My good friend, Walt Millet, alerted me to a ministry that says that Eph 2:8-9 does not say that salvation is by faith alone apart from works! Walt wrote:
I went to that article (you can see it here) and this is what it says:
Many people believe Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches that we are saved by faith alone.
Yet, the only verse in the Bible that contains the phrase “faith alone” specifically says that we are not saved by faith alone.
James 2:24 says, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul isn’t saying that our works don’t matter for our salvation at all. When read within the context of the chapter, we see that Paul is saying we can’t earn our salvation through the good works that we do.
For a full explanation (backed with tons of Scripture), see also: Sola Fide: Is Faith Alone Enough?
Wow! At her website, the head of the ministry, under “About Brittany Ann,” writes, “I grew up Baptist, then spent a lot of time in Missionary and Non-Denominational churches (among others). Now, I’m doing a TON of research into what Catholics believe and why to learn more.
She defends Catholicism in the Sola Fide article cited above.
Her doctrinal statement on salvation says: “We believe God offers the free gift of salvation to everyone. However, as humans with free will, not everyone will accept this gift. We believe our works cannot save us-only Jesus can-but we also know that a real faith naturally produces good works. When we truly love God, we want to serve Him. When we truly believe He is who He says He is, we want to be more like Him. We obey out of love and gratitude, not fear or obligation.”
Now for a response to what she wrote about Eph 2:8-9.
First, Jas 2:24 does not deny that we are justified before God by faith alone. If it did, it would contradict Gal 2:16 and a host of verses in Galatians and in Romans 3:21–4:24. James 2:24 should be translated, “You see then that a man is justified by works and not only [justified] by faith.” James is speaking of two justifications: one before God by faith and one before men by works. See my recent blog here for a further explanation.
Second, Paul is saying what Brittany Ann claims he isn’t saying. He is saying that “our works don’t matter for our salvation at all.” If they did, then John 3:16 and a hundred other verses, including Eph 2:8-9, would all be lies. How much clearer could Paul be? He said that our salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Paul is saying that salvation is “the gift of God” (compare John 4:10; Rev 22:17) and that is not of works.
Third, her fuller explanation in the Sola Fide article is filled with “proofs” that are verses dealing with eternal rewards and temporal judgment, not with works being required to have everlasting life. It is telling that in that Sola Fide article she gives a link to Lordship Salvation advocate Francis Chan as additional proof that works are required to be saved.
James 3:1 comes to mind. I am very careful in what I say and write because I know I’ll receive a “stricter judgment” at the Bema because I teach God’s Word as my job. I think we all should be very concerned about teaching God’s Word correctly, whether it is our job or not.