A gracEmail subscriber chides, “I see you saying that you believe in salvation by faith alone, which is an improvement over the doctrine of salvation by works, but is not satisfactory to careful Bible students. (I teach that we are saved by faith and not by works, but not by faith only.)”
* * *
Good brother, we can’t have it both ways. We are either saved by or we are saved by. Either Jesus did it all, or we do some of it. We either bring something to God, in exchange for which we hope to receive his favor, or we come to him with empty hands trusting his promise that he loves us and forgives us in Jesus and for Jesus’ sake.
Do I believe in salvation by faith “only”? It all depends on what you mean. If you mean that one who exercises saving faith can possibly sit and do nothing in the face of God’s understood commands and will, or that mere profession of faith is the same as faith itself, or that claiming to be a believer makes one such, then with the epistle-writer James, I emphatically deny that that kind of “faith” is saving faith, and that anyone is saved by such so-called “faith” alone.
However, if you mean that all we can do to enjoy salvation is to trust God for it, based on what he did for us in Jesus — since we cannot do anything to bridge the gap between God and sinful humans ourselves — I agree with that and insist that it is what Jesus teaches throughout the Gospel of John and what Paul teaches throughout Romans and Galatians. The only way of salvation is by trusting God’s kindness, shown most fully in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot contribute to our own salvation, or earn it, or deserve it. If that is what you mean by “faith only,” it is the gospel and I affirm it with all my heart.