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More Faith Alone
Martin Luther called justification by faith alone “the article upon which the church stands or falls.” Is this a true statement? Can ordinary people, non theologians, even sensibly discuss such issues. You have probably guessed that I am going to say we can, no, we must. We cannot afford to leave an issue this important to others. We must decide for ourselves. We know that politicians have agendas, unfortunately so do theologians, as do we all. Jesus said that the first thing we must do to come to Him was to deny ourselves.
Do the Scriptures state that salvation or justification is by faith alone?
No they do not; the Scriptures affirm that salvation and justification are by faith, but not by faith alone. Martin Luther responded to this criticism by agreeing that Paul did say faith alone, but that he meant that because he often said that faith justifies but not works. “Since he ascribes nothing to works in regard to justification, he without doubt ascribes all to faith alone.” He said such arguments were sophristy. Really!
Calvin said to argue because the word alone does not appear is absurd. “Does he not plainly enough attribute everything to faith alone when he disconnect it with works?”
Plain Talk holds that pointing out the truth is neither absurd nor sophistry. Furthermore we believe that both Luther and Calvin misrepresented and distorted the facts when they claim that everything in regard to justification is ascribed to faith not works.
Distorted because: They did not distinguish between the obedience of faith and works.
The word, “Work,” is used in different ways. Works of law, works of righteousness or works of which we may boast does certainly not save us. But works of faith, labor of love and obedience of faith are entirely different matters.
A work (negative sense) is a response, which does not proceed from faith in God and is not motivated by love. Such faith is in self, heritage or some other thing. The motivation may be strife, envy or fear of punishment.
The obedience of faith is a response that proceeds from faith in God, motivated by lover,
What do we accept when we recognize that salvation and justification are by grace through faith?
We accept all truths about faith that are expressed in the Scriptures, positive or negative.
What conclusions do we make from these truths?
We can be certain that when we are speaking of a faith that pleases God, that saves, forgives sins and justifies, we are speaking of a faith that is combined with love, perfected by the obedience of faith it produces. We can be certain the “faith alone” doctrine is not the way of salvation.
How then should these factors be related?
Salvation is by grace through faith, which obeys (obedience of faith) in love, not by works.
How doest the Old Testament support this view?
Please begin reading Hebrews 10: 36 and read on through chapter 11. Here we find “the just shall live by faith” followed by a more detailed account of their lives. Faith when combined with love always produces obedience. To say that one believes in God but does not obey is an incongruity. The old hymn, Trust and Obey, has it right. Trust and obey for there’s no other way.
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Last Update 06/13/09