Most denominations falsely teach that we are saved by “faith only”. But what does the Bible say? “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). One is foolish and is fooling himself if he thinks he can please God with a dead faith. Only an active living faith will save. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). This is the only place in the Bible that mentions “faith only” and here it condemns it as a false doctrine. We are only justified, which results in our being saved, by an active faith which is demonstrated by our works and not by a dead faith of “faith only”. Satan says we are justified and saved by “faith only”, but God says we are not justified and saved by “faith only”. God has not promised to save anyone who has a dead faith. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). A dead faith will not do any good, but only cause one to be eternally lost.
Are people saved when they believe? What does the Bible say? In John 12:42-43 we read, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed on Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Were these people saved? They believed. Then we also read in James 2:19, “You believe there is one God. You do well, even the devils believe and tremble.” Are the devils going to go to heaven because they believe and even tremble? I think not. If this is all that is required to be saved, then the devils are saved and will be in heaven also.
We must do all of what God has commanded us. Our Lord says in Matthew 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” We cannot pick and choose and take a verse out of context but we must take all of what the Bible says. We cannot be pleasing to God by dreaming up our own plan of how God is going to save us. We must follow His plan and only His plan if we expect Him to save us. Our salvation in heaven is too great to loose, because if we don’t go to heaven we will spend forever and ever in a burning Hell. Many people don’t really believe this, but they all will one day.
God is a loving God. He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us (John 3:16). Why did Jesus have to die? Because God is not only a loving God but he is also just. Justice demands punishment for the guilty. God has specified in the Bible how He will erase anyone’s guilt. But we must obey God’s instructions. Those who continue to be guilty are those who have not obeyed what God has said. At the end of time when Christ comes back 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 says that He will come “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” God is not only a loving God but He will also take vengeance on those who do not obey His will. Also we read in Hebrews 10:30-31, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We must do His will, not our will. We read in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but He who does the will of My Father in heaven.” We cannot go to heaven by just calling Jesus, Lord, Lord. In order to go to heaven we must do the will of God. Those who have not done the will of the Father cannot go to heaven. This may sound harsh, but eternal punishment will be harsh beyond description.
Also we read in Hebrews 5:9 in speaking of Christ, “He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” If a person has not obeyed the will of God as clearly stated in the Bible, Christ is not the author of their eternal salvation and they are lost.
Baptism is connected with sinners. Most denominational churches encourage people to be baptized BECAUSE they have ALREADY been saved from sins. I cannot think of a more flagrant crime against both God and Man than to teach lost sinners, who are wanting to be saved, something different than what God says in the Bible. To make an impression on them that they are already saved when God has not promised it is grievously wrong. But Ananias told Saul of Tarsus to "arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). In Acts 2:37, it was SINNERS, not Christians, who cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The apostle Peter answered in verse 38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Baptism is for SINNERS because it is for the forgiveness of their sins.
Many good people erroneously think they are saved when they “accept Christ as their personal saviour” and say the sinner’s prayer. But where do you find these instructions in the Bible? They are not there. This is something man has dreamed up. Then two or three weeks later they are baptized, but they are not baptized for the purpose of the forgiveness of their sins and to be saved because they thought their sins were forgiven and they were saved earlier. In this case their sins were not forgiven and they were not saved because their baptism was not for this purpose. They still have every sin they have ever committed and are still lost. Many good people in this situation are still lost because they have believed a lie. As we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth.”
Jesus says in Mark 16:16, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved". There is nothing hard to understand about this. Until people do what Jesus says that one must do to be saved then they are still lost. God has no non-essential commands. When we fail to obey a command of God, we have just broken it. We must obey God by doing what God says to do, when God says to do it, how God says to do it, and for the reason God says to do it. Nothing is more important than pleasing God by doing His will so that we can go to Heaven.
We are saved by the unmerited favor of God through our “obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:26). There is no way that anyone could ever be good enough to go to heaven, because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). There is no way we could earn or merit heaven, because heaven will be a gift of God (Romans 6:23) for those who obey Him (Matthew 7:21). To have faith in God is to believe, trust, and do all He says.
Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’”. Why? Why will those be told to depart into Hell? They had not done the will of the Father. Just professing that we believe in Jesus is not enough. Jesus says we must do “the will of My Father in heaven”, if we expect to go to heaven. Our faith must be an obedient faith by doing the will of God if it is to be a saving faith; otherwise it is not a saving faith.
Faith without obedience is a dead and useless faith, which will cause one to be lost. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned…prepared an ark for the saving of his household” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah and his household were not saved by “faith only”, but by an active obedient faith. If Noah had a “faith only” faith he would have perished.
“Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). When one really believes God, he will do anything and everything God says and thus has a living and saving faith. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19). One is no better than the demons with a “faith only” faith.
To those who claim to be “saved by faith only” the Lord says, “But why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). He has only promised to save those who obey Him; not those who say they have faith and do not obey Him. The only way we can show our faith in Christ is if we are willing to accept and obey all of what He says. We are only saved through faith when our faith has produced our obedience. If we really have faith in Christ, then we will do anything and everything He tells us, and only then will our faith save us.
At the end of time the Lord will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Who are those who do not know God? “He who says ‘I know Him’, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him” (1 John 2:4). One is only lying to himself and everyone else if he says he is saved and knows God, but does not keep God’s commandments. The lie of Satan says that there is nothing that we must do to qualify for the salvation that God wants to give us, except to have a dead faith. Those who do not know God and end up being lost are those who do not obey God by keeping His commandments.
“But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18 KJV). It is only when we have obeyed God’s instructions from the heart that we are made free from sin and become servants of righteousness; not before. God’s word says, “you have purified your souls in obeying the truth” (1 Peter 1:22). We do not purify our souls with a dead faith of non-obedience. It is absolutely necessary that we obey God in order to be saved.
Paul asks the question, “Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 3:1). Satan is the one who bewitches people into not obeying the truth of God’s word so they can be saved. Those who think they can obtain God’s blessing of salvation contrary to what God tells us in His word are only fooling themselves. We are saved only by an obedient faith. If one chooses not to obey all the Lord says, he has chosen not to be saved. If one claims to have faith, but does not obey, really he has no faith at all. If one has faith in God and His word, he will do all that God says, the way God says, and for the reason God says; and only then will his faith save him. The only kind of faith that can save us is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). We are not saved by the salvation-robbing doctrine of “faith only”. A dead faith will do us no good on Judgment Day.