Many who call themselves Christians today believe that a person is saved by faith only. They will offer such verses as:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Acts 16:30-31

“And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”

There is no question that one must “believe” before being saved. But the issue is whether one is saved by “belief (faith) only.” If an example can be found in the New Testament of someone who has belief (faith), but is not yet saved, then the question has been answered. There are a number of such examples:

John 12:42-43

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, 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.”

Here is an example of the Jewish rulers who believed in Jesus but refused to publicly confess their belief because if they did so they would be put out of the synagogue. That kind of “faith” clearly is not a saving faith. This point is clearly put forth in the book of James that faith alone will not save anyone.

James 2:14

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

This is a rhetorical question with James asking how someone can claim to be saved by a faith that does not have works. His point is that it does not profit the man unless his faith is accompanied by works.  What does he mean by “works”? The answer is simple. When God gives a command, the obedient response to that command is a “work” that justifies man before God. Repentance is such a work.

Acts 26:20

“…but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”

Paul teaches that those Gentiles must not only repent of their sins in order to turn to God, but also must do certain “works” that would result from true repentance.

The question of whether we can be saved by faith only can be conclusively answered by simply reading the only verse in the Bible where the phrase “faith only” is found.

James 2:24

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

James, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us that the answer to the question is “no,” we are not saved by faith only nor by works only, but by faith that is responding to the commands of God with good works.

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