Does the doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone” contain any misleading elements? Or does it have the potential to mislead believers in Christ? Well, as an Evangelical Christian your answer might be a big “NO.”
I do understand the logic behind your position since I too was one like you until recently; and I also believed and propagated this doctrine of Salvation by faith alone whole-heartedly. I never ever examined the Holy Scriptures to understand the Biblical foundation of this doctrine; instead, I just believed what my Pastors and Preachers taught me.
But a sermon that I came across on the internet recently compelled me to examine this doctrine in the light of the Holy Scriptures and, to my surprise, I found the word “ALONE” was not there originally but later added by Martin Luther. He added this word “alone” to the word “faith” to give it a kind of exclusivity.
However, tagging this word “Alone” to the word “faith” has done more harm than good by misleading many of the innocent sheep into believing that – all that matters to their eternal life is only their faith and everything else is insignificant.
In fact, this was exactly the stand that was taken by Martin Luther and later his followers propagated it with all their might.
So, Martin Luther was the one who introduced this doctrine of “Sola Fida” or “Salvation by faith alone” and soon it became one of the fundamental doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. However, if we examine the New Testament, we will not find a statement “Salvation is by Faith Alone” or “Sola Fida” in it.
Instead, what we find in Ephesians, Romans and Galatians are – “Salvation is by Grace through faith” and the word “ALONE” is not found anywhere next to the word “Faith.”
15“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16know that a person is not justified by the works of 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 d Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.(Galatians 2, 15-16)
However, we do find the word “ALONE” next to the word “Faith” in James 2 where it says: “A Person is Justified not by faith Alone.”
Well, here you might wonder why I am focusing so much on the word “ALONE” what is its significance? Yes, this word “ALONE” has a lot of significance in this context but why?
Because “Faith alone” means “By faith and nothing else. All other things associated with Faith are excluded and a simple-minded Christian would think:
“I just need to believe in Jesus to be saved; I don’t need to do anything else; a simple confession does the job. But is faith in Christ just as simple as that?
Is there anything more to the divine faith that comes into your heart and saves you from Eternal Punishment? Don’t you think the word “faith” in this context has a lot more substance than what the dictionaries define it? Yes, as I pointed out earlier – Salvation is by faith but does that same faith that saved you also require you to live in obedience to God’s Commandments? Yes, it does.
However, the obedience part of faith is wilfully ignored; and the focus always stays with the newly professed faith of a new believer. The advocates of this doctrine teach a new believer that – Salvation is by faith alone and hence there is no need for him to do anything other than just believing, which, of course, is a complete contradiction of what really the Word of God says.
The origin of the term “Faith Alone”
So, here, the next big question comes – How did this word ALONE found its place in one of the fundamental doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. Well, that is what we are going to examine next.
Martin Luther, during the time of reformation wanted to emphasize the word “Faith” and in the process he deliberately added the word “ALONE” which was not there in the Greek text; this He did while translating the Book of Romans into German.
Luther added the word allein (“alone” in German) to Romans 3:28 controversially so that it read: “So now we hold, that man is justified without the help of the works of the law, alone through faith”. The word “alone” does not appear in the Greek texts and Luther acknowledged this fact, but he defended his translation by maintaining that the adverb “alone” was required by idiomatic German. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_fide)
Well, now you know how this word “ALONE” was added by man into the Word of God and subtly misled many new believers in Christ. Not only that, but it also gave a false assurance to believers about their salvation which led many into lifestyles that the Word of God forbids.
The Word “Faith” in the Context of Salvation.
Saints, the word “faith” in the context of Salvation has a lot more depth and substance than what we seem to comprehend. This faith that comes into our heart and lead us to Christ is of divine origin and it comes with the power of the Holy Spirit. It leads us not just into believing in Christ but also living in obedience to His Commandments.
The moment we receive this divine faith from above, the work of re-generation and renewal of our mind and spirit begins. The conviction of the Holy Spirit leads us into repentance and help us turn away from the sinful life that we have been leading until then.
The divine Grace that poured into our hearts by God Almighty helps us live a life of obedience that leads us into all holiness. The Grace that saves us also empowers us to take victory over our sinful flesh. That is why Apostle Paul commands us not to let sin be our master since we are “not under the law but under Grace.”
The divine Grace that Christ imparts into our hearts makes us a new creation and it empowers us to lead a blameless life before God and man.
