Here’s something that someone else wrote on faith and works within salvation:
We are not asking about what some religious leader teaches. We are not asking at this point what the creeds or manuals of men state. We want to know what the God of heaven has to say about this. When we ask this question about being “saved,” we mean salvation from sin or the washing away of past sins. We know that Jesus came to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Does the Bible teach that a person obtains such salvation by faith? In order to help us understand the Bible’s teaching about faith and its connection with the salvation of the soul, we will present and answer four questions.
(1) Is faith a condition of salvation? The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). From this passage we learn that a person cannot please God without faith. Then, it teaches two things about what one must believe: (1) That God exists, and (2) that He rewards those that seek Him. What about faith in Jesus? Jesus said, “He that believeth on him [Jesus, rdc] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). So, faith in Jesus as the Christ or Son of God is also required in order to please the Lord. Yes, faith is a condition of salvation. Let it be clear to all that the Bible does not teach that every person who has faith is blessed, regardless of what that faith might be. No, the Bible’s message is that one’s belief must be in the existence of God (Hebrews 11:6), in Jesus as His Son (John 3:18), and in the word of God or gospel (Mark 16:15,16).
Let us look further. Are there biblical statements that point to the idea of salvation being by faith? Consider some facts. “. . . whosoever believeth in him [Jesus, rdc] should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “. . . through his [Jesus’, rdc] name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God thorough our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
When you put the above-quoted facts together, what do you have? They plainly declare that one receives eternal life by faith, receives remission of sins by faith, is saved by faith, and is justified by faith. These are basically four different ways of saying the same thing. Individually and collectively, these verses say “Yes” to the question, “Does the Bible teach that a person is saved by faith?” Friends, do not argue against the doctrine of salvation by faith. The Bible clearly teaches it.
(2) What about faith without works? The Bible doctrine of salvation by faith is not an “I’ve-got-God-in-my-heart-and-that-is-all-that-matters” type of faith. Once four men carried a sick man on a bed to Jesus in order that the Master might heal Him. The Bible says that Jesus “saw their faith” (Mark 2:5). What does that mean? Simply that He saw their faith in action. What if a person possesses faith but no action to go with it? From James 2 we learn that faith without works:
Does not profit (2:14,16);
Cannot save (2:14);
Is dead or lifeless (2:17,20,26);
Is alone (2:17);
Is no better than demons’ faith (2:19);
Is not perfect or complete (2:22);
Will not justify a person (2:24).
Obviously, in God’s sight, faith without works “will not get the job done.” In the context of James 2, the “works” that join with faith to present a person complete before the Lord are not man’s self-appointed works or works of merit, but rather works of obedience.
(3) What are some consequences of the teaching that one is saved by “faith only” or “faith alone?” Read carefully the next two sentences. One: “A person can only be saved by faith/believing.” Two: “A person is saved by faith only.” The ideas expressed in these two statements are not the same – they are very different. Statement one points out the truth that faith is a condition of being saved. The second one claims that one is saved by “faith only,” that is, faith is the one and only condition of salvation. This second idea is false! Why? Because it contradicts the Bible.
Remember, any teaching that implies a false doctrine, is itself false. All that means is this: if the consequences of a doctrine are false, then the doctrine itself is false (and thus, must be rejected). In our study, the application is this: if any of the consequences of the “salvation by faith only” teaching are false, then the doctrine of “salvation by faith only” must be false.
“Only” means exclusively or solely, so to state that salvation is by “faith only” means that one is saved 100% by faith, meaning that salvation is by faith and nothing else! If the doctrine of salvation by “faith only” were true, since “only” excludes everything else, then salvation would not be “by grace.” But, the Bible teaches salvation by grace (Ephesians 2:8), so the doctrine of “faith only” salvation is false.
If the doctrine of salvation by “faith only” were true, since “only” excludes everything else, then repentance would not be required. But, the Bible teaches that repentance is, indeed, a condition of salvation (Acts 3:19; 11:18). Thus, the doctrine of “faith only” salvation is false.
If the doctrine of salvation by “faith only” were true, then every person that possesses faith would be a saved person. How could that be true in view of John 12:42,43? There it is written, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him [Jesus, rdc]; 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.” Did many chief rulers believe on the Christ? The Bible says they did. Yet, according to the Bible, they would not confess Him. What did Jesus say about a person that will not confess Him? “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8,9). Thus, one that does not confess the Christ, even if such a one believes on Him, cannot please the Lord. The record of John 12:42,43 speaks of those that believed, but were not saved because they would not confess the Lord. Again we see that the “faith only” doctrine is false.
Most denominational groups accept the “faith only” doctrine. One creed book states, “We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” [Constitution and Discipline of the Methodist Protestant Church, 1936 Revision, "Articles of Religion," p. 37]. If the “faith only” doctrine contradicts the Bible, as we have clearly shown that it does, then how in the world can it be a doctrine that is “very full of comfort?!” Know this: such comfort is not of God, but is of the devil.
A number of denominational preachers have affirmed in public debates their acceptance of “faith only” salvation. For instance, in the Elkins-Ross Debate, Mr. Bob Ross of the Baptist denomination affirmed this proposition: “The scriptures teach that salvation comes at the point of faith alone before and without any further acts of obedience” [Elkins-Ross Debate, p. 166]. He attempted to prove an unprovable doctrine!
(4) What kind of faith pleases the Lord? The Bible teaches that one is justified “by faith” (Romans 5:1), but “not by faith only” (James 2:24). Hebrews 11 presents from the Old Testament case after case of individuals that pleased Jehovah “by faith.” When one carefully reads that great chapter, he sees that the faith of Abel was an obedient faith, as was the faith of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all others that are noted. James 2:21 declares that Abraham was “justified by works,” yet Hebrews 11:8,17 describes him as one that acted “by faith.” Which is correct, to say that Abraham was in good standing with the Lord “by works” or “by faith?” Both answers are correct, because that is what the Bible says. The “works” of James 2 were works of obedience – Abraham acted on his faith by doing what the Lord told him to do. And, the “faith” of Hebrews 11 was a living, active faith.
Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” What is it that avails or causes a person to please the Lord? According to this verse, it is a person’s faith. What kind of faith? Faith that works. What is the proper motive for such faith taking action? Love.
Jesus is the author of salvation (Hebrews 5:9). What kind of salvation? Eternal salvation. For whom is He the author of such salvation? The text says for all those that “obey” Him. Since one must obey the Christ in order to be saved, and since one is saved by faith, then the faith that pleases God must be an obedient one. Does the Bible teach that a person is saved by faith? Yes, by faith that is obedient, acting according to the will of God which is revealed in the Bible.
– Roger D. Campbell