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"Faith Alone"?

If you have heard the term "Protestant" before, chances are you have also heard the saying "faith alone." The way Protestants speak of "faith alone" might almost give one the impression that Luther and his band of rebels chanted this mantra all the way out of the Catholic cathedral as they defected from the Mother Church and set off to seek a better way.

So what is the story on this "faith alone" concept? As a Protestant, the first place I go when I have questions is Scripture. ("Sola Scriptura," right?) When I do a query in the NASB Bible on "faith alone" this is the only entry that comes up:

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. -James 2:24

That is humorous. (Of course, from what I am told, Luther did not believe that the book of James belonged in the canon of Scripture anyway... but I digress.)

So where did the idea of "faith alone" come from? From what I understand, Luther had translated the following verse into Latin, at which point the Catholic church back-translated it into German, incorrectly rendering the bolded term as "faith alone":

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. -Romans 3:28

So the Catholics rendered the Latin as "faith alone apart from works of the Law," and were outraged. However, Luther maintained that the Catholics had mistranslated his Latin, and that the Latin solum ("alone") was necessary in Latin to convey the meaning of the sentence, though they were correct that the extra term was unnecessary in German. So in Luther's mind, the Latin was accurate with solum ("alone"), and the German was accurate without allein ("alone"). All that to say it seems that in Luther's mind "faith alone" was nothing more than a Catholic mistranslation! So how did it become a Protestant mantra?!

To further complicate matters, Romans 3:28 does not contrast faith with works, but with works of the Law; i.e. the Mosaic Law. Yet the modern Protestant mantra seems to contrast faith with any sort of action.

My Question

So, can someone explain the Protestant doctrine of "faith alone" to me? Do I have my facts straight about its origin (a Catholic mistranslation from Latin to German)? If so, how in the world did a Catholic mistranslation (that Luther rejected) become a Protestant mantra?!

Also, is this doctrine really as foundational to Protestantism as people think it is? And what does this doctrine even mean? Is it "faith apart from any action"? Is it "faith apart from the Mosaic Law"? Something else? Would Luther even affirm the Protestant doctrine of "faith alone"?


Related: What is the biblical basis for salvation by faith alone (sola fide)? This question asks how a person would justify this doctrine from Scripture. It's not the same as what I'm asking here, but it is relevant none the less.

Also related: Can someone help me cite Luther's explanation of faith alone to Catholics? This question asks for a particular source to use in an upcoming blog post. Not at all what I'm asking, but related none the less.

  • I was going to look up the answer to that question I wrote last year. Did you look at my answer to the question. I didn't find myself agreeing with Mike's assessment so I looked it up myself. – Peter Turner Jul 9 '13 at 2:46
  • While I'm not sure the average Christian approaches the terminology with any real subtly, I'm under the impression from a Peter Kreeft video I saw (which, if I find again I'll post in an answer) that the verses used to support sola fida refer to a "broad faith" that's more synonymous with religion than the verses Catholics use for faith and works, in which a "narrow faith" is intended, more synonymous with trust. And if memory serves, Kreeft was speaking out of turn on this, but drawing on the outcome of an interfaith dialogue. ... I'll try to dig that up. – svidgen Jul 9 '13 at 3:15
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The correct understanding of this term is so fundamental in understanding the reformation. It certainly has nothing to do with linguistics or translations. It has everything to do with the doctrine of justification. There are only two sides to the issue. Catholics (and I believe Eastern Orthodox and the Syrian Churches) do not believe in a momentary or instantaneous justification occurring when we are still God's enemies. They believe in justification as something requiring ‘our cooperation’ with grace (code word for works from a Protestant view) until we are finally justified in the final judgment...based on our ‘cooperation’ with grace. Luther and the reformers thought this was all pure and wicked nonsense. They believed in justification that occurs in a moment, while we have no works but only sin. In other words, while a sinner has no merits, no works (all moral goodness are considered the works of the Law as it is the law that requires them) he is justified forever. No merits whatsoever of any kind only a sinful heart forgiven when a person is made justified in an instant. The only condition is faith but not the active kind, rather the passive reception of a gift, excluding justifying faith as a work also. This has often been called 'an alien righteousness' because it is Christ's righteousness imputed to sinners apart from any of their own internal holiness. It is alien to our inner experience.