Saints, if you think you have been saved by faith but still holding on to your old sinful lifestyle, then, you really need to examine your faith; you need to find out what kind of faith dwells in your heart; whether it is your own faith or the divine faith that Christ imparted into your heart when you called up on His name to be saved.
The Relationship between faith and Faithfulness
As you know Most of the books in the New Testament were written in Greek, especially all the Epistles of Apostle Paul. So, it is important to analyse what the writer really meant when he used a certain word in a certain context.
In Greek the word used for “faith” is “Pistis (Strong’s 4102) which has two meanings “Faith and faithfulness” but what did the Greek writer mean here? Faith or faithfulness? We do not know that. Anyway, the English translators picked up the meaning “Faith.”
However, this word “Faith” in this context does not mean a “simple faith” that you and I have over someone or something; it is more than that. Here it means: a faith that is full of substance; not an emotional feeling, a faith that manifests itself in action through obedience. A faith that compels the one who have it to be faithful to the One who gave it.
As you know, faith in Christ strictly requires being faithful to Him with our lives. In other words – this faith that brings salvation is a faith that forces us to be faithful to Christ, our Saviour.
but how do we show our faithfulness to Christ?
is it by singing songs in the church? Is it by going to church on Sunday or is it by hanging a golden cross around our necks?
No, we show our faithfulness by living in obedience to His Commandments. In fact, Faith and Obedience are two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other; both are inseparable.
Unfortunately, this aspect of obedience that makes faith alive has been ignored since the introduction of the doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone.” Even martin Luther who introduced this doctrine for the first time completely ignored the obedience aspect of Faith. And many who followed him too continued to teach the same views and eventually it led to a lot of corruption and immorality in the Church.
What are the misleading elements contained in the doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone”?
As I said earlier, Salvation is by grace through faith – this is what the Holy Bible says, and I do believe it. But I do not accept Martin Luther’s idea of “Salvation by Faith alone” because the Word of God does not say so.
On the contrary, it specifically says: “a man is justified not by faith alone” which completely disproves Martin Luther’s doctrine while agreeing with what other scriptures say.
Saints, I don’t understand the reason why Martin Luther was so adamant about adding the word “Alone to the word “faith.” Anyway, what he did has created a lot of misunderstanding and confusion in the minds of many believers and because of this teaching a lot of them have deviated from the path of righteousness that God Almighty had ordained for them.
This is not a trivial matter; its consequences will last the whole eternity. Therefore, we need to be careful about advocating a doctrine that inadvertently leads people into disobedience.
Holy Bible says: “Salvation is by grace through faith” and we need to hold on to it while avoiding what Martin Luther added into the Word of God as it has the potential to mislead innocent believers.
Next, let us examine some of the misleading elements ingrained in the doctrine of “Salvation by faith alone.”
1.Advocating “Faith Alone” for Justification while ignoring the role of Obedience.
Yes, this doctrine strictly advocates “Faith Alone” for justification and it ignores many other aspects of Christian life which are also necessary to live a blameless life before God Almighty, for example: OBEDIENCE.
The advocates of “Faith Alone” doctrine teaches that “Salvation is by Faith Alone” and completely ignores the role played by obedience in keeping a person righteous before God Almighty.
Saints, faith, or trust is the most fundamental factor that sustains any relationship, whether it is the relationship between you and Christ or the relationship between you and your fellow human beings. But this trust or faith cannot simply be an emotional feeling that you have towards the other party.
To prove your faith or trust in the opposite party, you need to manifest it through your actions. For e.g. If you tell your wife that you love her and if you do not manifest that love through your actions; she will not believe you. Same is true for our relationship with Christ.
When you profess your faith in Christ, He really expects you to manifest that faith by obeying His Commandments.
If your faith in Christ does not compel you to obey His Commandments, then, that faith is not the true faith that you received by Grace. Because Grace of God empowers the receiver to live in obedience. As some of you know, there are many verses in the Bible that challenges the “faith alone” doctrine and emphasize the role of obedience. For example:
Let us take Matthew 7 where we see Lord Jesus talking about a future event, an event in which He is asking many of the Christian hypocrites to leave His presence because of the lawlessness that they had practiced while claiming to be His disciples.
Unfortunately, these are the people who had spent their whole life preaching, teaching, and performing miracles in the name of Christ. These are the people who had immense faith in Christ and anointed by Him to do His work on earth.
