O. O. (not 7) writes:
“You continue to see individual passages saying one is saved by faith. But nowhere do they say by faith alone.”
In January of 1996, I debated a Church of Christ evangelist on justification by faith alone. One of his points was that the only place in the Bible that speaks of justification by faith alone says it is not by faith alone (Jas 2:24).i
In fact, even that verse does not speak of justification by faith alone. It should be translated, “You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” The word monon is an adverb modifying justified, not an adjective modifying faith. Some English translations do get this right and translate monon as only (KJV, NKJV, MEV): and not by faith only. James is saying that there is one justification by faith, before God, and a separate justification by works, before men. Compare Rom 4:1-2.
John 3:16 clearly states that whoever believes in Jesus will never perish but have everlasting life. The Lord did not need to list all of the things not required. He did not need to add the word alone.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says that regeneration (compare 2:5) is by faith apart from works. Paul is clearly saying that faith is the only condition.
Over a hundred times in the Bible, faith in Christ is the only condition given for regeneration and justification. Since there is no other condition, it is not inaccurate to say that justification and regeneration are by faith alone.
The issue is not that the Lord and His apostles need clarification. The issue is that people disagree with what they clearly stated. The Church of Christ evangelist’s objection is one of many arguments people use to reject justification by faith alone.
Here are a few other ways people oppose justification by faith alone:
- Defining faith as turning from sins, commitment, and perseverance in obedience.
- Saying that faith alone results in initial salvation, but that perseverance in obedience is required to gain final salvation.
- Teaching that faith alone results in probationary salvation, but that to keep it, one must persevere in good works.
The Scriptures are clear. Whoever believes in Jesus for everlasting life is eternally secure. That most people reject that–even people who profess to be Christians–bothers me.
Does it bother you?
i Some English translations have “not by faith only” (KJV, NKJV, MEV). Most have “not by faith alone” (NIV, NET, NASB, HCSB, RSV, LEB, ESV, GNT).