There may be some denominations that believe faith is the only necessary thing to have to attain salvation or eternal life. However, I do not conform with this because faith is just the beginning, and faith is not just the only commandment given by Christ. Can you tell me Biblical facts or verses concerning this topic, whether faith is the only thing necessary or not?


4 Answers 4


There are a number of verses which can be brought.

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

Romans 4:5 — But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 3:28 — Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

There is also

James 2:24 — Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

... which might support the different view that we are justified simply by works and how we act. However, context is important and James goes on to say

James 2:26 — Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

The point is that faith engenders good works.

Matthew 5:16 — Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Galatians 5:22 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We are not justified by slavishly following the Law (which is what “not justified by works” is saying) — we are justified by faith, and that faith will transform our lives with the fruit of the Spirit which pervades every act so that our works show that we are justified.

Peter wrote of this in 2 Peter 1:

1 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is short-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Peter deliberately lists the fruits of the Spirit. In "making every effort" to add those virtues to faith, Peter is saying "allow the Spirit to do his work" because a living faith will engender good works (cf James 2:26). Any effort we bring to bear for ourselves is using our conscience to do good works. Verse 4 says that we participate in the divine nature by virtue of God's great and glorious promises. This means that it is necessary that we believe those promises will be fulfilled: this is faith.

This is not to say that good works are not inherently good! They point towards — and ultimately come from — God, as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have pointed out. One's conscience is God-given, formed by the natural Law, and in doing what we inherently perceive to be good we are allowing the Spirit to work in our lives.

But we are saved by faith. That is all that is necessary. Everything else comes from faith.

  • Hi. I've just read 2 Peter 5-8. It says there "..add to your faith..." In my understanding here, we are commanded to add things on top of our faith. Therefore, logically speaking, faith alone is not enough. How can you explain this?
    – user6254
    Nov 13, 2013 at 8:47
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8 list the fruits of the Spirit and need to be read with verse 3. Peter is saying "Allow the Spirit to act in your life," because a living faith engenders that (cf James 2:26) and without these works one does not have a real faith. I'll see if I can add some more detail to the answer, but I may not be able to for a few hours now. Nov 13, 2013 at 8:55
  • @Andrew Leach just as an aside...how do these verses connect with Trent's Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.
    – user5286
    Nov 13, 2013 at 12:33
  • @CharlesAlsobrook Something else is required to cooperate! The sinner must be prepared to cooperate with the Spirit in order to have a living faith which is shown forth in works. Works are a necessary symbol of faith, if you like (But works without faith, while intrinsically good, are not enough). He must will to do those works himself: the Spirit brings the desire to do them; the person must actually perform them. Nov 13, 2013 at 12:38

Early Christians believe that they are saved from hell by faith in the Son of God for their salvation ( John 3:16, 1 John 5:18).

They do not believe that good works are in any way part of their salvation:

" We are saved NOT because of any good deeds we have done but according to his mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Spirit."( Titus 3:5).

"[God]who has saved us and have called us to a holy life-- NOT because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."( 2 Timothy 1:9).

For them, good works is an inevitable result of having salvation. That is why James said that " show your faith BY your good works" ( James 2:18).

Salvation is God's work alone ( 1 Peter 1:2). It is received by grace through faith not of works lest any man should boast ( John 1:12,Ephesians 2:8-9).If we are allowed to cooperate or participate in our own salvation from hell then how could we say with Paul that " eternal life IS a free gift in Jesus Christ our Lord?" Is there a gift that is worked for? ( Check out Romans 4:4-7).

We don't add to Jesus' soteric work. What Peter is commanding us in 2 Peter 1:5 is to add the gifts of the Holy Spirit to our faith, that is, do the enlisted virtues. Why is the command? Context says that it's because " His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness...for this very reason make every effort to add..."( 2 Peter 1:3,5 NIV).

The same concept is found in Philippians 2:12-13 wherein we are commanded by Paul to " work OUT [not work for] your salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who works IN you both to will and to act according to his good purpose".