In simple terms ‘faith apart from works’ means we are justified in 'a moment' while we have no works to consider at all, i.e. justified apart from anything of the sort. Either we are justified over a period of time, where our obedience and personal holiness and sins are taken into the equation, i.e. ‘justified with works in the equation’, or not. Either it is justified by faith only (apart from any works) or justified with works in the mental equation.

Now this has caused confusion because although in terms of protestant justification our works are not a microscopic part of the equation; yet all who are justified of necessity produce good works as a fruit of the 'alien justification' (i.e. external righteousness of Christ imputed to them). Although 'sanctification' includes the discussion of works and 'cooperation with grace', justification excludes them. Our works having nothing to do with justification at all, but they play a big role in our sanctification. However under the Catholic scheme works are an 'important' part in justification. Actually justification and sanctification are really not much different under the Catholic scheme (i.e. we need continued cooperation with grace in order to be finally justified). Thus Protestants view the Catholic doctrine as works based righteousness hypocritically sprinkled with grace. These two sides should really be clear and do not need any evaluation of Latin or Greek, or German or the invention of different kinds of grace, different kinds of law, etc. Such philosophies only cloud the light of day upon which the Protestant religion was produced. We can’t have it both ways, either our works are considered in 'some sense' in our justification before God, or they are 'not'. One is a classical Protestant view and the other is a Catholic (or Orthodox or Syrian view).

As regards to 'if this is really foundational to Protestantism' the answer is more than anyone probably realizes today.

Just to make it clear that I am accurately representing the reformers on this point I leave a quote from Luther that spells out clearly the difference between those who mix sanctification (i.e. holy love, or works of love) with justification, and those who do not.

The truth of the Gospel is this, that our righteousness comes by faith alone, without the works of the Law. The falsification or corruption of the Gospel is this, that we are justified by faith but not without the works of the Law. The false apostles preached the Gospel, but they did so with this condition attached to it. The scholastics do the same thing in our day. They say that we must believe in Christ and that faith is the foundation of salvation, but they say that this faith does not justify unless it is “formed by love.” This is not the truth of the Gospel; it is falsehood and pretense. The true Gospel, however, is this: Works or love are not the ornament or perfection of faith; but faith itself is a gift of God, a work of God in our hearts, which justifies us because it takes hold of Christ as the Savior. Human reason has the Law as its object. It says to itself: “This I have done; this I have not done.” But faith in its proper function has no other object than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was put to death for the sins of the world. It does not look at its love and say: “What have I done? Where have I sinned? What have I deserved?” But it says: “What has Christ done? What has He deserved?” And here the truth of the Gospel gives you the answer: “He has redeemed you from sin, from the devil, and from eternal death.” Therefore faith acknowledges that in this one Person, Jesus Christ, it has the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Whoever diverts his gaze from this object does not have true faith; he has a phantasy and a vain opinion. He looks away from the promise and at the Law, which terrifies him and drives him to despair.

Therefore what the scholastics have taught about justifying faith “formed by love” is an empty dream. For the faith that takes hold of Christ, the Son of God, and is adorned by Him is the faith that justifies, not a faith that includes love. For if faith is to be sure and firm, it must take hold of nothing but Christ alone; and in the agony and terror of conscience it has nothing else to lean on than this pearl of great value (Matt. 13:45–46). Therefore whoever takes hold of Christ by faith, no matter how terrified by the Law and oppressed by the burden of his sins he may be, has the right to boast that he is righteous (Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4.(Vol. 26, pp. 88–89).

