Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 10, 1955

It Isn't In The Book

Roy E. Cogdill

We often hear the expression, "It's in the Book." If it "isn't in the book" — meaning the Word of the Lord — then it is purely human and has no place in the church of our Lord. Jesus taught that human authority corrupts the word of God and makes worship vain in God's sight. "This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:8, 9) Again, he said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up." (Matt 15:13.) When we rely upon human wisdom and human authority in religion, it is a case of "the blind leading the blind"; and both of them shall fall into the pit.

The way of man is not in himself. Jeremiah set this forth in simple words in the long ago. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23.) God condemned his people when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Deut. 12:8.) The line must be drawn between those things that are human in their origin and the things that are divine. Whether or not God has said it (whether it is "in the Book" or not) is the thing that makes the difference between vain religion and pure and undefiled religion.

First of all, let us take the doctrine of "justification by Faith Only." The creeds of men teach that the "doctrine of justification by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort." This is the doctrine of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and a multitude of other denominations. Some of these creeds teach that "faith is the alone agent" in justification, or that we are "justified by faith alone."

This doctrine teaches that one is saved at the moment of believing, and without anything else being done. Not even one act of obedience is necessary — just the belief in one's heart. They represent faith as an attitude which purifies the heart of the sinner without any further act of obedience. This, of course, logically and necessarily eliminates the act of repenting, the confessing of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the being baptized in obedience to his commandment, or the doing of anything else commanded in the Word of God. Only believe!

All of this so completely contradicts Bible teaching that it is a wonder that anyone who has ever read the Bible could accept it. The simple facts are these:

1. Martin Luther invented the teaching. Until his day the doctrine of justification by faith only had never been heard. This is a matter of history. While occasional teachers and writers had speculated about it, none had boldly and confidently set it forth as Bible teaching as did Luther. The reason for Luther's action is not hard to discover. In seeking to avoid the extreme of formalism, ritualism and ceremonialism of the Roman Catholic religion, he went to the opposite extreme and taught that there is no form, no rite, no ceremony of any kind, no physical act of obedience, but that man is justified "by faith only!" He so convinced himself of this that in his translation of the Scriptures he supplied the word "only" to Paul's statement that "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." (Rom. 3:28.) As Luther translated it, he had it read, "We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith only apart from the works of the law." This was Luther's conviction. So strong was it that he declared the book of James (which plainly and completely contradicted his theory (James 2:24) to be "a work of straw." He rejected this book from God's Word rather than give up his false teaching.

2. The Bible teaches "Justification by Faith," but not "by faith only." Many passages (such as Romans 5:1) speak of our being "justified by faith"; but not a one says anything about being "justified by faith only." It isn't in the Book! Ask any preacher to find it for you. Men preach it; they should be able to read at least one passage in the Bible that says it. If they can't (and we promise you they never will), then what right have they to preach it, and what right has anyone to believe it?

But, one says, there are many passages that promise salvation where faith is the only condition mentioned. So there are. There are also many passages that promise salvation and mention only repentance. Does that mean that men are saved by "repentance only", and eliminate faith? There are passages that teach that one is saved by being baptized. They mention no other condition or requirement. Does that mean that one is saved by "baptism alone"? Surely not. That is no way to deal with God's Word.

3. The doctrine of "Justification by faith only" as it is taught in denominational creeds and pulpits stands exactly contradictory to what the Bible does say. James sets forth the truth in these words, "Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith." (Jas. 2:24.) This is the only passage in the Bible that mentions the doctrine of "justification by faith only; and this verse says that it isn't so! Who then can believe the Bible and believe in the doctrine of justification by faith only? It not only "isn't in the Book", but actually contradicts that which IS "in the Book." Eternal destiny of the soul is at stake. Let every man be guided always by "what is written."