Based on these facts, Christians who are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone has been given ability by God to obey him as never before. What this means is explained below:

A Christian has free will to obey ( consequence is temporal blessings not entrance to heaven- Mt. 6:33) and to disobey ( consequence is chasetisement in order to continue to obey not damnation in hell- Hebrews 12:2).

[ Note: A non-saved person naturally does not have the ability to glorify God so his/ her will is all evil - Romans 3:10-11 "No one is righteous, no one seeks God" says the Scripture].

A saved person has God's rigtheousness through "faith to faith" ( Romans 1:17). The Scripture is explicit " the just shall live by faith ( Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17c, Hebrews 10:38). The just does not need to do good works to become just! He is already just and this is by faith and he does not need to preserve his salvation by works but he must live only by faith. Hebrews 12:2 says " Let us fix our eyes on Jesus-- the origin and completer of our faith".

Those who believe that salvation is synergistic ( i.e. Involves human cooperation) than monergistic(i.e. Salvation God's work alone) always confuse sanctification with salvation.

Also, the early church as recorded in the New Testament believes that water baptism is a "response" to God for having [already] a good conscience.Hence, a person who desires water baptism are none other than those who "have eternal life" ( 1 John 5:18).


("Faith" is a very vast topic. Here is a short summary of what Faith is)

"The Law cannot save us" God gave the Ten Commandments in the past but it did not promise salvation, it promised only blessings. The Gospel of Jesus Christ alone can give salvation.

Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11, NIV)

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17, NIV)

"We attain salvation by faith" We are saved by believing in the Jesus Christ, the Son of God. One has to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by having faith in Jesus, he is saved from eternal damnation in Hell.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

"We are saved by faith, not by works" Our good deeds cannot save us. Following the Commandments alone cannot save us. Whatever we do, whether for men or for God cannot save us. It is by faith alone that we are saved, and not by works.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV)

"We need to live by faith" We need faith in our every day life. We need to walk by faith, we need to live by faith, we need to pray by faith and we need to worship God by faith. Without faith we cannot please God.

For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV)

"Show your faith by your works" We need to show our faith by our action. We need to prove to others that we have faith, and that can be done only by works. For faith without work is dead, it is an incomplete faith and in fact, it is not faith at all.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18, ESV)

Hebrews 11 gives us a list of people who lived their life by faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

(And the list goes on)

  • Hi. I've just read James 2:14-17 about faith and deeds. It says in verse 17 that faith alone is not enough, it should be manifested by actions. How can you explain this?
    – user6254
    Nov 13, 2013 at 8:42
  • Andrew Leach already explained that part. The problem with the first Christians was that they were satisfied with salvation by faith and forgot to do good deeds, which is the characteristics of faith. The apostles had to remind them that they should do good works to show their faith.
    – Mawia
    Nov 13, 2013 at 9:16
  • Hi. Yes, so faith alone is not enough, right? Faith and good works are two different entities. Some may do "good" works in the eyes of people, but God knows whether that person has faith or not. Faith is the foundation of everything, and so you must add a lot on top of it, such as love.
    – user6254
    Nov 13, 2013 at 9:50
  • @LesterNubla Correct. Anyone can do good works without even believing in God. Anyone can show love without having faith in God. For Christians, their good works and love must come out of their faith in God. If we believe that God exists, then we must also believe that God commanded us to do good works.
    – Mawia
    Nov 13, 2013 at 9:54

Remember that "salvation" has several components. When we believe God's offer of salvation through Christ, then our sins of the past are immediately washed away in the blood of the Lamb and we are adopted into His family. That's by faith alone at that moment. No works entered in.

But God saved sinners for a reason, and that's for us to become productive members of His kingdom. That part will take works on our part. Think about it: if you have faith that Jesus wants to save you from your sins, then you show that faith by participating with Him in getting rid of sinful behaviors.

If you believe God's word by faith that you will face the judgment of God for your lifestyle, then you will do those works that help you prepare for it.

Our salvation is made up of different parts. As I have shown, one part is by faith alone; the other part I mentioned shows a different aspect of our faith life, of working out what we believe. Both "save" us in different ways.