Furthermore it should be clear that the reformers, when speaking about 'works of the law' meant moral goodness primarily and not the so called Mosaic legislation (i.e. ceremonies and civil laws). For example, speaking against Thomas who is arguable the emblem of modern Catholic dogma on the subject:

When Thomas and other scholastics speak about the abrogation of the Law, they say that after Christ the civil and ceremonial laws are fatal, and that therefore they have now been abrogated, but not the moral laws. These men do not know what they are saying. When you want to speak about the abrogation of the Law, discuss chiefly the Law in the proper sense of the word—the Law in the spiritual sense. Include the entire Law, without distinguishing between the civil, the ceremonial, and the moral. For when Paul says that through Christ we have been set free from the curse of the Law (Gal. 3:13), he is certainly speaking about the entire Law, and especially about the Moral Law. (Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (Vol. 26, pp. 446–447)).

  • 1
    This answer does not represent the Catholic and orthodox doctrine of Justification accurately. Rather, it embraces the incorrect version perpetrated by anti-christ. In other words, it uses falsehoods, associates them or misrepresents those falsehoods as the teaching of the Catholic Church, then institutes a subjective doctrine apposing the false representation of the original to entice victims. I have no problem with an accurate representation of the New Christian doctrine of faith alone, but reject in this answer the idea is put out concerning the teaching or the Catholics. – Marc Apr 18 '17 at 17:28
  • I agree, you severely need to amend this, among other things: "do not believe in ... justification occurring when we are still God's enemies. They believe in justification as something requiring ‘our cooperation’ with grace (code word for works from a Protestant view) until we are finally justified in the final judgment...based on our ‘cooperation’ with grace." We believe that we are God's enemies until we are justified by the blood of Christ in bapt. Justification doesn't happen at Final Judgement, either. Scripture teaches co-operation with grace. Jas 2:22. Jn 15:1-10. – Sola Gratia May 17 '18 at 10:16
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The Bible is so very full of the teaching that believing on Jesus, or faith alone in Christ alone, is the way to Heaven. True believing makes us want to live a godly life, makes us fight against sin, makes us joyful in the Lord, makes us many things, but it is faith in Christ which gives us a place in Heaven, and acceptance with God. Here is but a sample of texts from the Bible:-

And Abraham believed in the LORD, and he accounted to him for righteousness. Genesis 15:6

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:6-9) even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:14,15

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36.

Truly I say to you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that has sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life. John 5:24

And they said to him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he has sent. John 6:28,29

I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst. John 6:35

He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:38

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead yet shall he live. and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25,26

For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. John 16:27

(Jesus in prayer:) Neither pray I for these alone, but also for them also which shall believe on me through their word. John 17:20

But these things are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name. John 20:31.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved. Acts 16:31

For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “The righteous shall live by faith”. Romans 1:17, see Habakkuk 2:4

Even the righteousness which of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. Romans 3:22

But to the one who does not work but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5

Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which comes from faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, have not succeeded in fulfilling the law. And why not? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.... and whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 9:30-33

That if thou shalt confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. Romans 10:9

For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 10:11

For after that in the wisdom of God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law. Galatians 2:16

This only do I want to learn from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2

that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith Galatians 3:14.

For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13.

Salvation, eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, are all received by believing in Jesus. The work of God that we need to be doing is to believe on the one he has sent. When we believe in him out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water. We shall not come into condemnation but have passed from death to life, out of judgement into everlasting life, and we shall never perish.

”Faith is not that human notion and dream that some hold for faith. Because they see that no betterment of life and no good works follow it, and yet they can hear and say much about faith, they fall into error and say, "Faith is not enough; one must do works in order to be righteous and be saved." This is one reason that when they hear the gospel they fall-to and make for themselves, by their own powers, an idea in their hearts which says, "I believe." This they hold for true faith. But it is a human imagination and idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, and so nothing comes of it and no betterment follows it.

Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and brings with it the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are any good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.

Faith is a living, daring confidence on God's grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God's grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire. Beware, therefore, of your own false notions and of the idle talkers, who would be wise enough to make decisions about faith and good works, and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God to work faith in you; else you will remain forever without faith, whatever you think or do.” – Martin Luther.

You cannot be made holy except you love God, and you cannot love God when you have any doubt if God loves you, and you cannot be certain God loves you when you are believing he only loves you if you are trying to live a good life to earn an entrance into heaven.

For as long as you think you must earn your ticket into heaven you will remain defiled, and unworthy of heaven. Why? Because such a way does not lead to any real love for God. It does not honour God by believing what he has said in his word. And if we do not believe what he has said we remain cut off from him. Our unbelief insults God. “Can two walk together unless they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) We cannot walk with God unless we agree with him about what he has said in his word about how we can please Him… which is by believing in Jesus Christ and him crucified as the full payment for all our sins and for us.

Finally, I urge all to read carefully the passage of Luke 7:37 to 50 which ends with: and he (that is Jesus) said to the woman, “Thy faith has saved thee, go in peace”.

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To understand the issue, we need to spread the net wider than only to include the Mosaic Law.

All men instinctively link performance to reward, and punishment to non-performance. It is a fact of life in the real world, and men assume it applies to our relationship to God in the spiritual world as well. Since all infraction is based on lack of control of the desires of the body, men believe that performance or compliance lies in keeping them in check. This is the basis of dualism, the belief that the body is evil and that the spirit is good and the secret to meeting a good end is to shed the body, and allow the spirit to have its way and therefore its reward. These are deductions, based on observation of life processes and cycles.

The Judeo Christian religion is the only religion with a record of the interaction between its God and His followers, with a theme which does not change, even though it has been written by different writers. The information is not based on observations of life, but a recording of the plan of its God, and the interactions of that God with His People.

Deuteronomy 4:7"For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?

2 Kings 18:33Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?

To clarify, other religions assume a performance and reward situation. The Bible conveys a purpose and empowerment situation. God created humanity to manifest selflessness, but the plan was interrupted by a very avoidable ignorance of a warning. You can liken it to a gardener planting pots for a competition of flawless plants, and warning the plants to avoid excessive sunlight, and the plants ignoring the warning.

The fall resulted in a change in the nature of the plant making it unsuitable for competition. In Adam's case the fall resulted in a change in his nature, that resulted in separation from God, to lose a very necessary characteristic for him to bear fruit, manifest righteousness. To re-empower him to subdue his selfish desires, God took him out of the contaminated humanity, in preparation for a new humanity, a new garden, a city from above. This new man to be operationalised by a Seed, which would strike a killing blow to the entity that was the source of selfishness.

Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

God chose a sample of Adam that closely exhibited the characteristics that was required for the mission, making Abraham the prototype for the person and group which would carry out the mission. That characteristic was loyalty, an attribute that manifests in a group that has an affinity for each other, in the case of God's group, an affinity to manifest righteousness, selflessness.

To reiterate, the goal, teleos, is not to avoid punishment, hell, but to restore, rescue, save, the mission to subdue creation, the universe, of which man is a microcosm.

Romans 8:19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

In Israel, in captivity in Egypt, God finds the group, family, People, that closely matches His requirements for the New Humanity He has planned, and raised up for, with regards to the promise made to Abraham. He leads them into the desert planning to operationalise that which He promised to Abraham. But Israel is tied down to the habits of the world. She wants a performance-reward arrangement, finding the rich poor divide between her and God too wide, feels too unevenly matched. What if God decides to turn on His Cinderella bride in a pique? And with God's power previously displayed to be overwhelming, the only situation in which Israel thinks she can stand a chance in, to resist any attack, is to depend on the rule of law and a cast iron contract. The righteousness of God and a Covenant.

