Salvation Through the Faith Alone
Today the so-called Christians claim that we can be saved only through the faith in Jesus Christ. And they quote some verses from the bible.
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 1:17 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.”
Many Christians follow suit this way and say that it is unnecessary to keep any laws and regulations. What is important is the faith in Jesus Christ. Abraham could be justified by God only through his faith. (Genesis 15:6) Then is this true?
This argument seems to be credible and agree with the words of God in the bible. In the Book of Romans, Apostle Paul clearly states that Abraham could be considered righteous by God because of his faith, not by his work.
Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Here the bible says we are not justified by “the works” we do, but by the faith. However, Apostle James gives different explanation about the faith of Abraham.
James 2:21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
Interpreting the same verses as Paul did, James said that Abraham could be regarded righteous because of “his action” that is “what he did”.
Work and Deed
Faith and Deed
Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The two apostles interpret the same verse above in the different ways. One says that Abraham was considered righteous because of his faith, not because of his work. And the other says that Abraham was considered righteous because of his deed, not just because of his faith.
Then what is the difference between the work and deed? Basically, they mean the same even though their usage might be different a little bit. They mean “intentional and conscious activity”. The work can mean more “goal-oriented” connotation. On the other hand, the deed focuses more on the act itself.
Despite the differences, they involve the same quality, that is, “action” or “doing something to achieve certain goal or purpose”. It means that Abraham could be righteous because of his action, not just by his faith. What did Abraham do? Believing in God, he left his hometown even though he did not know anything laid out for him in the future. Having faith in God, he eagerly attempted to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Abraham showed his faith through his action, that is, the deeds. And because of his deeds, he was called righteous by God. Then without his deeds, could he be righteous in the eyes of God? Not at all. His faith was accompanied by his deed and that was pleasing to God. That is why Apostle James declares that faith without deeds or action is dead.
Therefore, we can conclude that we cannot be saved by faith alone which does not accompany action. With the faith in God, there are things that we have to do to show our faith in God. Then what is the “thing” that we have to do?
Work and Deed
It seems like that the teachings of the two disciples disagree with each other. How can we explain the seeming discrepancy between the two teachings? To illustrate the point, I would like to tell a story of two men.
A man had a son and he asked his son to go to the field and get rid of weeds. Since the work was great, the son hired a worker for the day and went out to the field together. When the work is done, the hired man asked for the wage and, receiving it, he left with a joyful mind. But the son did not receive anything from his father and went back home with a joyful mind.
In this story we can see a two man, the son and the worker. After finishing the work, they were happy. One was happy because he received his wage for the work, and the other just because he could accomplish the work entrusted to him by his father.
In this story, what the hired man did can be called “work,” in the sense of the term used by Paul. And what the son did can be categorized as “deeds” in the semantic sense used by James. The hired man worked for the wage. And the son showed his love and fidelity to his father by obeying his command and doing the task given to him. His love of his father was shown by his acts in the form of the work he did.
Keep the Sabbath Holy
Then let us think about our faith toward God. When Paul said we can be saved by faith, did he mean that we can be saved only through faith in Christ without doing anything. This cannot be true. Paul probably was the very apostle who had faith in Christ as was described in the Book of James: a believer of Christ who showed his faith through his action. Paul did many things to put his faith into deeds.
Paul kept the Sabbath as his custom. (Acts 17, 18) Paul kept the Passover as he was taught by Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthian 5, 10, 11) He taught female believers to wear a veil during the worship service. He preached the gospel even though he had to go through many tribulations and hardships.
If we could be saved only by faith and did not have to do anything, why was it necessary for him to suffer so much due to the preaching? He could have stayed his home and led a comfortable life without having to meet thieves, dangers, hardships, or any persecutions.
However, he did go though so many things because of the gospel. Then what should we learn from the faith of Paul? We also have to show our faith in God through our actions. Since we have faith in God, we should keep the commands of God.
God commanded to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Then we have to keep the Sabbath Day holy without making any excuse. God said the Sabbath day is a holy day. Then who can add something to the words of God and say I think Sunday is a holy day and I will keep Sunday holy. Or can any one say, “Oh God, since I can be saved by faith alone, I, who have faith in God, will do nothing, but lead a enjoyable life doing as I wish”?
We have to consider these things seriously. If not, the day when we face God will be the day of condemnation, not the day of salvation.
Today, there are many Christians who do not show their faith through righteous acts in the eyes of God. They neither keep the Sabbath Day, nor the Passover. They do not keep any of the festivals of God for the matter. They say that we don’t have to do anything to show our faith. Or they say Sunday is the day of worship and the Christmas is the day of celebration as people of God.
Christ warned to his believers, saying there would be gnashing of the teeth. This warning was not given to the unbelievers, but the believers. As they say, if we can be saved by faith and don’t have to do anything, why would the believers who have faith in Christ gnash their teeth out of regret for missing the chance for their salvation.
Luke 13:28 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”
We should not be the ones who are thrown out from the kingdom of God because of following the teachings of false prophets. Since this word of Christ is also one of the prophecies of God, this prophecy will surely come true to the believers of God.
Some will be invited to the table of God and eat with Him. And there would be many who are thrown out. They will weep and gnash their teeth out of regret for following and practicing the falsehood. However, there would be no more chance for them to be saved. We have to consider seriously about this matter.