However, in the verses below , we see Christ assigning them a place with the unbelievers because of the lawlessness that they had practiced during their journey as a Christian.
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’(Matthew 7, 21-23)
Well, here, you might wonder what does it mean to practice lawlessness? To practice lawlessness means to live in disobedience to God’s Commandments. While having faith they still lived in disobedience and taught others to do so.
Though, they did many mighty works by the anointing they received from Christ, they still lost their salvation because of their disobedience. This reminds us that salvation materializes only if we live in obedience to God’s Commandments.
Salvation means being saved, and we are saved to live in obedience.
Yes, Christ became the source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey Him.
However, the advocates of “Faith Alone” doctrine do not understand this truth. Despite what they read in the Word of God; they still wilfully lead many into disobedience by saying:
“your deeds on earth will not affect your eternal life. Once you profess your faith in Christ, you are saved forever”. What a rebellious teaching is this!
Again, let us examine a few more verses that affirm the importance of obedience in our Christian walk. These are verses that we seldom hear preaching from the pulpits of modern evangelical churches.
In fact, many Evangelical preachers do not dare to preach on these verses as they directly contradict their “faith alone” doctrine.
I think all of you might be familiar with the story of the rich, young ruler who came to Jesus and asked: “what should I do to inherit eternal life?
And the Answer that Jesus, the author, and the source of eternal salvation, gave was this: IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.
16Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’ c and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ d ”( Matthew 19, 16-19)
See, here, the young man already knew very well that to enter eternal life he needs to do good things. But he did not know what those good things were. So, he approaches Christ for the correct answer. Please note – Here, Jesus did not say:
“forget about your good things, they are not going to help you get eternal life” instead, he said – “If you want to enter life Keep the Commandments.”
Fortunately, the young ruler asked this question to Jesus; instead, if he had asked it to any of the modern evangelical preachers, they would have told him just this:
Man! “you just forget about your good deeds; no need for you to do anything good to go to heaven; keep your faith in Christ, that’s it; you will be fine.
Next, let us look at Matthew 5. Here, Lord Jesus unequivocally makes it clear to his audience that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. Instead, He came to fulfill them or live in obedience to them.
Furthermore, He also instructed his audience to keep the commandments and teach others to do so. Not only that, but He also warned those who might teach others to disobey them.
19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5, 19.)
Moreover, in John 14, 15 – we see Lord Jesus saying to His disciples “If you love me, keep my commandments. Here, Christ links our love for Him to obedience to His Commandments. Same is repeated in verse 21 too.
Again, when we examine the Epistles of Apostle Paul, we could still find more evidence for the relationship between faith and obedience. Apostle Paul himself, who taught that Salvation is by grace through faith, did not detach obedience from Salvation. The following verses prove this.
Yes, the Word of God is very clear about the relationship between Faith and Obedience. Nonetheless, many in Evangelical Christianity including Pastors and Preachers deliberately omit the obedience aspect of Faith.
As Martin Luther initially propagated, they keep on teaching and preaching that “Salvation is by Faith Alone” and they exclude obedience from faith which in turn makes it fruitless.
Saints, the fundamental truth that you need to understand is – Bible does not say that “Salvation is by Faith alone.”
Instead, it says: A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. Yes, the Word of God is very clear about it.
Saints, I think, I have given you enough scriptural evidence to convince you that those who have faith in Christ need to live in obedience to His commandments. Please don’t trust your preachers more than Christ; they will not save you. Jesus says:
My sheep listen to my voice. Yes, all the scriptures that I have quoted above are the very Words of Christ. You will listen to those words if you are His sheep.
2. It detaches the conduct of believers in this life from their Eternal Destiny.
Yes, the Doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone” subtly detaches the conduct of believers in this life from their eternal destiny. This might really surprise you but that is what this doctrine does.
The advocates of this doctrine teach their flock that Salvation is a gift from God (indeed it is gift but that is not the whole story) and their deeds in this life, whether good or bad, will not have any bearing on their eternal destiny. In other words, their eternal life is independent of their deeds in this life.
This teaching is not something that the modern American Evangelical Christianity invented, but it has been there since the time of Martin Luther. In fact, Luther himself was a strong advocate of this idea and some of his teachings really reflected this. For e.g., see what he says in one of his letters.
If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner. Martin Luther (On the day of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, 1521)
In the above part of his letter, Martin Luther is emphasizing the importance God’s love and grace but, in the process, he makes the mistake of subtly leading his reader to think that no matter how serious his sin is – still the sacrifice of Christ will cover it and those sins will not separate him from Christ.
