A. H. asks,
I read your post about the saying, “faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone” [see here] and that’s something I have heard, believed, and experienced in my own life–but, I think I’m interpreting that statement in a way that is in line with your theological views. I believe the first half of that statement is speaking towards redemption, and the second half is speaking towards sanctification. I believe that faith alone accomplished my justification to be saved and that then this saving faith produces the repentance over the course of my life that helps me to conform more and more into the image of Christ. I realize I’ll never be perfectly like Him until I stand before Him. Would you agree this statement could be true and in line with your theological views in the way I’ve explained it?
If I understand her correctly, she is saying that one is born again by faith alone, understood as simple persuasion regarding the promise of everlasting life. (She never defines faith, so that is a guess.) To be born again, one need not repent, surrender, commit, or obey. But–and here is the problem–she also seems to be saying that God guarantees that she will persevere in faith and good works, albeit not perfect works, until death.
Unless A. H. has a way of knowing for sure that she will persevere in faith and good works, then she cannot be sure that justification is by faith alone.
What if she drifted away from the Lord, stopped going to church for years, and became an alcoholic and a murderer? If she continued to believe what she believes now, she would be forced to conclude that she either lost everlasting life or proved she never had it in the first place.
The Apostle Paul himself was not sure that he would persevere (1 Cor 9:27). If an apostle was not sure that he would persevere, how can any of us be sure? We cannot.
If, however, A. H. was sure that she has everlasting life that can never be lost simply because of her faith in Christ, then, yes, she would be born again, and her view would be consistent with the faith-alone position.
On a practical level, that is not possible. It is humanly impossible to believe two contradictory things. You cannot believe that 2 + 2 = 4 and at the same time believe that 2 + 2 = 6. You cannot believe that the earth is much smaller than the sun and that the sun is much smaller than the earth. You cannot believe that at the moment of faith a person is certain he has everlasting life that can never be lost and at the same time believe that only those who persevere in faith and good works will avoid eternal condemnation.
Most likely A. H. holds the view that some who profess to believe the faith-alone position hold. That is, she likely does not believe that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. In that way of looking at it, you merely believe that Jesus died and rose again and that He is your best hope of heaven. You have no certainty of your eternal destiny. But the longer you walk with Christ, the more likely it is that you will persevere and the greater your “assurance” grows.
Jesus said, “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26a). Then He asked, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26b). In order to answer yes to that question, we must be convinced that faith alone guarantees that we will never die spiritually. But one cannot believe that and at the same time believe that the faith that saves is never alone.