In his article, “What Does the Bible Say About Being Saved?”

Posted by Chris Parker
May 18 2005

In his article, “What Does the Bible Say About Being Saved?”, Mark Roberts claims:

“But nowhere in scripture do we read that faith alone can save. Indeed, the passage in James says exactly the opposite: ‘You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.’ (James 2:24). This is the only place in scripture where the phrase “faith only” occurs and it is preceded by the word ‘not!’”

For this reason, his entire argument is invalid. First, the book of St. James of Jerusalem has always been disputed; even the earliest councils wished to remove it from cannon (See “Introduction” to James in Oxford Annotated Bible).

Second, Robert’s claim is obviously false:

Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

Romans 4:5 “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

Galatians 2:16 “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Here, St. Paul–whom nobody disputes–argues strongly that it is faith that saves and not works. Indeed, no one who refuses baptism has faith, but it is not right to say that we are saved in any way with relation to our obedience. Judge for yourselves: even when you do obedient “good deeds,” are they perfect? Can they compare with what Christ has done for us?

While I agree with Roberts that Christians must certainly put on Christ and show His obedient love to our neighbors, we must not require works of others but only of ourselves.

Michael V

2 Responses

  1. Dan Mayfield says:

    Thanks for writing the truth.
    I’m a minister for the church in Owatonna, MN.
    It’s good to see we are not alone.
    God bless

    My recent article:
    http://www.aconqueringfaith.net/2005/11/sinner-s-prayer.html

  2. Administrator says:

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read and to respond to the article concerning salvation by Mark Roberts. Let me say at the outset that I agree with the contents of that article. We appreciate the spirit of your disagreement and pray that you do not take offense at our reply. Quite frankly, we currently disagree, but we can only speak what we believe the WORD says.

    In various conversations I’ve had over the internet, I’ve seen many Catholics, for example begin to “attack” the writings of the Apostle Paul as a “Pauline Gospel” with the somewhat mysterious charge that we’ve relied or focus too much on Paul. This because of a number of things, chief among them his description of the coming apostasy in the church where they would prevent marriage and the eating of certain foods.

    Adventists, who it seems to us, so “dislike” the Catholics, curiously also have said the exact same thing about Paul for different reasons, of course.

    If he is indeed the writer of Hebrews, they have a problem with him and they know he wrote the letter to the Romans which you’ve also quoted where he deals with the Law of Moses.

    Please remember Peter’s warning about people who had problems with Paul’s writings, and we assume that the same would be true of those who question James: 15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. ..2 Peter 3

    Now, Michael I see that you are upholding Paul but as your very first argument, attack the Book of James! At least, you point out that others have. The canon of the Bible was not set by the Nicene council or any other council so may years after the books were written but were understood very early on by those Christians who knew intimately those writers of the NT books—but this for another time.

    We do not know all, of course and our understanding of scripture deepens with time and study but our understanding of the NT and it’s teachings does not compel us to wish to remove any of the books of the New Testament.

    Romans 5:6
    You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly

    The above proves once and for all that one cannot be saved by works because there was a time when man was powerless to save himself. That’s why Jesus Christ came—to do what we could not. We say this to say that God’s grace is the most important factor in salvation, followed from the perspective of man by belief and faith.

    The Bible says that God wants all men to be saved—and if they are not all saved, then the reason is then in the hands of man. God through His Son provided a way for all men to be saved—He wishes them all to be saved and yet all men are not saved. Something men do then or do not do causes God’s desire for all men to be saved not to realized.

    Now, even if you removed the Book of James from the Bible, something I’m not sure you were ready to fully promote—(you just threw a little dirt on it), the principal that James was teaching of course appears elsewhere in the New Testament.

    Michael, it seems to me that of course Paul in Romans and Ephesians is talking about works of the Law of Moses—to Jewish Christians primarily and James is speaking of “good works” or deeds—apart from the Law of Moses.

    When the Lord says the following, He is speaking of the same thing James is speaking of:

    Mt. 7:21; 21”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. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    Ephesians 2, which you quoted in part, is especially illuminating on this point because there Paul speaks of both types of works in almost the very same sentence:

    Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    Verse 10 says plainly that we were created in Christ Jesus for the very purpose of doing good works! If we do not do the things, the very things that God prepared us in advance to do—what shall become of us?

    Baptism is really about obedience, we are only speaking of works here because you have rightly condemned works for salvation and then, tried to make baptism such a work. But as we have said you are not properly in our estimation drawing a distinction between warning against ones’ salvation through operating the law of Moses perfectly and demanding salvation as a wage—and doing those good works that Paul says we were created to do—in advance and which James says without our faith is dead.

    Romans chapter 2 clearly states whom Paul is addressing in his comments about works.

    17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[2]
    25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[3] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

    Paul is writing to Jewish Christians who have been raised to believe that they must perfectly operate in the Law of Moses to be saved. Yet no man could fully obey that Law and once they sinned, they could not be saved through the Law of Moses merely using the blood of sheep and goats for cleansing, as Paul makes clear in the quote you provided from Galatians.

    Paul’s point to the Jews was that even Abraham, whom they rightly revered was not justified by adherence to the law of Moses and to such rites as circumcision, because he was justified even prior to the time that he was circumcised! So, God was pleased with him even before the Law of Moses was instituted—most shockingly to the Jewish heritage people—again, even before he was circumcised.

    So, if Abraham could not be justified through the Law of Moses—if God was pleased with him prior to the Law of Moses’ institution, then how much more should they put off any hope in the Law of Moses for salvation and how much more should they then grab hold of the Law of Christ which does provide salvation and justification through the grace of God (His Son dying on the cross) and through faith and belief in Him.

    Faith and belief that does not bear any fruit is dead. Obedience is certainly required. Jesus commanded that those who believe and repent be baptized. (Matt 28:19, Mark 16:15&16 for example also see Acts 2:38 & Romans 6)

    It is not we or any man who successfully commands any other man to do works. It is God who created us in advance to be His workmanship and do to His good works; that gives commands that must be followed.

    We’re sorry we had to write this in such haste but hope that we have adequately responded to your queries on this matter.

    Take care, (Edited)

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