Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 8, 1954

"What Does The Bible Say?"

Howard See, Manchester. Tennessee

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10)

These two passages, along with others, are used by religious groups as a basis for their doctrine that people are saved by faith only without further acts of obedience. That all one has to do to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is granted that if these and other passages are taken by themselves, without regard to other passages in the New Testament, that they would teach salvation by faith only. This would be true if there were no other passages in the New Testament dealing with the requirements for salvation. However, to take these passages by themselves and to form a doctrine of faith only salvation around them is to cause them to contradict other plain passages in the New Testament. One basic law or rule of Bible study is that we study each passage in the light of every other passage. If we do not study each passage in the light of every other passage, there would be a number of doctrines which would sound good, but when we study each passage in the light of every other passage, there is a harmony and oneness of doctrine taught in the New Testament.

James said, "Ye see then how that by, works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24). Hence, we are justified by faith, as taught in the two scriptures above, but it is not by faith only. James asks the question, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" (James 2:14). That is the very question with which we are concerned. That is the very doctrine which many religious groups teach today, i.e., that we are saved by faith only, without further acts of obedience.

But notice the answer which James gives to his own question. "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:15-17). What more does James have to say? Everyone can understand that if you do not give to the necessities of the poor and hungry that they are not profited. But James says that it is that way with those who claim to have faith but do not have works. That faith without works is dead, hence does not profit.

The works which James speaks of here does not contradict the "Not of works, lest any man should boast," of Ephesians 2:9. We are justified by faith as our faith leads us to work God's righteousness by obeying His commands. In Psalms 119:172 the Psalmist said, "My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteous." To obey the commandments of God then, is not working the righteousness of man, but working the righteousness of God. If salvation were by the works of man's righteousness, then we would have room to boast, but there is no room for boasting when we work the righteousness of God by keeping His commandments. The Apostle Peter said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-85). It is definitely established then that in order to be acceptable to God we must work righteousness. Not man's righteousness, but God's righteousness. To work God's righteousness is to keep His commandments. John tells us that "hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3). Not to keep the commandments of God is not to know God. Those who know not God shall have vengeance rendered unto them in the day of judgment (2 Thess. 1:7-9). That's how serious it is not to obey the commandments of God. Hence, there are no unnecessary commandments of God. For our faith then to be a perfect faith or saving faith, it must lead us to obey His commands. Please read James 2:14-26 and Hebrews 5:8-9.

We need not expect salvation by faith only without further acts of obedience. Even the devils believe and tremble, but who would dare say that the devils are going to be saved (James 2:19)? There are several examples in the New Testament of those who believed who were not saved. In John 12:42-43 John speaks of many of the chief rulers who "believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praises of men more than the praise of God." These chief rulers believed on Jesus. Were they saved? If one can be saved by faith only they were. If not, why not? These men did not confess Jesus and Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33, "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Therefore these men were not saved. Hence, it takes more to be saved than just believing.

Another case of those who believed but were referred to later in the same chapter as being of their father the devil is recorded in John 8:30-44. Again John said, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12). Hence, John says that those who believed on Christ were not children or son of God when they believed, but that they were then given power to become the sons of God. When then do we become sons of God? When faith leads us to obey the commandments of God. In Galatians 3:26-27 Paul said, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" One does not put on the likeness of Christ then until his faith leads him to be baptized into a relationship with him. See also Romans 6:3-9.

All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Paul said that we are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). Therefore in order to receive any spiritual blessing, it is necessary to be baptized into Christ. Paul further said, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6:17-18). When were they made free from sin? When faith led them to obey the doctrine of Christ. That there is then no salvation from past sins by faith only without further acts of obedience is evident. Please read 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 6:1-9. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

Friends and readers have you trusted in faith only for the salvation from your past sins? If so, we urge that you study your Bible to see if these things are so. As you find that you have trusted in that which is not the doctrine of Christ, we urge that you heed the admonition of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17 and "come out from among them, and be ye separate." Obey the gospel of Christ and become a simple Christian after the New Testament order... If you have any questions or comments we would be happy to hear from you. Our only desire is that people might come to a knowledge of God's truth and that they might "purify their souls by obeying that truth" (1 Peter 1:22).