Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 14, 1960
NUMBER 10, PAGE 9,13b

Will Faith Only Save? No. 4

Tommy McClure, Vilonia, Arkansas

In the last article on this subject I was showing that the faith that avails is always manifested in obedience. Thus far, the healing of the Israelites (Num. 21:4-9) and the case of Noah (Gen. 6; Heb 11:7) have been considered.

(3) The case of Abraham. Surely every one who believes the Bible will agree that the faith of Abraham was an availing faith. But what kind of faith did Abraham have? Was it a faith with works or a faith without works? Was it an obedient faith or a faith without obedience?

The answer will be evident, when we consider Heb. 11:8. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Here the writer affirms that Abraham obeyed. When did he obey? "When he was called to go out into a place which he should after obey? 'When he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance." How did he obey, or what was the motivating force that caused him to obey? Faith! "BY FAITH Abraham . . . OBEYED." The command which Abraham obeyed is recorded in Gen. 12:1. "Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee." Verse 4 of Gen. 12 says, "So Abraham departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him." This he did by faith, according to the Hebrew writer. By faith he "obeyed"; by faith he "departed"; by faith he did "as the Lord had spoken unto him." Abraham's faith was an obedient, working faith; hence, it was a living, availing faith. Otherwise, it would have been a dead non-availing faith, for "faith without works is dead," James. 2:20, 26.

Suppose Abraham had said, "I don't see any sense in leaving Ur of the Chaldees. My father has lived here before me and the land that is good enough for him is good enough for me. Furthermore, I can be just as good and devoted here as I can be anywhere else. And, besides, I am perfectly satisfied with this land and my surroundings, so I am not going to leave." Honestly, had Abraham said that, would you think of him as a man of faith in God? Would you??? Had Abraham made such statements, you would think of him as a man of unbelief rather than a man of faith. Certainly so! What, then do you think of the man who makes similar statements relative to God's commands today? When plain Bible statements which show the necessity of baptism in the plan of salvation are quoted, some person will say, "But I don't see any sense in being baptized." Because he can't see any connection between baptism and the forgiveness of sins, he thinks being baptized for the remission of sins is silly. Consequently, he doesn't obey the Lord's command. Does that indicate faith or a lack of faith? When plain Bible teaching showing the necessity of church membership is presented, someone usually says, "I can live as morally good outside the church as I can in it, and a good moral life is the only thing that counts anyway. Besides, my parents weren't members of the church and I know they are in heaven." Thus, trusting in his parents and his own moral goodness, he doesn't enter that which is purchased with the blood of Christ — the church, Acts 20:28. Do his speech and actions indicate faith or a lack of faith in God and His word? When the error of some religious system is made plain, usually one who has espoused the system will say, 'But, this is what my parents believed, and what was good enough for them is good enough for me. I am satisfied with my religion, and you are wasting your time when you talk to me about changing." Thus, they reject that which they know to be true and continue in that which they know is wrong. Is that an indication of faith in God? If so, a completely clear sky indicates the immediate approach of a storm! Because of his great faith in God, Abraham "obeyed; and he went out, not knowing wither he went." He didn't hesitate and quibble and try to get around doing what God commanded! Neither do people who really believe in God do such today. Because of their faith they obey; they do what God says the way God says to do it whether they see the reason for it or not. By faith they obey! That is what Abraham did and that is the kind of faith he had. Any other is as dead as the body without the spirit, Jas. 2:26.

Again, the words of the Hebrew writer, Heb. 11:17-19, show that Abraham's faith was a faith of action or obedience. The inspired record says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." Thus, the writer again affirms that "by faith" Abraham did something. What was it? "By faith Abraham .. . OFFERED UP ISAAC." In doing that, he was obeying God's command recorded in Gen. 22:2. God told him, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." So strong was Abraham's faith that he proceeded to do just as the Lord had commanded. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that God's promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled through Isaac, he proceeded to obey until, through an angel, another command was given which canceled the first, Gen 22:11, 12. That is faith, real faith — active, obedient and alive! Referring to this very incident, James said that Abraham's faith was made perfect by his works. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God." (Jas. 2:21-23).

People talk much about "Abrahamic faith." Yet, those who talk of it so much seem to know little, if any thing, about it. What is "Abrahamic faith" What does it mean to have such faith? Does it mean to give mere mental assent to the fact of the Lord's existence; to say, "I trust him as my own personal saviour"; yet, quibble about and refuse to do his commandments? No, a thousand times! By faith Abraham did what God said. That is "Abrahamic faith!" Is that the kind you have, or do you have the kind the devils possess? See Jas. 2:19.

(4) The Israelites at Jericho. The account of the overthrow of Jericho also definitely proves that obedient faith is the kind that avails. God's command to the Israelites was: "And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout . . . " (Josh. 6:3-5). The promise was that the wall of the city would "fall down flat" when the command was obeyed. The latter part of Josh. 6:5 says, `...and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him."

What physical connection was there between compliance with this command and the falling of the walls?

Surely, the Israelites could see none at all. Had God told them to tear the walls down by use of a battering ram, they could have understood the reason for that order. But God told them to do something for which they could see no reason at all, therefore their obedience to the command was not because their own reason suggested it as the proper thing to do but because of their faith in God who gave the command. The marching, shouting and blowing on the trumpets were by faith!

But, when did that faith avail? When did it bring results? When did the walls of Jericho fall? "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, AFTER THEY WERE COMPASSED ABOUT SEVEN DAYS." The walls did not fall until after the Israelites did, by faith, what God commanded. Availing faith was an obedient faith then, and that is the kind of faith that avails now. See again Gal. 5:6.

(5) The Galatians in becoming children of God. Denominational preachers often quote Gal. 3:26 in an effort to prove that people become children of God by faith without further overt acts of obedience. They will shout the words: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." However, that is as far as they go. They stomp the brakes and lock all the wheels at the end of verse 26. But, by reading verses 26 and 27 together, we can see that the faith by which the Galatians became children of God was an obedient faith. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus FOR (the original word is GAR: 'to introduce the reason.') as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." They were not made children of God by a dead, inactive faith! They became such by the faith which caused them to take God at his word and do what he commanded. They became children of God by faith because that faith prompted them to be baptized into Christ — to obey God. By that kind of faith people become children of God today. Again, I ask, is that the kind of faith you have or do you possess the same type the devils have? Theirs is a faith without obedience! Does that describe your faith? If so, you are no better off, as far as salvation is concerned, than are they.


In these articles I have shown: (1) That the question is not "Is faith essential to salvation?" but "Is faith the ONLY thing essential?" (2) What faith only will not do? (3) That the doctrine of salvation by faith only is clearly refuted in James 2. (4) That the faith that avails is an obedient faith.

In the next article, I plan to consider some of the arguments made by those on the other side of this question. Be sure to watch for it and read it carefully.