“No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.”
But what does the Word of God say about this? Does sin separate us from God? Yes, it does. But martin Luther did not figure this out despite having the Word of God in his heart and in his hands. It is shocking! how can a Bible Scholar like Martin Luther make such an erroneous, misleading statement.
Well, let us examine some of the scriptures to learn how sin separates us from Christ. See what Apostle Paul says in 1 Colossians.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of g your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation(1 Colossians 21-22)
Yes, we were alienated from God because of our evil behavior and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross at Calvary brought reconciliation between us and God.
So, do you think after having been reconciled, we could continue to sin with impunity; thinking our sins will not separate us from God? No, we cannot continue to live in sin after we have been saved. Yes, we live in a fallen world, so, sometimes under certain circumstances we do sin, but we should repent and turn away from it immediately; we are not allowed to lead a perpetual sinful life.
Saints, the wages of sin are death and if you, after being saved by the blood of Christ, still continue to tread the same sinful path, then, no sacrifice is left for your sin, that is what the Word of God says.
26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.(Hebrews 10, 26-31)
Yes, if you deliberately keep on sinning after you have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for your sin is left, but a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Saints, our deeds in this world do affect our eternal life. After being saved by Grace, if you continue to persist in doing evil, you will be separated from Christ and His kingdom.
Next, let us examine a few more verses that will help us understand how our deeds in this life affects our eternal life. In Matthew 25, we see Jesus illustrating an event that will take place in future during the time of His second coming.
Here we see those who have deliberately done good standing on the right and the ones who did not do any good standing on the left. As in Matthew 7, here too we don’t see “Faith Alone” playing any role in ensuring believers a place in Heaven.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”( Matthew 25, 34-46)
In verse 34 we see Christ asking those on the right, the ones who manifested their faith through their good deeds, to receive their inheritance, the Kingdom that was prepared for them since the creation of the world.
However, for those who stands on the left; those who had faith but no deeds, contrary to their expectation, Lord Jesus assigns a place with the unbelievers.
Saints, Christ saved us to be His witnesses in this world. Well, how do we live as His witnesses? It is by doing good to others. We manifest our love for Christ not through our songs in the church but through our good deeds. In fact, we are saved for good works; that is what the Word of God says.
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2, 8-10)
Those who use Ephesians 2, 8 to support their “faith alone” doctrine do not see what is written in verse 10. If they had seen; they would not have led many into a life of disobedience through their self-centred teachings.
Another very compelling evidence for the relationship between good deeds and eternal life can be found in Romans 2. In this chapter, Apostle Paul, the proponent of salvation by grace, himself very vividly illustrates how our deeds in this world affects our eternal life.
6God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” a 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2, 6-11).
Yes, God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour, and immortality, HE WILL GIVE ETERNAL LIFE.
Saints read those verses once again. God gives eternal life to who? To those who are persistent in doing good. Yes, your deeds in this world do really affect your eternal life. There is a direct relationship between your deeds and your eternal life.
3. It Promotes “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine which the Holy Bible does not endorse.
“Once saved always saved” is one of the most erroneous teachings that is prevalent among the Evangelical Christians and many in the protestant world have embraced it whole-heartedly. However, this doctrine is not something that stands on its own. On the contrary, if we examine its core idea, we could find that it originated from the doctrine of “Salvation by faith alone.”
In fact, Martin Luther himself while propagating his “salvation by faith alone” doctrine, introduced this “once saved always saved” doctrine. Because, if we examine the part of the letter that I quoted earlier we could find that Martin Luther strongly believed that a person who have been saved by faith will not lose his salvation no matter how grave his sins might be.
“No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.” – Martin Luther.
If a believer’s sins do not separate him from Christ, then what else is there to fear? Nothing! which means a person once he professes his faith in Christ will never lose his salvation. Thus, the doctrine of “Salvation by faith alone” validates the “Once Saved always saved” doctrine.
But what is the truth? does the Bible support this “once saved always saved” Doctrine? No, the Holy Bible does not support it. Let us examine some of the scriptures that invalidate this doctrine.
Jesus says in John 15, 1 – “I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener” and in verse 5, He says – we, the disciples, are the branches of that vine. But the branches have an exclusive purpose for being in the vine; that is to bear fruits and His Father cuts off every branch in the vine, that bears no fruit.
