The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
November 4, 1990


1) "Faith Only" (Tom Edwards)
2)  Persevering Lessons (selected)


"Faith Only"
by Tom Edwards

Often many people in the religious world raise objections when one states that the Bible teaches salvation is not on the basis of merely "faith only." We must each come to realize what the Bible says in this matter. Even if a thousand books or human creeds teach the contrary, it is that one book of God's word that we must accept.

Concerning God's grace, notice what Paul wrote to Titus in Titus 2:11-13: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." The inference is obvious: God's grace demands a change in one's life. Therefore, can we be saved by the grace of God if we are not willing to comply with what that grace teaches?

Ephesians 2:8,9 states: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Though this passage mentions being saved by grace, it must be pointed out that this does not mean saved by "grace only" any more than being saved by faith means being saved by "faith only." According to this passage, one is saved "by grace through faith." The grace, which has been defined as "unmerited favor," is on God's part; the faith, however, falls within our responsibility.

As the passage also shows, one's salvation is not on the basis of human merit. Therefore, one cannot boast in his own accomplishments as if he has earned his salvation by them. I'm reminded of the statement the Lord uses in one of His parables in Luke 17:10 that teaches the proper attitude that God's obedient servant should possess. It reads, "So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty."'

The fact that one is not saved by works does not eliminate the need to have to do certain things in order to be saved; it merely means that one is not saved by his work in a meritorious sense. For example, one is saved by grace through faith, but how does that faith come?  Paul teaches that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). God has given the source -- the gospel -- but it is up to man to make the effort to hear it and study it for himself.  Surely, it would be wrong to teach one who has never heard the gospel that he better not study the truth in order to try to acquire faith for it would then be a work and "man is not saved by works."

One of the biggest ironies of the false doctrine of salvation by "faith only" is the fact that the Bible uses this expression ("faith only" or "faith alone") only one time, and in this passage the exact opposite is being taught as to what many believe today about faith. Here God's word clearly states, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). James continues by citing Abraham as an example of one whose faith was made perfect by his obedience.  He declares: "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, `And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God" (James 2:21-23).

God desires for none to perish, but for all to come to repentance and be saved (2 Peter 3:9); and Jesus died for this purpose so that all can be (1 John 2:2), but each individual must choose for himself whether he will obey the Lord or not, because God has given to each person a free will by which one's life is directed.

There are many people today who believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and accept that which the Bible proclaims about Him, but yet they also know that if they were to die this very night they would not be prepared to meet the Lord, for they have not yet repented of their sins, nor met the Lord's other requirements whereby they might be saved.

John spoke of those who were like this in Jesus' day by saying: "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Their faith was without the necessary works of obedience and, as a consequence, they remained lost in their sins.

Jesus asked the people of His day in Luke 6:46, "...why do you call Me, `Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" Confessing Christ as Lord is meaningless, actually hypocritical, if the one doing so is not complying with the Lord's commands. The term "Lord" means ruler; and, therefore, one would actually be dishonest to call Christ his Lord, but at the same time remain indifferent and disobedient to the Lord's precepts. John wrote of this by saying, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, `I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3,4).

Let us conclude with the following anecdote in which two men had been in a rather heated debate over which is right, grammatically, to say, "The hen is setting" or "The hen is sitting." They had become so animated in their arguments that it appeared as if they would soon be going at each other with fistic blows. Fortunately, before this occurred, they simmered down and agreed to go to Farmer Brown and present him with the question. This they did; and Farmer Brown, on hearing the matter, laughed rather loudly. He then said, "Men, when I see a hen in such a position on a nest, I don't ask whether she is sitting or setting. I only ask, `Is she laying, or is she lying?"'

May it be our desire to increase our faith through the study of God's word and allow the Lord to fashion us to His likeness by our submission to His holy commands, realizing the importance of our faith and our obedience. Remember, Christ is the "author of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him" (Heb. 5:9).


Persevering Lessons

Triumph is just umph added to try (Selected).
By perseverance the snail reached the ark (Spurgeon).

You don't have to lie awake nights to succeed.  Just stay awake days (Healthways).

There is no poverty that can overtake diligence (Japanese proverb).

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards