action based upon a Belief sustained by Confidence.” Being saved by works means everyone must believe in Jesus and do the same specific works. Being saved by faith alone means simply if you truly believe that Jesus is God come in the flesh, and trust Him for salvation, He will give you eternal life. We do not have to do any specific thing to gain eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJ)

Faith alone
Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)
Faith alone, without doing any specific work saved Mary in Luke 7:48-50, the blind man in Luke 18:12,42, and the paralyzed man in Matthew 9:2 They all did different things that showed their faith.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)
Romans 3:21-22 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (NIV)
Romans 4:1-5 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
Romans 4:9-12 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Galatians 5:2-5 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (NRSV)
Romans 4:13-24 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring -- not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. (See Galatians 3:16-18) 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” [Compare Romans 4:20-21 to James 2:21] 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (NIV) Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (NIV) Galatians 3:2-3 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (NRSV) We see here that you do not get saved or stay saved by doing a specific work or by not doing specific works.

Unto good works...
James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

Compare James 2:21 with Romans 4:20-21
James is saying it is attitude. The demons know God exists, but they fight against Him. If you just believe, in this way, you are “believing in vain,” 1 Corinthians 15:2. Faith is believing and trying your best, not fighting against His kingdom. James 2 must be understood in terms of Romans 4, James is saying that true faith produces works. There will be works of some kind if there is a true faith. If there is only a said faith that is not real, there will probably not be any works. The proof is when under hardship or persecution you continue steadfastly. Paul says Abraham was justified by faith before circumcision. James says Abraham proved his faith by his works. It is illogical to assume that “a believer who doesn’t get baptized proves by his works that he doesn’t truly believe” or “a believer who doesn’t get baptized is living in sin; therefore, loses his salvation.” Consider the parable of the bomb. One day while preaching a sermon a pastor got a message that some one had planted a bomb in the church. He told everyone that the bomb was set to go off in five minutes. Everyone said they believed and would leave immediately. Five minutes later you could tell by their works that those who were still in the building sitting and laughing obviously didn’t believe. Those who left the building obviously did. One person decided because of his experience in the military he would find and deactivate the bomb. Those outside, not knowing this, concluded he didn’t believe because he didn’t act as they did. The point is he is a believer or he would not have acted at all. Many times we judge others by our idea of what a Christian should act like. It is forbidden to judge this way! See Mat. 7:1-5

In conclusion we can state that salvation begins at the moment of belief. True belief will produce fruit of some kind, which can be seen by people. We are to look for this fruit, not for what the person hasn’t done or shouldn’t be going.

All Bible quotations taken from the NRSV unless otherwise noted. Date: 6-1995