Please take note – here, Christ is not talking about unbelievers, but He is talking about believers who have been saved by grace through faith; believers who have made a covenant with God through the precious blood of Christ; People who have received the knowledge of the truth.
Furthermore, He unequivocally makes it clear that there is a purpose for us being in the vine and when we fail to fulfil that purpose, we will be removed from the vine. In other words, we will lose our status as a disciple of Christ, which also means – we will not be counted worthy of being in the kingdom of God.
Well, what happens to the branches that do not bear any fruits? They will be picked up and thrown into the fire to be burned. Yes, this is going to be the destiny of all who have become disciples of Christ but continue to live in disobedience.
5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire, and burned.( John 15, 5-6)
Again, in verse 10 Jesus is asking us to remain in His love by keeping His Commandments. Yes, there is no other way to remain in His love. So, wilful disobedience will lead to eternal damnation of your soul unless you repent and turn away from that disobedient lifestyle.
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. ( John 15, 9-10)
Also, in 1 Corinthians 6 we find Apostle Paul warning the believers in Corinth about the possibility of them losing their salvation if they continue to cheat and do wrong.
Here, he unambiguously makes it clear to the Corinthian believers that – they will not inherit the kingdom of God if they live a life that is not worthy of their calling. If they decide to go back to the immoral life that they once lived, then, they will lose their salvation.
8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men a 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.( 1 Corinthians 6, 8-11)
If the “once saved always saved” doctrine is true, then, why did Apostle Paul warn the Corinthian believers not to return to their former sinful lifestyle? Absolutely there is no need to warn them since, according to this doctrine, it is impossible for them to lose their salvation.
However, what we find here is – Apostle Paul was really concerned about the salvation of Corinthian believers and this concern compelled him to repeatedly warn them about the disastrous consequences of returning to their old sinful lifestyle. He knew very well that practicing unrighteousness will disqualify the Corinthian believers from becoming the inheritors of eternal life.
As you know, this fear of Apostle Paul was not just for the Corinthian believers, but he also had the same fear for the Galatians and the Ephesians too; and it is evident in the letters that he wrote to those churches.
For example, in the following verses Apostle Paul warns the believers (as he did before) of the Galatian church that – those who practice sexual immorality, witchcraft, greed, selfishness, jealousy, divisions, bitterness, drunkenness, orgies etc. will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. ( Galatians 5, 19-21)
Also, in the following verses we find Apostle Paul warning the Ephesian believers that- they will not inherit the kingdom of God, or they will lose their salvation if they practice sins like sexual immorality, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, course joking etc.
3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.( Ephesians 5, 3-5)
Well, I think I have given you enough scriptural evidence to convince you that we should not take our salvation for granted. But instead, we should work out our salvation with “fear and trembling”.
As I mentioned earlier, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, if we continue to live in wilful sin, it will surely separate us from Christ and His Kingdom. Even Apostle Paul himself was aware of his weaknesses that he was prone to; and he expressed his anxiety in the following verses.
26Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. ( 1 Corinthians 9, 26-27)
Saints, if Apostle Paul himself worked out His salvation with fear and trembling, then, how much more should we guard our faith and life in Christ to prevent us from getting disqualified for the prize at the end.
Well, this discussion began with the question: Does the Doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone” Contain any Misleading Elements?
And I think I have presented enough scriptural evidence to support my view that the “Doctrine of Salvation by faith alone” contains elements that mislead believers in Christ.
of course, some of you might disagree with my view but my conclusion is based on two things: one is – the scriptural evidence. Second is – the evidence that we find on the ground which are the moral and spiritual deterioration that we see in modern American Evangelical Christianity.
Yes, as an Evangelical Christian you might be quick to say that the changes in the society has brought this change in the church, but the fact of the matter is – “it is the liberal approach of the church leaders that brought about this disastrous moral and spiritual deterioration in the lives of their sheep. But this conclusion leads us to another big question; that is:
what prompted contemporary Church Leaders to adopt a very liberal approach towards Biblical Holiness and Obedience?
Well, the underlying cause is this “Salvation by Faith Alone” doctrine. It led many of the contemporary Preachers, Teachers and Leaders to the conclusion that “Obedience and Holiness” does not matter anymore. Since Salvation is by “faith alone” there is no need to focus on either obedience or Holiness.
Anyway, the damage has already been done and we are reaping what we have sown.