God agrees to the arrangement, but it cannot, and does not, supersede the promise made to Abraham 430 years earlier. The Sinaitic Covenant is an addendum to that promise. The hybrid Covenant is from now on referred to as Law.

The terms and condition of the Sinaitic Covenant is performance of the 613 precepts in return for averting wrath. No one has ever performed it as it should be performed, perfectly. All under the law face its consequence, death. But the law does not result in the promise to Abraham being abrogated. It still stood. The terms and conditions of this promise is manifesting loyalty, being on God's side, faithfulness. The result is acceptance into God's People, family, justification, recognition as being those sharing the same interest as God, to manifest righteousness, selflessness. Those under law enjoy the benefit of the contract they respond to. If one is doing work, one receives wages, either averting wrath, life, or receiving wrath, death. Since no one has ever performed as required, all under law receive death. If one is loyal, agrees with God's views, believes His promise, obeys God's voice, one is justified, recognised as family, accepted deeper and deeper into the inner circles, until one shares all the interests as the closest member of the family. Like Elizabeth and Zacharias.

Consider how different people react to the same problem depending on whether they are family or staff. The hired hand will not lay down their life for the family.

Suppose workers are hired to join in the team to inspect and maintain a dam. The morning shift staff finds a leak. They can fix the leak, but risk their life in the process, or they can return to town to summon help. Since they are not paid to risk their life you can guess what option they choose. The children of the town dwellers in the team react differently. They can't risk the dam collapsing whilst they return to town to seek help. They immediately begin the work of fixing the leak, before the flow further weakens the structure, even though they face risk to their lives. The difference is that they share the interests of the town dwellers. Selfless service and selfish service are indistinguishable.

Joshua and Caleb are interested in getting the children into the Promised Land, where security is stable and guaranteed, in return for facing and overcoming a present danger. The others, although they profess concern for the children, are more interested in the immediate saving of their own skins.

Israel never became extinct, like other nations. They would have gone the way of Sodom and Gomorrah, vanished because of living selfish lives, bowing their knee to Baal, apart from the presence of the remnant, who always lived selflessly.

Romans 8:29And just as Isaiah foretold, "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH."

The two components had always existed side by side, hired hand and sons, slaves and heirs, Ishmael and Isaac. However the time had now come to drive out the son of the bonds woman, to make the People of God, in its Church version, free from the oppression of the latter, because it was always God's plan that his family would be made up of heirs, not slaves, be identified by family relationship, not employment obligations, faith not work.

This is confirmed in Ephesians 2:8 where Gentiles are told that their inclusion is by grace, not the works of their idol worship, the arrangements they made to avert God's wrath. It is clear that the issue under discussion is not the Sinaitic Covenant, because Gentiles were never under that contract.

Paul is very clear in his mission. All traces of the son of the bonds woman had to be driven out, in order for all members to share with the Heir in the inheritance. The only relationship that must exist in the Church is Father and children, and not master and slaves. God had allowed the hired hands to exist because they were oracle bearers, passing down the information about how to identify Messiah. That's why John the Baptist was the greatest of those born of a woman, the greatest hired hand. But even the least in the family of God was greater than him, because even the least in the Kingdom could access the inheritance, which would not have been possible if they acted out their presence in the role of slaves.

It's now clear that Paul is rebuking the imposing of slaveship on believers by Judaizers, by insisting they carry on the work of oracle bearing. Not only was the function redundant (Messiah had already been identified by using the information) the continuation of oracle bearing actually meant rejection of Messiah, resulting in Christ being of no benefit to those who continued in observing works of the Law.

I repeat, Paul rebukes the continuation of oracle bearing through observing works of the law, law keeping like circumcision, which informed that Messiah would be cut, cursed, hung from a tree, executed, like the halves of the animal that Abraham walked between.

