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Are We Saved by Faith

Todays Question: I recently was handed a copy of the Summer '98 Good
News El Paso, and read your article Do you hate Catholics? I agree with you, in
terms of your statement, "I don't think that love should force me to keep quiet when
I disagree with others".

Your statement "Martin Luther, though not perfect, was not a Judas Iscariot". He
did, however, make a solemn vow before God (upon entering the priesthood) then
abandoned that vow. We can then certainly see from Sacred Scripture that Judas
Iscariot did abandon any vows he made when he betrayed Christ! So, in a sense,
Martin Luther does share certain similarities with Mr. Iscariot!

Faith without works is dead, now isn't it? Did you know that Martin Luther wanted to
throw out the epistle of James, as well as the book of Revelation, when he
recomposed the Bible?

Gerry, a devoted Catholic

Bible Answer: You said that Martin Luther "shared certain similarities with Mr.
Iscariot" because he abandoned his vows as a Catholic Monk. I dont think its right to
infer that because he renounced his vow as a monk that puts him in the same
category with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ.

For example, does this mean if a Mormon who made a vow in the Mormon Temple
wanted to be a Catholic that you would want him to remain in Mormonism because he
made a solemn vow? I think you can see the fallacy of your argument. When a person
sees that he made a vow to an apostate religion then he must repent and get out of
his vow. I think this is what Martin Luther believed.

Now concerning Martin Luthers teaching on salvation by faith alone and his initial
rejection of the book of James: As you know it is true that Luther felt that James
differed with Pauls teaching on salvation by grace through faith. As a result he held
suspect, the book of James, but later realized that James did not contradict Pauls
teaching, but simply put emphases on the need for faith to work. Thus was born
Luthers famous statement, "We are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone."

This might surprise you, Gerry, but I dont agree with Luthers statement. The reason
is simple, if faith is "never alone" then we are not saved by "faith alone." Luther
played semantics.

Not only was Luther wrong because the statement contradicts itself, but it also
contradicts the Bible:

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (James

So you can see clearly that a person is not justified by faith alone.

I think because most Protestants want to affirm salvation by "faith alone" that
Protestantism has suffered morally. (By the way, I dont consider myself a Protestant
or a Roman Catholic, but simply a Christian.)

Through this dogma of salvation by faith alone many professing Christians believe they
are saved even though their conduct says something else. As a result, I believe we will
see many professing believers cast into hell. As Jesus said,

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but
only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)

Profession is not enough, action is also required to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Someone might argue, "Are you teaching salvation through works?"

It depends what kind of works you are talking about. If you are referring to the "works
of the Law" then definitely not, but if you are referring to the "works of faith" then
definitely so.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved through faithand this not from yourselves, it
is the gift of Godnot by works so that no one can boast.

Most people stop reading right there, so they assume the "works" Paul was referring to
was "good works" which accompany your faith, but that is not the kind of works Paul
had in mind; we know this because he continues in the next verse,
For we are Gods workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God
prepared in advance for us to do. (v 10)

Notice the difference between the works that cant save you in verse nine, and the
good works that we in Christ do in verse ten. When Paul mentioned the works that
cant save you he was referring to the works of the Law.

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Rom

Observing the law was the "works" that cant save you. Observing the law is not the
same as good works. This is where many make the mistake. They put "good works"
under the category of the "works of the Law." But good works must accompany your
faith or you really do not have faith.

You see, the nature of true faith is action. For someone to claim faith, yet act the
opposite proves the persons claim to faith is not real. This is what James understood.

For example, if you were married to Clinton Jr., and said to him, "I trust you", then
you go out and hire a private investigator to follow him, then do you really trust him?
No. Your action proved that your claim to faith is a fallacy. You really dont have faith.

There is no such thing as faith without corresponding action. Faith must act, or it isnt
faith. So we are not saved by faith alone, because faith is never alone.

I think a better way to state how we are saved is this: We are saved by grace alone,
through faith that works. Notice where I placed the word "alone." I placed it along
with grace. Grace is free, so no one can earn it. As Paul writes:

And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be

grace. (Rom 11:6)

It is grace alone that saves, and the means to this grace is faith that works.

So if we claim to have faith in Christ, then we must act like it.