Luther was looking for a way to neutralize the benefits of merit, the merit that the Church claimed it was the repository of, because it taught that all the extra merit earned by its Saints could be sold to those who needed it and could pay for it. He mistook Paul's attack on works of the Law to be attacks on people who were trying to get into heaven through merit. It seemed to him that Paul was supporting the idea that getting rewarded, being allowed to enter heaven, was by the exercising of belief. The actual teaching is a little more layered. Getting rewarded is by manifesting the symptoms of affinity with the interests of God. It begins with belief and is perfected, completed, by action.

James 2:21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

All Scripture from the NASB.

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The Protestant belief is known as "faith alone" ( commonly known as "Sola Fide").

It should be noted that not all Protestants believe in faith alone but all who believe in faith alone are Protestants since they are against the teaching of Roman Catholic Soteriology of faith + works = salvation.

These Protestants are commonly known as Evangelicals/ Born Again Christians.

There are two facts to consider in order to understand the view of Evangelical/ Born Again Christians:

FACT # 1

saved by grace through faith alone NOT of works ( Ephesians 2:8-9)

justified by faith alone APART from works ( Romans 8:28)

FACT # 2

NOT saved & justified by faith alone ( James 2:14,24)

Obviously, there are two sorts of "faith alone" in the Holy Scriptures:

1) Faith alone that saves & justifies.

Notice that the focus is on salvation out from the WRATH of God:

Romans 5:9 + 3:28 saved from the wrath by the blood of Jesus

Ephesians 2:3 &14 + 2:8-9 children of wrath = brought near to God by the blood of Jesus

Also, notice that the focus is on the WORKS OF THE LAW:

It is impossible to obey all the Law: For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, IT CANNOT (Romans 8:7).

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in ONE point, he has become guilty OF ALL (James 2:10).

This Law includes the 10 commandments:

who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, NOT of the letter BUT of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of DEATH, CARVED IN LETTERS ON STONE, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end (2 Corinthians 3:6-7).

Question: What is the Law, then?

Answer: Paul himself asked and answered this question.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE HELD CAPTIVE UNDER THE LAW, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed So then, THE LAW WAS OUR GUARDIAN until Christ came, [ why?] IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT BE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH. But now that faith has come, we are NO LONGER under a guardian (Galatians 3:19-25).

2) Faith alone does not save and justify.

Notice that the focus is on SHOWING real faith and COMPLETING of it BY WORKS:

James 2:18 I will SHOW you my faith by my works.

James 2:22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was COMPLETED.

How is faith completed? Is faith alone lacking?

Faith is completed by works because if it lacks works then it is the same as " a body without a spirit", that is, dead or useless.

"Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is DEAD" ( James 2:26)

"But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is USELESS?" ( James 2:20)

Also, notice that the focus is on the WORKS FROM LOVE:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone "SAYS" he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? ( James 2:14).

If a BROTHER OR SISTER ( Brethren) is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you “SAYS” to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? ( James 2:15).

John agrees with James for is expressing the same thing in his epistle:

By this we know LOVE, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does GOD'S LOVE abide in him? Little children, LET US "NOT" LOVE IN "WORD" OR "TALK" BUT IN DEED AND IN TRUTH ( 1 John 3:16-18).

Paul also agrees with James and John:

In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but FAITH WORKING THROUGH CHARITY ( Galatians 5:6).

Yes. It is not from the Law but from faith working through charity (or love):

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW Galatians 5:22-23).

Conclusion:

Romans 3:28 declared holy (to God) by faith apart from works [ of the Law] i.e. faith alone.

James 2:28 declared holy ( to brethren) by works [ from faith - specifically the faith that is "apart from works" in Romans 3:28].

Notes

To justify means to declare a person as holy.

Greek word: δικαιόω

CONCLUSION:

The belief of Protestants ( Evangelicals / Born Again Christians) known as "faith alone" encompasses both the receiving of salvation (faith alone) and evidence of salvation( not by faith alone but also, of love and hope).

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